Today I am delighted to be bringing you details of the upcoming Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival taking place on the 28th & 29th of September as well as the people behind it.
In September 2017, Morecambe & Vice made its sparkling debut at the glorious Morecambe Winter Gardens. Described as a weekend ‘full of warmth, wit and wisdom’, authors, speakers and guests from across the globe flocked to the sunny seaside for a weekend filled with criminal shenanigans.
Now, in 2019 the festival is back for the third year running! This year the North West’s quirkiest crime-writing festival will be bigger and better than ever before! Keep an eye out on their Facebook page and Twitter stream, to keep up to date will all their news.
So a while back now I was contacted by the organisers behind the festival to organise a blog tour to show case all the fantastic people that will be featuring at the event. It was an absolute honour to be involved with it I have to say. Before I tell you a bit more about the blog tour though, am sure like me, you would love to know more about the dynamic duo who have organised the festival itself.
Tom Fisher and Ben Cooper-Muir are the brains (and sometimes brawn!) behind the Morecambe & Vice Crime Writing Festival, through their production company Attic Door Productions. Coming from a theatrical background, Tom and Ben have applied their knowledge and skills into turning Morecambe & Vice from a ‘festival’ into an ‘event’. When they’re not organising crime festivals, you can find them committing murder up and down the country with After Dark Murder Mystery Events.
How did getting involved with Morecambe & Vice Crime festival come about?
We’re both huge fans of crime fiction but whenever there was a crime festival taking place in the country, more often than not, we’d always end up missing it due to work. So one day we decided ‘Hey, why not do our own crime festival here in Morecambe?’. We researched into the idea and soon discovered that there was no other crime writing festival of this magnitude elsewhere in the North West. A few months later, Morecambe & Vice was born into the world!
Can you tell us a bit more about what people can expect from the event?
When we first started, we didn’t want M&V to become ‘just another crime festival’. As we’re a theatrical production company, we wanted to put on a show! That’s why, when people come to M&V, they get more than just a ‘crime festival’ – last year, we encouraged all our authors to show us their hidden talents: we had authors singing, cocktail-making and even fire-eating!
We don’t want to reveal too much about what we have in store for everyone this year, but rest assured that you can expect the same warmth, wit and wisdom of previous years!
Where did both of your passion for crime fiction come from?
Tom: My grandmother had a huge collection of Famous Five books, so I think the blame lies with her! I used to devour them when I was growing up and from then I moved on to Sherlock Holmes and then, of course, Agatha Christie. I was always one of those children who would stay up under the covers, armed with a torch and a book, desperate to find out whodunnit!
Ben: For as long as I can remember I have always had an obsession with Crime Fiction in all its many forms. I don’t think there is a specific source I could cite. There was naturally Enid Blyton as a younger child (although forget the Secret Seven and the Famous Five. The Five Find Outers were always my favourite, it was always amazing to me how ‘Fatty’ managed to fool everyone with his astounding disguises) then I moved on to the Three Investigators which being set in Hollywood had the joint appeal of also feeding my obsession with films and entertainment. Then came Agatha Christie – whose first book I still remember reading in the car on the way back from a jumble sale where I’d bought it. I think that is the mark of a truly great book (or at least one that you yourself find great) that it instils itself as a memory in your life. From that moment there have been many, many, many more authors who have fuelled the passion, and it’s still going strong today!
What are the pros and cons of running a crime festival?
Tom: I totally admit that when we first started with M&V in 2017, I had no idea the amount of work that goes into running something as large as a crime writing festival! We run events and shows on a day-to-day basis as a company, but an entire festival (with over 40 authors) was a whole new mountain to conquer! Each and every single detail has to be thought out: the nametags; the goodybags; authors’ accommodation; train times and transport to the venue for authors and guests; the list goes on! But every year Ben & I always walk away saying ‘Wow, we pulled it off again!’ and that mostly comes down to the amazing festival team behind the event! Thanks to M&V, I’ve met some of my favourite authors and discovered even more great books – this job really is a fanboy’s dream. One of the highlights of last year was audience members and authors coming up to Ben & I and telling us how much they’re enjoying the event – it’s moments like that that make the job worthwhile!
