THE FUTURE OF CRIME WRITING: THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL 2021 ANNOUNCES FULL PROGRAMME @HARROGATEFEST | #THEAKSTONSCRIME | @MidasPR

PROGRAMMING CHAIR: IAN RANKIN

22-25 JULY 2021 | OLD SWAN HOTEL, HARROGATE

Many thanks to Francesca Whitting at Midas PR for inviting me to be involved with this exciting launch of the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival 2021’s full programme.

Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – the world’s largest and most prestigious celebration of crime fiction – has revealed its full programme bursting with unmissable talks and panel discussions featuring the hottest stars of crime fiction, curated by Festival Programming Chair Ian Rankin OBE. Tickets are available at https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/

Taking place from 22-25 July at the Old Swan Hotel – the infamous scene of Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 – the festival features crime-writing royalty in the form of one-on-one interviews with some very Special Guests and group discussions that go to the heart of what’s happening in crime fiction right now. 

It is with great pleasure that I can finally share with you the full programme for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2021. After nearly a year-and-a-half of successive lockdowns and restrictions, it is going to be absolutely marvellous to be able to safely gather together and celebrate the genre that we all love so dearly.”

Ian Rankin, best-selling Rebus author.

This year’s panel discussions take in everything from the perennial appeal of historical crime fiction to the rise of cutting-edge science and tech; the demise of the police procedural to Agatha Christie’s inimitable genius; and the appeal of both gung-ho action heroes to slick political thrillers – and so much more. See full programme below.

SPECIAL GUESTS: MARK BILLINGHAM | ANN CLEEVES | ELLY GRIFFITHS | MICK HERRON | CLARE MACKINTOSH | VAL MCDERMID | RICHARD OSMAN | CL TAYLOR

Special Guests include producer and presenter Richard Osman with the second instalment in his record-breaking cosy crime caper The Thursday Murder Club series; espionage expert Mick Herron, author of the highly acclaimed Slough House series; mystery maestro Elly Griffiths and her latest Ruth Galloway whodunnit; fan favourite Vera and Shetlandauthor Ann Cleeves; the masterful Mark Billingham with his Tom Thorne prequel Cry Baby; and an in-conversation with the queens of domestic noir Clare Mackintosh and CL Taylor.

“It has been a real journey to bring this year’s festival to life – working in festivals during Covid is not for the faint-hearted! Ian Rankin has brought together a killer line-up of Special Guests and thought-provoking panels that explore our beloved crime genre in a completely unique way. We are so grateful and proud that – after so many challenges – we are at long last able to share this programme with the public.”

Sharon Canavar, Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals

FULL FESTIVAL PROGRAMME

THURSDAY 22 JULY

8PM: THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2021 AWARD CEREMONY

Shortlisted this year are: Chris Whitaker who hopes to claim the trophy on his first ever nomination with We Begin at The EndSunday Times bestselling author Rosamund Lupton with her thrilling Three HoursElly Griffiths with her latest Ruth Galloway whodunnit The Lantern Men, Scottish-Bengali author Abir Mukherjee with his latest Wyndham & Banerjee novel Death in the East, Northern Irish author Brian McGilloway with his political thriller The Last Crossingand New Blood alumni Trevor Wood with his acclaimed novel The Man on the Street. 

FRIDAY 23 JULY

9.00 AM: SPECIAL GUEST MICK HERRON INTERVIEWED BY N.J. COOPER

10.30 AM: GUNG-HO ACTION HERO 

Join A.A. Dhand, Holly Watt, Simon Kernick, Steph Broadribb and Charles Cumming as they discuss the rise and fall (and rise) of the gung-ho action man hero (and heroine). What is next for this well-worn and much beloved crime character?

12.00 PM: HISTORICAL CRIME FICTION 

Abir Mukherjee, Antonia Hodgson, Laura Shepherd-Robinson, S.G. MacLean and S.J. Parris join forces to discuss the future of historical crime fiction, taking Philip Kerr’s (alternative) history novels as a starting point. Together, they’ll ask and answer questions like – why does historical crime fiction make for such excellent storylines and gripping characters? Do readers always need real historical characters to underpin the stories? And what are the new trends in the genre?

2.00 PM: PLANNERS VERSUS PANTSERS 

Readers are often incredulous when certain crime writers say they do hardly any planning, preferring to see where a story and its characters takes them. Other authors absolutely need to know every twist and turn before starting to write. There are no hard and fast rules of course and this playful panel of Erin Kelly, Helen FitzGerald, Mark Edwards, Sarah Pinborough and Luca Veste will explore the merits and pitfalls of both routes.

3.30 PM: WHO KILLED THE POLICE PROCEDURAL?

It’s been said that some readers are turning away from fictional detectives and heading instead to psychological mysteries and standalone domestic noir titles. We invite a panel of Mari Hannah, Olivia Kiernan, Parker Bilal, Will Dean and James Oswald to interrogate the truth here. Can the police procedural as we’ve known and loved it survive?

