Thursday, 4 August 2011

Headline hits Harrogate

A couple of weekends ago a conspiracy of crime lovers headed to the historic town of Harrogate for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.  As a crime fiction super-fan (and a PR for several crime writers) I was proud to be amongst them. This year’s festival programme was put together by excellent chair Dreda Say Mitchell and celebrated the very best in the genre, from true crime to international thrillers to psychological suspense.  We were very lucky to have seven authors in the line-up: Martina Cole, Joe Finder, Julia Crouch, Duncan Campbell, Oliver Stark, James Forrester and Lisa Gardner. They were accompanied by myself and the Headline entourage, who were on hand to keep the authors wined, dined, beered and ginned! 

The festival began with a glitzy awards ceremony where PD James received an award for her ‘outstanding contribution to crime fiction’ to a standing ovation.  Val McDermid presented her with the award and described her as ‘the Queen Mum of crime fiction’.  As a huge PD James fan, I was very excited to shake her hand in the bar afterwards. 

The festivities continued late into the night, but the Headline team were up at the crack of dawn for an event with the Queen of crime fiction, Martina Cole.  The early morning audience were treated to some fascinating anecdotes about her writing career, TV adaptations and work with prisoners. Writer Mels tweeted that she ‘could listen to Martina Cole talk all day long’, and the audience definitely agreed with her.  You can read an in-depth report about her event on the  As well as appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, Martina was interviewed for the Yorkshire Post and Daily Record, and also appeared BBC Breakfast this morning as part of a piece on the festival.  Her Bentley also attracted a lot of attention, even Lee Child asked if he could have a lift!

Former crime correspondent Duncan Campbell was up next, chairing the ‘Penned In’ panel.  He led a discussion about the rehabilitative power of the written word with three former prisoners who found reading and writing truly helped them inside.  Duncan wrote a brilliant piece about true crime memoirs for the Observer which you can read here:  Also, do check out Keith B Walter’s blog for a detailed account of the event.

One of the festival highlights for me (as well as the Crime of Passion Theakston’s ale…) was American crime writer Lisa Gardner’s event with Linwood Barclay.  Lisa revealed that she spends three months researching each of her books and shared some amazing stories about her experiences.  She has such an infectious laugh, and had a huge signing queue afterwards. Needless to say we are very excited to be publishing the paperback of LOVE YOU MORE this January, as well as her new hardback CATCH ME in Feb. 

On Saturday Julia Crouch joined three debut novelists on the prestigious New Blood panel which was chaired by the one, the only Val McDermid.  Julia dazzled the crowd with her warmth and humour, and gave the audience a tantalising insight into her new book, the title of which – EVERY VOW YOU BREAK – she revealed exclusively at the festival.

Joe Finder swapped anecdotes with David Baldacci about working with the CIA and Secret Service during a fantastic in-conversation event. Joe told some fascinating stories including one about being trapped in a coffin (they’re soundproof, apparently…)
Authors James Forrester and Oliver Stark networked their socks off.  As well as hosting tables at the ‘Come Die with Me’ dinner event, they spent the weekend chatting to agents, authors, reviewers and punters. They were joined by Sam Hayes, author of the fantastic emotional thriller SOMEONE ELSE’S SON and our debut crime novelist Claire McGowan. As well as organising the Dagger Awards ceremony on the Friday night, Claire managed to match pint for pint some of the UK’s top crime writers!  Festival goers had the chance to read the first line of Claire’s book THE FALL in the festival goodie bags, as well as excerpts from Steven Dunne’s DEITY, Amanda Kyle Williams’ THE STRANGER YOU SEEK, Jason Dean’s THE WRONG MAN and Matthew Quirk’s THE FIVE HUNDRED.

There was such a fantastic atmosphere at the festival – I think everyone who attended will agree that they have never felt prouder to be a crime writer or crime reader.  I think PD James said it best at the opening night party: ‘You won't win the Booker I'm afraid. But don't worry about that…you will be bringing entertainment and relief from the problems of the world to millions of people.’

Thanks to Dreda Say Mitchell, Erica Morris, Sharon Canavar and the rest of the festival team for putting together such a fantastic event, as well as all the authors that attended, and the readers.  One of my favourite moments was chatting in the Howard Marks queue to a fascinating lady who was a real life vehicle forensic officer.  It is moments like these that make it the crème de la crime of festivals, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one suffering from Post-Harrogate depression come Monday morning.  Frankly work just isn’t the same when you’re not sitting in the sunshine with a pint of Theakstons’ ale to hand.  Roll on next year!

Dynamic duo Kim Hardie and Katie Day (Headline) enjoy a drink with Chris Simmons (Crimesquad)

Keith B Walters (Books and Writers), Sam Eades (Headline) and Thomas Stofer (Crime and Publishing/LBA) raise a glass to their missing musketeer Milo Rambles

Posted by Sam Eades, Publicity

No comments:

Post a Comment