I always enjoy the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, and this year was no exception. Presided over by the kind and gracious Ann Cleeves, it featured a host of talented writers including Sara Paretsky, Val McDermid, N J Cooper, Lee Child, Peter Robinson, Lisa Gardner, Sally Wainwright, and many others. Scottish comedian and presenter Fred MacAuley interviewed the extraordinary MC Beaton, the pseudonym Marion Chesney uses for her Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth crime novels, and gave us all a good laugh. Lovely humour. What is amazing is hearing about how all these successful writers’ got published because every single one of them has a different story to tell.
What is also interesting is observing the London publishing set come ‘up north’ every July. Of course we have no publishers and agents in the area, which in itself is a great failing, so it is a hoot sitting in the bar (or in the drinks tent) with a cup of coffee and a newspaper hearing all their chat and gossip from the ‘capital’; how busy and exhausted they all are; and who’s ‘shagging’ who. They colonise our wonderful tea shop ‘Bettys’ in town too, for private meetings and tea parties, which are not so private in a busy restaurant.
Of course this is not just a Festival for the public to meet their literary heroes, which of course they do when they buy their books and get them signed in the tent on the front lawn. This is also an opportunity for the publishing industry to meet up, do deals, chat to agents, meet new talent, and to gossip about the literary successes and failures of others. That gossip gets ever more frank in the evening after a good meal and alcohol. You may hear talk of the latest hot writer with a five figure book deal, or you may hear speculation about a colleague getting a ‘boob job’ during her annual summer holidays. All that goes on in a parallel to what the public see and experience, and I suppose that’s what makes it one of the biggest literary festivals in Europe. Roll on 2016!