Fermented Shark Optional – my experience at #IcelandNoir

In this article Tricia, a creative writing graduate, crime fiction fan and regular volunteer at Bloody Scotland,  shares with us her experience of Iceland Noir. Thank you Tricia!

It’s not often in this life that you get to achieve a long-held dream and even rarer when you get to do it in the company of like-minded friends.   So, when I found myself on a windy, dark morning trudging through the streets of Reykjavik I could not have been happier.  I was beyond excited to be there at last for the Iceland Noir Crime Festival.

I knew I was going to be in for a special weekend even as I waited to board the plane at Edinburgh Airport with fellow budding crime writers Edith, Elaine, Suzy and Ian – our tour guide extraordinaire.  The queue at the gate was like a Who’s Who of the best of British crime authors – Craig Robertson, Alex Sokoloff, Doug Johnstone, Michael Malone and Mari Hannah and her partner, Mo.   I was a bit worried the week before the festival that I had not done enough reading up on the authors that were going to be there, but Ian joked that there are more authors than spectators at Iceland Noir and judging by the EasyJet flight from Edinburgh he may well have been been right.

The festival was held at Idno, a beautiful old, nostalgic building next to Reykjavik’s famous pond.  We had a fabulously warm welcome from the elves manning the desk – the fabulous knowledgeable Jacky Collins and Ewa Sherman, along with some of the organisers, authors Lilja Sigurdardottir and Oskar Gudmunsson.

The icing on the cake was not as one would imagine the free entry to the penis museum nor the miniature of Brenivin but the loveliest cup of coffee – in an actual china cup.  We were welcomed in to the hall with a ‘just put your coat and stuff anywhere’.  None of the queues that you see at Bloody Scotland. The whole atmosphere was friendly as the audience took their seats with their coffees and pastries, greeting old friends and meeting new ones.


I managed to see some very interesting panels, but it was a very full programme and with the necessary breaks for lots of gorgeous food and fantastic pints of Viking beer, it meant that I couldn’t see all the writers.  I think the beauty of Iceland Noir is that I discovered some fabulous writers for the first time – Christoffer Pettersen, Michael Ridpath were totally fascinating in the Arctic Crime panel.  In the Capital Crime Panel, it was interesting to hear the importance of place in a novel as used by Mari Hannah, Karin Salvalaggio and Margaret Kirk.

Mari Hannah and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir discussing gender equality with Ian Payn was one of the highlights for me.  The panel on audiobooks was another. It was fascinating to hear  Karen Sullivan, the tour de force of Orenda Books, admitting that although she is not a fan of audiobooks personally, she tries and get all the books she publishes out on audiobook.  The head of Storytel was adamant that they rarely use authors to read their own books.  He also had interesting stats about when people switch off from listening to an audiobook – around twenty minutes. Although the authors on the panel didn’t think they would adjust their writing to accommodate this attention span as a fledgling writer I found it very interesting fact.

In the course of the weekend I had the chance to bump into writers and publishers that I had met in the past at Bloody Scotland.  In a weekend of highlights the best was, by far, going to a screening of the film based on Yrsa’s book I Remember You.  Yrsa and the actor who plays the male lead Þorvaldur Davíð, were interviewed by Dr Noir herself Jacky Collins. It was a fabulous evening.

Thanks to Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Lilja Sigurðardóttir we had the opportunity to join a convoy heading to the west and a great day of lava fields, saga stories and fermented shark – although I was too much of a wimp to try the shark.  We had the most amazing evening of fabulous wine, great food and ghost stories.   Mari Hannah, Michael Ridpath, Karin Salvalaggio, Shari Lapena, Kevin Wignall, Simon Kernick were all great company and above all generous with their advice to fledgling writers.

If you interested in crime then Iceland Noir 2020 is a must, you will find a festival full of friendly interesting people intent on having a great time.  You’ll discover new authors, make new friends and get the chance to enjoy the best food and drink you’ll ever taste.  Fermented shark is optional.

edith churchThis was a guest blog post by T. Golledge.  We are all about representing the Nordic Noir crime fiction community.  If you are interested in sharing your experience of a crime fiction festival, film, tv show or book with us then please contact us. Details can be found on the blog.

One comment

  1. I stalk the social media pages of Iceland Noir…one of these days, maybe I will be there irl. Thanks for sharing!

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