Thursday 30 November 2017

Hull Noir - Crime Fiction Festival @HullNoir #CrimeFiction

The weekend of 17 -19th November saw Martin and I pack our bags and take the M180 to Hull, for the first ever Hull Noir Crime Fiction Festival.

Along the way, we stopped at Humberside Airport to collect author Nic Parker who had flown in from Germany especially for the event.  We arrived at the Royal Hotel in the centre of Hull to find a hotel buzzing with authors, bloggers and publisher, along with lots of members of the public. The atmosphere was great, the weather was cold but bright ...  it was the start of a fabulous weekend.

Organised by authors Nick Quantrill and Nick Triplow, along with Nicky East; the Hull Noir Festival celebrated the best of British and international crime fiction. As part of  Tell The World, the fourth season of this year's UK City of Culture celebrations, Hull was proud to play host to Iceland Noir on their bi-annual travels from the festival's home, Hull's twin city of Reykjavik.

Nick was in conversation with novelist Cathi Unsworth, talking about Lewis, his life and work, and continued influence on crime writing.

Friday night was spent in the bar, no surprises there!  It was fabulous to catch up with Karen Sullivan and her authors, and also to spend time with fellow bloggers including the awesome, Queen of Crime Bloggers Noelle Holten from CrimeBookJunkie, Rachel Emms from Chillers, Killers & Thrillers, Jen from Jen Med Books Reviews and of course, my partner Blogger in Residence, Susan Heads from The Book Trail.

Saturday was a packed day of panels, and the anticipation for the first one was great. The room was buzzing as we settled down for Panel One: Sleeping With The Fishes : Hull v Iceland.

David Mark, Lilja Sigurdardottir and Quentin Bates, chaired by Nick Quantrill. The panel looked at the style, influence and distinctions and conflicts of Hull and Iceland as locations and inspirations for crime writing.

I had to miss the second panel as Noelle and I were interviewing Martina Cole!  Yes, THE Martina Cole - Queen of Crime, who is celebrating twenty five years as a best selling author. She was amazing and my write up of the interview is coming very soon.

After the excitement and laughter of spending time with Martina Cole, we were back in the conference room for Panel Three; Into The Darkness - the new noir.
As eras come and go and each generation defines itself by the writing that came before, Jake Arnott, Emma Flint, Joseph Knox and Cathi Unsworth looked at the challenge of writing contemporary noir fiction and the power of historical setting.

The final panel of the evening, and taking star billing was the incredible Martina Cole. The audience were all a buzz as they waited for her to step onto the stage.
The most borrowed author in prison libraries; the most shoplifted from British bookshops; best-selling Queen of British crime fiction, Martina Cole celebrates the 25th anniversary of the publication of her first novel, Dangerous Lady, in the company of critic, author and crime fiction aficionado, Barry Forshaw.
What an amazing woman she is; down to earth, so funny and she has so many stories to tell that span her career.  A fabulous way to end the first day of this fantastic festival.

Saturday night was another late one, there was a riotous dinner with Team Orenda, Tammy Cohen, David Young, Nic Parker and Jacky Collins, followed by drinks and plots to kidnap the hotel Christmas tree by certain crime authors that shouldn't be named ... they know just who they are though!

Sunday brought another packed day of panels, and we started with Getting Away With Murder; golden age vs digital age.  From wire messages, telegrams and Hansom cabs to new tech, dark web and the emergence of new formats, Abir Mukherjee, Rachel Rhys and Matt Wesolowski discussed the influence of technologies on crime writing and publishing with Ayo Onatade. There was much hilarity during this panel, a great way to start Sunday morning!

Next we found ourselves Behind Bars : freedom, oppression and control.  With a background of Hull's historical links to the slave trade abolitionist William Wilberforce and traditions of resistance, Eva Dolan, Kati Hiekkapelto, Stav Sherez and William Ryan explored ways in which crime fiction deals with characters living under oppression or imprisoned by circumstance.

After a quick lunch; well a doughnut and yet more coffee, we gathered back at the Hotel for Panel Three : Off The Beaten Track : exploring roads less takenDaniel Pembrey, Antti Tuomainen, Sarah Ward and David Young discussed the unfashionable and hitherto undiscovered landscapes, languages and settings for crime writing with Jacky Collins, and cast fresh light on where new territories for writing might be found.

The penultimate panel of the day, and in fact, of the whole Festival was next. Brawlers And Bastards: the rise of the unlikeable hero.  From Bill Sykes through Jack Carter and beyond, Steph Broadribb, Mick Herron, Harry Brett and Craig Robertson looked at ways in which crime authors redeem them irredeemable and create antiheroes from the most unlikeable protagonists. There were some fabulous anti-heroes here, and guess which of the authors was last involved in a punch up? (Clue, she's female!)

And so, the Festival drew to a close on Sunday afternoon. The final panel was another much anticipated one from the audience; A Year in the Crime Writing Life: Mark Billingham and John Connolly with Jake Kerridge.
Bringing the Festival to a close, Mark Billingham and John Connolly took a look at their writing years with Daily Telegraph crime fiction critic, Jake Kerridge. The best, the worst; a year to remember, one to forget; the tears, tantrums and triumphs of a crime writing life.

The official Festival Read was Snare by Lilja Sigurdardottir, published by Orenda Books. Snare is Lilja's first novel to be translated into English.

Festival partners, Hull Independent Cinema joined with Hull Noir to present a short series of Ted Lewis related crime films including gangster classic Get Carter (1971). E52 Theatre Company premiered a script-in-hand reading of a new production baed on David Mark's debut novel, Dark Winter.

Hull Noir was a resounding, fabulous, crime-filled SUCCESS!  Everyone that I spoke to; readers, authors, bloggers, publishers and presenters enjoyed it so much. Praise and hurrahs to the three Nicks who organised it so well, and brought some of the best and biggest names to Hull.

Amazing stuff guys, when can we do it all over again??

Twitter @HullNoir
Hull Noir website

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