Friday, 22 July 2011

Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Harrogate Day 1

Kevin Wignall & Lee Child © Ayo Onatade (picture)

Harrogate Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival started on 21 July 2011. Back at the Old Swan Hotel, authors, readers and publishers are lining themselves up for 3½ days of scintillating conversation.

Thursday 21 July started off with Creative Thursday: Crime Fiction Working It was an opportunity of would be writers to hone their writing skills and short story writing skills with a day-long programme of workshops and seminars led by bestselling crime writers, publishing industry professionals and real-life crime experts.

I arrived mid-morning and initial ensconced myself in the corner of the lounge whilst I waited for others such to arrive. It was not long before they did and it was really good fun catching up with everyone. This is my first trip back to the festival after a four-year break. By mid-afternoon/early evening I had seen and said hello to a wide variety of authors and friends including the current Chair of the Festival Dreda Say Mitchell, past Chairs Stuart MacBride and Mark Billingham and others including N J Cooper, Christa Faust, Martina Cole, Lee Child, Martyn Waites, Andrew Taylor, Martin Edwards, Laura Wilson, Val McDermid, Kirstie Long, Ali Karim and his wonderful family, Sue Lord, Allan Guthrie, William Ryan, Wayne Brookes, Thalia Proctor, Stav Sherez, Sam Eades, Selina Walker, Julia Wisdom, Jane Gregory, Steve Mosby, Chris Sims, Jamie Lee-Nardone and Nick Stone to name a few.

PD James © Ayo Onatade (picture)

The event however got off to a proper start in the evening with the Festival opening party. Hosted by Mark Lawson it got underway with a brief introduction by Sharon Cavanar followed by a speech by Simon Theakston (Executive Director T&R Theakston’s) who extolled the virtues of the event and the reasoning why they have continued to be involved and sponsor the Festival. After an introduction and brief chat with the shortlisted nominees (Mark Billingham, Stuart MacBride, Andrew Taylor, William Ryan, S J Bolton and Lee Child) Mark Lawson spoke briefly about the Outstanding Contribution Award that was also being given. The award was being given to (Baroness) P D James and it was Val McDermid who gave a lovely speech talking about her background and her work. PD James accepted the award to a well-deserved standing ovation.

The winner of the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award went to Lee Child and his novel 61 Hours.

After the opening ceremony PD James signed books in the Waterstones bookshop that has been set up. It is a testament to how pleased people were that she was at the festival by the length of the queue of people lining up to get their books signed.

I ended up disappearing off to have a wonderful and relaxing dinner with Ali Karim and his family before returning to the hotel and spending the rest of the night (until 12:30am at least) catching up and chatting to a wide variety of people.

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