It’s that time of year again. Festivals are happening all over Britain but, being a remote hermit type, there aren’t many that I can get to. Some were even happening near me this year, but I didn’t realise until it was too late to rearrange the work I had on. And there was a crime festival in Cromarty in April, literally two hours away from me – I really need to stop being a hermit and organise some festival time!
If you want to make sure you don’t miss out www.literaryfestivals.co.uk is a great site full of information (just ignore the dated old-school style). I must pop by more often; it has a calendar and A-Z listing too!
This last weekend I managed to attend two days of the online Britcrime festival, and am so glad I did. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a gathering of more than 50 mainly British crime, mystery and thriller writers who had their first online festival in July 2015.
The festival includes interviews, discussions, blogs, a book trail, giveaways and a treasure hunt, all happening over three days, Friday – Sunday. And there is no excuse for not attending as it’s online, you can pop in and out and if you really can’t make it you can pop along to the website and catch up there.
I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours (ok, it was way more than a couple) watching some live broadcasts with a number of authors and occasionally asking them daft questions. It was interesting to me both as an editor, a reader and a potential writer (I like to think that at some point my Fisher’s Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation will get used in researching a small story). As the audience for each discussion was quite intimate (less than 50 viewers) I thought I’d write a little about what I learned from attending my first online literary festival:
So here they are… 15 things I learned from Britcrime:
- Online festivals are not boring. Far from it. The live broadcasts had around six authors jumping in and out, talking to each other and to their audience, fielding questions and generally being really interesting.
- You get to ‘meet’ authors you have never heard of at an online festival. I’m not being funny here, but honestly, there is scope for learning about some wonderful books, written by people you are watching, which you may not have stumbled upon in a ‘real-life’ festival.
- Authors like to chat and go off-tangent as much as anyone else. And it’s fascinating to watch.
- Authors struggle with technology as much as anyone else. And it’s fascinating to watch (sorry guys n gals if you are reading this, but it is).
- Authors suffer from Imposter Syndrome too. As a long-time suffer I was surprised when it came up. Authors with multiple books out there, read by lots of people, suffer from Imposter Syndrome. You can be talented, smart, and a good writer and still suffer.
- No-one writes their book the same way as anyone else. Everyone is different. You have to find your way to write your book – that is the only valid way to write.
- All of the authors mentioned one thing – you have to just write. Even through the pain and the deadlines and the procrastination. If you are a writer, you write.
- Crime writers seem to be well-balanced human beings, but they do tend to enjoy bumping off characters. There was not one mad-eyed, starey face to be seen, but they do obviously enjoy their day job.
- Having a dog to walk will get you off to a great start if you want to be a crime writer. Can’t write, walk the dog. Need inspiration, walk the dog. Need an excuse not to get those last 2,000 words written… you get the drift.
- Crime writers research and take their jobs very seriously.
- The first novel is easy compared to the second. Or the third, fourth and fifth.
- Crime writers can and do diversify into different genres, but often find themselves coming back to crime.
- Just like any other genre, some crime writers plot their story first while others wing it. There is no right way. Again it is all down to what works for you.
- Audio books are very popular with crime authors, along with digital editions of their books. And choice of narrator is very important to them. Although it was noted that readers seem less engaged with digital copies, often not knowing what book they were reading, or had read, compared to those reading physical paper copies.
- Finally, there’s no such thing as a typical crime writer. Each and every one of them is as individual as their novels. So if you are a budding crime writer, what’s stopping you? Start writing and see what happens.