It’s that time of year again – the time all crime writers look forward to – the Harrogate Crime Festival, where crime writers and readers gather to celebrate crime fiction in all its varieties.
Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, where the crime conference is held
I’m not entirely sure what you would call a gathering of crime writers – would it be a murder of crime writers? Maybe not, because we don’t want to be associated with crows. After all it’s a murder of crows, isn’t it? What about a massacre of crime writers? Do you think that would suit any better? If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them.
Anyway, whatever you call them, you won’t find a bigger gathering anywhere this summer, than
This is the tenth Harrogate Crime Festival, although to give it its proper title I should be saying the Theakstons Old Peculier (yes the spelling is correct) Crime Writing Festival. The first one took place in 2003, and it was meant to be a small weekend of literature events that would be part of the larger Harrogate International Festival. However, probably because of the early involvement of Val McDermid, it was like Topsy, it grew and grew, until it is now the largest and most prestigious crime fiction event in
Over the years many of the biggies of the crime writing world have appeared at
Well, I arrived on Thursday afternoon. There were people there before me because the festival runs a creative writing day prior to the opening events on Thursday evening. I have taken part in the creative writing day in past years and it is something well worth attending. But because I didn’t do it this year I won’t comment on it.
Mark Lawson, from
BBC Radio 4 Front Row
The festival started on Thursday night with the presentation of the awards. Mark Lawson introduced this with a hilarious speech, and I’m sure the laughter could have been heard in
Some of the bits I remember was where he referred to
Colin Dexter, author of the Morse series
Mark Billingham then came on stage to announce the recipient of the lifetime award for an outstanding contribution to crime fiction. This was presented to Colin Dexter, by Simon Theakston, the festival’s sponsor. Colin entertained us with a short speech, laced with his usual dry humour, and he got a standing ovation from the audience. He was a very popular choice for the lifetime award. But I wasn’t surprised by this, because Colin is a lovely man whom I’ve had the honour to meet on several occasions, and I still treasure the photograph he gave me earlier this year, of his portrait which hangs in the Randolph Hotel.
After this came the presentation of the Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award which was won by Denise Mina, for End of the Wasp Season. I’ve read Denise’s Garnethill trilogy and she’s a great crime writer, so I made a note to myself – get End of the Wasp season as soon as possible.
Denise Mina with the Theakston Old Peculier award for crime novel of the year
We finished up with the Festival opening party, which was mobbed and quite quickly became uncomfortably hot. However, no one seemed to mind and there was lots of networking, chatting and meeting up with old and new friends. I spent a fair bit of the time with Sonia, Lucy, Justine and Isobel, and we had a lovely time.
The top tier of the cup cake mountain at the festival party
Oh, and by the way, Justine is now my BFF because she told me she’d read my book, Dead Wood, and loved it. She also said she was reading another author (quite a famous one, who shall be nameless), and thought my book was the better of the two. Yay, The perfect end to a perfect day.
From left - Isabel, Lucy, Sonia, and Justine
Well, that’s Thursday taken care of, I’ll write about the Friday events in the next post, so watch this space, and I’ll try not to be too long.