More than 80 book fans joined authors Jim Kelly and Elly Griffiths at the last Briarfields Bookfest of 2015 on Sunday 22 November.
The two writers presented a joint authors’ talk at the Titchwell-based hotel, which has previously held Bookfests during 2015 with Emma Healey, Kate Mosse and Sophie Hannah.
At the session, Elly Griffiths spoke about the central character of her North Norfolk crime series, Ruth Galloway, telling the audience that she had imagined Galloway’s house being in Titchwell, just behind the hotel.
Griffiths added that in her upcoming novel, The Woman In Blue, she has included a scene at Briarfields, where Galloway meets a friend for dinner, written after her Bookfest appearance in 2014. “When I spoke last summer at Briarfields,” she said, “My husband, Andy, and our children visited Walsingham, and the new book centres around the village after a woman is found dead there. In the story, Ruth Galloway invites a friend to dinner at Briarfields, ‘a popular hotel on the edge of the marshes that’s smart without being intimidating and where the food is delicious’.”
Griffiths also spoke about her second novel, Smoke and Mirrors, a Stephens and Mephisto Mystery, which is set in the 1950s and is partly based on her grandfather’s post-war life as an entertainer. Jim Kelly went on to explain that his own crime series, Shaw & Valentine is based on his father’s career as a Scotland Yard detective, and that the two characters represent his father’s life as both a young man who fought as a Commando in the war, and in later years as a world weary, slightly cynical policeman.
His latest novel, Death on Demand, which was published in July, starts at a care home half a mile along the coast from the Briarfields Hotel after 100-year-old Ruby Bright is found murdered. “No place in the British Isles has been so filled with history as Norfolk,” said Kelly. “Norfolk is quite special and a little bit scary. Theirs is something about a north-facing coast that is the end of a line, and there are similarities with the landscape of Scandinavia.”
The authors debated how their characters would get on and discussed the idea of writing a joint novel, each writing a chapter in turn. Asked whether their detectives should be translated into television, Griffiths said she would like to see Galloway on screen and that the series has been optioned. Kelly said he feels television is a different medium and that authors shouldn’t have control how their characters are developed on screen.