I thought I would be nodding off this morning while watching the “Here Come The Cops” panel, but somehow I managed to keep my eyes open. Once again, a short night of sleep did not bode well for the day’s forthcoming schedule. The intriguing and amusing panel discussion about police procedurals with Alex Gray, Cath Staincliffe, Elena Forbes and Peter James helped keep the sleep fairies away, but I have a theory that there is something else keeping me going: the Festival itself. It’s full of discussions about every aspect of the crime novel told by those who write them and as I love crime fiction and want to be a crime writer, the Festival contains everything that I find interesting. And therefore I am wired, despite the high levels of sleep deprivation.
That said, a decision had to be made. The mind may be willing but the body may eventually throw up its arms and say “I’ve had enough!” So a sacrifice had to be made for some much needed sleep. “Getting It Right”, about ensuring that an historical novel is accurate, was the offering I gave up to the sleep gods. I apologise to all those involved for not attending, but it was the best sleep I had had in ages.
Aptly following my mid-morning snooze was a Q&A session entitled “Getting Vigorous”, chaired by the ever resourceful, imaginative and sometimes zany Stuart MacBride. Using PowerPoint to its full capabilities, Stuart constructed a magical hour filled with questions and discussions about strange facts (such as the best way to dispose of a body and what human flesh tastes like) with the lovely C.J.Carver, the laid back Simon Kernick, the terrifying Zoe Sharp and the terrified Michael Marshall. It was a barrel of laughs.
The rest of the day was filled with more wonderful sessions, including a discussion about examining a crime scene by Helen and Ian Pepper, the former a registered forensic practitioner and the latter an ex-crime scene investigator, and a panel concentrating on the modern day spy thriller, including contributions by one real ex-spy (I won’t tell you his name – sworn to secrecy – these aren’t the droids you’re looking for).
The first (and hopefully only) setback for the Festival was the non-appearance of a big ticket item – Frederick Forsyth. The floods rampaging through Northern England had trapped him at his home, so he was unable to attend. Thankfully, the brains trust came up with something equally entertaining – a debate over whose crime fiction is better – the US or the UK. It was hilarious – Val McDermid and Mark Billingham fought for the UK, Lee Child and Harlan Coben sauntered along for the US. It was a close call in the end, but Mark Lawson declared the UK victors to the sound of cheers and gnashing of teeth.
Rounding off the night was the annual Quiz night. Quiz nights can frequently turn out to be a dog’s breakfast and this one came close to it. The only saving graces were the involvement of all the authors at the Festival, the entertaining duo of Simon Kernick and Natasha Cooper conducting the quiz, and the BTZers table, where I sat. In addition to those BTZers I had already met, there was Kevin, Jane, Jo and Mr K, Helena and Mr H, Derrin, Gungho and Smudge. It was great fun – very loud, lots of laughs, lots of conversations, one person in particular taking the opportunity to get things off her chest, and Mark Billingham being hauled to the back of the room for a photo opp with the Billingham Babes, who were decked out in their fabulously produced T-shirts. Fun had by all. I even managed to get two quiz questions right – who would’ve thought my purchase of The Thing soundtrack many years ago would have paid off.
The quiz finished and drinks moved into the now familiar Crown Hotel bar. There had been a wedding reception held in the hotel today (how they managed to double book has me beat) but they had moved on, so we had the bar to ourselves. My fuel tank was low, so after a few bevies and at the stroke of 2, I said goodnight to the remaining BTZers and authors and hello to the sweet, sweet sleep fairies.
One more day to go!
P.S. To the man who I had many discussions with about Theakston’s beer and the portability of a half dozen free bottles – I apologise that I have forgotten your name – but kudos to you – I hope you clinked your way back home safely.
P.P.S Update: I've been informed that his name is Dean! Hope to catch up with you next year, Dean.