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Monday, July 21st 2008 : "Harrogate 2008"
I said I'd tell you how it went, so here goes...
The first day of the festival for me was the children's event on Thursday. 'Kids, spies and private eyes' was a Leeds Met University sponsored project involving 125 very excited 8 - 12 year olds, a smattering of crime writers, a senior CSI, a bunch of wonderful Festival staff and volunteers and a lot of exhausted-looking teachers. (It was the end of term after all). I worked with Martin Waites, Cath Staincliffe and Helen Pepper to devise a live Cluedo scenario that allowed the kids to take fingerprints, compare footwear impressions, look at a crime scene and write a press release. At times I wasn't sure my voice would hold out but everyone seemed to have a great time. Kat from the Festival office made a wonderfully seductive murderer. Thanks to her, and especially to the Sun Pavilion manager who smiled even when she was trying to get fingerprint powder mixed with orange juice off her bar...
But the best thing about the whole event was the magnificent Mark Billingham, who has just written a book for young people under the name of Will Peterson. He kept the room spell-bound for an hour with his readings and the Dad, the teacher and two children who performed a scene from his book had us in fits of laughter. Any children's librarians who are reading this - book him now!!!
The remainder of the Festival was only marginally more sedate. My role as reader in residence is to talk to readers, introduce them to authors they'd like to meet and suggest new writers for them to try. It was good to catch up with the group of Americans I last met in Shetland and to see people returning for their fourth or fifth year. One woman said to me: 'I came for the first time last year. Until then I thought I was a sort of freak in my reading taste. Now I realise there are loads of people like me, so I formed a crime book group.'
This year there were more overseas publishers at the Festival and I found my role had extended to introducing them to authors - it would be lovely to think that some writers had been offered a translation contract through chatting to European editors in the bar. It would be sad though if Harrogate turned into another trade fair. Its strength is that readers, publishers, agents and writers all mix.
Certainly all those categories were present at the Festival Book Group discussing Nordic Crime. Again we had an amazing turn-out and the group raved about Stieg Larsson, Leif Davidsen and Jo Nesbo. Johan a new Transworld author from Sweden gave a real insight into the history of Scandinavian crime-writing. Later I was interviewed by BBC4 about Henning Mankell's writing - there will be a documentary on his work in the run-up to the new adaptation starring Kenneth Branagh. The producer said that when they'd filmed in Sweden there was a pile of my books next to Henning's. It would be nice to think that they sold as well.
I'm off now to do an event in South Shields Central Library with fellow Pan Macmillan author Chelsea Cain. I won't be going out with them after though. Chelsea was at Harrogate and kept her editors up in the bar until 5.00 am...
Posted by Ann at 04:36 PM GMT