Recently I attended the first New Zealand crime writing festival along with other crime writers, both the home-grown variety and many from overseas.
In true Kiwi fashion it was run by volunteers and on the smell of the proverbial oily rag, but it came together as magnificently as if we’d had a professional team organising the event. Rotorua Noir was the brainchild of Craig Sisterson and Grant Nicol, and that it actually happened is down to their vision and hard work.
While many of the weekend’s events were as you’d expect of a writer’s festival there were unique New Zealand touches to make the weekend truly special, such as the opening at Te Papaiouru Marae. Visiting authors included Alex Gray, Lilja Sigurðardóttir, Kati Hiekkapelto, Michael Robotham and New Zealand’s own Paul Cleave. Vanda Symon ran two workshops and Jacky Collins of NewcastleNoir fame chaired some fabulous panels.
The panel discussions covered topics including: crime on screen, blending genres, small town settings, historical crime writing, crafting a series, police procedurals, and crime writing in the North (Nordic and Scottish crime). We also enjoyed the launch of Call Me Evie by Josh Pomare, and a crime trivia quiz night chaired mostly by Vanda Symon and Paul Cleave with plenty of heckling from the audience
I was asked to take part in the Go Your Own Way panel, discussing different elements of independent publishing and marketing. A fun experience.
Highlights of the weekend included meeting and talking to some amazing authors, seeing old friends and making new ones.
In his closing remarks, Craig said he and Grant had wanted to create something small but awesome. They certainly succeeded.