Last weekend was the Theakstons Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. This was my first time so I was a bit nervous. However, everyone I spoke to was very friendly. To be honest, I spent more time chatting than in panels! The ones I did go to though were excellent – Wherever I Hang My Hat is Home with Gregg Hurwitz, Parker Bilal, Tim Weaver, Rod Reynolds and chaired by Laura Wilson; John Grisham interviewed by Lee Child; New Blood with Dervla McTiernan, CJ Tudor, Stuart Turton, Will Dean and chaired by Val McDermid; and finally, Dame Professor Sue Black in conversation with Val McDermid. All were excellent but I think my favourite was the one with Sue Black. She spoke with such eloquence about death – sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious – but always with absolute sincerity. She has a new book out called All That Remains so it’s likely that Sue will be doing other events. If you get the opportunity to go and see her, do so.
But it wasn’t just panels that were going on. There were other events too including book launches, a gig by the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers (let Luca Vesta sing Britney!) and an Author Dinner. This was a meal on the Saturday evening. An author hosted each table (we had the lovely Teresa Driscoll) and there was a murder mystery to solve. The story had been written by Lee Child and involved the death of an actor – Troy Granite, a particularly large man. He’d been cast to play Tony Small, the pint-size protagonist from a popular book series. But who did it? Was it the book super fan who hated seeing his beloved hero portrayed by the wrong actor? Or the movie producer who now had second thoughts about the casting? Or the actor’s agent who may have been embezzling his client’s money? Or the author who was worried about her loyal fanbase? Well, I couldn’t possibly tell you who was responsible but we did get it right and even had the right motives. But for some unknown reason we didn’t win and we weren’t even mentioned! Don’t know what happened there. It was a lot of fun though and gave the opportunity to speak to new people.
Another great part was to meet for the first time some fellow bloggers I connect with on Twitter – Emma Welton, Susan Heads, Kate Maloney, Jo Robertson, Steph Rothwell, Mary Picken and Janet Emson. It was so nice to put faces to names! Of course, I also got to hang out with my regular blogger friends – Vicki Goldman (my travelling companion), Jen Lucas and her sister Mandie, Jacob Collins, Rachel Emms and Katherine Sunderland. There were plenty of authors and publishers as well to chat to (and maybe tease in the case of Rod Reynolds). And a special shout-out to Amer Anwar who was a great help with our suitcases and bags on the journey up to Harrogate. I was slightly concerned about how I was going to cope on the way back with all the extra books! But I needn’t have worried. A lovely man appeared at King’s Cross and carried my bags all the way home.
The one thing my youngest child said to me each day when I rang home was – have you taken a photo of Lee Child yet? I have to admit that I was too shy to ask him! But I did get a photo of him with Daniel Pembrey. Daniel was about to interview him for the The Sunday Telegraph so keep an eye out for his article over the next few weeks.
So, will I book for next year? I think so. It’s a very big festival and I did need some time out. Thankfully, my hotel was only a few minutes’ walk away so I was able to escape for a bit. Next time though, I’ll make sure I have more than just a hot chocolate in Betty’s!