I arrived in Harrogate early on Friday morning and got my visitors pass, overflowing with excitement. The Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival took place at the magnificent Old Swan Hotel, where crime writer Agatha Christie was discovered in 1926, after she mysteriously disappeared from her Surrey home. The elegant ballroom was the venue for most of the talks, and the library and other function rooms hosted the smaller workshops and events.
The line-up was incredible with talks by James Patterson, Ian Rankin, Harlan Coben and Norwegian creator, Jo Nesbo just to name a few. I found James Patterson’s talk a tad too political for my liking (and I think he did too), while Harlan was intelligently witty, Ian Rankin oozing with good Scottish humour and Jo Nesbo entertaining and it has to be said, sexy as hell.
I met some fabulous crime ‘groupies’ and we had endless discussions about all our favourite heroes from Jack Reacher and Alex Cross to Harry Hole and Harry Bosch. I even got in a few punts about my own crime novella, The Surrey Stalker, which my new friends were anxious to try. Never underestimate the feverish obsession of a crime junkie!
It rained all weekend but I didn’t even notice as I raced from talk to talk, workshop to workshop and of course spent hours in the browsing tent spending my hard-earned dosh on as many crime thrillers as I could realistically fit in my suitcase. I met Ann Cleeves, who is one of my favourite authors (I just love Vera and Shetland) as well as several other debut authors who I’m looking forward to reading.
Then to top it all, on my way back to London I ran into Ian Rankin and C.J. Tudor on the platform. So, of course, I had to get a selfie. 🙂
Last month I attended a book club event in London where I met Mark Billingham and Chris Carter. I was familiar with Mark’s books, but Chris was a new one for me. He looked more like a rock star than an author with long hair, piercings, and arms covered in tattoos, but one thing I’ve learned in this business is to never judge a book by its cover.
Intrigued, I bought a signed copy of his latest thriller, Hunting Evil, and I can honestly say, I could not put it down! By the time I’d trained home I was already on chapter eight.
Don’t you love it when you discover a brilliant new author? It’s like Christmas because you know you have a brand new backlist of lovely books to read.
Here’s a pic of the panel, chaired by Guardian crime reviewer, Laura Wilson.
I love CrimeFest. It’s a place where authors and readers alike can mix and mingle, talk about nothing but books, plots and characters, and stay up late socialising at the hotel bar. Hosted every year at the Royal Marriott Hotel in Bristol, it’s a melting pot of well-known and lesser-known authors, avid crime readers and anyone else who has an interest in the genre.
There is an extensive programme of workshops, agent pitches, manuscript assessments, and even a forensic crime scene excursion. 2018 was exceptional with so many talks that I couldn’t decide which to attend. My favourite were Power, Corruption And Greed chaired by Jeffrey Siger and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: Classic Thrillers chaired by Jake Kerridge. Then there was the incredible and inspirational panel discussion between Jeffrey Deaver and Lee Child, also chaired by a hilarious Jake Kerridge.
I attended an agent pitch session where I got to pitch my story, Run and Hide, to three well-established agents. It was a nerve-wracking experience, but the agents were all very friendly and we had an excellent ten-minute discussion about the book. They all asked that I send in the full manuscript, so I was pleased about that.
Bristol is a lovely town, and I had fun browsing the riverside bars and restaurants, enjoying live music and generally soaking up the vibey atmosphere. I’d recommend Crimefest to anyone who has a love for crime or is an amateur crime author.