Tag Archives: harrogate festival

New Blood 2020 at the TOPCWF

Now regular readers of this blog will know that every year at Harrogate one of my favourite panels is always the New Blood panel. 4 debut authors chosen by queen of crime herself, Val McDermid. Therefore you can imagine my delight to be told that this year the panel is going virtual! Just when I thought my tbr pile was finally going down I’ve got 4 more books to add, and they all sound fantastic.

This year’s panelists are:

– Deepa Anappara – Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (Chatto & Windus)

– Elizabeth Kay – Seven Lies (Sphere)

– Jessica Moor – Keeper (Penguin)

– Trevor Wood – The Man on the Street (Quercus)

The New Blood 2020 panel will be streamed on Saturday 25 July on harrogateinternationalfestivals.com

(L-R: Jessica Moore, Deepa Anappara, Trevor Wood, Elizabeth Kay)

Since 2004, the best-selling Scottish author of the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series has curated an annual celebration of the most formidable debuts taking the crime and thriller genre by storm, with an invitation to join the line-up of the world’s largest and most prestigious crime fiction festival: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

This year, Deepa Anappara has been selected for her part coming-of-age, part detective mystery Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, a heart-breaking and thought-provoking social commentary of modern India’s slums that has been recognised for the Women’s Prize. Elizabeth Kay is on the list for her explosive Seven Lies, taking domestic noir to a whole new level in a deliciously dark blurring of truth and lies, and Jessica Moore is recognised for her brutal and beautiful Keeper, the addictive literary thriller that has had everyone talking. Concluding this year’s New Blood contingent is Trevor Wood and his debut The Man on the Street, a gritty thriller set on the streets of Newcastle.

Val McDermid said: “I have been hosting the New Blood showcase since the festival began in 2003 and, in my book, discovering and sharing new talent with an eager audience is the best job in crime fiction. I know exactly what I’m looking for on my quest: fresh and distinctive voices, a well-told, convincing story and the almost indefinable sense that these authors all have much more to say. Deepa, Elizabeth, Jessica and Trevor tick all of these boxes and more, and if this year’s debuts share a theme, it is the irresistible and devastating way in which crime fiction shines a light on our times: homelessness, domestic violence, child trafficking and mental health are all dissected with an unflinching gaze. Whilst we can’t gather en masse at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate this year, I hope that readers will enjoy our virtual introduction to these brilliant new writers.”

The unveiling of McDermid’s selection has become one of the most anticipated moments of the publishing calendar, with readers on the lookout to uncover their new favourite author and add the ‘next big thing’ to their bookshelves.

Former ‘New Blood’ alumni include Clare Mackintosh, SJ Watson, Stuart MacBride, Liam McIlvanney and Belinda Bauer, as well as three authors on this year’s shortlist for the UK’s most prestigious crime writing award – Theakston Old Peculier: Abir Mukherjee, Jane Harper and Oyinkan Braithwaite, who was chosen just last year for her Booker longlisted My Sister, the Serial Killer.

As part Harrogate International Festivals’ year round programme of events, each year the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival welcomes the world’s famous authors each year to Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel – the scene of Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 – for a celebration of the crime genre like no other.

This year’s instalment – which formed part of Harrogate International Festival Summer Season – was cancelled, with much sadness, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and so the 2020 ‘New Blood’ showcase will be streamed on the festival’s HIF Player on what would have been the legendary weekender on Saturday 25 July 2020.

Val McDermid will also interviewed by Mark Lawson about the legacy of the New Blood panel, discussing the vital role of the showcase in giving a platform to new writers in the industry and the crime community, and giving a peek behind the scenes into how and why she chooses the books.

Trevor Wood said: “As a kid I dreamt of playing in the cup final. I’m a fraction older now but being chosen for Harrogate’s New Blood panel feels exactly like that did.”
Jessica Moor said: “To have been chosen for this panel, which has included some of my favourite new authors of the last decade, and to have been chosen by the legendary Val McDermid, is a such an honour.”
Deepa Anappara said: “I am thrilled and honoured to be picked for the New Blood panel, and grateful to Val McDermid for her immense generosity and support of debut novelists.”
Elizabeth Kay said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have been selected for such a prestigious event. The ‘New Blood’ panel has an incredible history, and I’m delighted to be participating this year alongside three really exciting other authors.

Find out more at: www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com | Facebook: @HarrogateInternationalFestivals | Twitter: @HarrogateFest | Instagram: @harrogatefestivals

Right I’m off to order some new books!

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My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood – a review

As readers of this blog will know, one of my favourite things about the festival is the amount of new books you come away with. One of last year’s new discoveries was Nuala Ellwood’s novel My Sister’s Bones. I didn’t realise at the time that she was a York based writer, until I spotted that she was launching her novel at the local Waterstones. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the event, which was a lovely evening. I always say the only thing better than books, is books with wine. I do think I came across as a bit of a stalker though. It wasn’t until I was in the queue to meet Nuala that I realised I had already had my proof copy signed in Harrogate. Well clearly once in a queue you can’t just leave if you change your mind, what would people think? Instead I got some very odd looks when I asked to get my already signed book signed again.

My Sister’s Bones focuses on two sisters Kate and Sally. Kate is a war reporter who lives in London and has just come back from reporting in Syria. She is clearly struggling to deal with all she has seen out there as well as grieving the death of her mother and dealing with a brother in law who is getting a little too close. Kate soon starts spiraling out of control and seeing ghosts around every corner.  Sally on the other hand, didn’t manage to physically escape the town where the sisters had been brought up by their dysfunctional parents. Instead she escaped through alcohol, an addiction that became even harder to control when her daughter left. Seemingly the opposite of her high-flying sister she barely leaves the house. Eventually the two stories collide with quite shocking results.

