Full programme and guest list revealed for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate this July

Broadcaster the Rev Richard Coles, comedian Frankie Boyle and chef Rosemary Shrager have been revealed as being in the line-up of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

By Sue Wilkinson
Sunday, 1st May 2022, 11:16 am
Best-selling crime writer Denise Mina has helped put together a cracking line-up for the Harrogate-based festival
Best-selling crime writer Denise Mina has helped put together a cracking line-up for the Harrogate-based festival

The guest list for the Harrogate-based event, chaired this year by crime-writer Denise Mina – is now complete.

Other guests include the bestselling creator of the Vera Stanhope Ann Cleeves, crime novelist and president of the Detection Club Martin Edwards and New Blood panellist and journalist Bella Mackie.

The programme will see a variety of acclaimed crime and thriller authors explore the genre and influences on their writing, including Adele Parks, Mick Herron, Sophie Hannah, Abir Mukherjee, SJ Parris, Sue Black, Will Dean, Andrew Taylor, Fiona Cummins, Vaseem Khan and Elly Griffiths.

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This year’s programme will also feature two author dinners, attended by popular crime and thriller writers including: politician and debut novelist Alan Johnson; QI Elf, podcaster, and author Andrew Hunter Murray; bestselling thriller writer Syd Moore; Six Stories creator Matt Wesolowski; actor, producer and debut author Tony McHale; Ajay Chowdhury, writer of the award-winning thriller The Waiter; talent agent and columnist turned bestselling author Melanie Blake; and poet and novelist Kate Rhodes.

The release of the full programme follows the earlier announcement of the special guests headlining the festival, which includes crime fiction icons Lynda La Plante, Paula Hawkins, Tess Gerritsen, Michael Connelly, Lucy Foley, Charlie Higson, John Connolly, CL Taylor and Kathy Reichs.

The all-star line-up will appear at the festival, which runs from July Thursday July 21 to Sunday July 24, at the Old Swan Hotel.

A number of festival favourite events will return this year, including Val McDermid’s New Blood panel, celebrating four debut crime writers, and the popular late-night crime fiction quiz, hosted by McDermid and Mark Billingham.

Denise Mina, bestselling author and 2022 festival chair, said: “After keeping it secret for such a long time, it is incredibly exciting to finally reveal the full line-up for this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.”

Simon Theakston, executive director of Theakston, said: “The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival has a phenomenal reputation for attracting the very best names in crime fiction, and Denise has continued that proud tradition with this year’s impressive programme.

“We look forward to hearing some of these fantastic names speaking at the festival in July.”

The programme is as follows:

Thursday July 21

9am - Creative Thursday: Crime Fiction Writing Workshop

Leading authors and industry professionals including Vaseem Khan, Greg Mosse, Kate Mosse, Mark Billingham and Natasha Cooper (NJ Cooper) share their secrets in a workshop on how to write a bestselling crime novel.

8pm - Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel Awards

Crime writing’s most wanted accolade, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, returns to highlight the cream of the crop of crime novels published by British and Irish authors over the last year. Longlist announced 5 May, shortlist announced 14 June and the winner announced at the awards ceremony on 21 July.

Friday July 22

9am – Special Guest: Paula Hawkins

Bestselling author of international phenomenon The Girl on The Train, Paula Hawkins discusses her career and the inspirations for her thrillers with crime reviewer NJ Cooper.

10:30am – PANEL: It’s A Long Walk, Not a Short Hop.

Longstanding and bestseller authors Martin Edwards, Mick Herron, Adele Parks, and Andrew Taylor discuss their race to the top with Festival chair Denise Mina.

Noon – PANEL: Too Good to Write Off.

Old crime fiction characters never die, they just lose the plot. Bonnie MacBird, Sophie Hannah, Elly Griffiths and Tom Harper discuss the daunting task of breathing new life into some of the genre’s most loved figures with chair SJ Parris.

2pm – PANEL: Mo Hayder, Queen of Chill.

It’s a year since the sad death of the incredibly talented Mo Hayder and to mark her passing, four authors who similarly target those tender spots of primordial terror are led in a discussion by Alex North: Chris Carter, Fiona Cummins, Lars Kepler, and Catriona Ward.

3.30pm – PANEL: Pride & Prejudice.

July 2022 marks 50 years since the first Pride March in England, a landmark moment for LGBTQ history and culture. DV Bishop, Alex Dahl, Louise Welsh, Nicola White each share their very personal views on how representation has changed in crime fiction in a discussion lead by Paul Burston.