Ben: I should really be saving this for my panel on running a festival at this year’s Morecambe & Vice rather than give away my insights here, but I think the main pro is that you get to meet so many diverse people who are really friendly and passionate about what they do. There’s so much support and camaraderie throughout the world of crime writing which is the ethos we try and embody in M&V and I know we’ll have made friends for life from putting on the festival. As for the cons… well – come and see the panel and ask me about it then!
Are there any authors in particular live or dead, that you would love to have appear at the festival?
Tom: I think that an event (or even an entire festival) made up completely of ‘unknown’ authors would be extremely interesting. I mean, as organisers of course we need to think about ‘bums on seats’, but Morecambe & Vice was never designed to play by the rules. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love for Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves to skip merrily along Morecambe promenade hand-in-hand, but I think that by giving a voice to those writers who have never published a book, who are just starting on their writing journey, I think that is more the M&V spirit.
Ben: In some ways were not particularly an author driven event. Over the years we’ve become more of a ‘topic’ driven event where the focus is on what the panels are about rather than who is appearing. We tend to start with the festival theme for the year and then pick panel topics and then start the search for authors who would be the best to discuss that topic. So although we always approach the usual suspect and big sellers for headline spots on each day (as it would be silly not to as we still need to attract audiences and sell tickets) we would still put the content before the name when putting together the program. (That said – if you’re planning to resurrect Christie or Conan Doyle any time soon then please pass on our email address)
Do both of you get much time for reading yourself and who are some of your personal favourite authors to read?
Tom: I always like to make time for reading, even if it’s just an hour or so before bed. Whereas most people are “Oooh, just another episode…”, I’m more of a “Oooh, just another chapter…” kind of guy. At the moment, I’m re-reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower omnibus: I would argue (and fight!) that Stephen King is one of the greatest modern-day storytellers (Stephen, if you’re reading this, there’s still a space for you at M&V 2020…). If you’d like a list of my favourite crime authors, just see the M&V lineups over the past three years – they’re all fab! In terms of non-crime, some of my favourite authors are Paul Tremblay, Sue Townsend, Adam Kay, Margaret Atwood and Chris Beckett.
Ben: There’s always time for reading – either when I’m on the road travelling to shows or when I’m in the bath (it’s the most peaceful place in the house when you’ve got a 5 year old!) I have loads of favourite authors, specifically in the Crime genre but I’m not going to go into those as I don’t want to show favouritism! In other genres I have always loved Robert Rankin, he’s another that I can remember the first time I bought one of his books (plus he did dabble in mystery with his ‘Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse) Having a theatre background I’m a lover of great dialogue over descriptive prose and I also read a lot of scripts for pleasure. David Mamet and Moira Buffini being two favourites to start with. For sheer rhythm of words both to read and listen to Victoria Wood is a genius, there is such a musicality to her dialogue. Jane Austen, Stephen Fry, Susan Hill, Ronnie Barker, there’s so many great authors and writers out there who I enjoy reading… I could go on forever!
Have you already started on plans for next year’s event and is there any particular criteria or information for any authors/publishers who maybe considering getting involved in future events?
We’re certainly throwing around some ideas for next year’s event. I think after M&V 2018, we gave it about a week before planning M&V 2019! This year, I’d like just a little more time to recover! We’re always open to offers and suggestions for authors, panel topics and guests – all we ask is that people get in touch and let us know your thoughts!
For more information and how you can get tickets to this not be missed event, please click the link here: https://www.morecambecrimefest.co.uk/
So as I previously mentioned, in the run up to the festival, there is a blog tour running where you can find out more about the fabulous people that will be taking part in all of the panels. A huge thank you to all the wonderful bloggers taking part. I do hope you will follow the blog tour as there is a great mix of reviews, Q&A’s and more to be enjoyed.