Ten Sleeps until the Oxford Crime Conference
There are two summer conferences I make a point of going to every year. One is Winchester at the beginning of July, which I’ve already been to and reported on. The other is the St Hilda’s Crime & Mystery Conference in Oxford, which is usually the third weekend in August.
St Hilda’s is not so much for writers, but fans of crime fiction. It’s a fairly small conference, attended mostly by women, many of them St Hilda’s alumni. It’s not really a place to meet agents – unlike Winchester – but it is an excellent place to get up close and personal with published mystery writers. Over the years I have amassed a good collection of personalised signed copies of crime novels by people I have met at the Oxford conference. I didn’t go last year, for various reasons, and came to regret my decision, and so I made a point of sending my form in early this year.
The conference revolves around a theme, with various people giving talks on their interpretation of the theme and how it relates to different crime writers. Hence the conference has a somewhat academic feel – as is appropriate for an event held at Oxford’s first women’s college – and one of the reasons I like it is because I spend the weekend in the company of intelligent and well educated women. Not that I don’t have intelligent women in my life already – but to be in the company of so many of them in one place is marvellous.
The theme for this year is “The Wages of Sin”, and as always I am looking forward to seeing what slant the speakers put on this topic for their talks.
I’ve been going to this conference for about five years now. The first time I went, I was alone and didn’t know anyone else there. I came down to the drinks reception on the Friday night, admittedly a tad nervous, and stood on my own for about five minutes, wondering who I should go talk to, as I didn’t know anybody. Then a group of three women came and started talking to me, because they saw I was alone, and suddenly I had some friends. We spent a lot of time together over the course of the weekend, and in no time I was wondering why I had been worried in the first place about going on my own.
This year I will be in the company of another member of the T Party – someone who has joined in the last year or so. Those of us who write crime are definitely in the minority in the T Party, so it was nice to welcome another crime writer. We are calling ourselves the ‘T Party Criminal Sub-Committee’. I am looking forward to introducing her to the fab weekend that is always to be had at the St Hilda’s conference, and I hope she enjoys herself as much as I will. At least she won’t have to fret about not knowing anyone, as she already knows me. And I am sure the other delegates will be as welcoming as usual.
The countdown begins now. Ten days to go!