Among the many things that I enjoy about the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, is the excited twitter buzz leading up to it. The tweets that fly back and forth throughout the first day as people say that they are on their way or have already arrived, the latter generally attach a picture like the one below...
...which is at the exit from the train station into Harrogate. I had the pleasure of author Tom Wood's (@TheTomWood) company on the last leg of my journey (and I still owe him a drink, next time Tom!).
|The Swan is where the Festival is held. |
It's also the hotel that author Agatha Christie
bolted to when she disappeared for a few days.
My highlights of this year's Festival included:
1) Catching up with all the friends that I made at last year's festival, and those since then that I've made online and at other publishing events, plus making new friends. It's always a great experience to put a face to a twitter name. There are too many people to mention here but you all know who you are. You are what makes this festival so enjoyable for me.
2) I loved author Colin Dexter's acceptance speech after he was presented with the Oustanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, and I was delighted for Denise Mina when she won the Crime Novel of the Year 2012 Award.
3) Every talk I went to was interesting, engaging and even controversial in one case. The most talked about event was Wanted for Murder: The E-Book, it was hosted by BBC Radio 4 Front Row's Mark Lawson and generated a heated debate between authors Steve Mosby and Stephen Leather, agent Philip Patterson, bookseller Patrick Neale and members of the audience. To get a flavour of it I recommend that you read the following posts:
Regarding this debate, as a reader, I will pay a decent price for a quality product. I am not seduced by 99p offers, I am seduced by the quality of the writing and the author's ability to tell a good story (this applies whether the book is traditionally published or self-published). This debate, plus Kate Mosse, Crime In Another Dimension, New Blood and Jo Nesbo were my personal event favourites. Full listing details here: hgte.co.uk/crime/events/.
4) Being asked if I would like to write the blog post for the special guest event featuring author Kate Mosse on Friday night by Keith B Walters (@keithbwalters) for www.welovethisbook.com. Despite netbook nightmares (when I successfully resisted the urge to throw it at the wall in frustration) and many other entertaining distractions (which made me take refuge in my hotel room or I'd never have got it done), this was fun to do as I had loved the interview. Mosse is a born storyteller, it was quite magical listening to her describe her writing journey.
|BBC Radio's Jenni Murray talks to author Kate Mosse|
5) Being interviewed by Peter McNerney from The Yorkshire Post about why people love to read crime after author Elizabeth Haynes pointed him in my direction. I've no idea whether they'll use any of it or not, but it was an interesting experience.
6) I also enjoyed going to my first book blogger drinks event, with thanks to author Jane Casey for the invite. Note to self, do not drink more than one glass of wine on an empty stomach or giggles will ensue.
This was the second time that I have been to the Festival and it genuinely does have a fantastic atmosphere. Like all things, it's what you make of it that counts. Here's my eight point guide to enjoying everything that's on offer:
1) Go with the flow (why? See points 1, 4, 5 & 6 above).
2) Be brave. If you want to speak to your favourite author go and talk to them, they don't bite and they are generally over the moon when a reader tells them how much they loved their book.
3) Be yourself. Get to know people, be friendly and interested in them as human beings, and let them get to know you.
4) Point 3 is especially important for writers who are approaching agents, publishers and book bloggers in whom they would like to generate interest for their book. Don't pitch unless they ask you about it, or you've been introduced to them for that purpose.
5) You don't always have to join the official queues to get your books signed, authors who are staying for the festival will sign them in the bar (which is where almost everyone ends up).
6) Remember to take regular breaks, it is impossible to see all the events without feeling like your head is spinning.
7) Sleep before you go because you're not going to get much sleep over the weekend. You'll be buzzing from the natural high due to making loads of new friends, plus it has been known for the bar to be busy until the small hours, three hours sleep a night is not uncommon.
8) Explore Harrogate, it is a beautiful town, and try to fit in a cream tea at the famous Bettys.
|Bettys stunning window display|
|The cream tea at Bettys|
I had a blast at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2012. You don't have to read or write crime fiction to enjoy this Festival, you just have to love books (in any format or genre) and be interested in supporting the writing community. Next year the legendary Val McDermid will be chairing the Festival from 18-21 July 2013. The headline authors are Kate Atkinson, Charlaine Harris, Susan Hill and Ruth Rendell interviewed by Jeanette Winterson. This is already promising to be one Festival that you won't want to miss, and you may be surprised by the thrilling time you'll have!