Today I want to share with you my experience at Morecambe and Vice. It’s the first full festival I’ve been to this year – and my first as being recognised as a blogger!
Friday 28th September
Arrived the afternoon prior to the start of the festival so I had plenty of time to find everything (including the infamous statue). Obligatory photo taken, found the Festival office and met the lovely team behind it. Checked on directions to the main venue (“Er.. it’s next door…”) and where the Fringe event on Saturday evening was. Had a nice meal and an early night.
Saturday 29th October
It was a lot warmer than I was expecting in Morecambe on the Saturday morning. I’d brought a blanket just in case it was cold – the Winter Gardens where the festival was held was known for not being the warmest of venues!
First up was “Smarter Than The Average Bear” – a crime novel aimed at kids which was also raising money for the local charity Unique Kidz and Co. The author is a serving Police Officer and I was amazed to learn the illustrator was just 15 years old!
Next up was “The Northern Invasion” – Nick Oldham, Robert Parker, Roz Watkins and MW Craven discussed how being Northern affected their writing. I was thrilled when Robert Parker said his first experience of Northern TV was Byker Grove! They also spoke of how writing in a local dialect proves problematic for international sales.
Third panel of the day was “Court in the Act” – Adam Hamdy, Alex McBride, Neil White and Tony Kent all currently or used to work in the law, and talked about how their work had informed their writing. There were plenty of revelations during this panel – including one author admitting he was practicing law under his real name and another admitting to being a trained marksman!
After lunch, it was time for “Crossing Sides” – Frances Brody, Sue Welfare, James Swallow and CJ Skuse spoke to moderator Elly Griffiths about why they had changed genre and moved into crime. From writing romance, sci-fi and YA to crime – all had different but interesting reasons for making the jump.
Next up was “Crime is Crime” – Mari Hannah, Sarah Hilary, Alex Reeve and Jake Arnott discussed the issues that still face LGBT authors, moderated by Paul Burston.
I was a bit crimed out by this point, and the next panel was on graphic novels and comics, which isn’t really my cup of tea. I took a bit of time out and managed to grab 5 minutes with Elly Griffiths (watch out for that in the next couple of weeks).
Our final panel of the day was Peter Robinson in conversation with Elly Griffiths. This was a fascinating look at the author’s career.
After a bit of a break, I headed off to a fabulous Murder Mystery evening at Morecambe library. It was a bit of light hearted fun, hosted by After Dark Murder. I managed to come 4th and was quite proud of it!
Sunday 30th September
I missed the first panel, which covered publishing and promotion, but I made it to the second panel of the day – a Masterclass in crime writing, with David Mark, Kate Bendelow, Graham Bartlett and Neil White. The thing that annoys them most are when TV shows have not done their research – guilty parties included Broadchurch 2, Marcella and CSI. For a real flavour of how it’s done they recommend Scott and Bailey, or the more recent Happy Valley.
Next up, Alan Parks, Joe Thomas, William Shaw and Nick Quantrill discussed how music can make or break a crime production.
After a break for lunch, Julius Green gave a talk on the greatest female playwright – Agatha Christie. He is amazed that she is better known for her novels as she wrote so many plays – and even adapted her own novels into plays. All of the panels had been asked if they had a hidden talent – and Julius used to eat fire! There’s a clip available here!
Next up was “From Page to Screen” – Simon Booker, Charles Harris, Paul Finch, Stephen Gallagher and MJ Arlidge discussed their dual lives as authors and screenwriters – and the different challenges that come with both roles.
The penultimate panel of the festival (but the last for me) was the one I’d been looking forward to the most – “If I Were Not Upon The Stage” – Robert Daws, Hugh Fraser and Martyn Waites in discussion on how acting has influenced their writing.
I was a bit starstruck by this panel – I love Hugh Fraser’s portrayal of Captain Hastings, and I’ve also watched a lot of stuff Robert Daws has been in. I’d managed to grab 5 minutes with Robert for a chat (watch out for that too), and was so starstruck by Hugh Fraser I barely managed 2 words to him. Both were so lovely and friendly. They all agreed that writing was quite a lonely career choice and that there is a spirit of teamwork in acting.
And that was it – I was off to catch a train! I can honestly say I had a fabulous time (I’m already looking at hotels for next year) – and the venue might have been cold, but there was such a warmth and welcome from everyone behind the festival.
Save the date – Morecambe and Vice returns 28/29 September 2019!!