Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Should I stay, or should I go... by Cathy Ace

With Covid restrictions starting to ease, many of us are thinking of conferences and festivals. What are you planning? Any fond memories of past events you’d like to share?

It’s been weird not seeing people in person. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not just me, and I know it’s not just crime writing conferences and festivals…but that’s what the question’s about so, yes, I’m going there.

In pre-Covid times, I usually attended Left Coast Crime, then Malice Domestic…then I’d head off to Wales to see my family before attending CrimeFest in Bristol, then back to Vancouver, via Toronto for the Crime Writers of Canada's AGM and the Bony Blithe day of festivities. I’ve also attended several Bouchercons, too.

Waaaaay back in 2019 at Left Coast Crime - the most recent photo I have with fellow MINDS!
(L to R): Susan, Terry, Jim, me, Brenda, Catriona

When everything was off, or happening virtually, it was easy: do everything, see everything, “be” with people online. But then some events came back in-person…and Decisions Had To Be Made.

Canada didn’t remove its travel advisory until the end of February, which meant I couldn’t leave the country because I wasn’t able to get any health coverage beyond our borders. When that became possible, then I could make plans for the months ahead…but it was already March 1st, and my Most Important Trip was to see Mum…so I couldn’t risk the chance of picking up The Lurgy at either Left Coast Crime, nor Malice, so they were off, for me, this year.

With Alis Hawkins, GB Williams, and Jacky Collins, aka Dr. Noir,
at Gwyl Crime Cymru Festival 2022

The Gwyl Crime Cymru Festival planners had to make a decision about holding an in-person festival or online in January – they opted for online, which worked well for me, because I was able to be in Wales at the end of April staying with Mum, and using my sister’s home office to Zoom onto my panel. Then I was able to attend CrimeFest…my first event, in person, since I’d been at Bouchercon in Dallas in October 2019.

CrimeFest 2022 - with (R to L): Mick Finlay, Lesley Thomson, Felix Francis, Cath Staincliffe

It was absolutely terrifying, and bloody brilliant, in equal measure! By that time (mid-May) the UK had pretty much removed all restrictions, so bars and restaurants were allowed to run at full capacity, no one wore masks, and there was (dare I say this?) HUGGING!!!!

Panel with (R to L): Andrew Grant (Child), Kate Ellis, Peter Guttridge, Caro Ramsey

It was almost surreal…it was so abnormally normal that I was a bit freaked out. Anyone who knows me knows how huggy I am – but I did my best to hold myself in check to work out the comfort levels of those around me…and it all went swimmingly. Panels with wonderful fellow authors, dinner with publisher, dinner with TV production company, lovely readers to meet, seeing familiar faces and catching up. 

Chatting over dinner, thanks to our generous publisher, Joffe Books, with Simon Brett et al.

Nope, I didn’t catch Covid. Yes, I had a wonderful time. I’m sorry I missed LCC and Malice, but I had to keep healthy to be able to be with my family in Wales for my birthday early in May – and I didn’t want to miss the dinner I’d planned for May 2020 AGAIN. So we celebrated my 62nd birthday as though it were my 60th, and I had two wonderful weeks with my mother and sister…which are irreplaceable times.

I won’t be going to Bouchercon this year because it clashes with me having dear friends from France visit…yes, we’re hosting VISITORS (I redecorated the guest bedroom during lockdown, not knowing if it would ever be used again…now I’m so glad I did that!). 

As for 2023? Well, I think we've all learned that plans can change, so I won't say too much about that now...but, fingers crossed, there'll be more hugs to come. 

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