5PM: SPECIAL GUEST ANN CLEEVES INTERVIEWED BY STEPH MCGOVERN

8.30PM: SPECIAL GUESTS: CL TAYLOR AND CLARE MACKINTOSH IN CONVERSATION

10PM: TOP OF THE COPS 

To close out the first full day of festivities, we ask a group of experts to go head-to-head battling for their favourite detectives! Elly Griffiths, Ian Rankin OBE, Mark Billingham, Martyn Waites and Abir Mukherjee to debate who’s ‘Top of the Cops’. Once they decide on a shortlist – the audience will crown the winner by show of hands. Who will it be? Marple or Columbo? Morse or Tennyson?

SATURDAY 24 JULY

9.00 AM: SPECIAL GUEST ELLY GRIFFITHS INTERVIEWED BY JOE HADDOW

10.30 AM: NAPOLEONS OF CRIME 

Join C.J. Tudor, Craig Robertson, Liz Nugent, Luca Veste and Barry Forshaw as they consider what makes a great villain. Asking themselves and each other – who are the greatest baddies of crime fiction and what makes readers so interested in those who plan and commit terrible crimes? Perhaps they tell us something about ourselves or perhaps it is the vicarious thrill we love.

12.00 PM: NEW BLOOD

Val McDermid’s sought-after New Blood panel returns on Saturday 24 July, with this year’s hotly-tipped debut authors including Anna Bailey, Greg Buchanan, Patricia Marques and Lara Thompson.

2.00 PM: THE WRITING LIFE SCIENTIFIC 

Panellists Fiona Erskine, Lin Anderson, Sarah Vaughan, Lesley Kelly and Professor Niamh Nic Daeid together explore the science behind a good crime novel, forensics to pathology. This is your chance to hear how crime writers build believable details into their works, and how the experts feel when the facts are misunderstood.

3.30 PM: WATCHING ME, WATCHING YOU, AHH HA

Crime fiction has always addressed readers’ fears and right now we seem to be concerned about surveillance, online stalking, identity theft, and more and writers have started using these tropes along with fictionalised podcasts et cetera to address problems and worries. Join Chris Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Louise Candlish, Matt Wesolowski and Mark Lawson as they explore the impact of new and rapidly evolving technology on the fiction we read.

5.00 PM: PLEASURES AND PITFALLS OF THE SHORT STORY

In 1920, Black Mask magazine was launched, helping to establish a golden age for American pulp fiction and the crime short story. We ask our panellists Cath Staincliff, Jane Casey, Stuart Neville, Susi Holliday and Ian Rankin to share their perspectives of the pleasures and pitfalls of the short story.

8.30 PM: SPECIAL GUEST MARK BILLINGHAM INTERVIEWED BY IAN RANKIN

10.00 PM: LATE QUIZ NIGHT: VAL MCDERMID AND MARK BILLINGHAM

SUNDAY 25 JULY

9.30 AM: CHRISTIE’S ENDURING ALLURE 

2020 saw the centenary of iconic Belgian detective Hercule Poirot’s first foray into crime fiction. We ask Ragnar Jonasson, Ruth Ware, Sarah Phelps, Stuart Turton and Elly Griffiths to discuss the highs and lows of the crime genre’s Grand Dame: Agatha Christie, who famously disappeared from the festival’s home, the Old Swan Hotel.

11.00 AM: THE POLITICS OF CRIME 

The political thriller is as popular as it has ever been – especially on TV. Join Brian McGilloway, Doug Johnstone, George Alagiah, Sarah Vaughan and Alan Johnson as they explore the rise and rise of the political drama, asking if uncertain political landscapes increase the desire for Machiavellian novels?

12.30 PM: SPECIAL GUEST RICHARD OSMAN INTERVIEWED BY MARK BILLINGHAM

“It’s finally here – the crime fiction event of the year! What an incredible line up of criminal masterminds and devious debutants! We are always so proud to support the biggest and best crime writing festival in the world and this year’s event feels like a long time coming. We can’t wait to welcome you to Harrogate this summer and look forward to seeing you there, with a glass of Old Peculier in hand, of course!”

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston

PRAISE FOR THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL

“The Best Crime Festival in the World and I should know I’ve done them all” Lee Child

“Harrogate is a must. With beautiful locale, smart fans and superb author interaction, it’s one of the best festivals I’ve ever attended” Michael Connelly

“Incredibly well run and such a friendly group of authors and punters” J. S. Monroe

“Turning a small corner of Yorkshire into paradise” Val McDermid

“Amazing Event, great company” Robert Scragg

“There are so many Festivals in the world, but this is the one I keep coming back to” Andrew Taylor

“The crime Festival is the best in the country, and it shows no sign of ever changing” Barry Forshaw

“Famous amongst crime readers all over the world” Ann Cleeves

“It’s the industry must-have” N J Cooper

Ian Rankin, Programming Chair
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