Harrogate Dispatches #4: Julia Crouch and Endearing Monsters

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I know I’m doing this all out of whack, but yesterday I managed to sneak into a panel with a seriously fantastic panel – not only was the brilliant Julia Crouch (she could be my favourite moderator) holding things down (and telling us about her strange fascination with ‘squeezing spot porn’) but there was also Mick Herron (creator of the much-loved Jackson Lamb series of spy novels), Sabine Durrant (whose Lie With Me has been wowing readers for a year now), Stave Sherez (who, similarly, is wowing people with his latest, The Intrusions) and Canadian writer Shari la Pena. They were discussing the subject of endearing monsters, and it was a cracker. Continue reading

Harrogate Dispatches #3: New Blood Panel With Val McDermid

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I say it every year, but the New Blood panel, hosted by Val McDermid, is one of the highlights of the festival. Why? Well, as a fan of crime fiction it’s always interesting to hear panellists talk about their work – and not least debut writers – who present a raw, often unvarnished and unrehearsed version of their journey to publication. This year’s panel was another cracker. Continue reading

Harrogate Dispatches #1: Lee Child

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And so it begins. After an opening ceremony/party where Lee Child was awarded the Oustanding Contribution To Crime Fiction award (and Chris Brookmyre win the Crime Novel Of The Year award for Black Widow), the 15th Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival snapped into gear. Elly Griffiths is this year’s chair, and she and the festival team have done an outstanding job at putting together a really great line-up. I’ll be doing my best to bring you as much of the action as I can (although I’m kind of working today a bit). First up, some bloke called Lee Child. Continue reading

Val McDermid announces New Blood panel for this years Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing festival

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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.  Continue reading

Krimfestivalen Dispatches #6: Juan Pablo Escobar

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Three words I never thought I’d be typing on this blog: Juan Pablo Escobar. In among all the crime fiction authors here in Oslo for Krimfestivalen, there has been one exception to the rule: the son of one of the most notorious criminals the world has ever seen. Juan Pablo is here in Norway to promote his book Pablo Escobar: My Father and he has been a big draw – last night he commanded the stage alongside other big names at the Osly Nye Centralteatret, and today he formed a one-man guest panel. (It should also be noted that the likes of Anne Holt, Arne Dahl and half an hour of crime-based improvisational comedy were also part of the theatre program.) The session was packed. There seems to be a real interest in the man and his life, and you could hardly move –  it was easily the most attended session here at Krimfestivalen. But it felt strange to me: the Colombian drug wars of the 1980s and Pablo Escobar’s empire feel like a world away from Norway, and Escobar Jnr was someone I was genuinely not expecting to encounter. No matter, it was fascinating stuff and the crowd was rapt so I’ve combined the two sessions and tried to summarise them both. Continue reading

Krimfestivalen Dispatches #5: Peter Swanson

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I got my first taste of US author Peter Swanson, who appeared on a panel alongside fellow American John Hart, yesterday. I was then talking to Abby Endler – who runs the excellent Crime By The Book blog and Instagram account (go here to have a look) – who raved to me about him, saying that he was one of her favourite current American authors. So this afternoon I managed to catch part of best-selling Danish author Jørn Lier Horst’s session (who was giving a one-man lecture on crime scenes in his native Danish), and then hot-footed it to the nearby Ark bookshop to catch Peter in conversation with Frederik Wandrup.

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