Killer Women by Tara Lyons

I faced a difficult debate: do I stay in the confines of my writing cave for the day (and hopefully not get distracted by social media and the mountain of housework) or do I attend the first Killer Women festival of crime writing in London last weekend? As I hate to miss out, I chose to go.

The founders of Killer Women (a group of crime writers mostly from London), Melanie McGrath and Louise Millar believed London didn't have its own crime writing festival and so created this one day event in Shoreditch Town Hall. As most of you will know, I'm still learning and soaking up the information I need to succeed as a writer, so I'm always happy to learn, and there were some elements of the programme that really interested me.

Photo courtesy of reader Timea
Cassera (left)
How to pitch a novel, Building Suspense workshop, Inside the Killer's Head event, How to Self-publish a Bestseller, How to Solve a Murder and Making a Murderer workshop. These are just some of the events I managed to attend, but it was a packed day with a quiz and murder mystery, conversations with Val McDermid, Ann Cleeves and Martina Cole, literary agents, how to write a book blog, an introduction to crime writing and a screening of Broadmoor. The only downfall was that I couldn't be at two events at once - I feel I really missed out on some gems of advice from authors and other experts who have been doing this job for many, many years.

I think people's opinions are divided when it comes to writing festivals like this. Do you actually get anything beneficial from them? Well, I have quite a few pages of notes after listening to veteran murder detective David Swindle and Detective Chief Super. Jackie Sebire, who spoke for an hour about the building blocks of solving a real life murder. There were points I'll definitely be using in a future novel. It also sparked some new and interesting directions I can take my characters and plot lines... and that can't be a bad thing! I also met some amazing women (and men!) and have added them to my reading list; it was inspirational to hear some of those authors speak about their books and their personal journey.

So, what do you think? Have you attended festivals like this and how did you feel after? As a reader and/or blogger, do you find days like these beneficial? I'd love to know. It's definitely something I'm interested in and would consider going again if there's one next year... I'd just have to plan my time better to ensure I visited the right workshops and discussions for me and my books.

Tara Lyons self-published her debut crime/thriller, In the Shadows, March of this year. She has since signed with Bloodhound Books and book two in the DI Hamilton series will be published in spring 2017.

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Susan Price said…
Tara, I think if you hadn't written a single word in your notebook, it would still have been beneficial. Just getting you out of your house and your own head, meeting others who think in the same way and so learning you're not some lonely weirdo, is, in itself, useful.
I found this when, after decades of being the only writer I knew, I joined the Scattered Authors Society and was suddenly in contact with scores of generous, witty, interested and interesting people who also happened to be writers.
You gain perspective from them and you learn about the craft and the trade. I'd say to any writer, beginner or not: If you can scrape the cash together for a conference, go.
Unknown said…
You're so right, Susan and it was beneficial (always nice not feeling like a lonely weirdo too). I'm sure I'll go again next year if it's organised, so if there's any other (writer) weirdos in London, join in!
Debbie Bennett said…
If I'd known this had existed, I would have been there. Maybe next year....
Unknown said…
That's a shame, Debbie. If I hear any news about another event next year, I'll let you know.

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