Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2014
This is the first of a short series of blog posts about the 2014 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival held at Harrogate.
With a tagline of ‘Your only crime would be to miss it’, the annual Crime Writing Festival has a great deal to live up to.
It is indeed an important event for both readers and writers. After attending the Festival for the first time I now understand why. It is a chance to pick up some of the backstory of a particular novel and learn about the process of not only crime writing but also the mechanics of the publishing industry (traditional and self-publishing).
What makes the event such a pleasure to attend is that readers can mingle with fellow enthusiasts while at the same time rubbing shoulders with writers, who up to that point may have been just pictures on a book cover.
The location and arrangement of places to chill out between panels and interviews (of which there many) creates an extremely friendly atmosphere in which to converse and swap views on books. The Festival is also a place for trying out new reading on the strength of recommendations of other crime and mystery enthusiasts.
The Rover tickets are very good value. I bought the Weekend Rover which has already resulted in an increase in muscle tone due to the strength required to lift a goodie bag full of books, many of which have not yet been released. Further books and bags appeared at regular intervals during the weekend.
For any aspiring author, the Festival offers an opportunity for extensive networking and understanding how publishing operates, not only by attending the panels and interviews, but also talking to those at the heart of the industry.
There are many self-published authors attending the event, who have succeeded in make a living from writing and in some cases transferring to a traditional book deal, while others may do both. The eclectic mix of writers is another good reason for attending the event and widening horizons for both readers and writers.
Certainly the Festival encouraged aspiring crime writers by running an intensive day-long crime writing course called ‘Creative Thursday’ before the main event, for those who wanted to learn how to write in the genre or hone their crime writing skills.
Crime writing is a large genre composed of many sub-genres. This is why there will be very few people who have never read a crime novel, and the panels had been selected to reflect this.
As well as seasoned writers there is a ‘New Blood’ panel of recently published or soon to be published writers. Each year sees a progression of writers as they gain more experience and this spread of talent is another great reason for attending the Festival. Several of the now successful writers said how useful the festival was for providing the encouragement to keep going when the rejections kept coming.
This year the appearance of J.K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith caused a great deal media interest. Certainly it proved to be an entertaining and interesting interview with Val McDermid on Friday night. The warmth between the two led to such a relaxed atmosphere it was almost possible to believe they were having a chat over a cup of coffee.
The only way this act could be followed was the billing of Lynda La Plante on Saturday morning, who succeeded in reducing the audience to helpless laughter as she described her career.
So the verdict.
Yes it would be a crime to miss this Festival.