The month of May sees the return of National Crime Reading Month (NCRM), a unique, UK-wide literary festival, designed to connect authors and readers and promote the crime genre.
The festival, which is a major annual initiative co-ordinated by the Crime Writers’ Association and Crime Readers’ Association, normally promotes live author events up and down the country. During lockdown, the initiative has moved online with crime authors posting vlogs and blogs on the website crimereadingmonth.co.uk
Linda Stratmann, Chair of the CWA, explained: “We’ve – quite literally – created Crime Writers in Residence by asking authors to post films from their homes while in lockdown. It’s a kind of criminally-good Through the Keyhole! Readers love the personal insights from meeting authors in person, and most crime authors love to connect to their readers. With all the major crime writing festivals, as well as author events in libraries and bookshops, cancelled for spring and summer, we felt it was important to step in and offer a digital alternative.”
Festivals allow readers to meet established writers and discover new authors to widen and enrich their reading life. They also play an important role for aspiring authors, as well as help forge new friendships.
Linda said: “Reading and writing are of course solitary acts but you’re never alone with a book. There’s a real connection on the page that is passionately celebrated in our festivals and author events. The crime genre is perhaps the most accessible and democratic of all, which makes our community a very sociable and inclusive one. We understand how important those connections are, so we’re encouraging CWA members to join in and submit videos from their homes to reach out to readers in lockdown.”
Although May is the official month for mayhem and murder with NCRM, the CWA began collating vlogs in April in response to lockdown.
Featured authors include AJ Waines, a former psychotherapist who has gone on the write ten thrillers selling half a million copies, with her latest psychological thriller Cut You Dead released this April.
Fiona Veitch Smith, author of the Poppy Denby Investigates series, shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger in 2016, also joins the video series to talk about her life under lockdown during the Covid-19 crisis, alongside Holly Watt, who won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger last year for To The Lions.
Holly Watt said: “One thing I am finding weird about writing at the moment is that my characters are meeting up with friends! And having dinner together! And getting on planes! And all these things suddenly seem completely alien. It’s quite hard to write several paragraphs without interjecting ‘and then he washed his hands while singing Happy Birthday’.”
NCRM will also see the launch of short stories that will be free to read on the Crime Readers’ Association website, to provide a public platform for CWA authors wishing to showcase their work.
Readers and authors can join in #CrimeReadingMonth online and subscribe to the Crime Readers’ Association for free to receive the CRA Newsletter and bi-monthly e-zine, Case Files.