(Warning, this article contains scenes of gratuitous name-dropping)
Most intimidating moment: Discussing how to write courtroom scenes with ace advocate and prize-winning author Chris Marnewick, and having to explain myself.
Most embarrassing moment: There are hundreds. Top of the heap is gushing like a mentally deranged fan girl at Peter Harris. Pathetic. Mike Nicol looked at me in disgust as if I was letting the side down. Crime writers should have dignity and poise, like Margie Orford and Wessel Ebersohn.
Most inspiring moment: The panel with Peter Harris, Chris Marnewick, Martin Welz and Antony Altbeker on non-fiction. Was riveted from the first word.
Most disappointing moment: That more Joburgians didn’t take the opportunity to come to the panel discussions.
Most expensive moment: Buying books left right and centre, including EU literary award winner James Clelland’s novel Deeper than Colour.
Most humorous moment: There were loads. Jassy Mackenzie has to be one of the funniest crime writers out there – the queen of the bon mot. Margie Orford and Mike Nicol are also always wittier than a skip full of Irish comedians.
Most musical moment: Mike Nicol and Jo Ratcliffe’s drive-by panel on Killer Country music, which was complemented by a killer soundtrack.
Most satisfyingly bone-chilling moment: Apart from being chauffeured around Jo’burg’s mean streets by Louis Greenberg, the horror and sci-fi panel, hosted by Dave Brendon, ace reviewer, book-seller and writer. Also met terrific SA horror author Joan De La Haye and writer and fellow mannequin admirer Lood du Plessis. (Why is it that crime and horror/sf writers are all so cool and supportive? You’d think they’d be blood-thirsty weirdoes but they’re not).
Most potentially incarcerating moment: Louis and I slipping through the gates of Jo’burg’s most outrageously bad taste mansion and snooping around it (for research purposes of course).
Most delicious moment: The crime writers’ dinner on Saturday night hosted by Helen Holyoake. The lamb was to die for (sorry, vegetarians).
Most like-minded moment: Connecting with Sifiso Mzobe, fellow petrol head and soccer fan. His novel, Young Blood is one of my reads of the year and I loved our panel on fast cars, although my hung-over brain ran out of fuel halfway through it. Sifiso, I forgive you for taking the piss out of my accent and the fact that I support Wolves.
Most stylish moment: Margie Orford’s wardrobe. She has an inexhaustible supply of vintage chic designer outfits that made me sick with envy. And after meeting the stunning Kopano Matlwa, Lauren and I immediately coveted her beautiful gold dress.
Most heart-warming moment: hanging out with Sam, Louis’s brilliant and funny son and playing pirates-who-like-to-do-the-washing-up-and-vacuum-the-lounge, and meeting Adam, his youngest son for the first time. Louis and his wife Bronwyn hosted me and Lauren for the weekend and they’re so cool, laid-back and generous I could happily move in with them.
Most sobering moments: Not many, unfortunately, thanks to Leopards Leap wine and too many margaritas (that Lauren forced me to drink).
Most humbling moment: Hearing Edyth Bulbring saying how much she enjoyed reading Tooth and Nailed on the crime readers’ panel. Edyth, I will vacuum your house dressed as a pirate any day.
Most nauseating moment: Eating the zombie brain-flavoured mints Louis Greenberg gave me for my birthday. Stanley Trollip ate one just before our panel on serial characters. A brave man.
Most tattooed moment: Two words: Dave Chislett. A diamond geezer who oozes charisma.
Most blast-from-the-past moments: Hanging out with fellow horror-fanatic Richard Kunzmann again and meeting up with Gemma, Exhibit A’s terrific editor.
Most regretful moments: Missing the Skype convos with Roger Smith and Deon Meyer, and not being able to attend the panels that clashed with the crimewrite events.
Most name-dropping moment: Over-hearing Richard Kunzmann casually mentioning going to one of Neil Gaiman’s book launch parties. And all of the above, of course.
Most delayed moment: The flight on the way home. Thankfully I had Helen Moffett to buy me black coffee and regale me with anecdotes about her nightmare flight to Jo’burg where she sat next to a businessman having a major hypoglycemic attack. The flight crew happily left ‘Dr Moffett’ in charge of him.
Most grateful moments: All the hard work that Helen Holyoake and Mike Nicol put into organising the event – they never flagged once and were absolutely brilliant. To Louis and Bronwyn for putting up with me all weekend, Penguin for forking out the cash to fly me up to Joburg, and to my fellow panellists who made the whole experience memorable and a complete blast.