Just had a fantastic few days at the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, at the Old Swan in Harrogate - conveniently, only about fifteen minutes from my house!
It was the tenth anniversary of the festival, and with over 12,000 tickets sold, it really is one of the premier literary events in the country (and perhaps the biggest crime writing festival in the world?).
Thursday was the opening night party, with the announcement made for the TOP Crime Novel of the Year Award. This was a popular victory for Denise Mina and The End of the Wasp Season, who won over stiff competition from SJ Bolton, Chris Brookmyre, John Connolly, Steve Mosby and SJ Watson. Colin Dexter also won a deserved lifetime achievement award, and took to the stage to give a lively (and very amusing) speech.
I attended the party with my wife, and it gave us a chance to meet some of the Headline staff, who were also up for the weekend. It was the first time I had met my publicist Ben Willis, and fellow Headline author Stephen Dunne (The Reaper), and it was also great to see my editor Alexander Hope again (although I think we consumed a few too many pints of Old Peculiar for our own good!).
The next night was the Headline dinner, which was preceded by parties hosted by Hodder and Little, Brown. The latter was held in the 'Speigeltent' just a short walk from the hotel, and was very atmospheric! The dinner itself was really good, and it was nice to meet some other Headline authors - Jason Dean (The Wrong Man), GJ Moffat (Protection) and Christopher Radmann (Held Up). Amanda Kyle Williams (Stranger in the Room) had also flown over from Atlanta for the festival, and it was great to see her at the dinner.
The next afternoon my family and I met up for lunch with our good friend, crime writer Elly Griffiths (whose début novel The Crossing Places was nominated for the TOP Crime Novel of the Year Award in 2010). She's such a lovely lady, and our children didn't want to leave her!
My wife and I met up with Elly for drinks in the bar that same evening, before the Come Die With Me murder mystery dinner, at which she was hosting a table. Our own table was hosted by Amanda Kyle Williams, which was nice as we had just met the night before. The murder mystery element was created by Ann Cleaves, and was based on her latest 'Vera' novel, The Glass Room. It certainly caused some head scratching!
Even harder was the Late Night Quiz, at which my wife and I joined the Headline team (the Quizee Rascals). I would like to say that we did well (or even quite well would have been nice), but I'm afraid this would be an out and out lie! Still, it was great fun!
We then retired to the hotel bar until the early hours of the morning (thanks to my parents for babysitting!), where we met and chatted to writers, publishers, editors, agents, buyers, journalists and reviewers - interesting, to say the least! I even managed to steal some words with the legendary Harlan Coben, who had flown over from the US for the festival, and discovered that he is an extremely pleasant chap indeed.
All in all, the festival was a great opportunity to connect with others in the publishing industry, as well being a great deal of fun. I'm looking forward to next year already!