I’m back from Capital Crime, the first thriller festival in London with over one hundred authors! I arrived on Friday and went back home on Saturday and it doesn’t seem long but it feels like it wasn’t two days but two weeks that I went away.
Even though it was exhausting and overwhelming, it was still totally worth it (and don’t you want to feel like you’ve been away much longer than you really have ;-)). I only need a bit of time to process all that’s happened to me, but now that it’s fresh I’ll share with you some of my highlights.
But first of all I want to give a special thanks to the lovely Anne Cater, Amber Choudhary at Midas PR and to my blogfriend Meggy because without these three I wouldn’t have been there!
I had a bit of stress (ok I didn’t sleep well the night before) but as soon as I arrived I saw the lovely Meggy of Chocon’Waffles waiting for me outside of the gate of the Eurostar terminal. She’s been my rock throughout the festival, seriously. She’s just as lovely and kind as I hoped, she’s a true friend and I’m eternally grateful for sticking by me. It meant so much to me that she didn’t leave me alone there, even walked me to the trainstation again the following day!
The venue itself was gorgeous, with big halls and chandeliers… a really nice location, I was impressed. There were 2 big rooms (and the bar which was also frequented at a regular basis)So, then, literally 2 seconds after stepping inside of the Grand Vere Connaught Rooms, I saw my first author! Mark Edwards was coming down the steps. Meggy asked me if I wanted to talk to him but of course no, no, too soon, much too soon :-).
I then met the rest of the bloggers I would hang out with these two days: Ronnie of Ronnie Turner, Penny of What Do I Read Now, Danielle of The Reading Closet, Zoé of Zooloo’s Book Diary and on day 2 I also met blogger Jen of Jen Med’s Book Reviews. They are all wonderful and kind people, they made me feel very welcome and actually pleased to meet me. I love them all!
If you want to have the bestest of blogfriends, add them on Twitter here:
@Choconwaffles, @W2readnow, @Ronnie__Turner, @book_obsessed1, @zooloo2008, @JenMedBkReviews.
I had my first panel of the day then with Claire McGowan asking questions to Lisa Jewell and Mark Edwards (it’s karma I tell ya) about The Psychology of Tension. I knew I was in trouble soon because I wanted to read both authors after their talk (I only read one novel by Mark Edwards years ago). I finally chose one author and bought the book. Two guesses which one :-).
Mark Edwards is a very friendly author, I’m quite happy he’s the first author I ever saw in real life. I can’t wait to read his book Here to Stay now, his mind is fascinating… and he doesn’t kill off the cat in his books, he pays attention to giving the readers what they want and what do we want? That’s right, to SAVE THE ANIMALS!
This panel and all the other panel discussions I attended were great, it was really interesting to hear the authors talk on so many topics and answer questions about their favorite murder weapon or if they like to kill more men or women in their books, or how they react when people ring the doorbell when they’re writing… I should have taken notes really.
Here are some of the other panels I chose to attend. I wish I had a time-turner so I could have gone to the other panels that were happening at the same moment but unfortunately I had to make some tough choices.
Fiona Cummins and CJ Tudor really stood out for me in this panel, but maybe it’s because I only read their novels so far…
Of course I couldn’t miss the authors from Orenda Books. I was a bit horrified when the conversation went towards killing puffins… but there were a lot of funny quips, it was a great panel too!
And then there was this one of course. I only read MW Craven so it was mostly for him that I wanted to attend, but the others were really interesting too and Amer Anwar even took a picture of the audience (the other way around!).
There was also a quiz between two teams of authors and it was just brilliant. There were questions about the other author’s books, genre what type of car was used in this or that book, but they also had to reenact a scene and the other team had to guess. It was such fun to just see them all going for it (well especially one person) and the quiz host, Paul Clayton, was superb.
In general, all the authors were all very approachable and I had no idea they would be so open. They’re people I often look up to and they have the same status as a rockstar to me, I’m in full admiration of what they can do with their pen and mind, so it took me by surprise you could easily talk to them outside of the signing sessions too.
