On Saturday, I went to the first ever Killer Women Festival in London at Shoreditch’s Town Hall where in 1888 the inquest into Mary Jane Kelly, believed to be the final victim of Jack the Ripper was held. What better place to host a festival for crime fans and crime writers.
The day itself was jam packed full of events, it was impossible to see them all but one of my favourites which I attended was Sarah Hilary’s fresh blood panel where she quizzed four debut authors: Paul Burston, author of The Black Path, Michelle Davies, author of Gone Astray, Agnes Ravatn, author of The Bird Tribunal, and Chris Whitaker, author of Tall Oaks. It only took Chris four weeks to write the first draft of his debut, when he was writing five thousand words a day and a year to tidy it all up. The panel drew much laughter and gasps from the crowd. I thought it was inspiring to hear how the authors developed their debut novel and their path to publication. It was interesting to hear how Michelle Davies drew inspiration from her novel after interviewing Kerry Needham, the mother of missing Ben Needham, when she was working as a journalist. Her interviews with Kerry inspired the creation of the main detective in her novel, a family liaison officer. The Bird Tribunal is Agnes Ravtn’s first novel published in English and is set in the idyllic Norwegian landscape which Sarah Hilary described as Rebecca with fjords. Agnes talked about how working in a creepy cabin, with spiders in the toilet, and no social media, finally gave her the time to finish the book. Personally, I think I would prefer working at my desk.
Early on the morning I attended the How to Pitch Your Novel panel with Sam Eades (Trapeze Publishing), Nelle Andrews (Literary Agent) and Jane Casey (author of the Maeve Kerrigan series). This panel offered plenty of information about the publishing world and it was interesting hearing some of the pitches Sam Eades had received, the worst pitch she ever received was Joseph Fritzel meets The Sound of Music.
What a shame that I had to leave in the afternoon, particularly as I missed out on Killer Women cocktails in the evening, but I’ve heard that the rest of the day was a roaring success. I hope that there will be another festival next year, which I will certainly be attending.