20-23 July 2023 | Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate
Harrogate, Tuesday 28 March 2023. Harrogate International Festivals has
today announced the programme for this year’s 20th anniversary Theakston
Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, the world’s largest celebration of
crime fiction and thriller writing, which runs from 20 – 23 July 2023 at
Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel.
2023 Festival Chair, award winning crime and thriller author Vaseem Khan,
has curated a ground-breaking programme. Alongside the special guests
headlining the Festival, including literary legends Lee Child, Andrew Child,
Lisa Jewell, Ruth Ware, Ann Cleeves, Jeffery Deaver, Lucy Worsley, S. A. Cosby,
Val McDermid, and Chris Hammer, the full programme includes some of
the biggest names in crime fiction.
everything from the perfect murderous opening, police procedurals and dark
obsessions to legal thrillers and the golden age of crime, this year’s 20th
anniversary programme will see a variety of acclaimed crime and thriller
authors discussing the genre and influences on their writing, including Janice
Hallett, Shari Lapena, Louise Candlish, Abir Mukherjee, Steve Cavanagh, Elly
Griffiths, Ragnar Jónasson, Clare Mackintosh, Mick Herron, Will Dean, Laura
Shepherd-Robinson, Chris Brookmyre, and many more!
Festival will start with Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year
Award ceremony, where the winner of crime writing’s most prestigious
accolade will be revealed alongside the recipient of the Outstanding
Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.
year’s Festival also includes two ‘who dunnit?’ themed author dinners,
giving a unique opportunity for crime fans to get to know authors in a fun and
informal environment. Richard Armitage, Stuart Neville, David Hewson, Emma
Christie, Steph Broadribb, Alex Dahl, Greg Mosse, Leigh Russell, S.E. Lynes and
many others will partake in a murder mystery with a twist!
all-star line-up of events includes the return of Val McDermid’s New
Blood panel, celebrating four brilliant debut crime writers, and the popular Late-Night
Quiz, hosted by McDermid and Mark Billingham, armed with trivia,
titles and tricks to test the knowledge of crime fiction fanatics.
Khan, award winning author and 2023 Festival Chair, said: “It’s a privilege to chair this
year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. My late father and I
watched Poirot together and we’d never imagined that decades later I would
chair a Festival so closely connected to Agatha Christie. It feels special to
be the first British Asian crime writer to chair the Festival, and even more
special for the monumental 20th anniversary. The Festival team have pulled
together an Avengers Assemble line-up of crime writers to celebrate the
monumental anniversary. You’d be (criminally) insane to miss it."
Canavar, Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, added: “This year marks 20 years since
the Festival launched in Harrogate, and what wonderful two decades we’ve had
celebrating the world of crime fiction. In that time, the Theakston Old
Peculier Crime Writing Festival has welcomed some of the biggest names in crime
fiction and this year is no exception. In collaboration with our 2023 Festival Chair,
Vaseem Khan, we are delighted to announce this year’s full programme for what
will be the best Festival yet!”
Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, commented: “This year’s Festival will be
another monumental event for the world of crime fiction. It has been a pleasure
to be a part of the Festival over the past 20 years and following the full
programme announcement, I am thoroughly looking forward to celebrating once again
at the world’s best crime writing Festival over a pint of Old Peculier!”
full programme for the Theakston Old Peculier
Crime Writing Festival 2023:
- Creative Thursday: Crime Fiction Writing Workshop
staple of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival line-up, Creative
Thursday offers a unique opportunity for aspiring crime writer to learn from
the best in the business. Chaired by crime reviewer Natasha Cooper (NJ Cooper)
and Mark Billingham, on the panel are authors Mark Edwards, Rachel Abbott,
Claire McGowan, Graham Bartlett, and Dr Chris Merritt will share tips of the
trade for budding writers as Workshop Leaders, accompanied by publishing
experts Ruth Tross, Ellis Moore, Maddalena Cavaciuti, Juliet Mushens and Finn
- Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award
writing’s most wanted accolade returns to highlight the very crime novels
published by British and Irish authors over the last year. The longlist will be
on announced Thursday 27 April, followed by the shortlist on Thursday 15 June
and the winner announced at the awards ceremony on Thursday 20 July hosted by Mark
– Special Guest: Val McDermid
co-founder and doyenne of the crime world Val McDermid will reflect on her
illustrious career and 20 years of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing
Festival with Mark Billingham.
- PANEL: Starting With A Scream
novels often begin with a chilling killing. C.J. Tudor, Liz Nugent, Simon
Toyne, Will Carver and Fiona Cummins dissect exactly what goes into the perfect
– PANEL: Law & Disorder
procedurals are the cornerstone of the crime fiction canon. But what happens
when cops are forced to cross the line? Cara Hunter, Nadine Matheson, Neil
Lancaster, Jane Casey and Graham Bartlett, will tell us whether the end
justifies the means.
– PANEL: Literary Crime
crime fiction is as good as any highbrow literary offering. Laura
Shepherd-Robinson, Abir Mukherjee, Will Dean and Jacob Ross have received
acclaim for books that combine prose and plot into a glorious whole that has
even diehard littérateurs purring. Expertly chaired by S.J. Parris.