If you followed me on Twitter you’ll also know that I called an author by the wrong name. Well I was forgiven right away because the lovely Deborah O’Donoghue (author of Sea of Bones) invited me to drink tea (I’m not English so coffee) with me. I also met Heidi Perks, Rachel Kennedy of Cornerstone publishers and the sweet Merilyn Davies (author of When I Lost You) with whom I had a good talk. It’s not evident for me to talk to people I don’t know but she was so friendly that I was comfortable talking to her. I sometimes wonder how people so sweet can write such crime but then I’m sweet too (if I’m allowed to say that of myself) and I love the hard, gritty thrillers too.
I also received a keyring from Carol Bridgestock who writes novels together with her husband Robert under the name RC Bridgestock. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know them but it appears the couple has nearly half a century in combined police experience and they take this experience turning real cases into fictional stories. Carol was also suuupernice to me. Another author whose books I really want to try now.
Perfect ending of the day
I finished the day with a lovely dinner with Meggy where we – guess what – talked even more about books. It was perfect for destressing and I very much enjoyed our time together… if only she lived closer and not in another country.
I picked a hotel only a 5 minute walk from the venue and I’m quite happy I did that, although I did have a few problems in the room.
Meeting Mike Craven
I had a sleepless night so day two wasn’t my best day. I was already overwhelmed by so much that happened on day 1 so I was too emotional and a bit in lockdown, much quieter than the day before. I’ll tell you more about it in another blogpost. I did have one good streak though and I HAVE to share this with you: my encounter with MW Craven.
I was standing in line with Meggy for Zoé to get a book signed and I saw Danielle and Ronnie talking to him! I brought my book (from Belgium) to get it signed so I was excited to spot him (he’s hard to miss with the metal t-shirt and he’s not so small either). Meggy was urging me to go to him and then she was shouting at Danielle who was still talking and didn’t hear her at all 😉 and she was saying go, go, go to me… I went on automatism really, obeying that voice… so I came there and I seriously don’t remember but it’s possible that I just butted into the conversation (so sorry Danielle) and asked for a picture of him with me. He was reallyyy nice and I was already packing the book away again when he said, do you want me to sign it? I was of course too shy to ask but YES! He then asked my name and even wrote it on his hand to get it right (it seems my name is a difficult one for English people so in case you’re wondering INGE is pronounced as in sing-ING and then followed in one swoop with a dull E that sounds like UH). So that’s the story how M.W. Craven got to sign my book. Not everyone has a story like that eh?
I also have photos of me with authors C.J. Tudor (I won a copy Those Other People!), Merilyn Davies (When I Lost You), Deborah O’Donoghue (Sea of Bones), Lizzie Barber (My Name is Anna), Will Dean (there was a lot of fangirling beforehand and I seriously didn’t know why but yes, I must admit he is in fact really good-looking in close-up too) and Mark Edwards. These photos are for my private collection only though, I don’t particularly feel the need to share.. you must know what the authors look like by now :-).
I’m not going to lie, the 24h I was there was long enough for me. Maybe I would feel a little differently if I had slept better but I’m not sure it would make all the difference either. It was just really full-on with authors everywhere, I didn’t know where to look first. The panel talks also gave a lot of information, I was quite happy there were signing sessions in between and a break for lunch. London is a strange city too so with every step I was looking around at everything new and it was a lot to take in.
I highly recommend this book festival though. I know it’s the first and only one I attended but it was very well organised, it had big author names on their programme, the panels were great and of outstanding quality (you won’t get bored, promise), there was a good vibe and atmosphere and the location is easy enough to reach. Don’t miss out on attending next year is all I can say !
My sweet friend Meggy made it so much better for me of course, I didn’t feel lost and I didn’t get lost (ok I did, twice even, but I’ll tell you about that in another blogpost). On day 2 she came with me to the trainstation again where I took the Eurostar home. In Brussels I took another local train then and after 4 hours (3 in reality but with the time difference 4) I was home again. The adventure might have ended in the present day but I’m still reliving it in my mind…
It was an amazing experience and I’m grateful for meeting so many authors, new and old but all very friendly, for everyone I met there and the friends I made. I’m happy I did it!
Ah before I forget…. I came to London with one small rucksack and I went home with 10 books (and two I had brought from home) so that’s 12 books (and one of them is so thick it can even count for two). It’s a wonder I haven’t dislocated my shoulder or hurt my back.
Here’re the books I bought (I bought 3 in a secondhand bookstore too at lunchtime) and 2 were in the Capital Crime goodie bag.
So what do you think? Who wants to attend Capital Crime next year? I hope I could convince you it’s really worth it!