In 2018 I celebrated the joys of Crimefest in person and in an excited blog post.

Fast forward to 2022 and I’m still loving Crimefest, but this year my lovely friend Mar visited with me and here is their take on it all!


Crimefest is a fun-filled weekend-long crime fiction event, with a variety of panels featuring international authors and plenty of dark humour. It’s held in Bristol, UK and is inclusive of a range of subgenres, with ample opportunity to network and socialise around the timetabled sessions. Most of the people who attend are authors and writers, but you’ll also find readers, publishers, agents and of course, book bloggers!

In panels such as Bubbling Under: Creating Tension and Violence & Gore: Sweet Old Ladies & Serial Killers you’ll discover whether your favourite crime writers are ‘pantsers’ (riding by the seat of them!) or ‘plotters’ (making a plan before setting fingers to keyboard), and hear their tips on pacing and character creation, while in Playing Games: When Someone is Tormenting Your Characters you’ll find out that it’s invariably the authors themselves that are positively revelling in tormenting their characters. In fact, the panel How Far Would You Go: Characters at the Edge revealed the authors were unanimous that there is NO limit an enthusiastic writer won’t push their hero past!


Other panels promised and delivered nuanced discussion of real-life issues and their exploration through fiction. In Toxic: When Relationships Turn Bad, Rebecca Thornton described the drama of school-gate politics, and how she used this as the basis for her novel, The Fallout. Author Jack Jordan takes inspiration from the medical field for his chilling novel Do No Harm about a surgeon blackmailed into a moral dilemma – will he break his oath? During Morality and Justice: Who Decides Right and Wrong? I asked the panellists what kind of professional oath a crime writer would have to take. In response, Kia Abdullah spoke eloquently about writing ethically, including the importance of avoiding cultural appropriation, and Luke McCallin suggested that writers should aim for each reader to question their thinking on an issue by the time they reach the last page. Lofty goals – MK Hill suggested eating fewer biscuits might be a more realistic target. “Oh yes, fewer jaffa cakes!” Kia chimed in. Thankful not to be an author, if I’d have to cut down on the jaffas. That’s a dealbreaker.

At Crimefest, I love the dynamic conversation between the panellists and the interaction with the audience, the opportunity to ask questions, the quotes that sound so brilliant out of context (“When I decided to turn to crime…”), and the laughter. Social events during the weekend add to this sense of community – a pub quiz on the first night, the Dagger Awards announcement reception, and the pre-gala dinner drinks. At the latter, Emma and I had the chance to chat to Elizabeth Chakrabarty, author of Lessons in Love and Other Crimes, which rapidly made my To-Be-Read list, and Alex North, author of The Whisper Man and The Shadow Friend, who protested my description of myself as ‘just a reader’. Readers are essential to writers, after all, and as many panellists pointed out: all authors are readers first. Stories engage and inspire writers, who engage and inspire others with their stories – recycling! The organisers have created something special here; there’s a magic that emerges from so many people passionate about the genre gathering in one place. If Crimefest was a book, I’d give it five stars out of five – and we’ll certainly be going back for more, next year!


Crimefest returns to Bristol 11th-14th May, 2023.

Many thanks to Mar P – guest blogger and Buriedunderbooks’ Crimefest companion/accomplice: 2019 and 2022.