10 Crime Festivals Not To Miss This Year


A new year has started and if you are a crime fiction fan it’s an opportunity to look ahead and plan your festival calendar. There are so many more than there used to be, we are spoiled for choice. Here we have a mix of old and popular ones, and new festivals that you may not have realised are there and now may be interested in visiting.


I’ve listed them in order of their availability. Links to websites are the green bold festival names.


  1. Deal NoirTaking place at The Landmark Centre, Deal on Saturday 2nd April 2016. A one-day convention featuring best-selling authors speaking on crime fiction in all its forms from dark psychological thrillers through police procedurals to light-hearted romps.
  2. Newcastle Noir. Taking Place at the Lit and Phil Independent Library, Newcastle on Saturday 30th April and Sunday 1st May. Newcastle Noir is a festival dedicated to promoting crime fiction under all its guises from all over the world.
  3. Crimefest. Taking place at the Marriot hotel, Bristol on 19 – 22nd May. Crimefest is a convention for people who like to read an occasional crime novel as well as for die-hard fanatics.
  4. Crime Story. Taking place at Northumbria University on Saturday 11th June. The festival for crime fiction writers and readers offers a unique insight into real-life criminal investigation.With 20 experts in policing, forensic science, law, criminology, mental health, prisons, and more, we’ll guide you through the criminal investigation process, so that it can inform and inspire your crime writing and reading.
  5. Thrillerfest. Taking place at the Grand Hyatt, New York City on 5-9th July. Thrillerfest is for thriller enthusiasts, bringing together famous authors and new ones along with industry professionals, agents, and fans.
  6. Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival. Taking place at The Swan hotel, Harrogate on 21 – 24th July. It’s known as the friendliest festival with its feet firmly on Yorkshire ground, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival guarantees thrills, and a few spills at the hotel bar, as thousands descend for one, long summer weekend.
  7. BritCrime. Taking place online. TBC during the summer. 46 British mystery and thriller writers – and one American – who live in the UK. Becoming friends after seeing each other at book launches, library talks, literary festivals and crime writing conventions here and abroad. Britcrime authors love meeting readers and set up BritCrime to give readers an opportunity to meet them at online events that are free and accessible to everyone.
  8. Bloody Scotland. Taking place in Stirling on 9 – 11th September. For fans of National and International crime with special events set up to celebrate Edinburgh and Glasgow as crime fiction settings.
  9. Bouchercon. Taking Place in New Orleans on 15 – 17th September. The World Mystery Convention is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization which holds an annual convention in honor of Anthony Boucher, the distinguished mystery fiction critic, editor and author. It is the world’s premier event bringing together all parts of the mystery and crime fiction community, and is commonly referred to as Bouchercon. [bough’·chur·con]
  10. Iceland Noir. Taking place in Reykjavik on 17 – 20th November. Iceland Noir was born in 2013 over a curry in one of Reykjavík’s finer Indian restaurants. Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Ragnar Jónasson and Quentin Bates were idly wondering why Iceland had never had its own crime fiction festival. The idea gelled and Iceland Noir was born.

I’m going to be attending some of these, so if you see me about, feel free to say hello. I’d love to chat! Which ones will you be at, or which ones would you like to be at, if you could?

Murder They Wrote?

The last panel I attended at Theakstons Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate in July was the ‘Keeping it Real’ panel on Sunday morning.  You can find my post about the panel itself Here.

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What interested me and has kept nagging away at me since was a question put to the panel by a member of the audience at the end. The answer was laughter from all on stage. Basically, the panel was about whether crime fiction should mirror real life crimes or stay away from them and the question was about whether any of the writers had thought about writing anything other than murder. Onset lots of laughter and jokes about writing about bank robberies and stolen bicycles. (or some such other lesser crimes.) The mindset of the answering authors was that murder was the most serious of crimes and therefore the only crime that can really be written about to warrant a novel.

I wasn’t overly happy with the response, but couldn’t from the top of my head think of any crime novels where someone hadn’t been murdered.

Good girlFast forward a little over a week and I’m reading The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. One of the highlights of my reading year so far. You can read my review Here. Definitely a crime novel. And not a murder to be solved or occurring anywhere in the book. I’m not spoiling anything by saying the novel is about an abduction. I’ve just read the blurb on Goodreads!

So what about the laughing Harrogate panel?

I think you can have a crime novel without a murder. It needs to be a very cleverly written book, but yes, absolutely.

What about you? What books have you read that don’t have murder within the pages but fall firmly within the crime fiction genre? I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this one.

