Crime Cymru: An evolving story – Rosie Claverton

Today marks the first day of the first in-person international crime festival in Wales – Gŵyl Crime Cymru Festival 2023, in beautiful Aberystwyth.

As a founding member of Crime Cymru, I can’t quite believe it. When we first conceived of a Welsh crime writing collective, I don’t think any of us imagined this would be within our grasp.

Alis Hawkins, my fellow co-founder and first Chair of Crime Cymru, tells the story better than I ever could, but I want to paint a picture of us as a reflection of Welsh crime writing.

When we had those formative conversations in 2016, I was on my third novel and second publisher for The Amy Lane Mysteries, a contemporary series featuring an agoraphobic hacker and a streetwise ex-con fighting crime in Cardiff. Alis had yet to publish the first novel in her iconic Teifi Valley Coroner historical mystery series – None So Blind – and Matt Johnson, current Co-Chair of Crime Cymru and our third founding member, was making the jump from self-publication to traditional publishing with his action-packed thriller Wicked Game.

All of us were, in our own way, quite determined to put Wales on the map in terms of crime fiction. Writing in very different genres, we were united by our passion for supporting crime writers with a relationship to Wales and their authentic works. We kept our eyes peeled for other writers who might join our collective, for opportunities to appear at crime festivals to promote Welsh crime fiction, and started building our own online communities and festivals.

Over the past six years, Crime Cymru has not only grown as a community, but Wales has a larger footprint in the crime fiction landscape. We are a cohort of award-winners, with well-reviewed and well-regarded novels, and we cover a diverse range of subgenres, from psychological thriller to fantasy – which is well-reflected in the festival programme.

And with that profile comes more responsibility, sure, but it also gives us more freedom to create. As authors, we no longer have to prove time and again that Welsh crime fiction is valid – we can diversify our writing and still maintain our proud Welsh connection.

Alis’ latest novel A Bitter Remedy has a Welsh co-protagonist, set in late 19th century Oxford. Matt’s upcoming release No Ordinary Day is a non-fiction book centred around the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher.

As for me, I’m not the same author who penned that first Amy Lane novel back in 2011. I’m more drawn to historical and sci-fi & fantasy subgenres than I am to contemporary, and I now prefer to write protagonists who share my marginalisations.

As Crime Cymru has evolved, so have we as authors – and I cannot wait to find out what comes next.

Rosie Claverton grew up in Devon, daughter to a Sri Lankan father and a Norfolk mother, surrounded by folk mythology and surly sheep. She moved to Cardiff to study Medicine and adopted Wales as her home. Her Cardiff-based crime series The Amy Lane Mysteries debuted in 2014

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