The 2015 Conference featured a distinguished range of speakers including leading crime writers as well as local authors.
Conference Host: Susan Moody
Was born and brought up in Oxford. She has published 34 crime and suspense novels, including the Penny Wanawake series and the Cassandra Swann bridge series. She has also written many stand-alone novels, among them Losing Nicola and, most recently, A Final Reckoning. The Colour of Hope was an international best-seller and translated into many languages. Her novelization of the Gold Blend coffee ads, Love Over Gold, reached the Sunday Times best-seller lists. Sadly, it was written under a pseudonym! She is a past Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association, a member of the Detection Club, a past Writer-in-Residence at the Universities of Tasmania and Copenhagen, and a past President of the International Association of Crime Writers. She and her husband divide their time between south-west France and south-east Kent.
Catherine Aird is the author of over twenty detective novels featuring Detective Inspector C.D.Sloan, and three volumes of mainly mystery short stories. She has also edited and published a series of parish histories about the villages north of Canterbury. She is a former chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association and is to receive this year’s C.W.A. Diamond Dagger Award.
Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager and found himself working in Iceland, where his gap year eventually became a gap decade, acquirirng a new language, profession and a family in the process. He trained as a ship’s officer before unexpectedly side-stepping inot an obscure branch of journalism and from there into fiction. The Gunnhildur novels were born of his intimate knowledge and fondness for Iceland and its people, plus a fascination with the turmoil of the country’s recent history. He is also translating the novels of Ragnar Jonasson into English, to be published by Orenda Books.
Stephen Bates was born in Berkshire and educated at New College, Oxford, where he took a degree in Modern History. He was a journalist for 36 years until 2012, working for the BBC, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail before joining the Guardian in 1990 where he was subsequently education editor, political correspondent, European Affairs Editor, based in Brussels for five years, and finally the paper’s religious affairs and royal correspondent. He reported from more than 40 countries, was named British religion writer of the year in 2005 and 2006. A regular broadcaster, he has also written for the Spectator, New Statesman, Time magazine, the Tablet, the Church Times, History Today and BBC History Magazine. His book The Poisoner, the story of the notorious Victorian murderer Dr William Palmer, was published in 2014 and has been shortlisted for the award of best true-crime book of the year in the US. Other books include 1815: Regency Britain in the Year of Waterloo, published in January 2015 and one historical novel: The Photographer’s Boy, published in 2013, about pioneering photographers in the American Civil War. His eighth book, Royalty Inc. about the Monarchy will be published in September 2015. Stephen Bates is married, with three grown-up children and lives in Deal.
Mark Billingham is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and popular crime writers. His series of novels featuring D.I. Tom Thorne has twice won him the Crime Novel Of The Year Award and been nominated for seven CWA Daggers. His standalone thriller In the Dark was chosen as one of the twelve best books of the year by the Times and his debut novel, Sleepyhead was chosen by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade. A television series based on the Thorne novels was screened in Autumn 2010, starring David Morrissey as Tom Thorne and adaptations of both In The Dark and Rush Of Blood are currently in development with the BBC. Mark Billingham’s latest novel is The Bones Beneath. www.markbillingham.com
Under various names, Richard Blake has written over twenty books. As Richard Blake, he is the author of the Death of Rome Saga a series of thrilllers set in the early Byzantine Empire published by Hodder & Stoughton. A further instalment is currently in progress. He lives in Deal with his wife and daughter.
Simon Brett is the author of over ninety books, most of them crime novels including the Charles Paris, Mrs Pargeter, Fethering and Blotto & Twinks series. For radio and television he wrote After Henry and No Commitments. He is President of the Detection Club and in 2014 was awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger for Excellence.
Martyn Waites was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Before becoming a writer he was an actor. He has written ten novels under his own name including the award winning Born Under Punches, the critically acclaimed Joe Donovan Series and the sequel to Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black. Under the name Tania Carver he is responsible for the internationally bestselling, award nominated Brennan and Esposito series of thrillers. He has also collaborated with Mark Billingham on Great Lost Albums, the funniest book ever written.
David Donachie was born in Edinburgh in 1944 and left school at 14 years and 11 months with no qualifications, certainly none in English. The blurb on his first book jackets used to say he had worked at more jobs than birthdays; decorator, salesman, truck driver, ice-cream vendor, cleaner, packer, theatre worker, entrepreneur who launched a dozen projects and never made much of any of them. Once asked by a radio interviewer; why he had become a writer, his reply was, “Desperation. I’ve tried everything else.” His first novel, written in his 40’s came by accident. He sat down to write a radio play and ended up six weeks later with a 400-page book. Spurred on by that he can now list 40 published novels, under his own name and the pen names Jack Ludlow and Tom Connery. Also he says that he is lucky enough to make a living as a novelist without the need to do anything else.
Ruth Dudley Edwards
Ruth Dudley Edwards was born and brought up in Dublin and lives in London. Once a teacher, marketing executive and civil servant, since 1979 she has been a freelance historian, crime novelist, journalist and broadcaster: her books include biographies of Patrick Pearse, Victor Gollancz and (jointly) Cecil King and Hugh Cudlipp, as well as the history of The Economist. Her most recent non-fiction book is Aftermath: the Omagh bombing and the families’ pursuit of justice, which won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction. The targets of her twelve satirical crime novels include Cambridge University, the House of Lords, the Church of England, the literati and, above all, political correctness. Murdering Americans (which is set on an American campus) and Killing the Emperors (which is about the confidence trick that is conceptual art) both won the Last Laugh Award. http://www.ruthdudleyedwards.com Twitter@ruthde
Helen Giltrow is a former bookseller and editor whose writing has been shortlisted for the CWA’s Debut Dagger Award. Her first novel The Distance – a dark suspense thriller set in the world of criminal espionage, with a strong female lead – was published by Orion and Doubleday in 2014.
Robert Goddard was born in Hampshire and read History at Cambridge. His first novel, Past Caring, was an instant bestseller. Since then his books have captivated readers with their edge-of-the-seat pace and labyrinthine plotting. The first Harry Barnett novel, Into the Blue, won the inaugural W H Smith Thumping Good Read Award and was dramatized for TV starring John Thaw. His thriller Long Time Coming won an Edgar in the Mystery Writers of America awards. The final book in his Wide World trilogy, set in 1919 and featuring James ‘Max’ Maxted, will be published in July.
William Horwood is the author of the bestselling Duncton Wood fantasy series and Wolves of Time books, among many others. He worked as a freelance financial journalist for trade magazines and national newspapers until he joined the Daily Mail as editor of Money Mail. His first novel was published in 1980 and he has been a novelist ever since. William was raised in Deal and his critically acclaimed memoir, The Boy with No Shoes , describing his 1950’s childhood, is set in the town. He is a Council Member of the Society of Authors and was recently re-elected to its Management Committee.
Erin Kelly is best known for her debut novel, The Poison Tree, which was a major ITV drama, a Richard and Judy Bestseller and long listed for the John Creasy Dagger Award. She is the author of three more acclaimed psychological thrillers as well as the official novel of the Bafta-winning Broadchurch. Her work has been translated into seventeen languages. Erin has been a freelance journalist since 1998, and also teaches creative writing. She lives in London with her family.
Janet Laurence’s A Fatal Freedom, published in May 2015 by the Mystery Press, is the second in her Ursula Grandison Edwardian mystery series and she is now working on the third. She is also the author of the Darina Lisle culinary and Canaletto historical crime series, and of Writing Crime Fiction – Making Crime Pay, published by Aber. She regularly runs crime writing workshops and is currently Chairman of the CWA International Dagger judging panel.
Alex Marwood spent a decade as a features writer and columnist for the UK press before turning to writing novels. She had four novels published under her own name, Serena Mackesy, before adopting an alias and turning to crime with the Edgar-winning international bestseller, The Wicked Girls. Her second novel, The Killer Next Door, was described by no less a luminary than Stephen King as “Scary as Hell”. She grew up in the Cotswolds, lives in south London and generally works in bed. She recently threw away her desk and replaced it with a second bed, to give herself somewhere to go for a change of scene.
M J McGrath
Melanie McGrath is a journalist and author of bestselling nonfiction. As MJ McGrath, she writes the Edie Kiglatuk series of Arctic mysteries. The first in the series was longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger, the second and third were Times and Financial Times crime picks of the year. The series has been translated into 18 languages. Melanie is a recipient of the John Llewelyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday award for Best British and Commonwealth Writer under 35. She is a former Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Roehampton University and is currently writing a psychological thriller.
Louise Millar is a journalist and the author of three psychological thrillers, The Playdate, Accidents Happen and The Hidden Girl. She started her journalism career on Smash Hits and the NME and was Senior Editor at Marie Claire for five years. Her role there involved interviewing hundreds of women affected by crime, leading to her interest in the psychology of the subject. Originally from Glasgow, now living in London, she has recently moved the setting of her next two novels back to Scotland. Her other main interests are Nordic and American crime fiction and film, and she regularly writes about both regions for newspapers. Her novels are published in ten countries.
Before becoming a writer, Michael Ridpath used to work in the City of London as a bond trader. He has written eight financial thrillers, which were published in over 30 languages, a spy novel entitled Traitor’s Gate set in Berlin in 1938 and a series of crime novels featuring the Icelandic detective Magnus Jonson. The most recent of these is Sea of Stone. He is a former Vice Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association. He lives in London.
Laura Wilson’s acclaimed and award-winning crime novels have won her many fans. The first novel in the DI Stratton series, Stratton’s War, won the 2008 Ellis Peters Award for Best Historical Mystery, and two other novels have been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. Laura is the Guardian’s crime fiction reviewer and lectures in crime writing at City University.