The life of a writer is pretty dull. That is almost a necessity. You can’t write a novel without spending a lot of time on your own and it is best if your daily life is not too exciting or distracting. It’s not only that you have to spend a lot of time alone in a room in front of a computer, there is also the time needed for mulling things over, for wandering around the house, and staring into space. Your family come to realise that though you are there in body, you are not necessarily there in mind.
But now and again, the time comes to rummage in the wardrobe for your glad rags, spray on some of that Chanel No 5 that your husband once gave you for Christmas, and head for the bright lights of Bristol. Yes, last week-end it was Crimefest, one of the highlights – if not the highlight – of the crime writer’s social calendar, and this time it was especially exciting because I had a story short-listed for the Margery Allingham Prize. The winner was announced at the Friday evening reception. To cut the suspense short (not something I usually like to do) I didn’t win. But any disappointment I felt was rapidly assuaged when the next announcement was the long list for the CWA Short Story Dagger – and my story, ‘Accounting for Murder’ was on it.
That was about as much excitement I can take in one evening. I had a lovely time, meeting old friends and new, but I am quite happy to back at home now in my study, just me and the cat. And happy too to return to my usual occupation of getting people into terrible trouble and telling lies for fun and profit (as Lawrence Block has it).
The photo is of me with friends, Kate Ellis and Jason Monaghan, and was taken by Dea Parkin.
PS. The winner of the Margery Allingham Prize was Russell Day with ‘The Value of Vermin Control.’
I didn’t win, but it was – and still is – a thrill to have my story ‘Faceless Killer’ long-listed and then short-listed for the Margery Allingham Short Story Competition. It’s not quite the first time I’ve been short-listed for something – but it was the first time I’d been there when the winner was announced, this time at a reception at Crimefest in Bristol, and it did add a frisson of excitement to the week-end. In the end the winning story was ‘The Box-Shaped Mystery’ by Peter Guttridge. I’m looking forward to reading it when it goes on line. Meanwhile here are introductions to the short-listed stories: http://thecwa.co.uk/debuts/short-story-competition/.
Crimefest was a blast, as always, masses of friendly readers and writers, interesting panels, impeccably organised in a good hotel in a great city. I staggered home with a load of books, DVDs, and audio books, some of them the result of winning the Crimefest pub quiz, which I achieved by the simple ploy of making sure I was on the same team as Martin Edwards. I also won a book in a raffle at a terrific session on German crime fiction run by Kat Hall (aka Mrs Peabody). And then yesterday Captain Hastings (aka Hugh Fraser) politely opened a door for me – who would have thought it? So it was all good and I’ve already booked for next year.