A word from our Reader-in-Residence, award-winning author Mari Hannah.

Newsflash: the word is out! In just over a month, Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will be taking to the road to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Big Read, an outreach campaign for readers – and, I hope, reluctant readers – with the support of our partner library services across Yorkshire, Teesside and Tyneside.

As festival reader-in-residence, I look forward to my annual road trip, engaging with communities, big and small. These fun events will take place from Monday, June 4 until Friday, June 8. This year, I’ll be on tour with an amazing title: James Patterson’s Along Came a Spider, first published in 1993. This is the first in a series (his most successful) a book adapted for the big screen in a wonderful film – one of my all-time personal favourites – starring Morgan Freeman as legendary character, forensic psychologist, Alex Cross.

To whet your appetite, you should know that James Patterson’s bestsellers have been translated into 43 languages worldwide. His books have sold in excess of 325 million copies and the author currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. He has received many national and international awards too numerous to mention here, including the Edgar Award for Best First novel for his debut The Thomas Berryman Number after being turned down by thirty-one publishers. Aspiring writers take heart . . .

For the past eleven years in a row, James Patterson has been the most borrowed author in UK libraries. Wow! Just wow! I hope that some of you will join me in celebrating the phenomenal success of this fantastic American author. I’ve not yet had the pleasure of hearing James speak publicly, or meeting him, but I know his books and so does our festival chair, Lee Child. He said, quote “No one gets this big without amazing natural storytelling talent – which is what Jim has, in spades. The Alex Cross series proves it,” unquote.

What some of you may not know about philanthropist James Patterson is how much he cares about reading, how much he gives back, donating books and offering financial support to independent bookshops, ensuring that his reading legacy lives on. He is passionate about encouraging children to read. His son was a reluctant reader, and I know many people carry this into adulthood, but I can’t stress enough that the Big Read campaign is for everyone, a chance to explore the world through crime fiction in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Everyone who attends a Big Read event will receive a free copy of Along Came A Spider, thanks to the generosity of James Patterson’s publisher, Random House, Arrow Books. So, whether you are an avid or reluctant reader, a library member or not, you are very welcome to join in the discussion, or just sit back and listen to one writer’s amazing journey and, of course, meet his fictional hero, Alex Cross.

For news of the Big Read, follow @TheakstonsCrime and/or @mariwriter or access the festival hashtag: #BigRead2018.

See you in June.
Mari Hannah

Participating Big Read libraries:
Monday, June 4: Blaydon (11am), Ashington (3pm)
Tuesday, June 5: Northallerton (11am), Ripon (3pm)
Wednesday, June 6: Wombwell (10am), Rotherham (1pm), Sheffield (4pm)
Thursday, Jun 7: Batley (11am), Wakefield (3PM), Bradford (7pm)
Friday, June 8: Acklam (11am) and finishing in Hartlepool (3pm).