Keeping It Real – Harrogate part 3

It’s the third and final instalment of my Theakston’s Old Peculier crime writing festival rundown – at last I hear you say! I save the best till last my blogging friends. Trust me.

And to prove that, it will be a reasonably short post. See, you’re already smiling.

Sunday morning saw the panel ‘Keeping it Real’ whether crime fiction should in fact mirror real life crimes or stay well away from the headlines. Chairing the panel after obviously not much sleep, but doing an upstanding job anyway was David Mark who was joined by Stuart Neville, Chris Carter, Stav Sherez and Tim Weaver.

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Neville stated after writing Ratlines which is written about the Nazi’s, he got really angry emails. Emails he was surprised to receive.

Sherez said he liked ‘making stuff up’ because it felt like cheating otherwise and Weaver said that if you were going to use a real life event then you had to be responsible with what you did with it.

Carter made a great point in that fiction has to make sense whereas real life doesn’t and he exampled this with the rather gruesome true life story of the German cannibal who advertised for participants for him to eat and got 204 responses! If you wrote that, you’d have an editor and readers just not believing it could happen.

The final thought I came away from that panel with was from Stav who said that writing is a concentrated form of thinking. I liked that.

Back in June I wrote a blog post with a YouTube video attached that I’d found. It was actually a TED video of a man who is recording one second of every day of his life and I had decided to do this. You can find the post Here. For Harrogate, I thought I would try to do a kind of condensed version, but bearing in mind it is only over a couple of days, I did a few seconds each day, it’s a short video, but here are the results.


I would like to thank the chair of this years event Steve Mosby, Theakstons Crime, The Old Swan and of course, Dead Good Books for a great weekend that for me, went flawlessly. You can find a list of blog posts about the event at Steve’s blog – which is of course a great blog to follow anyway – Here.

And that’s me bowing out of cataloging my weekend for another year! Here’s to many more.

David Tennant is “Gorgeous, Funny and can do a Chin-up.” – Harrogate Part 2

Apologies for the delay in this second Theakston’s crime writing festival post. I know I said it would be on Tuesday but my hopeless EDS body decided it would take precedence and crash for a couple of days and it did it in style. But, I’m back now!

So, where were we?

That’s right, we finished on Friday night with the very lovely ‘Robert Galbraith.’

Saturday saw me drinking lots of tea in the wonderful marquee on the front lawn of the Old Swan. Perfect for giving attendees that little more room as the festival grows in fans. It also was the morning of the “selfie”, where I attempted to get photo’s of myself with as many people as I could. I always walk away from these events with nothing to remind myself of them, so this year was going to be different. See below for a smattering of said pics.

Then, before leaving the tent, I passed the Dead Good Book stand with Mel Sherratt and PamReader and we were asked if we wanted to try the lucky dip and possibly win some sweets. Well, as I’d been hassling the Dead Good Book stand all morning – they are great people! – and I do love some sweets, I stuck my hand into the suitcase filled with what looked like black shredded paper and was told I was fishing for a bone. Well, look what was attached to my bone! ( I had to read it three times before I started squealing!)

Next up was the Broadchurch panel. Yes, the TV show Broadchurch was starring in the Old Swan. We had the writer, Chris Chibnall, Jodie Wittaker who played Beth Latimer and Olivia Coleman (any introductions needed?) Also on the panel was Erin Kelly who had written the book of Broadchurch. She and Chris stated they had a lot of fun working together and some of the characters were able to be expanded upon more in the book than television allowed. So, all you book lovers – one up for you!

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There was a great moment when Olivia was asked a question and she looked at Chris for help and said she couldn’t remember what she was allowed to say and what lies she had told who! There has been a great deal of secrecy over the first series of Broadchurch which worked really well on the UK audience and took off brilliantly and has now got so much attention, the team feel the paparazzi are intrusive and rude as they take long lens photographs of them even when they are doing costume changes.

During audience questions, Olivia was asked what it was like to work with David Tennant and she replied “He’s gorgeous, funny and can do a chin-up!” What more does a girl need?

As this post appears to have gone on for so long, I shall finish the Harrogate line up off on Saturday. Tomorrow returns to the First Draft Questions.

This Is How You Pronounce Rowling – Harrogate part 1

21.7.14 004Thursday last week saw the annual trek to Harrogate for the Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival held at the beautiful Old Swan in Harrogate. It’s a place where well established crime writers, new up and coming writers, still trying to be published writers, and readers, all mingle together in the same space without segregation and talk all things crime with copious amounts of their favourite tipple on hand. Be that tea, coffee, wine, Theakstons of course, or something a little shorter. It is one of the highlights of the crime writers year.


