By jeanettehewitt78, Jul 31 2016 02:05PM
Last weekend I had my very first (and definitely not last) Harrogate experience. Harrogate is the home of Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, where crime fiction writers, readers, bloggers and lovers congregate from all over.
I caught the 06:00 train from Ipswich, eager to get to Harrogate in order to make the first panel on my itinerary. It was called Domestic Suspense, and featured authors Alex Marwood, (The Wicked Girls, The Killer Next Door and The Darkest Secret), Paula Hawkins, (The Girl on the Train), Clare Mackintosh, (I Let You Go and I See You), Helen Fitzgerald, (Viral) and Julia Crouch, (Cuckoo and Her Husband’s Lover). I adore all of these authors; Alex Marwood has been a great support to me from the beginning and is an absolute darling. I had previously met Julia Crouch at the Felixstowe Book Festival in June and Clare Mackintosh’s novel – I Let You Go – was a memorable book, which thoroughly deserved winning Crime Novel of the Year. I had bought The Girl on the Train a few weeks prior, and waited to start it until I was on my train to Harrogate. (I’ve since finished it and would highly recommend it to everyone!)
I met up with my lovely friend and crime writer Jane Isaac and we were interviewed on film for Writing Magazine. Friends old and new were there, some old friends (in particular Noelle Holton – Crime Book Junkie) who have been friends for a long time in the cyber world, and to meet in the flesh was wonderful. She’s every bit as deliciously naughty as you think, oh, and cool as HELL!
One of the best things about the weekend was not being able to walk more than a few feet without seeing a familiar face and sparking up a conversation. I was thrilled to see Helen Callaghan, author of Dear Amy, wandering around and we spent a lovely few hours chatting in the sun with the gorgeous Helen Cadbury, Collette McBeth and Ian Patrick. Jane, Lynne, Ian and I went for dinner at a Thai restaurant and happened to sit next to Mary-Jane Riley, who had won one of my books in a recent giveaway and I had been carrying it around hoping to bump into her. THE Book Club gang were out in full force, and it had been Christmas since I had seen most of them. Sumaira was there, as gorgeous as ever, as was Whirlwind Tracy Fenton, Helen Boyce, Claire Knight and so many more. It was midnight by the time I made my way back to my hotel (The Kimberly, if anyone is thinking of staying in Harrogate – great room, great price and fantastic breakfast!) Because of a couple of Domestic Noir related works in progress, (more on this next time) I stayed up making some notes post-panel and set my alarm for 07:00 – I wasn’t going to miss my cooked English breakfast!
On the Saturday I had an event with Mark Edwards to discuss his new novel, The Devil’s Work. At 10:30 we all made our way to The White Hart Hotel. The talk was fascinating, I’ve been a fan of Mark’s ever since I read The Magpies (a bone chilling thriller about a couple who move into a new home and discover the neighbours from hell, massively recommended, unless you’re currently in the process of a house move, as I was at the time of reading it!) Mark’s talk was moderated by the absolutely lovely Erin Mitchell and he done so well answering every question that was fired at him. He was amazingly generous in the goody bags he gave us which included beautiful prints of The Devil’s Work, pens and a copy of the book itself.
After The White Hart I had about one hour to make my way back to the Old Swan Hotel and say my goodbyes. I had a mental list of people I’d not yet said ‘hello’ to, and I was determined that on my lap around the grounds I would locate as many on my missing list as possible.
First up was lovely Lucy V Hay, another crime writer whose dystopian novel Sky Jack has just been released. Lucy is a finalist along with me in the Create 50 Twisted anthology stories and it was great to meet up and chat, however briefly. After bidding goodbye to Lucy I caught up with Vicky Newham and Rebecca Bradley and we had our picture taken together, photo bombed by the great Alex Marwood! I spotted Marnie Riches, another beautiful friend who I had to grab to say ‘hi’ to, and Daniel Pembrey, Alex Caan, Joanne Robertson, Steven Dunne, K.A Richardson, Howard Linskey, Sarah Hilary, Graeme Cameron, Amanda Jennings... the list really is endless. I owe a huge thank you to Liz Barnsley (LizLovesBooks.com – check out her blog, she’s fabulous) who promised me a 50th anniversary edition of Valley of the Dolls and delivered, making my weekend!
As I staggered onto the train for the four hour journey home I was weary but happy. In fact, only about an hour after arriving home I booked my hotel for next year.
In the meantime the festival period is drawing to a close. It is not a time for resting however as I have two very exciting, unexpected projects up my sleeve which I’m working on right now. Very soon I will be talking more about them and I’ll just leave you with this teaser. If you thought Exclusion Zone was the only book I was releasing in 2016, you’d be wrong...