Femme Fatales @MorecambeVice @WhartonEileen @kerryannrichardson #SheilaQuigley #CrimeFiction #Bookish #Review

Femme Fatales

Excellently, it was another panel with Dr. Jacky Collins, which covered many different and unique topics as part of the Morecambe and Vice Festival.
Sheila Quigley adores Stephen King. She intriguingly writes the title and then story.
Kerryann Richardson did a degree in creative writing and has written 6 books to date. 
It was talked about readers getting relief from real world as they read as most books (9 out of 10) do bring a closure that can be cosy and comforting. That being said, it was also debated about how there can be a dilemma in which character to root for at times as not all characters were just all good or bad. It was thought-provoking.
The next part of the talk was about the author’s books. It took a different take on it as they each had to think of their favourite/most memorable characters from them to enlighten the audience with,
Kerry Ann said Cas as she is  much like author, but her absolute favourite is Ben (female) strong character and keeps overcoming a lot that’s thrown at her and the relationship with Jacob.
Sheila – Smiler, 15/16 year old  in trouble with drugs and she said readers won’t let anything happen to character.
Eileen likes Elsie, who gets everything wrong, says everything wrong.
How important to write the north-east of the country? Was a profound question for the authors to ponder over.
Kerry sets where she worked. Easy when you already know area. She sets hers in Edinburgh and they go down to Darlington.
Sheila loves the NE but characters do travel. She imparted on the advice that you’ve got to really know the place that you are going to be writing about.
Eileen, set in NE but then travels to many other places, including abroad and her characters then go back to NE.
When there are moments of it not flowing are you tempted to say you’re done.
Kerry says life throws things at you and can’t always just write full time, so got other job. Enjoys writing for her.
They talked openly about how some hard times, they still write and still want to continue to write, basically it brought about the fact that even though they are known people and have their names on books within bookshops etc, they are still human and sometimes situations in life can happen. It was good that this wasn’t any pity-party or anything like that, they just briefly talked about how things can be at times.
Positively they talked about what was next for them. They sound busy and industrious:
A short story is being written by Kerry. She has also started a new series and a new book for current series.
Sheila is writing a new book.
Eileen is writing a book and a sitcom. She has written a YA book, not yet published.
So plenty for people to be looking out for by them all.
It was interesting to hear how most the panel like reading female authors over male, whereas Sheila cares more about it being a good book etc and doesn’t care about the gender of author.
To inspire you to also try other authors:
Eileen likes Pat Barker
Kerry likes Mary Higgens Clarke.
It was lovely how they closed the panel by talking about the support they give each other.
Blanket of Blood (Paperback)   

Winner Winner @MorecambeVice panel write-up. @alisonbelsham @highlandwriter @rachelsargeant3 #crime #CrimeFiction #writingcommunity #Bookish #Review #Libraries #Festival

Winner Winner

Alison Belsham was moderating this panel and kept it all flowing very well.

She writes procedural crime. Her debut novel was The Tattoo Theif, set around a Brighton Tattoo Convention. A youthful, fast-tracked DI is on the case to find out who has literally been cutting off tattoes. Her latest novel is – Her Last Breath.

