Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival - Day 3 - Friday : Obi Wan at Harrogate

Five hours sleep is not enough. This morning my heard hurt, my throat was parched and my eyes were bugging out of their sockets. I didn’t want to get up, not even for breakfast. But then something moved inside me, something kicked me out of bed and sent me to the showers – it was Val McDermid. She was on at 9am. The Festival was about to begin.

The Jingo and I hurried through breakfast, worried that we were going to miss the start. Then we spotted Val, sitting down at her table, eating cereal, taking her time. We relaxed then; as long as Val was still at breakfast, we wouldn’t miss anything.

Val McDermid’s interview was one of the highlights of the day – she is a very funny person and has many great tales to tell. She spoke about her new book, Beneath the Bleeding, and the new series of Wire In The Blood, based on her Tony Hill series. It was all very interesting.

As were most of the sessions today. The format of the Festival contains hourly panel discussions or interviews with half hour breaks in between. This is a great way of doing it – you never miss anything and you always have time to stretch your legs, have a bite to eat or get your favourite authors to sign your books. It also gave us a chance to catch up with the BTZers and see what they thought of each session.

The day was jam packed: Val McDermid’s interview was followed by a panel discussion about crime novels set in the countryside, an introduction to four “new” authors, an hilarious hour on class in crime fiction (upper class David Roberts against the rest of the world), a discussion about the psychology of violent crime and a special hour celebrating the works of Daphne Du Maurier.

Throughout the day, I bought the books of New Blood authors, Nick Stone, Tom Cain, Caro Ramsey and Nicola Monaghan (for The Jingo) as well as ex-head of Florence flying squad, Michele Giuttari, who has the kindest face for someone who must have seen the aftermath of the most heinous crimes. All of these authors kindly signed my copies too.

The Jingo and I had dinner at one of Harrogate’s many fine seafood restaurants and then it was a mad rush to see the sold out appearance of Lee Child. He was magnificent to watch – a very serious man with a dry sense of humour who had plenty of stories to tell. It was a great session.

Following that was a regular feature of the Festival – the Foul Play performance hosted by Simon Brett – a whodunit acted out by Mark Billingham and Stella Duffy with Stuart MacBride and Laura Lippman trying to solve the crime. It was a barrel of laughs – especially when Mark’s impersonation of Alec Guinness included the line: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” I pissed myself laughing, although no one else near me got the reference.

After Foul Play concluded, we were off to the bar. I mingled once again with the BTZers, enjoying a few drinks here and there and catching the occasional author for a quick chat. I spoke to James Twining about Asian action flicks and restoring old cinema houses and listened with great interest as Nick Stone recounted his run in with a dodgy fella earlier in the day, who had a quite relaxed stance about profiting from other people’s hard work with the use of EBay. Stuart MacBride’s agent did a monkey dance and a Scandinavian tried to dry hump every woman in the bar. Sheila Quigley was in pain from a swollen finger and had to be whisked away to the hospital for painkillers. I spoke to Simon Kernick, Kevin Wignall and John Rickards but the conversations were far too fleeting. The need for sleep took hold, dragging me kicking and screaming to bed. I will hopefully catch them tomorrow night.

In between all this, during the afternoon, I managed to squeeze in my one-on-one session with Greg Mosse to talk about the treatment to my novel. This was the moment I had been waiting for for some time and I was a little nervous. I met him in a hotel room across from The Crown and we spoke for 20 minutes about my novel. He was very easy to talk to and quite encouraging. In summary, he was very excited about my novel’s potential, although he said that I had taken on something that would be difficult to pull off even for an established writer. Not like me to complicate things. Greg also gave me sound advice which I will take on quite happily.

This was a milestone moment – now I can crack on with it!!

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