Regular readers will know that I like to get out and about and go to a few crime literature festivals across the year, and then report back here on some of the panels and some of the words spoken within them. Arguably the biggest is the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, held at the Old Swan hotel. One of my highlights every year at the festival is the New Blood panel, where crime writing legend, Val McDermid, hosts a panel comprising four authors who have published debut novels during the past year (or are about to publish). Val herself picks the panellists – which is a ringing endorsement in itself – and this year, the panel has been announced ahead of time.
I think I’m right in saying that this is the first time there has been a big press event for the New Blood panel. It was held at Hachette’s Carmelite House in London, and invited authors from across the crime genre who have a debut coming in 2017 were present, eager to see if Val had selected them for the panel.
Since 2004, McDermid has hosted her annual New Blood panel, which has become one of the most anticipated events on the festival and, indeed, the publishing calendar.
Val’s 2017 New Blood authors were revealed as: Fiona Cummins for Rattle; Jane Harper for The Dry; Joseph Knox for Sirens; and Kristen Lepionka for The Last Place You Look.
Val McDermid said: “I have the best job in the world of crime fiction. Almost every year since the event began more than a decade ago, I have chaired the New Blood panel at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Some people might be daunted by the prospect of working their way through fifty-plus novels, but I was a fan of crime fiction long before I was a published author – and I’m as excited now as I was then to discover new talent to keep me reading into the small hours.”
New Blood authors Val has picked to date include SJ Watson, Stuart MacBride, Clare Mackintosh, Belinda Bauer and Dreda Say Mitchell. Dreda said: “Being invited onto the New Blood panel hosted by the amazing and legendary Val McDermid was one of the key springboards that launched my career.”
I don’t quite know how Val does it, but she’s picked some corkers there – I’ve read Fiona and Joseph’s debuts and both are excellent. I’d better get on and read Jane and Kristen, pronto!
This year’s festival takes place Thursday 20th to Sunday 23rd July. For information and to book tickets go here