So this weekend was the third Morecambe and Vice Crime Writing Festival and I was lucky enough to get a press pass for the weekend. I had seen some brilliant write ups of last years festival and, as Morecambe is just over an hours drive away for me, decided that this year I would attend. Due to family commitments, I was only able to do the Saturday but was excited all the same to attend especially as my good friend blogger, author and publicist Noelle Holten was appearing on one of the Saturday panels. The Grumpy Scotsman and Darcy Doodlebum had decided to come with me and do some walking whilst I was there. We did think about staying overnight at the location of the festival The Midland, especially as they allow dogs, but as The Grumpy Scotsman said there were 274 reasons why we didn’t (only 141 reasons if we didn’t want a sea view but to be honest if you’re staying at The Midland then it’s compulsory to book that amazing view!!!). And in a way I’m glad we didn’t arrive on the Friday night as the weather had been appalling that night with torrential downpours flooding out many places along the seafront. So instead we got up early on Saturday morning and headed up the M6 to Morecambe and the closer we got the more the weather improved so that by the time we arrived the sunshine was out! I can only assume that the “Bring Me Sunshine” theme of the festival brought out the very best in our British seaside weather!
On arrival at The Midland I did take a few moments to appreciate the beauty of the place, especially due to the seahorse theme of the hotel! Anyone who knows me well knows I have a slight obsession with seahorses and have done since I was a young child when I used to keep the little dried bodies of 2 little seahorses wrapped in cotton wool by my bed every night (yes, I’m kind of amazed that I’ve grown up to be relatively “normal” too!!!) and have planned for a few years to have a seahorse tattoo ( midlife crisis that by the time I pluck up the courage to proceed will be a pension purchase). The Art Deco design of the hotel makes it stand out in its position on Morecambe bay and the inside is just as stunning as the outside. It’s narrow design means that as soon as you go in the front door, you are faced with the huge glass walls at the back of the hotel with the stunning views of the beach and sea. As we arrived people were still eating their breakfast watching over the bay and I wished that those 274 reasons for not staying the night hadn’t been and gone.
I must start by addressing the elephant in the room (rather like the fabulous Tom and Ben did in their welcoming speech!) and say that with the inaugural Capital Crime taking place on the same weekend I think there could have been a higher turn out in Morecambe than there was. It’s so great that festivals take part in other areas of the UK other than the capital but I have to admit that when most of the publishing world is based around London, that is where the crowds will flock. I struggle to get down to London (those 274 reasons would have been closer to 500 with all the trains, hotels etc I would have had to book) so I loved that I only had to travel to Morecambe to meet up with my tribe. Sarah Hardy (blogger, publicist and more importantly FRIEND!) was also attending as she had organised a brilliant blog tour for Morecambe and Vice covering each of the authors who were attending this year.
Anyway, back to Saturday morning! There was a lovely welcome when I picked up my weekend pass and I was given my programme for the weekend and a large brown paper bag. It did take me a while to realise that this was my “goody bag” and I needed to fill it myself from a small table at the back of the room. If I have any negatives to feedback from the weekend, it was that this didn’t work particularly well for me. By the time I realised what I should do, the locusts had descended and after 11ish the table only had 2 different books on it-neither of which seemed to appeal to anyone there. It would have been nice to have seen a wider variety of ARCs etc on the table or to have just been given a selection of the books on arrival. This makes me sound “grabby” but that’s not the reason for my slight criticism! It’s just that I want M&V to be the very best festival it can be and that change would lift it way up there with the others (and anyway, everyone knows book bloggers actually buy more books than they get given. There are over 50 reason why I shouldn’t have been let loose anywhere near the on-site Waterstones book shop!!!) But programme in hand, I grabbed myself a large cup of tea and took my seat for the first panel of the day.
This was a fabulous discussion, moderated by Ben, about apocalyptic settings in crime novels. There were some thought provoking theories on why there are so many teenagers in “end of the world” thrillers and it was fascinating to hear Matt Brolly talk about how his time studying criminal law helped with the themes of deterrent and morality within the law in his books.
Anne Coates did a great job of moderating a group of children’s and YA authors to talk about crime for younger readers. I especially liked listening to how Sarah Todd Taylor (who wore the most amazing bookish dress btw) talk about how a lot of her crimes happen “off camera” which led Anne to ask if we are being too “precious” about protecting our children considering the world we live nowadays.
I missed the next panel as I went off to meet the Grumpy Scotsman and Darcy Doodlebum for lunch. They were shattered from their epic walk along the front at Morecambe and I found them camped out reading in a cute little retro booth in the Rotunda Bar where we had drinks and a rather delicious lunch.
After a catch up in the sunshine with Sarah, Noelle and author Graham Smith, the Grumpy Scotsman and Darcy went off for another walk and I headed back in for an afternoon of more panels.
A fascinating line up here discussing the book Detecting The Social which puts forward the theory that crime fiction since the 1970s gives a better and more up to date social snapshot of society than any sociologists can. Also that to get a fuller and better picture of any country you visit, you should read a recent crime thriller from a popular author of that country. This is probably the panel that I found the most intriguing and I could have listened to the theories put forward for much longer than the time we had. Huge thanks to William Shaw for putting this panel together. And I did have a slightly gushy fangirl moment when I told Gytha Lodge just how much I loved She Lies in Wait!
We then listened to the recording of a podcast by Adam Croft and last minute stand in Adrian Hobart which contains possibly the worst audience created crime fiction ever told!
And then it was time for Noelle to chat to Lin Anderson and I loved every minute of this spotlight. Noelle is a natural at bringing out the best in people and she encouraged Lin to tell some wonderful anecdotes about her writing.
And then it was all over for the day! The Grumpy Scotsman and I had a little tour of a few spots I wanted to see before setting off for home again (you can’t come to Morecambe without saying hello to Eric himself!!).
So a huge thank you to everyone involved at M&V for making the event so fabulous this year and here’s to M&V 2020!