My first stop however had to be Betty’s tea shop in town to sample the delights of the China Rose Tea and of course the cream tea alongside it. And on the way out I bought some China Rose tea to bring home with me. I also couldn’t resist taking a photograph of these little fella’s!

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Piggin out at Betty’s

21.7.14 029Friday Morning saw the start of the panels. The first one I saw was ‘The Good Old Days‘ A discussion chaired by Martyn Waites with guests James Oswald, Mel Sherratt, Mark Edwards and Mari Hannah, discussing the different routes into publication – self publishing and traditional publishing. It started with Martyn Waites attempting to do a large hall selfie but not quite getting it right, then being corrected by Mari for pronouncing her name wrong. (It’s Mari as in Sari.)

James Oswald stated that if you intend to self publish then you are in for a lot of work as you are doing everything yourself.

Mel Sherrat said she does a bit of both…

There was some heated talk about the cost of ebooks and what readers are willing to pay for certain items such as cups of coffee but not books.

It then moved on to audience questions and in response to one question from the audience member who asked at what point the panel called themselves writers, Edwards seemed to struggle with this but Oswald stated ‘If you write, you’re a writer.’ Hear Hear!

In the ‘Worse things happen at home‘ panel, a discussion about violence in the home, Cath Staincliffe gave the best quote for me, when asked in audience questions whether it was nature or nurture, that whichever it was, we still have to take responsibility for our own actions.

Friday evening saw the highlight event. The prize attraction for many. Robert Galbraith was coming to Harrogate! AKA J. K. Rowling. Unfortunately, photographs were not allowed, so I have none to share on this post.

Galbraith was interviewed by Val McDermid and it was a relaxed affair. Galbraith wore a smart suit and tie for the occasion and carried it off well! She stated that the reason she turned to crime – in a manner of speaking – following children’s fantasy – was because she had always read it and is a lover of the genre. So for us crime lovers, that is wonderful to hear. She is a classic crime lover. Preferring the whodunnits like Christie and Allingham. She talked about squealing and dancing around her kitchen when she got a glowing blurb from McDermid before anyone knew her identity. A funny thought considering her highly regarded prowess with a keyboard, but writers are insecure creatures. And she did confirm that the reason she attempted to go it alone and undercover of pen name was to see if she could make it without her name giving her the advantage. Hence the dancing in the kitchen.

She talked about her character Strike and said she has no plans to stop writing him, so crime fans of this series can sit easy. She is happy in the genre and knows enough about him to keep going.

One thing she did say, was that she wished she had been published after she had been married, that way she would be J. K. Murray and everyone would know how to say that, but as it is everyone gets her name wrong. So, for your information – you pronounce is Rowling as in Rolling, like rolling down a hill 🙂

And here’s my signed book of The Silkworm!

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More on Harrogate tomorrow….

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival Booked!

HarrogateOn Sunday I booked my tickets to the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival! I have been waiting since last years, in July, to do this, so I’m thrilled.

If you’re planning on going though, you need to think about getting your tickets, because some are sold out already. The festival is growing every year and I think this could have something to do with the way previous attendee’s use social media to rave about it. I have certainly seen it grow and this will only be my third year there.

This year though, I’m less excited about going to see the panels and talks and more excited about meeting friends and immersing myself once again in the crime writing world. There really is nothing like being with writers who really love the genre you write in. You all just “get” it. It doesn’t need to be explained – or in some cases, excused. There is a buzz and excitement and I always come away feeling glad to be a crime writer.

Saying that though, one of the panels that I am looking forward to is the Social Media: Who Are You? panel.  Below is what the panel is about and I’ve copied directly from the Festival website

“Do you dream in hashtags? According to the government’s Chief Scientist, the web is redefining human identity, changing people’s views of who they are and their place in the world. It’s an addictive but questionable force. So how do authors navigate these virtual choppy waters? Are they just procrastinating on Twitter? And what becomes of fragile egos in the hands of ruthless online avatars? Explore the fine line between social media success and social media suicide with authors Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Erin Kelly, Steve Mosby and Sarah Pinborough. Giving them a #FF in this perfect ‘Follow Friday’ event is chair Mark Billingham. Join the conversation online live at #TOPCRIME2013″

This panel is 2pm on Friday 20th July if you want to join in on Twitter!

I was present at last years exciting panel on the ebook debate which sparked the still ongoing sockpuppet drama. I posted about that, here. I’m not expecting anything of that level this year, but it’s still going to be a ball and I can’t wait!

