A Look Ahead to Harrogate by Sarah Hilary
by Sarah Hilary

Once upon a time, Harrogate was famous for Betty's tea rooms, and its ornamental gardens. Then Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival descended and no one's looked back since. In the prettiest of towns, on the sloping lawns of its prettiest hotel (The Old Swan) beer and book tents are pitched. Here you can drink a pint of Old Peculier and have a chinwag with the likes of Lee Child, Mark Billingham, Val McDermid and -- this year -- Eddie Izzard, Sara Paretsky and Sally Wainwright. No one stands on ceremony, there is no dry stonewall between the writers and readers, the legends and wannabes. Beer is a great leveller and boy--do crime writers like to talk.

This year I'm lucky enough to have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year (alongside Belinda Bauer, Ray Celestin, Elly Griffiths, Antonia Hodgson and Peter May) so I'll be on my best behaviour on opening night, but after that? Join me in the bar, or lolling on the lawn, and we'll talk about TV, books, bashing out words or getting blocked. Just try and shut me up. It'll be like BritCrime all over again, except no one will be in pyjamas (probably).


Someone Else's Skin shortlisted for crime novel of the year

Four years ago, when I first rocked up at Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, my favourite moment was the opening night, as the winner of the Crime Novel of the Year is announced. The buzz in the ballroom, the speeches, the shortlisted authors, all heroes of mine... I was starry-eyed all night. I didn't have a book deal, or even an agent, although I was stalking the Queen of Harrogate herself, the stupendous Jane Gregory.

At Harrogate the following year, I'd been signed by Jane, but was still working my way towards a book deal. Anyone who's on that leg of this journey will tell you that it's agony. You daren't hope, in case you jinx it. You want to dream, but that too can be dangerous. It was a rarefied form of torture going to Harrogate, getting within sniffing distance of all those famous writers and debut novelists. (I didn't actually sniff any of them.)

Denise Mina scooped the Crime Novel of the Year Award that year, and the next. The second time she won, I had a book deal. A proof copy of Someone Else's Skin was in the delegate bags. Last year, I was with Belinda Bauer and her agent (my agent!) Jane Gregory celebrating Belinda winning the Crime Novel of the Year with her astoundingly good book, Rubbernecker.

This year...
This year, Someone Else's Skin has been nominated for the same award. It was on a long list that included so many of my writing heroes, my head was spinning. Ian Rankin, John Harvey, Belinda Bauer... And then the shortlist was announced yesterday, and I was on the shortlist and that sound you heard? Was my head exploding.

On Thursday 16 July, I'll be on the stage with Mark Lawson, and five amazing writers including two other debut novelists (Ray Celestin and Antonia Hodgson). I'll be on the stage with Belinda Blacklands Bauer.

The dream just got crazy-real.

I'll be talking more about the Theakstons festival during BritCrime. BritCrime! Where there's no long schlep to Harrogate, no mosh-pitting in the ballroom. You can stay in your pjs and catch all the news and gossip free online.

See you there.

Sarah Hilary

BritCrime Festival authors who have been invited to appear at Harrogate:
♠ Steve Cavanagh
♠ Sarah Hilary
♠ Clare Mackintosh
♠ Nick Quantrill
♠ Craig Robertson
You will find plenty of other authors who participated in BritCrime at Harrogate. Look at the biographies on to see who is going. Please say hello if you're there.

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