With perfect timing for St David’s Day and the start of Wales Reading Month, crime authors in Wales have just announced plans for the first international crime fiction festival to be staged in Wales.
Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival will take place in the historical town of Aberystwyth in 2022 with a stellar line up of local and international authors including Mark Billingham, Anne Cleeves, Peter James, and MW Craven.
But for crime fiction fans who can’t wait that long, there’s a virtual event scheduled for this year. Between April 26 and May 3, Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol will welcome big hitting names such as Lee Child, and his brother Andrew Child; Abir Mukherjee, author of the award-winning British Raj-era historical novels featuring Wyndham and Banerjee, and the hugely popular Elly Griffiths, author of the Ruth Galloway series of mysteries. All the sessions will be completely free to participants.
The festivals are the result of an initiative by Crime Cymru, a collective formed in 2017 to promote Welsh crime fiction and challenge the misconceived idea that ‘nobody who wants to be read sets their books in Wales’.
It’s fabulous to see how far this group has come in just a few years. Two years ago, when I interviewed Alys Hawkins, one of the founding members, she described the plan to fight for recognition by going direct to readers at literary festivals across the border. Now they’re ready to go one stage further in putting fiction from Wales on the literary map.
Crime Cymru members believe that Wales has something unique to offer the world of crime fiction and is determined to change perceptions with the new international crime festival.
Why a Wales-based event? Why now?
One big factor is the response to Wales-based TV series such as Matthew Hall’s Keeping Faith and the crime dramas Hinterland and Hidden. Their international success has turned the spotlight on local authors. Another key factor is the high popularity of regional based events such as Bloody Scotland, Newcastle’s Noir festival and more recently Bristol’s Crimefest.
The fact that so many big-ticket authors have already signed up to participate is a sign that there’s enough interest in Wales to sustain a festival.
For full details of the programme and a chance to register for updates, check out the festival website.