– PANEL: Obsession Makes The World Go Round
secrets and murderous impulses make for dark deeds. Hear Alex North, Sarah
Hilary, Dorothy Koomson, Mark Edwards discuss how deadly obsession shapes so
many of the deliciously dark stories we’ve come to love, chaired by Erin Kelly.
– IN CONVERSATION: Lisa Jewell & Ruth Ware
gripping thrillers filled with creepy chills and unforeseen twists takes an
expert hand. Lisa Jewell introduces her new nail-biting suspense None of This
is True with Ruth Ware, author of the unputdownable The It Girl, as the pair
reveal what it takes to master the form.
– Author Dinner
unique opportunity for crime fans to get to know authors in a relaxed, but fun,
dinner environment. Join A.A. Chaudhuri, Alex Dahl, Amen Alonge, Craig
Robertson, D.L. Marshall, Tracey Whitwell, Greg Mosse, Jo Callaghan, Leigh
Russell, Jenny Blackhurst, Nicola Williams, Rachel Abbott, Simon Mason, William
Shaw and S.E. Lynes for dinner as together you try to figure out ‘who dunnit?’
in this murder mystery with a twist.
– PANEL: Words! Camera! Action!
Netflix to Hollywood, crime dramas now rule the roost. Chris Brookmyre will
chair the panel of authors, including A.A. Dhand, Imran Mahmood, Louise Doughty,
and Mick Herron, as they tell us about their journey from page to screen, and
the ins and outs of how literary creations are brought to life.
– SPECIAL GUEST: Ann Cleeves
creator of the Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez and Matthew Venn book series Ann
Cleeves will be interviewed by Festival Chair Vaseem Khan.
– Fun Loving Crime Writers
for some killer tunes as the world’s greatest crime writing superband Mark
Billingham, Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville, Luca Veste and Doug
Johnstone keep Harrogate rocking until the early hours.
– IN CONVERSATION: S.A. Crosby & Chris Hammer
of the “Southern noir” genre S. A. Cosby and Australian crime novelist and
creator Chris Hammer will talk about their works and how the varied landscapes
of their respective homes influence their works.
– PANEL: Modern Gumshoes P.I. For Hire
by Doug Johnstone, Femi Kayode, Holly Watt, Robert Crais, and Tim Weaver will
discuss how crime fiction has evolved from the laconic cool of a Philip Marlowe
to African lady detectives, with private investigators being historic fan
– PANEL: New Blood with Val McDermid
a sell-out, the New Blood panel provides a showcase for some of the year’s most
outstanding debut novelists. Val McDermid will once again be personally
selecting four brilliant first novels to discuss with their authors. This panel
is always a highlight of the Festival and gives today’s readers a unique
opportunity to discover the stars of tomorrow.
– PANEL: Presumed Guilty
recent celebrity trials have shown us anything it’s that our fascination for a
good legal brawl has never been greater. Judicial hijinx, miscarriages of
justice and courtroom battles are at the heart of the legal thriller. Authors Helen
Fields, Kia Abdullah, Sarah Vaughn, and Steve Cavanagh are joining Rob Rinder
to explore the world of the legal thriller.
– PANEL: Murder Most Joyful
parish murders to kitchen killers, the sheer breadth of ‘cosy’ crime is
astonishing. Antti Tuomainen, Elly Griffiths, Mark Billingham and Rev. Richard
Coles will examine the success of the genre and its modern resurgence, chaired
by S.J. Bennett. Nobody puts cosy in the corner.
– SPECIAL GUEST: Jeffery Deaver
Deaver, author of the bestselling Lincoln Rhyme series, will make his return to
the Festival in 2023 to talk about Hunting Time, the latest thriller featuring
“reward-seeker” Colton Shaw, with Mark Lawson.
– Author Dinner
the case with Richard Armitage, Alex Marwood, Christie J. Newport, D.V. Bishop,
David Hewson, Emma Christie, Holly Seddon, James Oswald, Jude O’Reilly, Katy
Watson, Lisa Gray, Olivia Kiernan, Sam Blake, Steph Broadbribb, Sue Watson, Susi
Holliday, Tina Baker, and Stuart Neville in the second Author Dinner.
– SPECIAL GUEST: Lee Child & Andrew Child
Child and Andrew Child will share their experiences of collaborating on the
iconic Jack Reacher and what the process has taught them, with TV presenter Steph
– Late Quiz Night
McDermid and Mark Billingham return as the ultimate Quizmasters for the crime
fiction Late Night Quiz.
- PANEL: The Never Ending Golden Age
Christie continues to inspire crime writers the world over. Inventive puzzles,
strong characters, and a Golden Age sensibility. Stig Abel will chair the
discussion about why fascination with the Golden Age endures between Janice
Hallett, Ragnar Jónasson, Clare Mackintosh, and Vaseem Khan.
– PANEL: When Sally Killed Harry
noir is now one of the biggest selling genres in publishing. C.L. Taylor,
Claire Douglas, Louise Candlish, Shari Lapena and T.M. Logan, experts in
writing about the darker side of love and friendship, will discuss dodgy
husbands, scheming wives, murderous siblings.
– SPECIAL GUEST: Lucy Worsley
and TV presenter Lucy Worsley will be revealing more about the life of the
Queen of Crime and former resident of the Old Swan Hotel, Agatha Christie, in
conversation with Natasha Knight.