So I may have been extremely disappointed not to have been able to attend Harrogate after all due to ill health, but I was very lucky that a lovely friend of mine, Steph Rothwell WAS going and agreed to write me up a little diary/observation piece on how she got on. Next year it will be me for sure folks along with my other good friend Hayley but for this year here is what Steph had to say!
I arrived late Friday morning at my first crime event. For the 1st day I was on my own and was getting more nervous by the minute on the way up to the hotel. It was an absolutely beautiful day and when I arrived there were many people listening to the Dead in Deutschland panel and many more all sat about on the lawn. There were two huge tents on the lawn, one for refreshments and one where the bookshop was and signings done.
More or less straight away I spotted Mel Sherratt who had previously told me to join them. I went over ,passing Val McDermid on the way and she quickly introduced me to Rebecca Bradley, Nic Ford, David Jackson, Pam Mcllroy and Elizabeth Haynes. I stayed with the little group until it was time to go into my 1st panel.
I had booked in for four panels on the Friday: Victorian Crime Fact or Fiction, Social Media Who Are You, Touching Evil and Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. After each of the events had finished the authors who had taken part would then go into the tent to do the signings.
I knew that the authors would sign books but didn’t think there would be just one book shop. I had expected different publishing houses to have their own stalls. All the authors who participated in the event had books for sale in the shop.
Part way through the day I collected our goodie bags which we received for booking all day Saturday. Big mistake! Carrying 2 bags containing a dozen books and two bottle of Theakstons old Peculier in 80 degree heat was a bit of a challenge.
I enjoyed all the panels I attended today but Social Media and Standing on the Shouders of Giants stood out. The former for the row that broke out after a challenge from an audience member over events that happened last year. The latter? I now need to read every book by everyone of the authors that took part.
My husband came with me today and when we arrived shortly before the 1st panel everywhere looked very quiet, nobody on the lawn or in the tent. When we want into the hotel we realised why. Everybody was in the queue to get into the ballroom to see Ian Rankin in conversation with William Mcllvanney. This was probably one of the most popular panels and was the only one that I attended that finished with both clapping and cheering.
My favourite panel of the weekend was up next, Val McDermid talking to Sue Black. It was funny, quite graphic, and both participants had great respect for each other. I will be reciting bits from this for weeks to come.
My remaining two panels of the day were New Blood ( more books to buy) and Vera another which was very popular. We finished our weekend with a glass of pimms on the lawn whilst Ann Cleeves and Brenda Blethyn sat signing books for a very long time.
I came away from the festival with 3 bags crammed with new books, memories of great panels and memories of people I had met. Hopefully when we go next year for the full weekend we will have many more.
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Thanks Steph! Sounds brilliant and I can’t wait to find out for myself.