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Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate
JULIAN COLE looks forward to a festival that is always wickedly good fun.
HARROGATE has a criminal underbelly which has affected life in the seemingly sleepy town for ten years now.
Happily, no one much minds because the crime is fictional and the writers attract huge crowds – and are not unenthusiastic about spending money in the local bars and pubs.
This summer will see the tenth anniversary of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.
This week, as happened last year, the programme was launched in London, at Browns in St Martin’s Lane in what, appropriately, was once a court room.
The festival will once again take place at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, running from July 19 to 22.
Headlining the festival are Jo Nesbo, Harlan Coben, John Connolly, Kate Mosse, Peter Robinson, Peter James and Ian Rankin. Each year the festival is chaired by a different crime writer, and this year Mark Billingham, creator of DI Tom Thorne, takes the helm.
On Wednesday evening, Billingham launched the festival, alongside Simon Theakson, executive director of T&R Theakston.
He said: “In just ten years, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate has become the biggest and best of its kind in the world and it’s an honour to be chairing the programming committee once again.
“I’m confident that we’ve handpicked a programme this year that will rival anything seen at the festival before. Big names? Of course. But this festival has always been about introducing crime fiction lovers to the very best of the newer talent on offer too, and we’ve got plenty from all over the world.
“Whether you like your crime fiction cosy as crumpets or dark as a bloodstain in the shadows, at this year’s festival there will be something for everyone.”
Other highlights include a look at award-winning BBC TV series Luther with author/screenwriter Neil Cross, journalist Miranda Sawyer and cast and crew; Swedish superstar Camilla Lackberg discussing the art of translation; Dragons’ Pen, where punters have a chance to pitch their would-be bestsellers to a panel of professionals; and Val McDermid revealing the most exciting emerging crime authors in her New Blood panel.
The annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year will also be announced on the opening night.
Simon Theakston said: “I am hugely proud of our association with Harrogate’s world-class crime fiction festival. This year’s line-up is a fantastic mix of household names and new talent and, for this tenth festival, we look forward to giving both writers and ticket-holders a warm welcome and catching up on all the latest crime writing gossip over a pint of Old Peculier ale.”
The faraway launch – from Yorkshire at any rate – offered an excuse to spend the day in the capital. Travel to London was courtesy of East Coast and the swift 8.55am train to King’s Cross; the station is now fabulous in its newly revamped state.
• For festival booking information contact the box office on: 01423 502116.
• East Coast operates 72 services each weekday between York and London King’s Cross. Customers travelling first class can enjoy East Coast’s complimentary food and drinks offer plus unlimited Wi-Fi. Advanced return fares, booked online at eastcoast.co.uk start from £26 standard class or £79 first class. Times and fares can also be found via 08457 225225 or from any staffed stations.
• Julian Cole has had two of his York-based crime novels published in Britain and the United States. A third, The Baedeker Murders, has just been published on Amazon for Kindle and similar devices.
It costs £2.07 and is a time-slip story set in York during the Second World War and in more or less modern times. An old German pilot wishing to apologise for bombing York is murdered on a personal pilgrimage to the city and secrets kept for a lifetime emerge in the third book to feature the Rounder brothers.