Noirwich – one of the fastest growing crime festivals in the U.K. kicked off on Thursday night in superior style in Norwich.
This is the fourth year of this fantastic festival in my fine city. Norwich is the first U.K. UNESCO city of literature and attracts both incredible authors and crime fans from all over to celebrate the crime genre.
As a crime writer, fan and proud resident of Norwich, I’d been looking forward to covering this for quite some time to regenerate my appetite to write a novel and generally to show off about how good my city is. I’m currently sitting in a beautiful cafe called Stray Cat, reflecting on last nights events.
Val McDermid returned to the festival this year to talk about his new novel and his writing process. My first day at the festival was yesterday where I got to see Arne Dahl and my heroine Martina chat to an edited audience.
A suave looking Arne Dahl took to the stage, arguably the king of Nordic noir. He eloquently talked through how crime and thriller fiction can not only help us to escape the world but also to explain it. In ‘Watching You’ his latest book, Arne changed his writing style in order to counteract and compliment this extremist world we are living in.
We all shared his thoughts around how our world is terrifying, one where our next door neighbour could be a terrorist and politicians manipulate as much as they protect. To illustrate this, Arne decided to return to the basic roots of crime for his latest book and left the painful preperatory research to one side to just write. His books normally took months to prepare but this one took just one intense sleepless night.
The product of a crime writer is clean, sober and polished but the process is dirty. The writer (Dahl) goes through the pain to provide us with a treatment for this crazy world. He provides a therapy, a container of our fears, a manageable box given to us in the form of a book.
Arne explained that this therapy in the form of Crime fiction is even more necessary in these days of extremism – an escape from the new world order.
After writing a ten book series on organised crime he was seeing too much evil and didn’t want to become a cynic so decided to return to basic excitement. He was tired of the dark corners of the world but also of the pure protagonists. Not all protagonists are pure, sometimes you don’t know who the protagonist is or even whether you can trust them. In this new extreme world you don’t know who to trust – crime is turning inwardly.
Arne made me rethink why I read crime or watch crime. It’s not to help me explain the world but to escape it in a safe environment, one where there will often be a solution and ending. I love that crime is going ‘vintage’, rolling back to base needs and drivers, looking at the girl next door rather than the corrupt policeman.
Our world isn’t straight forward so what we choose to read needs to illustrate that trust can’t be taken for granted. Sadly, the future isn’t bright for our world but it is for crime writing.