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The Crimefest Epiphany

by Douglas Lindsay - 11:08 on 22 January 2013

This is my biography from Crimefest - the annual crime fiction convention in Bristol - from last May:

The first 48 years of Lindsay's life were largely uneventful. This changed one extraordinary May morning in Bristol. Speaking later to Mr. Jeremy Kyle, Lindsay claimed he was not the only delegate to assume that he was attending a festival of crime, rather than crime fiction. Nevertheless, no other attendee was seen to introduce a machete into proceedings or, indeed, to have wielded it with such singular and bloody consequence.

(With the exception of the first sentence, none of that was actually true.)

I came to realise something at Crimefest last year. I'm in the wrong job.

There were a lot of enthusiastic, talented people there, great writers, great minds concerned with the crime fiction, its future, its place in society, what it can tell us about ourselves, the processes, the plotting, the devices.

Then there was me.

I sat on a panel discussing the general what-not of crime novels, not really feeling like I was pulling my weight, then I sat in the audience to listen to another panel. I don't remember the names of anyone who was on that second panel. I hadn't read any of their books. The panel consisted largely of middle-class, middle-aged men talking about darkness and how dark we all are and the darkness within them and why they chose to put pen to paper rather than murder someone blah blah blah. I suppose this is what happens at most panels at crime fiction events.

One of the middle-class, middle-aged men said, "Reading fiction is an exercise in empathy." I remember he said that because I wrote it down. He said it, and I thought, 'What the fuck? Who talks like that?' And I wrote it down so that if I ever thought that I might go back to Crimefest - or some similar event - I could read that line and think, well that's the kind of thing that these people say, and you will never, ever in your entire life even think something like that, never mind say it in public.

I'm not really cut out to be a crime writer appearing on stage discussing his craft. (I didn't want to be a guy writing about a barber anyway. I wanted to be a lumberjack.) Crimefest is run by wonderful people and it's fun and informative; it's just not for me. I don't belong there. I belong in a room on my own, a literature festival for one, where there's no audience and that's fine, because I'm not saying anything anyway.

Nevertheless, there's a follow-up coming to The Unburied Dead, which is definitely a crime novel, although the first draft was written pre-Crimefest epiphany. I'm currently writing a definite non-crime novel - started out entitled The Faraday Cage but has in the last few days been retitled IN SEARCH OF THE JIGSAW MAN, although the title is obviously a fairly fluid thing at the moment - then I'll tackle WE ARE DEATH, the follow-up to We Are The Hanged Man; it's shaping up to be more of a Dan Brown-esque thriller than a crime novel, however.

As for literary events, I will be appearing in a Cafe Nero near you any time soon, although I'll be drinking coffee and not speaking.


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