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Friday 8 July 2022

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Announces 2022 New Blood Panel

21-24 July 2022 | Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate

Bella Mackie, Emma Styles, Michael Bennett and Stacy Willingham
selected by Val McDermid as crime fiction stars of the future

Harrogate International Festivals has shared this year’s New Blood panel, featuring four debut crime writers selected by award-winning author Val McDermid as names to look out for within the genre.

This year’s panel, appearing at a New Blood event with McDermid at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in July, is comprised of:

Bella Mackie, author of Sunday Times bestseller How to Kill Your Family, which shocked readers with its darkly funny and sharp tale of a young woman who plans to kill her family and make a claim on their fortune.

Australian noir writer Emma Styles, whose upcoming debut No Country for Girls follows two strangers who find themselves bound together on a dangerous road trip across the outback when they become unwitting accomplices in a murder.

·       Michael Bennett, whose novel Better The Blood features Hana Westerman, a tenacious Māori detective who is pulled into the hunt for New Zealand’s first serial killer when it emerges that her heritage and knowledge may be the only way to end a series of seemingly unrelated murders.

·       Stacy Willingham, an exciting new name in psychological thrillers and the author of New York Times bestseller A Flicker in the Dark, which tells the story of a young woman, daughter of a convicted serial killer, who finds herself plunged back into a past she would rather forget when a girl goes missing on the anniversary of her father’s crimes. A Flicker in the Dark has been optioned for TV and is being developed by Oscar winner Emma Stone.

The New Blood panel, returning for its 14th year, is a mainstay of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Since its introduction by McDermid in 2009, the New Blood event has showcased a number of authors who went on to become crime fiction stars, including Fiona Cummins, Will Dean, Stuart Turton, Abir Mukherjee, CJ Tudor, Clare Mackintosh, and Oyinkan Braithwaite, among others.

Val McDermid said of her selections for the 2022 New Blood panel: “I am delighted to announce this year’s New Blood panellists, each an impressive and distinct new voice in crime fiction and thriller writing. From the darkly funny confessions of a killer to a gripping psychological thriller, evocative Australian noir to the claustrophobic hunt for a serial killer, these books suggest that the future of crime fiction looks very promising indeed. I am excited to speak with these four wonderful writers at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, exploring the stories behind their debuts, the crime fiction that inspires them, and what they hope to do next.”

Bella Mackie said of being chosen for the panel: “I’m over the moon to be selected by Val McDermid for this year’s New Blood panel. I can’t wait to speak with her and my wonderful fellow panellists at the event in July. The crime fiction community has been so welcoming to me since the publication of How To Kill Your Family, and appearing at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival to talk about my work and hear brilliant crime authors discuss their writing will be a huge honour.”

Emma Styles commented: “I’m overjoyed at this latest twist in my publication journey. It’s an incredible honour to be invited to join the New Blood panel at Harrogate and I can’t wait to talk crime fiction with Val McDermid and these exciting new authors.”

Michael Bennett said of his inclusion: "I am humbled and delighted to be part of Val McDermid's renowned and esteemed New Blood panel at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. I am looking forward to flying halfway round the planet to be there in July - and I'd happily fly twice round to be part of Val's panel!"

Stacy Willingham added: “It is a true honour to join such a group of talented authors on stage for this year's New Blood Panel. I'm incredibly grateful to both the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival and to Val McDermid for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime.”

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, added: “As headline sponsors, we have seen first-hand the incredible talent featured at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, and have watched authors return time and again to the stage, more popular and acclaimed each time. Val’s New Blood panel plays an important part in welcoming debut crime fiction writers to the fold, and we look forward to sipping on a pint of Old Peculier and hearing these voices at the festival for the first – but no doubt not the last – time.”

Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, Sharon Canavar, commented: “The New Blood panel is one of the perennial favourites of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, with Val demonstrating year on year her talent for spotting impressive new crime fiction writers – many of the authors she has selected have gone on to become bestsellers and appeared as speakers at the festival. The 2022 panel looks to be no different, featuring some of the most exciting new names in crime fiction. We can’t wait to hear more from them at the New Blood panel event, and see what they do next.”

The four selected authors will appear at a New Blood panel during the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival alongside Val McDermid, discussing their debut novels, their writing journeys and the crime fiction which inspires them.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival forms part of the diverse year-round portfolio curated by the charitable organisation Harrogate International Festivals, delivered with the mission to bring immersive cultural experiences to as many people as possible.

Tickets are on sale now. For more information on the Festival and to book tickets, please call +44 (0)1423 562 303, email or visit

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