Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 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 festival features crime writers in the form of interviews and group discussions that go to the heart of what’s happening in crime fiction right now.
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 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 Shetland author 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.
Ian Rankin, best-selling Rebus author, said:
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.
Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, Sharon Canavar, said:
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.
Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, said:
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!
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 End, Sunday Times bestselling author Rosamund Lupton with her thrilling Three Hours, Elly 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 Crossing, and 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