I’m recently back from a trip to Germany where I was honoured to be guest speaker at the 2017 Mörderische Schwestern Conference that took place over the weekend of 30 November to 2 December at Kloester-Schoental. Fenna Williams and Gitta Edelmann met me at Frankfurt airport. Gitta and I stayed overnight at Fenna’s home in Wiesbaden, setting off for Kloester-Schoental the next morning.
I love to do a road trip with other authors. This one offered some spectacular seasonal scenery. We drove along an Autobahn that passed through a snow covered forest – a magical start for the weekend.
The fabulous setting of Kloester-Schoental combines Baroque architecture with modern amenities, good food and comfortable accommodation. The staircases, some broad and some winding, the many landings, corridors, passageways and interconnecting doors would make a superb setting for a murder mystery.
So much voluntary work went into making this conference a success. There were workshops covering many aspects of craft and storytelling as well as tips on promotion for mid-list authors. A bursary is awarded annually to allow the successful writer the opportunity to finish a novel. Experienced authors volunteer to mentor newcomers to the craft.
I had two set pieces: my opening talk on Friday evening and a reading from the latest novel on Saturday – a session dubbed Ladies Night. I’m pleased to say that the talk went well. I was understood and the audience laughed in the right places. (There’s a link in my previous blog to the talk in German and English, minus the final joke because it might be someone else’s copyright.) Fenna Williams interviewed me after the talk and there were some good questions, including the question about the elephant in the room: Brexit. As one of the 48% who voted to remain, in the EU, I’m still disappointed and dismayed at the outcome, and the subsequent shambles. For all sorts of reasons it’s important for us as writers to work together internationally and to ensure that creators’ rights are protected. I hope that by continuing our links across boundaries we’ll go on doing this.
Fenna shared my reading slot with me. I read in English and Fenna read the German translation. Although I don’t claim to understand the readings from my sister authors, they were all warmly and enthusiastically received. The time slot was seven minutes. With about a minute to go, the warning countdown began. We heard the thump of a heartbeat that grew louder, until the last second when the sound of a Beretta exploding that final shot, demanded the reader’s departure from the microphone. Readings were interspersed with entertainment from a comedienne and four superb singers, The Chickpeas. Even the skeleton appears to be enjoying the the evening.
In time honoured fashion we retreated to the cellar bar at the end of proceedings. My murderous sisters were most welcoming. I intend to sign up to become one with them.