Do you attend writing or book festivals? What do you love about them? If not, which festival is your dream one?




Recently Read – Marked by David Jackson

The Recently Read posts are not book reviews. As a writer, I do not believe I should be reviewing the hard work of other writers. These posts are simply books I have recently read and enjoyed and will share with you. They will not always be crime books as I am trying to widen my reading selection. I hope you enjoy some of these with me.

Marked – David Jackson.

MarkedHer tattoo wasn’t just a mark for life; it marked her for death too.

In New York’s East Village a young girl is brutally raped, tortured and murdered. Detective Callum Doyle has seen the victim’s remains. He has visited the distraught family. Now he wants justice. Doyle is convinced he knows who the killer is. The problem is he can’t prove it. And the more he pushes his prime suspect, the more he learns that the man is capable of pushing back in ways more devious and twisted than Doyle could ever have imagined. Add to that the appearance of an old adversary who has a mission for Doyle and won’t take no for an answer, and soon Doyle finds himself at risk of losing everything he holds dear. Including his life.

My Thoughts

As recently posted, I was extremely lucky to receive an early copy of Marked which was only published yesterday. It is the third book in a series featuring protagonist Detective Callum Doyle based in New York.

I know Dave through attending the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival over the past couple of years. The first year I went I knew I’d be meeting Dave as a few of us had been chatting on Twitter, so I thought I’d read his first novel Pariah before going. Well, that was it for me, I’d found myself a really great American based crime series to follow. I loved Doyle, his wit and the great pace and emotional insight he provided as he fought against the bad guys and also against some of his colleagues as past history and rumours rumbled around him.

Marked, in comparison, as a third novel, has a slightly different feel about it. You can tell Jackson has found his real comfort level with the characters and his writing. It’s sure and solid. It also has some of Doyle’s wit, but the difference is, the book is a bit darker. Doyle is not only fighting against the bad guys, he still has the internal police department rumour mill to fight against, but this time he also has to face himself at a completely different level than before. The bad guy is kickass bad and this challenges Doyle to unexpected levels leaving you never sure what the resulting ending will be.

I started reading Marked in the week running up to Christmas, and as you know, things get busier, more hectic and more tiring in that week. I was initially reading only a few chapters at a time which isn’t how I like to read. What I prefer is to really get into a book and immerse myself. However, I picked it back up Christmas Day evening when it was time to wind down and relax, and I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it. And I did. It was breathtaking. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, though at one point I did have to look away as I was so engrossed, the imagery Jackson created freaked me out a little. It is definitely a book that will have you on the edge of your chair. If psychological, nut job bad guys,  not clear-cut good guys, and edge of your seat crime fiction is what you like, then this is your cup of tea. If you want to relax and the world to look rosy, I’d advise you not to read this.


Today when I got home from work, there was a parcel sat on my dining table waiting for me. I knew what it was as I’d been tipped off yesterday about it’s arrival, but nonetheless I was excited and tore at the wrapping to get at the contents. And this is what was inside.


A copy of David Jackson’s new book, Marked, due for release on January 3rd. I am honoured to be able to call Dave a friend having met him at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival in 2011, and I am extremely lucky to have obtained an advance copy of his new book. Now you might think that what I am going to say about Dave’s books, is because I know him, but that is absolutely not the case.

Dave writes crime fiction set in New York, with protagonist Detective Callum Doyle. I absolutely love Doyle. I love the tone of the novels. They are witty. They have my laughing out loud and yet they are fast, active and everything you would expect from American crime. For a British girl, I have to say, I am an American crime fiction fan. It’s what I prefer to read and I now have a firm second place favourite author – I’m sorry Dave, I’m not sure anyone will knock Karin Slaughter off that top slot – and that is David Jackson.

The problem I’m facing now, with this book firmly in my hands, is this – I’m actually nervous about starting to read it! I know I will devour it and then it’s over. Done. Gone. I have to wait for the next one. It’s that good.


Her tattoo wasn’t just a mark for life; it marked her for death too.

In New York’s East Village a young girl is brutally raped, tortured and murdered. Detective Callum Doyle has seen the victim’s remains. He has visited the distraught family. Now he wants justice.

Doyle is convinced he knows who the killer is. The problem is he can’t prove it. And the more he pushes his prime suspect, the more he learns that the man is capable of pushing back in ways more devious and twisted than Doyle could ever have imagined.

Add to that the appearance of an old adversary who has a mission for Doyle and won’t take no for an answer, and soon Doyle finds himself at risk of losing everything he holds dear. Including his life.

What author do you love reading so much that you don’t want to finish the book?