Monday, March 05, 2012

The Crime Readers Association

When I joined the Crime Writers Association it already seemed a venerable institution, famous for its Dagger Awards and its members who were household names – certainly in our household where a whole shelf in the bookcase was given over to tightly-packed green Penguins. So it was a bit of a shock, when I checked the archives for this post, to discover that I had been a member for nearly half its history. Am I really that old?

I joined the moment I was eligible, once my first book had been published, and it's always been been a reliable source of entertainment, friendship, fun and good solid information. It's changed a lot, though, over the years.

John Creasey founded it in 1953. As we all know, writing's a lonely job and the idea behind it was simply for us to meet with likeminded people who'd also been there, done that and wanted to relax and socialize at meetings and conferences. John Dickson Carr was an early US member and Ed McBain was awarded the Diamond Dagger for lifelong achievement.

Between times the magazine, the famous Red Herrings, comes out monthly and most years there's an anthology of members' stories published too. The first one, Butcher's Dozen, appeared in 1958 and the most recent, Guilty Connections (published by Severn House in the US) features what is probably the last short story by the wonderful Reginald Hill, who is so sadly missed.

Recently, the emphasis has changed a bit. It's still fun, it's still friendly, but now the society does a lot of work in promoting its members and its awards, and now there's even a national TV programme showcasing the Dagger presentations. I don't think it's wholly a coincidence that crime is the most popular genre in Britain at the moment.

It's always been a society just for authors. Now, though, the readers are going to be catered for as well. Peter James, our Chairman, has announced the launch of the Crime Readers Association – http://www.thecra.co.uk – where authors can reach out to their readers and readers can make closer links with the authors they love. There is a newsletter to keep you up to date with the latest publications and events and special features like 'How to write a Crime Novel' to help you win that Debut Dagger for first time authors, and then switch to the professional side!

Do check it out.

1 comment:

Hannah Dennison said...

How apt your post is this morning Aline! I have just joined the CWA and already I can tell it's going to be fun. I shall be attending my first CrimeFest this May - plus discovered the CWA has allocated June as it's Crime Month - promoting authors. It's definitely worth joining - wherever you live in the world.