CrimeFest ended on Sunday at lunchtime with a Mastermind-like quiz. One of the four contestants was our own Cara Black. Michael and I together would have totaled three correct answers out of the hundred or so asked. We felt very ignorant! Cara fared much better totaling six points from her specialist and general questions – about 25 times better than Michael and me! Unfortunately Cara ran into the buzz saw named Martin Edwards who blew away all the competitors by a big margin. He has been banned from future competitions as he has now won three in a row.
The quiz put a cap on a delightful 3 days spent at the Bristol Marriot Royal Hotel and surrounding restaurants and pubs. We were delighted to listen to Q & A sessions with ex-Conservative member of Parliament, Gyles Brandreth, writer of several mysteries involving Oscar Wilde, and with Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse – one of the most watched detective series ever filmed. Just over 80, Dexter entertained the audience with his dry British wit. A similar session featured Tonino Benaquista – an icon of French mystery literature with an Italian name. Speaking through an interpreter, he charmed the audience with his stories of how he became a writer.
A highlight of the event was getting together with our fellow Murder Is Everywhere bloggers, Dan Wadell, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, and Cara Black. On the official front, Dan participated in a panel, I Fought the Law, for writers who write fiction and non-fiction. Yrsa was on a panel discussing translated fiction (Ca Plane Pour Moi) as well as on one titled, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, which needs no description. Cara was also in the spotlight, discussing Research in Paris: It's a Tough Job but Someone's Got To Do It. Michael and I talked about collaboration in Personality Crisis and writing in a country in which we don’t live (Holiday in the Sun). Finally stan talked about two forgotten authors – James McClure and Elspeth Huxley.
More fun, of course, were the extra-curricular activities! As a group we went to dinner on the Friday evening and enjoyed sharing successes, moaning about publishers, and general banter. It was delightful - Michael hadn't met any of the others; I hadn't met Dan. And, of course, we missed Tim and Leighton.
Yrsa fulfilled her promise by bringing and sharing Icelandic treats. She and her husband Ole brought pickled shark and a substitute for jet fuel called Brennivin. The pickled shark was challenging. When we opened the container, which Yrsa had brought wrapped in a plastic bag, which was wrapped in a plastic bag, which was wrapped in a plastic bag, a strong smell wafted to all corners of the outdoor patio. People several tables away moved to distance themselves, and even drinkers at the inside bar tried to find refuge by closing the windows and sitting further away.
Nevertheless there was a surprising number of intrepid souls who lined up to try the delicacy. At first it tasted like smoked fish. "Not too bad," people said. "Quite tasty, in fact." Then the mouth was filled with the taste of ammonia, which rapidly changed how the shark tasted. Of course, the Brennivin then came in use, cauterizing one's tastebuds in the nick of time. Thank you Yrsa!
The gala banquet on Saturday evening was emceed by Gyles Brandreth, an outstanding speaker with a wonderful sense of humor. The audience was entertained once again by short speeches by Dexter and Benaquista, who this time spoke in English.
We had a delightful time, not only because we spent time with fellow bloggers, but also because the whole event was welcoming and friendly, and extremely well organized by Myles Allfrey and Adrian Muller. We would recommend a visit next year if you are in the UK from May 19 to 22, 2011. For more details of CrimeFest 2010, go to http://www.crimefest.com.
Stan - Tuesday
Stan - Tuesday