May 19, 2016
London’s first ever female-led crime festival to launch this autumn
by Nikki Griffiths
Calling all crime fiction fans in the London vicinity! A collective of women writers here is turning the spotlight on local talent to bring to the first ever female-led crime festival to their city.
Killer Women is made up of 18 female, London-based crime novelists (the collective noun should surely be a murder?), including Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, Jane Casey, and Tammy Cohen.
Originally founded as a networking group, Killer Women has expanded to offer events, debates, interviews, talks and workshops to crime fiction fans. It is now organizing its first festival on 15th October to be hosted at Shoreditch Town Hall, home of the inquest into the murder of Jack the Ripper’s last victim, Mary Kelly, in 1888.
The festival, sponsored by Audible and accountancy firm HW Fisher, was founded by crime writers Melanie McGrath and Louise Miller. McGrath told the Independent they came up with the idea for Killer Women
partially as a social get-together and partially to pool our resources in terms of expertise and teaching skills and workshops, but also to create a collaborative brand… I think the relationship between reader and writer has become very different in recent years. It’s more democratic and interactive and thus doing something like Killer Women, which introduces the reader to other authors they may not have known, makes a great deal of sense.
McGrath went on to say, as reported in the Bookseller:
Also there wasn’t a crime festival in London… that seemed like an opportunity just waiting to be filled. Most readers of crime fiction are women and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for an event that was women author-led. The response of the sponsors and the headliners was a testament to our skills in doing that as a group and it’s been one of the joys of the group.
In the US and Australia, Sisters in Crime is a similar but much larger organization whose mission is to ‘Promote the ongoing advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers.’ Founded by Sara Paretsky and a group of women at the 1986 Bouchercon in Baltimore, and now boasting 3,600 members, it offers networking, advice, and support to mystery authors. It is great to see the UK supporting its female authors in a similar, although smaller and more personal, way.
While the Killer Women festival aims to be female-led, it will also be an equal opportunity festival, with a number of male writers in attendance. Confirmed authors taking part this year include Mark Billingham, Ann Cleeves, Martina Cole, and Val McDermid.
Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.