Crimefest: My Part In Its Victory
21 May 2011
So, I went to Crimefest. I met some people. I did a couple of author panels. I had fish and chips. I listened to another author panel, which I have to admit I found very frustrating, because I just sat there thinking, I want to answer that question. Then I left.
I didn't die, I didn't kill anyone, I don't think I embarrassed myself, and I never answered any questions with the word, 'What?'
The most disconcerting aspect of the event: at the end of each panel the participating authors go into a room next door to sign books presented to them by adoring fans. This is the awkward turtle moment. Either there are queues and queues for the guy next to you, while you have none, or someone gives you a book to sign and says, 'Write something funny', or 'Make up some really cool bit of shit. It's for Alice.'
I did a signing once at Edinburgh with Chris Brookmyre and Mark Billingham, where the queues resembled John Cleese and the two Ronnies in the Frost Report's Class Sketch. I was Ronnie Corbett. And I got asked to put awkward stuff in books. It was Author's Hell.
After the first panel at Crimefest only one person came in to the signing room to ask for a signature, and it wasn't from me. He had just bought one of my books, which he waved at me, but he obviously didn't want me to sign it. Must be expecting to sell it on eBay later and knows that my signature will automatically wipe 90% off the value.
A few people came in after the second panel, but mostly for Chris Ewan and again, none for me. Since I have a dread fear of the awkward signing request, and am quite happy in my position at the back of the grid alongside d'Ambrosio and Timo Glock, I was genuinely relieved.
At lunch I sat next to Colin Cotterill. Then I bought one of his books, but at his signing he had a bit of a queue while no one else in the room had anyone, so I didn't wait for his signature. Before I left I had the chance to introduce myself to Colin Bateman, but didn't. Not sure why. Now I'm thinking, I should have introduced myself to Colin Bateman.
Donna Moore, Supreme Ruler of the second of my two panels, had tasked the rest of us with writing a short opening to a story with an animal protagonist, to be read out at the beginning of the event. Here's mine:
No one ever knew his real name. They called him The Ringmaster. And now he was dead, his body crushed and battered and broken in an attack that was bestial in its ferocity. His killer, in a final act of diabolical brutality, had slit open his stomach, sucked up his innards and then sprayed them around in a bloody fifty yard radius. The lungs, somehow containing the last vestiges of air, bounced into a far corner. The heart rolled over beside them, leaving a trail of aortic slime in its wake. It was nasty, but it was the Glasgow way. When the deed was done, years of humiliation having been avenged, his killer returned to her small caravan, where her clothes and all her possessions were neatly laid out on the bed, ready to go. And so it was that at 4.37 on a June morning that had already dawned warm and bright, Nelly the Elephant packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus.