A late start on Sunday and I popped into an event with Candice Gaines and Isla Traquair, talking to Theresa Talbot about their rather different true crime podcasts. I hadn’t originally intended to go to this as I’m not so interested in true crime, but I was intrigued by their different approaches to what they do and the reasons they do it. Having been tangentially involved in a project a few years ago highlighting the many missing First Nation women in Canada and the unidentified, unclaimed murder victims from the First Nation peoples, I was interested in Candice Gaines’ efforts to bring similar cases to light in the U.S. concerning people of colour, using a podcast – she is approached by family or friends of a victim, rather than going out looking for cases. Isla Traquair on the other hand goes back to older cases and subjects them to a very detailed ongoing investigation – not necessarily unsolved crimes, but ones where perhaps our perspectives and attitudes might have changed since. They covered how they deal with the traumatic things they read and the possible dangers of what they do, and how they seek some kind of resolution for all those concerned.
Then it was time for a panel on revenge, with Alex Clark interviewing Lesley Kara, Stina Jackson and Eva Bjorn Aegisdottir about their most recent books. A good discussion on the instinct for revenge, the best revenge plots, the harm revenge can cause even to the avenger, and the distinction between revenge and vigilantism. So nice to see Stina’s cat!
Next Peter May. This is an author I haven’t read much of – only his Lewis trilogy – but I think it might have been my favourite event. Bryan Burnett is excellent at ‘just chatting’, even though I know he’s done his research. I loved how May spoke about ‘writing for’ his characters, as if he were helping them out, and I loved how he valued the depths of his own research. The account of how he had written his most recent book was fascinating, and he was amusing (if clearly still a little irritated) at the antics of his own publishers over the years. As someone who has also always known that they wanted to write I enjoyed his account of that, too. A session where you really felt you learned something.
That was my last session – I might listen to Baldacci later, maybe not.
My verdict this year? It was easy to become distracted, particularly after a few sessions, and check what was going on elsewhere on the web while continuing to listen (and call it multi-tasking). I couldn’t help wondering what it was like, too, for the authors, doing this in their studies / sitting rooms / kitchens, conscious of other members of the household listening in, perhaps, and very conscious of not knowing how the audience was reacting. And no off to the bar afterwards to chat, no flopping for a post mortem in the green room. Yet I felt the organisers came up with a great programme and created the atmosphere of the real-life festival as well as they could, and the additional pleasure of watching it remotely with friends and relations who can’t normally be here for it was welcome. The interviewers were stoical in dealing with the quirks of online conversations and kept everything flowing remarkably well. But I hope we’re back in the Lemon Tree, the Library and everywhere else next year!