Alison has some great anecdotes about getting a tattoo.
The Tattoo Thief            Her Last Breath: The new crime thriller from the international bestseller
Robert Scragg writes police procedural. His second book is out this year.
What Falls Between the Cracks was his debut novel, set around a 30 year old crime scene, where there were notions of what could be the perfect crime. The woman who owns the flat hasn’t been seen since the 1980’s and yet no one had looked for her.
What Falls Between the Cracks: The gripping debut that will have you reading late into the night (Porter & Styles Book 1)
      Nothing Else Remains: The compulsive read (Porter and Styles Book 2)
Margaret Kirk writes the DI Lucas series, set in Inverness. Shadow man is first in series. It introduces DI Lucas and his team and Anna Murray, sister of murdered woman. She says the subplot forms ongoing story arc.
In her second book, there is a 70 year old case tied up with modern case.
Shadow Man                          What Lies Buried (Lukas Mahler 2)
Rachel Sargeant has written 3 books. Perfect Neighbours is set in Germany. It came out of experience of being army camp in Germany. Inspired by a crime she read about in papers and closed community.
The second book is  The Good Teacher and The Room Mates being her latest.
The Perfect Neighbours                The Roommates: A gripping, addictive, psychological thriller full of shocking twists from the Kindle top ten bestseller by [Sargeant, Rachel]
Winner winner panel on stage
They spoke about what their winning moments were. They told their stories most humbly, which I liked. They seemed to be quite grounded. It was perhaps quite apt that this panel came after the one about festivals because both Alison and Robert pitched at festivals. Alison pitched at Bloody Scotland and Robert pitched at Harrogate and at Newcastle Noir. It was interesting to hear some of the ins and outs of pitching and how they had only a few minutes to pitch and they got professional critique and feedback.
Alison won the Bloody Scotland pitching competition and had an agent take her on.
Alison’s advice is to pitch at these competitions as it is a chance to make an impression.
Robert – says he also went to workshops run by other authors and gives opportunities to pick their brains.
Pitched in front of Mark Billingham. He has a day job as well as writing and reckons everyone wants others to do well.
Margaret – took a different route. Wrote short stories. Good feedback after entering comps. Sent Romantic Novelist Association for free feedback. She went to a workshop with Val McDermid and Louise Welsh. She entered a short story competition. She won and she got an agent and publishing deal.
Her advice is that there are many paths to publication. Seek the one that suits you.
Rachel – creative writing workshop, had to write a little for 5 mins, good feedback. Saw a short competition and in time, the story grew to around 80,000. Harper Collins took her on. It means she will keep going. She felt that first win legitimised her and she kept going.
It was interesting to hear that, even though they are published, they still go to writing groups, whether it is a local one or one online. I’ve noticed this about a few authors.
This was another great panel and it was better than what I thought it would be all in all. The insights were all interesting and hopefully it will make the reading public think a little bit more about what they are buying into when they read books. Hopefully people will have gained some knowledge about what goes into being an author.
Sunshine Moments
The theme this year at the festival was sunshine moments. This is the authors sunshine moments:
Rachel met 3 writers at a summer school. Put into a syndicate to share and critique each other and are her ray of sunshine.
Margaret says the  crime writing community is supportive.
Robert mentioned when he was at the Harrogate pitch, he saw someone who is aspiring an author and saw the same guy in Stirling plug his book.
Robert talked of doing library events and was asked if he could give feedback on someone else’s work too. He remembered that he had been there done that and was in a position to do that and humbled someone wanted to so that. Margaret will also do this. I love that they do this to benefit others.
Alison went back to pitch perfect at Bloody Scotland. She talked of  Susie, whom she taught, who then went on to win the competition.
Rachel talked of valuing book-bloggers and thanked them all. For me, this felt so lovely and nice as there are so many of us working for free, writing reviews, articles etc in our free time to try and get authors work known to people too. It was most humbling and lovely and so unexpected, to hear a thanks to all book-bloggers, verbalised at a festival like that, so I thank you for this.
I thank the authors for allowing me to photograph them.
Alison Belsham winner winner panel
Robert Scragg, Alison Belsham, Margaret Kirk, Rachel Sargeant

Write up of Festival of Festivals @mcdevitt_bob @bloodyscotland @ayewrite @CollinsJacky @NewcastleNoir @NoirBarEdin @bradleybooks #NorthernStoryFestival @graskeggur @MorecambeVice #IcelandicNoir #writingcommunity #crimefiction #review

Festivals of Festivals

First thing on a Sunday morning (lots of dedication to be at the venue early, but it was all completely worth it and better than the average Sunday).
Festivals of Festivals was a great behind the scenes insight to a certain extent by those who actually put together these festivals. If it weren’t for them, they wouldn’t be happening. This was an amazing panel of people who have dedicated a huge amount of time in creating festivals. Not just any festivals, but those that are now well-known by many.

    The festivals being discussed and their organisers:

  • Bloody Scotland, Aye Write, Winter Words – Bob McDevitt
  • Newcastle Noir and Noir at the Bar – Dr. Jacky Collins
  • Northern Short Story Festival – SJ Bradley
  • Icelandic Noir – Quentin Bates
    Find out below which months each of these are held.

Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates

Bob McDevitt runs 3 literary festivals – he talked about Bloody Scotland and how over 10,000 people attended during a weekend in Stirling. Winter Words in Pitlochery focusses on nature and travel, Aye Write in Glasgow in March – 250 authors attend. Had short films, sometimes and not all are your usual book panels. It spans across 3 weekends.

Aye Write is staged in Glasgow. It interestingly was started by library service. It mostly Scottish and some English authors. For Pitlochery, he spoke about it depending on what publishers can do. He highlighted the Spotlight section like Bloody Scotland and what it means for up and coming authors. He has had event experience of organising from his time working in Waterstones.
He made clear that ALL Scottish festivals pay their authors.

These are some amazingly staggering figures – 350 authors pitched and 80 authors make it. Independent publishers also invited to Bloody Scotland.

SJ Bradley runs the Northern Short Story Festival in June with readings and workshops. They also have Frightfest in the winter.

Leeds Litfest also got a mention and has predominantly northern writers.
SJ Bradley primarily wanted to shine a light on authors. As an author learnt a lot too about publishing world and had some opportunities for networking.
The festival has a focus on celebrating short stories.  they also aim to make it: Affordable, Inclusive and Accessible. She talked about where funding came from and about audience sizes in that smaller audiences for short stories.  She too pointedly remarked that they also pay their authors.

Quentin Bates is the man behind Iceland Noir and organises it every second year in Reykjavik. It consists of some British and Nordic writers and was decided from the outset that everything would be in English. It was interesting that festival happens in Iceland and yet the locals don’t really do this type of thing. It was thought that it is perhaps to do with Icelandic culture and also the fact they don’t commit to anything.
The festival started in 2013. Why? Well, apparently that’s what happens when 3 folk share a curry and beer, leading to someone mentioning it strange there was no crime festival in Iceland. 4 weeks later they talked more and 6 months later and it began. The next one is in 2020.

Jacky organises Newcastle Noir. She has a great anecdote about her boss telling her to change her research and how she ended up with Newcastle Noir. It is on the premise of ticket price is always accessible. Never become a big festival. No point in replicating others. National and International authors. 2014 started.

Jackie also gets involved with Noir at the Bar in Edinburgh. Authors established and new go to this. It is there to create a community for writers and have a social occasion.

The conversation changed to community spirit and how festivals create a sense of community at festivals for authors and returning audiences as well as for the organisers.

She talked about how some festivals sadly not paying their authors. She went on to mention that some authors do charitable and library events for free to support.

Jacky talked about how to invite authors, some say just ask and others like to go through their publisher/publicist.

There was an interesting question – Should authors go to festivals? Consensus was yes. There was talk of how authors can practice at the likes of Noir at the Bar and try to get onto festivals. It was considered important to get out there and if you’re good at talking to an audience, people want to buy your books. This is true I have to say. I’ve attended festivals and bought books sometimes just from hearing the person talk and the same with some library events, I’ve bought books I may not have otherwise.
There was talk of doing  your own promotion as publishers won’t always do this for you.

There was some great advice for authors. People can’t abide rudeness, even if you’re a good author and written a lot. Don’t take stuff out on volunteers, even if you’re annoyed at something. They’re doing their best.

Be polite in your engagement in the festival. Don’t send snarky emails or slag off other festivals.

Be prepared for your talk. Be punctual. If you’re late because of trains being delayed, then that’s seen as being acceptable as it is out of your control.

Remember sometimes speakers/authors can’t turn up at times. Always be gracious as stuff happens and there is normally a good reason behind the appearance being changed or cancelled.

  • Bloody Scotland – September
  • Aye Write – March
  • Winter Words – February
  • Newcastle Noir – May
  • Noir at the Bar – September
  • Northern Short Story Festival – October
  • Icelandic Noir – November
  • Morecambe and Vice – September

If you ever see them talk about their festivals, then do go. It’s a very insightful talk, which was done very well. It was so enlightening.

With thanks to Bob McDevitt and Quentin Bates for permission to take their photo. Thanks to Bob McDevitt for the nice chat about Bloody Scotland, of which I attended this year and hope to in 2020 too.