Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2013

Category: News
Tea at Betty's

Kate taking tea at Betty’s

From Thursday 18th July to Sunday 21st July the delightful spa town of Harrogate was swarmed by crime authors, fans, and publishing people. As if in celebration of the festival’s 10th anniversary, the sun was shining, and naturally everyone was bemoaning the heat and the lack of air con while desperately devouring ice creams and cold drinks (certainly no shortage of the latter!). The programming committee and organisers deserve a hearty round of applause for another superb array of panels and an all-round fantastic weekend. Hard to believe it’s over for another year…

Snippets from a few of the panels I attended:

Friday 10pm, Fleming Fans:

Charles Cumming chairing Jonathan Freedland (Sam Bourne), JJ Connolly, Gregg Hurwitz and David Marks

Fleming panel

A collective swoon from the audience as the men walked in to take their places on stage, suavely attired in black tie. Charles opened the panel with the line, ‘The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.’ What followed was a lively, entertaining discussion about Fleming’s writing, and the importance of Bond as a character (and possibly as a national treasure). I won’t rehash the entire conversation, though the panel was asked whether they thought there would ever be a female Bond. The general consensus was yes, but that it could only work if it made sense in terms of the story, and was not just a politically-correct gesture. Jonathan Freedland let us in on his theory that the next Bond will be Idris Elba – no complaints here!

Saturday 3.30pm, South of the Equator:

Paul Johnston chairing Lauren Beukes, Michael Robotham, Helen Fitzgerald and MD Villiers

Lauren Beukes ready for signing

In fact none of the authors on this panel set their latest novels in their country of residence. So one of the points discussed was the idea that you can actually have a stronger sense of a place when you’re away from that place – and that might come from a strong emotional connection to your homeland.

Lauren chose to set The Shining Girls in Chicago rather than South Africa because she didn’t want it to become an apartheid novel. And in her research, she was struck by the violence, corruption, and racism to be found in Chicago’s history. It brought home to her the idea of the universality of issues – as she realised that South Africa does not necessarily have claim to the worst examples of human behaviour.

Sunday 10am, Slaughtering the Sacred Cows:

Mark Lawson chairing Stuart MacBride, Catriona McPherson, MC Scott, and Cathi Unsworth.

Stuart signing books

Mark kicked off this panel by deciphering the intriguing title and asking the question, ‘Are there strict rules & structures in crime fiction and should you abide by them or break them?’.

Stuart, for one, said he never pays attention to the rules, except for when he was writing Birthdays for the Dead, where he followed the structure of a Shakespearean tragedy.

However, there is a balancing act to be aware of, for if you completely explode all reader expectations, you’re at risk of losing the market. Luckily, seeing as this was an early Sunday morning event, there was much hilarity and joking amongst the panellists, particularly when they got on to the topic of their worst ever Amazon reviews…

RIP Emad

RIP Emad

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival… It’s nearly here!!!

Category: News

Killerreads Crime Ad FINAL

The biggest crime fiction festival in the WORLD kicks off tomorrow, and excitement levels are rising!

As I write this, and as you read it, some of the best & brightest authors in the land are making their way to Harrogate. Some from other lands too – Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls, is flying in from South Africa tomorrow, and will be joined on her panel South of the Equator by antipodeans Helen Fitzgerald & Michael Robotham. This one is taking place on Saturday at 3.30pm.

On Friday, Andrew Taylor (who has just been awarded the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger for an unprecedented third time!) is taking part in a discussion of Victorian Crime: Fact or Fiction, chaired by Sarah Pinborough at 12pm.

On Friday night at 10pm, Charles Cumming will chair a panel for Fleming Fans, featuring Sam Bourne (pseudonym for Jonathan Freedland), JJ Connolly and Gregg Hurwitz. Late night chat amongst Bond fans… sure to be a lark!

On Saturday night, lucky fans get the chance to mingle with their favourite authors at a celebratory themed James Bond Murder Mystery Dinner. It’s 007 Style in honour of the 60th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel Casino Royale. Charles Cumming and SJ Parris are among the author hosts.

Finishing up for HC on Sunday morning we have the legendary Stuart MacBride taking part in the intriguingly entitled panel Slaughtering the Sacred Cows, chaired by Mark Lawson at 10am. Some members of the audience may be blurry eyed, but have no fear, Stuart is worth the effort!

If you are planning to be at the festival at all, please do let us know – we’d love to catch up! For those who can’t make it this time, rest assured I’ll be tweeting live from the event to keep you in the loop.

Harrogate is coming!

Category: News

From 18 – 21 July, the crime fiction community will descend on the delightful spa town of Harrogate, talking blood and body counts; drinking tea at Betty’s; drinking the bar dry at the Old Swan; and dancing up a storm at the classiest of all establishments, the Viper Room… memories, like the corners of my mind…

This year marks a decade of crime writing festivals in Harrogate, and the line-up promises a spectacular few days. We are inordinately proud to have several authors taking part, including Stuart MacBride, Lauren Beukes, Charles Cumming, Andrew Taylor, S J Parris and Sam Bourne. They will be joining fellow crime fiction superstars Kate Atkinson, Lee Child, Charlaine Harris and many more. The legendary Val McDermid is the Festival Programming Chair, and will be presenting her ever popular New Blood panel.

Killerreads Crime Ad FINAL

If you love crime fiction, you will love this festival – you’ll have the opportunity not just to meet your favourite authors, and, but also the people you are in near constant contact with over Twitter, Facebook and blogs. The panels are thought-provoking and entertaining, and there’s still plenty of time to get tickets. We hope to see a lot of you there!

We will be running a competition in the lead-up to Harrogate, with free books up for grabs, as well as tweeting and posting live from the festival. So make sure you keep an eye out on KillerReads, and of course, if you are coming along, let us know!

For all the info and to buy tickets, check out the Harrogate website.