Creative Writing Bursaries for Underrepresented Voices in Crime Fiction

Harrogate International Festivals is proud to support authors and performers at every stage of their careers, as well as creating distinctive platforms and cultural experiences through our year-round delivery of festivals. The pillars we work with are: developing talent, reaching the disadvantaged, inspiring young people, and engaging communities. Our ambition is to ensure that diversity and inclusion lie at the heart of our delivery.

The crime writing community that we have built through the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is one that embodies inclusivity, mutual support, and representation of writers from a variety of backgrounds. We strive to encourage anyone, no matter their situation or the challenges they may face, to pursue their dream of writing, and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s position as the largest and most prestigious crime writing festival in the world gives us the platform to achieve this.

We are thus delighted to offer TEN bursaries to support underrepresented writers, in collaboration with the Amazon Literary Partnership.

Am I eligible?

Harrogate International Festivals would like to invite underrepresented groups such as (but not limited to) people of colour; disabled people; people from a lower socioeconomic status; people who identify as LGBTQ+; people of a nondominant religion; and retirees to apply for our bursaries.

However, we do not believe in tick boxes. With the recent increase in the cost of living, we understand that it can be difficult to commit to your dream. So, if you’re not quite sure whether you meet the above criteria but feel that you are currently struggling to access help and support to achieve your goals, please fill in the application questionnaire and do let us know a little more about yourself and how receiving a bursary for our Creative Thursday Programme (see below) would help you on your writing journey.

What support will I be getting?

The bursares on offer constitute TEN places at our Creative Thursday programme, as follows:

  • 5 x fully subsidised places, including accommodation on Wednesday 20th July 2022, breakfast on Thursday, your place at Creative Thursday on Thursday 21st July 2022, which includes lunch, and a £50.00 travel allowance.
  • 5 x partially subsidised places, including your place at Creative Thursday on Thursday 21st July 2022, which includes lunch, and a £50.00 travel allowance.
  • Opportunities to engage across the year with our work as part of the crime writing community, which may include mentoring and promotional support

Vaseem Khan, award-winning crime writer and Creative Thursday tutor 2022, says: “Authors crave access to learning opportunities, and these bursaries provide precisely such an opportunity for those who might usually find themselves unable to avail of them. As the publishing industry continues to respond to the ‘inclusivity challenge’, these bursaries represent concrete action on the part of Harrogate International Festivals to help level the playing field.”


Creative Thursday | Thursday 21st July 2022

So what exactly is Creative Thursday at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival?

Creative Thursday is an immersive day of writing workshops, panel discussions and pitching sessions, designed to give you the best chance of getting that publishing deal you dream of.

Wherever you are in your writing journey, whether on the first chapter or the final draft, you’re guaranteed to pick up pointers which will help polish your prose and perfect your plot. Leading authors and industry professionals are on hand to share their secrets and equip you with everything you need to take that great idea and turn it into a great book.

It’s a full day, packed with information, help, encouragement, and diabolically golden advice. Creative Thursday is immersive and unique, and is designed to give you the best chance of getting that publishing deal you dream of.

Past attendees of Creative Thursday who have gone on to successful writing careers include bestsellers D.V. Bishop, Mari Hannah, Steph Broadribb and Lesley Thomson.


Hear from four successful authors who took the plunge to attend Creative Thursday and subsequently found themselves on the path to publication! Who knows, one day that may be you! Hear from Creative Thursday alumni about their journeys to publication and beyond, as they reveal all to Natasha Cooper. The session will be topped off with a quick-fire guide to presenting and presentation with Natasha Cooper – from pitching your novel to appearing at events, and from eye contact to how to present yourself behind the scenes on social media.

We are pleased to welcome Alumni DV Bishop, Lesley Thomson, Mari Hannah and Steph Broadribb.


Vaseem Khan – How to write outside your own cultural background

Cultural appropriation. Stereotyping. Diversity. All issues that the publishing industry and today’s authors are grappling with. In this session, CWA Historical Dagger-winning author Vaseem Khan will examine the debate over who has the right to write which stories and how to write across cultural boundaries, offering thoughts from key industry stakeholders and recommendations for best practise together with examples from the crime fiction world. Vaseem recently led on an Arts Council-funded project examining these issues. The aim of the project was simple: to provide authors and industry professionals with advice and tools on how to tackle the issue of writing diversity into literature in a way that minimises the chances of causing offence. Each attendee of this session will also receive a PDF with the complete guidance from the project.


Greg Mosse – A Novel in Two Hours

A dynamic, collaborative story development workshop, weaving a compelling outline for an unwritten crime novel from ideas produced by the people in the space, mirroring the approach of the TV writer’s room. Greg Mosse, ‘writer & encourager of writers’, has 20 years’ professional experience working with novelists, playwrights and screenwriters, and will be supported by best-selling author, and wife, Kate Mosse. Greg’s future-thriller, THE COMING DARKNESS, will be published in November.


Four brilliant publishing professionals. Two minutes to convince them that your synopsis and first chapter are worth reading. One audience full of your fellow would-be writers. Our literary version of the popular TV show, Dragons’ Den, hosted by Mark Billingham is not for the faint-hearted.

Welcoming Dragons:

Ed Wood – Publishing Director, Sphere Fiction, and IP Director for Little, Brown Book Group

Jane Gregory represents authors of crime, thrillers, psychological suspense, historical and literary fiction – David Higham Associates.

Juliet Mushens – Mushens Entertainment, is currently the number 1 ranked UK fiction dealmaker on Publishers’ Marketplace.

Vicki Mellor – Publishing Director at Pan Macmillan

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