Friday, 20 July 2012

Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Day One

This is the first blog post about this year's Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.  I hope to blog continuously throughout the festival.

My trip down to Harrogate started around 11:00am when I met up with Shots editor Mike Stotter and fellow Shots reviewer Kirstie Long.  Mike had suggested that we drive down to Harrogate together.  It was good suggestion and so after a 4 hour trip (with a pit stop for around 40 minutes) we arrived at Harrogate.  The journey down was unmemorable to the extent that we had no trouble with traffic whatsoever.

After arriving at Harrogate and checking into our hotel (Mike at the Holiday Inn) and I at a lovely small Bed and Breakfast across the road  from him we made our way to the Old Swan. One of the first people that Mike and I bumped into as we were checking in was fellow ShotsMag contributor Ali Karim.

It was lovely to be back in Harrogate and amongst the first couple of people that we met were authors  Zoe Sharp and Greg Hurwitz.   As we sat talking to them both various other people stopped to say hello.  These included Steve Mosby (who recently won the CWA Dagger in the Library), Isabelle Grey, Mari Hannah, NJ Cooper, David Marks, Martyn Waites, Publicist Kerry Hood, Chris Simmons and Stuart McBride.  I also bumped into Val Mcdermid, Ann Cleeves.

The main event that took place on Thursday was Creative Thursday.  Creative Thursday is an opportunity for would be authors to pitch their work and receive feedback in front of a group of editors and agents. A daunting task!

The main event of the day was of course the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel & Festival Opening Party. Queuing up to get into the room where the event was being held I managed to catch up with the absolutely delightful Laura Lippman and Chris Mooney whom I was lucky to have met again on Wednesday evening (and have dinner with). The room was packed to the rafters at the opening ceremony which was compered by Mark Lawson.  Festival organiser Sharon Canavar opened the proceedings by welcoming everyone to the festival explaining that the festival first took place in 2003 and it was the following year that Theakston's came on board as a sponsor.  It is a relationship that has stood the test of time. Anne Cleeves was the first writer in residence for the Festival and the current one is Martyn Waites.  There are over 80 authors present at the Festival and people from all over the world.  12,000 are due to attend.

Simon Theakston  (Executive Director T&R Theakston’s) once again extolled the virtues of the event and the reasoning why they have continued to be involved and sponsor the Festival

This year is the 8th Crime Novel of the Year of the Award. After an introduction and brief chat with the shortlisted nominees (SJ Bolton, SJ Watson, Steve Mosby, Denise Mina, Christopher Brookmyre and John Connolly) each author was given a commemorative engraved glass tankard. SJ Watson confirmed that filming was due to start next year on Before I go to Sleep and that Nicole Kidman was due to be the lead female character.  
Mark Lawson spoke briefly about the Outstanding Contribution Award that was also being given. The award was being given to Colin Dexter and it was Programme Chair Mark Billingham who gave a lovely speech talking about his background and work and how much Colin Dexter and Inspector Morse has become not only synonymous with Oxford but with the lives of many crime writers and readers from the start with his first book Last Bus to Woodstock.  Colin Dexter accepted the award to a well-deserved ovation and as can be expected from him despite his rather frail appearance gave a very very witty acceptance speech.
©Photo Ali Karim

The winner of the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award went to Denise Mina and her novel The End of The Wasp Season.  It was a win that was clear that everyone was very happy with indeed.
After the "formal" Opening Party attendees moved on to the "informal" party where they were fed and watered with of course Theakston's Old Peculier and some rather gorgeous cakes.
After the Opening Ceremony, the Shots crew disappeared off to catch a quick bite to eat before returning to the Old Swan Hotel to join the throng in the bar and catch up with various people.  It was lovely to be able to snatch quick words with old friends and authors including Peter Robinson, Sam Eades, David Marks, Christopher Fowler, Thalia Procter to name a few.

Thursday being the first day of the Festival I did not stay up too late but wandered back to where I was staying just after 11:30pm.
Friday will be starting off with a bang as John Connolly will be interviewed.  Should be good fun.

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