Recently, prompted by my very efficient webmistress to add a diary entry, I was shocked to see that I haven't written anything since the end of April. The spring seems to have slid past without my noticing, perhaps because in my head I'm in the Whitley Bay of the 80s and 90s, writing a new Vera novel. The discovery of a pile of bones at St Mary's Island takes Vera back to the time when she was a young detective. We first moved to the north east in the 80s and it's been fun recapturing MY time as a new crime writer, getting to know the place that's become our permanent home.
CrimeFest has become an important event in our calendar. It's been a while since I attended, and I enjoyed catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. A panel chaired by James Runcie on violence against women was thought-provoking and I had dinner with Lori Radar-Day, an American writer whose books I admired when I first read them at Left Coast Crime in Arizona. On the way to Bristol for CrimeFest I spoke to the women in Drake Hall prison, and then stopped in Herefordshire for a couple of nights for events in Ledbury and Leominster.
The most exciting jaunt of the period was to Hay. I'd never been to the festival, but I was born in Hereford, the nearest station, and there was a strange atavistic sense of belonging as we drove through the lush countryside past orchards and hop fields to the town. I recognized village names and even glimpsed the cottage where I think my grandparents had once lived.
Our Hay panel was based on SHETLAND and it was a delight to get together with exec producer Elaine Collins, script exec Clare Batty and actress Alison O'Donnell. The panel was chaired by the wonderful Alison Graham from the Radio Times. We had a fantastic audience in the tent that night, with lots of great contributions, so thanks to everyone who came.