I received my programme (through the mail) yesterday for the Theakston Old Peculier crime writing festival, Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK, from 23 to 36 July (2009). Simultaneously, I received an email telling me that single-events tickets are available from Monday 11 May (you can also buy a package for the whole event for £170 or single-day passes for £70). As in previous years, bookings need to be made by phone to 0845 130 8840, but an online booking system is promised. The festival website is under development at the moment.
There's an impressive list of authors attending the meeting, but although there are many from the UK, some from Ireland, and one from Iceland, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, there seems to be nobody from mainland Europe or Scandinavia, which I find astounding for a crime-fiction festival in 2009, given the contribution to the genre from these regions. There are plenty of star attractions among the authors who are attending, however, notably Lee Child, David Simon and George Pelicanos (writer and architects of The Wire), and Duncan Campbell. A full programme includes plenty of the most popular and well-known crime fiction authors from Britan and a few from North America and Ireland: Laura Wilson (programme chair), John Harvey, Andrew Taylor, Val McDermid, Gene Kerrigan, Martin Edwards, Brian McGilloway, Frances Fyfield and many other distinguished writers.
One of the highlights of the festival is a dinner with a deadly difference. "Don't miss this opportunity to chat with your favourite authors over a delicious two-course dinner, and participate in a unique game of whodunnit devised by Festival Reader In Residence, Ann Cleeves. They all make a living out of murder, but tonight, one crime writer will die. Listen to the witness statements, follow the forensic evidence from Scene-of-Crime Officer Helen Pepper, and then decide which of the sinister suspects is the guilty party. Featuring special appearances from N J Cooper, Stuart MacBride, Cath Staincliffe and Martyn Waites, with M C Beaton, Tom Cain, Andrew Grant, Matt Hilton, Dreda Say Mitchell, Steve Mosby, Zoë Sharp, Chris Simms, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, James Twining and Jacqueline Winspear." There are also various special events – a quiz, a 'The Wire' special, a cabaret and conversations with Lee Child, Mark Billingham, Reginald Hill and 'Benjamin Black' [John Banville].
I don't think I'll be attending Harrogate this year, partly because of the timing and partly because a great many of the same authors will be speaking or attending Crime Fest in Bristol next weekend. But it sounds as if it will be an excellent event, even without a mainland European contingent.