Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel is a fantastic conference hotel. There are three floors for panels and discussions, plus the large bar with outdoor terrace and two lounges for socialising and meetings. Plenty of lifts and stairs - I used the stairs a lot more this year (you'll find out why at the end of this blog post)!
There's not much opportunity to see Bristol if you spend all of your time at the panels and bar. So Joy Kluver and I decided to explore near the hotel on Thursday evening and also on Friday afternoon. It was great to get out of the air conditioned environment too.
Joy and I went to a variety of panels, and all of them were informative and very entertaining. We could, and maybe should, have gone to more than we did.
Debut Authors: An Infusion of Fresh Blood
Mary Torjussen, Steph Broadribb, David Coubrough & Lucy V. Hay with moderator Karen Robinson.
Shhhhhhhhh: Keeping Secrets and Telling Lies
Moderator Valentina 'V.M.' Giambanco with Rod Reynolds, Andrea Carter, Julia Crough & Lucy Dawson.
What Are You Hiding?: The Dark Side of Human Nature
Moderator Stanley Trollip (of Michael Stanley) with Luke McCallin, JOhana Gustawsson, Dough Johnstone and Jørn Lier Horst.
Partners in Crime: Male/Female Police Duos
Moderator Sarah Ward with Luca Veste, Sarah Hilary, Anne Randall and Stav Sherez
In the Spotlight: Sam Carrington
When Murderer Becomes Muse: Inspiration From Working With Prisoners
You Are Not Alone: Giving Your Protagonist Family and Friends
CL Taylor, Thomas Enger, Gunnar Staalesen, Llouise Beech and Lucy V. Hay
Journalists: Characters Who Tell Stories for a Living
Moderator Rod Reynolds with Anne Coates, Matt Wesoloqski, Antti Tuomainen and Walter Lucius
The Modern Police Procedural: Are We Really the Good Guys and Girls?
Elizabeth Haynes, Fergus McNeill, moderator Alison Bruce, Valentina 'V.M.' Giambanco and Sharon Bolton
Escaping the Shadows of the Past: When Your Protagonist Can't Forget
Thomas Enger, Katerina Diamond, Simon Toyne and Ragnar Jonasson with moderator Elizabeth Haynes
The bar wasn't as packed as last year - noticed by several people, not just me. But I actually enjoyed it more this time as it was easier to relax and chat to everyone there. Lovely to spend time with authors, publishers/editors and bloggers/reviewers in the bar and lounge and outside the panel rooms. I even chatted with an agent for a while. Great fun too, especially group selfies and toffee vodka at 2am! Only a few photos of me though, as I try to avoid them!
Brilliant CrimeFest bags this year, with Orenda Books featuring on the other side. Three books in each bag. I decided I didn't want one of them (and no, I'm not saying which book), so I left it on the 'swapsies' table. Since I have 'just a few' books to read, I decided not to replace it. Lots of promotional leaflets, postcards and bookmarks to pick up too. These are the two books I kept - The Night Stalker by Clare Donoghue and The Black Sheep by Sophie McKenzie.
Ragnar Jonasson bookmarks handed to me by Orenda Books (ignore the terrible photo). Some are now on their way to fellow blogger Kate Moloney (Bibliophile Book Club) in Ireland!
Books to buy
The CrimeFest book shop was well stocked, and there was an opportunity after each panel to queue up for authors to sign purchased books. I decided this year to be strict with myself, as I couldn't carry many books home. But I have come away with a long list of books to buy. I did buy Simon Toyne's The Boy Who Saw, as I loved Solomon Creed, the first in the series. Plus Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes. This is one of my favourite psychological thrillers and until CrimeFest I only had the e-book. Great to see both Simon & Elizabeth again.
One of my most memorable (but not necessarily enjoyable) experiences of CrimeFest 2017 was being stuck in a broken down lift for around 10 minutes with Joy Kluver and an author who needed to get to her panel! Both were great company though, and none of us panicked! I'm not claustrophobic, but it did take all of us a few hours to pluck up enough courage to get back into a lift (especially on our own)!
CrimeFest was a fantastic weekend - costly, yes, but I believe it was well worth the money. You can reduce the cost if you don't stay at the Marriott Hotel.
Hope to see some of you there next year!
Visit the CrimeFest website here to learn more about the weekend and see updates about the 2018 festival.