Monday 24 May 2010


It's hard to know where to begin writing about CrimeFest 2010. was a fantastic experience for a debut author, rubbing shoulders with so many fellow crime writers under one roof. I met Colin Dexter in the lift and asked him a question! (OK, it was "Which floor do you want?" - but he was gracious enough to say it was the most interesting question he'd been asked all day. We had just come from breakfast...)
Name dropping aside, it was an opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people, established successful writers and aspiring authors alike, and to hook up with familiar faces. Here are The Curzon Group, behind the scenes in the Green Room before our panel on Friday. From the left, Richard Parker, Zoe Sharp, me, Tom Cain and Matt Lynn. Zoe moderated our panel, which was just as well. She did a grand job keeping us all in check. The audience asked probing questions and we had some lively discussion about character vs plot, among other topics.
On Saturday I was invited to participate in the Debut Authors Panel, chaired by Marcel Berlins. I was pretty nervous about meeting him, but he put us all at our ease within seconds, and made the panel feel like a relaxed chat between friends. Here we are, after the panel.

Also on the debut panel was Mike Hodges, who wrote and directed the original film of Get Carter. Mike has just written his first novel, Watching the Wheels Come Off. It was thrilling and surreal to find myself on a panel alongside such an iconic film maker.

Discussion included the pros and cons for an author of being signed for a series or for one stand alone book. I have to say, I'm really happy I was offered a three book deal - with a subsequent offer for a fourth in the series.
I also gave a talk on writing a series, and was pleased to have a decent audience. Once again, the questions were searching and challenging, and I discussed the development of Geraldine Steel and the balance between offering the reader something familiar, and the need to avoid becoming formulaic.
The icing on the cake was seeing - and signing! - sale copies of ROAD CLOSED for the first time. Publication wasn't due for a few weeks but WH Smith's Travel wanted to do a promotion in June so the printing was brought forward to meet their deadline. A box of books was delivered to the convention venue in Bristol, literally hot off the press. The books vanished somewhere in the hotel but my publisher was able to tell me exactly when and by whom the delivery had been signed for and the Blackwells bookseller went out of his way to track the books down. If you read this, Blackwells in Bristol, thank you!
I also spent time with fellow authors I'd only 'met' online before, and caught up with Mystery Women.
The convention was a tour de force of organisation, with panels, talks and interviews running constantly and concurrently throughout the event.


Stella Jones said...

How very exciting for you. Over here in America, I struggle to know the authors when I go in the library. I realise then how familiar the names of British authors are to me and how unfamiliar the names of American authors are! So faced with shelves and shelves of books, I have no clue who is good and who is not. I need some guidance. I need to know who the equivalent of P D James is and Agatha Christie and so on, Leigh Russell too maybe?
Blessings, Star

Leigh Russell said...

Yes, definitely Leigh Russell... (!)
Thanks, Star. I know what you mean. There are so many authors to choose from - but that's a good thing for readers, isn't it?

Unknown said...

I think that the community of writers in the UK are close than the ones across the ocean. I'm jealous to see how much fun you're having. But, I'm glad you had it. Keep posting highlight and I can't wait to read your books.


Martin Edwards said...

Hi Leigh, glad to meet you at Crimefest!

Leigh Russell said...

Interesting comment, Clarissa. I suppose we have shorter distances to travel and there aren't as many of us here in the UK. That said, we were thrilled to have a contingent of visitors from the US at CrimeFest which was really wonderful. Perhaps we should organise a mid-ocean UK-US literary festival, on board a ship, and we can meet in the middle!

Leigh Russell said...

Likewise, Martin. It was a real pleasure - and a privilege for a newcomer like me.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

It sounds like you had a great time. I met Zoe Sharp last year at Caerleon Writers' Holiday and she was lovely. She gave an excellent talk too.

Leigh Russell said...

Hi Debs, it's a small world, isn't it? Zoe was great moderating our panel at CrimeFest, and very entertaining.

Eeleen Lee said...

I love these writers' fests too, its like Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates- you never know what you're gonna get.

Leigh Russell said...

So true, Een Leen Lee - it was quite an adventure in its own way.