5pm – Special Guest: Tess Gerritsen.

Rizolli & Isles creator Tess Gerritsen speaks about the international bestselling series, her author journey, and the influence a medical career has on writing crime fiction, in conversation with novelist SJ Watson.

6.15pm – Author Dinner No. 1

Crack the case as authors Rachael Blok, A.K. Turner, Ajay Chowdhury, Andrew Hunter Murray, David Fennell, Douglas Skelton, Craig Russell, Holly Seddon, Katerina Diamond, Margie Orford, Sharon Bolton, Simon Brett, Syd Moore, Tony McHale, and Victoria Selman apply their criminal minds, alongside their napkins.

8.30pm – Special Guest: Michael Connelly.

Award-winning writer Michael Connelly appears in conversation with Mark Billingham, discussing the acclaimed Harry Bosch series and more.

10pm – PANEL: All Thriller, No Filler.

Frankie Boyle, Lisa Jewell, Catherine Ryan Howard and Saima Mir discuss how to keep pace in their exhilarating thrillers chaired by Luca Veste.

Saturday July 23

9am – Special Guests: CL Taylor and Lucy Foley.

Psychological thriller writer CL Taylor takes to the stage with Lucy Foley, author of bestselling whodunnits The Hunting Party and The Guestlist, to speak about their careers and the influences which shape their writing.

10.30am – PANEL: The Country is Another Country.

Meet four authors who set murders among the meadows including Ann Cleeves, The Reverend Richard Coles, Tony Kent, and Rosemary Shrager in a discussion chaired by bestseller Will Dean.

Noon – PANEL: New Blood with Val McDermid.

The festival favourite panel returns, as award-winning Val McDermid joins four debut crime writers – Bella Mackie, Emma Styles, Michael Bennett and Stacey Willingham – to learn more about their novels, inspirations, and hopes for their future careers.

2pm – PANEL: Chortling Experts.

Experts in the fields of forensics, mortuaries, and police psychology get together to enjoy chuckle at the legion of things crime writers get wrong. Graham Bartlett, Sue Black, Dr Emma Kavanagh, and Carla Valentine chortle along with chair Simon Mayo.

3.30pm – PANEL: Police Procedurals in a Changing World.

Four leading crime writers debate whether real-world events have changed the police procedural forever and ask, in the wake of the murders of George Floyd and Sarah Everard, have the bad cops taken over from the good? Parker Bilal, Jane Casey, AA Dhand, and Adam LeBor are led by journalist and broadcaster Gerry Foley.

5pm – Special Guest: John Connolly.

Irish crime novelist John Connolly speaks with broadcaster Mark Lawson about the award-winning Charlie Parker series, latest instalment The Furies, and the role of the supernatural in crime fiction.

6.15pm – Author Dinner No 2.

Crack the case as authors Alan Johnson, Antti Tuomainen, Craig Robertson, Charlotte Northedge, Fiona Erskine, Melanie Blake, Kate Rhodes, Lilja Sigurðardóttir, Matt Wesolowski, Patricia Gibney, Sam Blake, Susi Holliday, Tim Glister, Will Carver and Zoe Sharp apply their criminal minds, alongside their napkins.

6.30pm – PANEL: Poe Did It.

True crime authors Sam Holland, Winnie M Li, Brian McGilloway, and Nadine Matheson explore the ethics in the fine margins between truth and fiction with fiction and true crime author and chair Claire McGowan.

8.30 – Special Guest: Kathy Reichs.

Crime fiction icon and author of the Temperance Brennan series, Kathy Reichs discusses her writing career and new book Cold, Cold Bones with broadcaster Mark Lawson.

10pm – Late Night Quiz.

Quizmasters extraordinaire Val McDermid and Mark Billingham return to host what is always a fun event, the crime fiction Late Night Quiz. This year, in memory of Thalia Proctor.

Sunday July 24

9am – Special Guest: Lynda La Plante.

Bestselling crime fiction author Lynda La Plante shares her thoughts on writing and crime as a genre with Festival chair Denise Mina.

10.30am – PANEL: Moments in Crime.

Historical crime fiction authors Ambrose Parry, Vaseem Khan, Robbie Morrison, and Leonora Nattrass discuss successfully mining the rich seam of history to help shape their work with chair Abir Mukherjee.

Noon – Special Guest: Charlie Higson.

The Ememy and Young Bond author, comedian and actor Charlie Higson discusses his varied career with TV presenter Steph McGovern.