With a Bloody Mary and bacon butty in hand, Jamie Bernthal took on the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival finale – the Bloody Brunch. What did he think of our panels on East Anglian crime fiction and Euro Noir, as well as the festival as a whole?

Sunday 18 September – The Bloody Brunch, Writers’ Centre Norwich, Dragon Hall

The Bloody Brunch. I got my life support: Bloody Mary, bacon sandwich (vegetarian options were available), and strong black coffee. And the weather held, which helps!

Barry Forshaw was on form again introducing ‘home’ and ‘away’ panels, including some of the most interesting discussions of the weekend – no mean feat for a Sunday morning. The ‘home’ panel included James Henry, Helen Callaghan, and Eva Dolan, whose plain-talking was a highlight for me … She described East Anglia as ‘lawless’: a ‘mix of eerie beauty’ and a sparse police presence that’s a gift to the crime writer.

The conversation turned to literary snobbery and… the Booker shortlist was discussed in lively style. Trigger warnings, too, provoked a bit of a debate.

Chaos, danger, suspense, and grit in one totally un-chaotic weekend.

On the ‘away’ panel, Anja de Jager, Nadia Dalbuono, and Don Bartlett kept us well and truly entertained, with talk of what Forshaw calls ‘Euro Noir’. I learnt a translating term from Don Bartlett, who translates, among others, Jo Nesbo: ‘cultural competence’.

The shortlist and winner of the Noirwich micro-fiction competition (in partnership with Visit Norwich) were announced by the author Bill Albert, in stately fashion. Congratulations to all four shortlistees, and especially to Margret Meyer, the winner. Her brilliant flash fiction, which she read out, was actually set in Dragon Hall, and started out at one of the writing workshops. You can read it here. And look at her prize (intu Chapelfield voucher not pictured):

Festivals and conferences can be hell to organise – I’ve been behind a few and get a sadistic sense of relief when it’s other people doing the hard work – but this one went seamlessly. Chaos, danger, suspense, and grit in one totally un-chaotic weekend. We laughed a lot and learnt a lot and – yes, I had to buy an extra suitcase to accommodate my new books..

Bring on the next one.

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