A boiling hot day in England (the first of the year) and being closeted inside a stuffy Marriott Hotel in Bristol was not the best place to be. But Crimefest, an international convention of crime writers and crime fiction fans, beckoned on 21 May 2010 and I was delighted to be asked to appear on a panel with other crime writers to talk about my crime novels and answer questions from the delegates.
I met my fellow crime writers; J.D. Goodhind, Neil White, Linda Regan and Lindsey Davis, in the Green Room, a rather dark basement room in the hotel, prior to appearing on our panel. For a moment I thought I'd stepped into a murder mystery scene from Midsomer Murders and half expected Inspector Barnaby (John Nettles) to appear from the gloom. But there were no dead bodies’ only live and lively authors, and it was good to meet up and get to know one another a little before the public appearance.
I very much enjoyed participating in a panel discussion entitled No More Heroes: Today's Sleuths & Crime Solvers. (Apparently the title is a punk song, but that by-passed me). However, we quickly dismissed the title because all our main characters are heroes. I was asked why my hero is a man and not a woman, or rather why I write from the male point of view. I don't know why, it's just the way I write and all my crime novels are written with a male lead character. My hero is Inspector Andy Horton, an extraordinary guy fighting crime in the Solent area on the south coast of England. He should follow proper procedure, as his bosses demand, but it never quite works out that way! I just love heroes (perhaps that comes of being married to a fireman!) and I adore Andy Horton.
There was a difference of opinion between me and Linda Regan. She likes a lot of sex and violence in her novels whereas I prefer to write novels that do not contain gratuitous violence or explicit sex. OK, so there are gory bits in my Inspector Horton marine mystery crime novels and there is a bit of sex in my crime thriller In For The Kill but nothing that could be classed as hard boiled.
It was a lively discussion with some good questions from the audience many of whom had travelled from as far as Canada and America. One lady asked, 'Do you ever get bored with your characters?' The answer to that is no. If you do then you need to stop writing about them.
I met some lovely people after the event and had a chance to chat to them about what they like about crime fiction. A puzzle to solve, great characters, atmospheric settings, action packed novels it varies as much as the genre does, and that’s what’s so exciting and fascinating about both writing and reading crime fiction.
A very enjoyable time was had, and now it's back to putting the final touches to the next Inspector Horton Marine Mystery crime novel, number six in the series, before I embark on fleshing out the ideas I have for number seven.