This was a really gripping story that covers a range of issues including alcoholism, domestic abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The story is written in two halves, first from Kate and then secondly from Sally. This gives us two different perspectives on the same events which I felt gave a really interesting angle to the book. The two characters voices felt very different to me which goes to show the skill of the writer in telling the same story from different women.

What also stood out for me, was that both the main characters were quite unlikeable, yet you cared what happened to them. The horrific things that Kate has seen are told sympathetically rather than sensationally which can be disturbing in places. Yet whilst you are led to have empathy for the characters, a lot of their behaviour is rather frustrating, which gives a great portrayal of how deeply experiences can affect how people act.

My Sister’s Bones was a thoroughly engaging and thought provoking debut novel, plus it was an interesting evening hearing Nuala talk. Definitely worth the potential restraining order coming my way.

If you are interested in hearing more from Nuala Ellwood she will be appearing at Betty’s Tea Shop as part of the York Literature Festival

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When the Music’s Over

Once again the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is over for another year. The whirlwind of books, authors, crime and intrigue has finished. The dead bodies have been scraped off the pavements, the books have been transported back inside bricks and mortar buildings and us readers have gone back to our mundane office life hankering after a world where we could get paid to read.

As always this was another great weekend, created by the fantastic team at Harrogate International Festival’s, with a wonderful programme committee lead by the excellent Peter James. The programme was jam packed to the point that it was difficult to find a session that could be missed. Missed, some had to be though, as this isn’t just about listening to talks, there are free books to be collected, passports to be stamped thanks to Crime files on tour, people to chat to and even fingerprints to be taken and crimes to be solved.

Unfortunately one of the biggest crimes this year at the festival was  the signing queues. For some reason WHSmiths decided to ditch the age old Harrogate tradition of one queue for all, instead opting to have separate queues for each author. This meant that if you had more than one author you wanted to meet you had to queue numerous times and it was never certain which queue was for who. However this lack of management did probably lead to one of the biggest shocks of the whole weekend – an unlikely friendship was struck up between me and my arch rival, the bookseller.

Every year the same two booksellers turn up with their big pile of books, they go into no sessions, have little interest in the authors and just want to get the books signed to sell them on. Every year, because I’m known for my calm and tolerant persona, this really winds me up as they are always at the front of the queue. However this year, in the face of adversity me and the Bookseller drew on our great british spirit and joined forces sorting some of the queues ourselves. See there is always a silver lining and its amazing how suddenly having a common aim can unite enemies.

Every year there are some fantastic sessions and this year was no exception. Julia Crouch chaired an interesting discussion about domestic suspense which included Paula Hawkins and the award winning Claire Mackintosh, whereas Tess Gerritsen took to the stage alone and was absolutely amazing. The discussion between Val McDermid and Susan Calman was definitely a highlight for me. Both have a great sense of humour and it’s clear there was a real friendship there which always makes the panels more entertaining. 

Surprise of the weekend was the ‘Out of Africa’ panel. It was informative and entertaining and I came away with another new author to try.That being said though, it does mean that technically I didn’t get to complete the TOPCWFC2016 as I hadn’t been aware Leye Adenle was attending. Yet I’ve created another rule for my challenge which is, if I didn’t know in advance they would be there it doesn’t count. Therefore I have officially ticked off another one on my list of 40 things to do.

The festival is not just all books either, there is beer, wine, football, and even music. I was lucky enough to meet the excellent Mark Billingham, who whilst signing my book asked if I’d ever heard a song called Candi’s Room by Bruce Springsteen. Mark, as well as his main character Thorne, are well known lovers of music, so this would have been a great opportunity to impress him with my expertise. But no, instead of saying something witty  I stuttered that I thought Brotherhood of Man had done something too. Well the look of disappointment on his face was just embarrassing, why couldn’t I have picked something cooler?? That surprisingly was the end of our conversation.

From the Thursday evening awards, through the final session with Yorkshire chap Peter Robinson it has once again been a fantastic weekend. I’ve come away with tons of book, including lots of new authors to try, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

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The End of the Wasp Season

Well the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is only two weeks away. Therefore the 2015 Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Challenge (try saying that quickly after a couple of glasses of wine) is very nearly at an end.

By my reckoning there are 56 authors appearing during the main three days of the festival. Of those there are 28 authors that I haven’t read. That is a pretty poor show by anyone’s standards. I’m actually beginning to think that this might be an impossible challenge. I think I need to join forces with some of my fellow bloggers who are attending. I’m sure if we all put our heads together and combined our reviewing forces we’d be able to cover all the authors. Maybe I should arrange for us all to meet for a coffee at Harrogate and we can see if we’ve managed it?

On the positive side however, the TOPCWFC2015 Lite as I’m now calling it is much more manageable. The aim of this one is to read at least one author in every session. Again by my own calculations removing things such the dinner, and the reader awards there are 16 sessions. Currently I have read at least one book by an author in 15 of these sessions. I think with two weeks to go that is pretty good going, so it’s just one more book to go.

Of course the actual blogging is very far behind the reading
I had an interesting conversation the other day with someone who was saying they used to write a book review blog, but found that they read more than they had time to review so gave it up. I completely understand what they mean, I definitely read alot more books than I actually review. I suppose it depends on what you like doing most. If you let yourself get bogged down in it, the reviews start taking over your life, the unwritten ones becoming as annoying as a wasp round your glass of wine. I enjoy writing this blog and I like to think that occasionally someone other than my family actually read it, but for me it’s always the actual reading that is the best part. The blog is just an added bonus. On that note, time to stop writing and get on with some more reading I think. Challenge completion here I come.

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