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.
Exploring 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!
Browse the full programme for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2023 in our online brochure below.
Day and Weekend Rover tickets go on sale to our Friends of the Festival at 10am on Thursday 30 March, and will be released on general sale on Wednesday 5 April. Individual event tickets will go on sale early May, with tickets released to Friends of the Festival a week before they go on general sale.
Book online, call the office on 01423 562303, or pop in to our box office at 32 Cheltenham Parade, Harrogate HG1 1DB, between 10am – 5pm Monday to Friday. Please note we are closed on Friday 7 April and Monday 10 April for the Easter bank holidays.
Thursday 20 July
09:00 – Creative Thursday: Crime Fiction Writing Workshop
A 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 Cotton.
20:00 – Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award
Crime 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 Lawson.
Friday 21 July
9:00 – Special Guest: Val McDermid
Festival 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.
10:30 – PANEL: Starting With A Scream
Crime 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 murderous opening.
12:00 – PANEL: Law & Disorder
Police 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.
14:00 – PANEL: Literary Crime
Great 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.
15:30 – PANEL: Obsession Makes The World Go Round
Simmering 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.
17:00 – IN CONVERSATION: Lisa Jewell & Ruth Ware
Crafting 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.
18:15 – Author Dinner
A 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.
18:30 – PANEL: Words! Camera! Action!
From 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.
20:30 – SPECIAL GUEST: Ann Cleeves
Bestselling creator of the Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez and Matthew Venn book series Ann Cleeves will be interviewed by Festival Chair Vaseem Khan.
22:00 – Fun Loving Crime Writers
Prepare 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.
Saturday 22nd July
9:00 – IN CONVERSATION: S.A. Cosby & Chris Hammer
Mastermind 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.
10:30 – PANEL: Modern Gumshoes P.I. For Hire
Chaired 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 favourite.
12:00 – PANEL: New Blood with Val McDermid
Always 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.
14:00 – PANEL: Presumed Guilty
If 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 Vaughan, and Steve Cavanagh are joining Rob Rinder to explore the world of the legal thriller.
15:30 – PANEL: Murder Most Joyful
From 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.
17:00 – SPECIAL GUEST: Jeffery Deaver
Jeffery 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.
18:15 – Author Dinner
Crack 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.
20:30 – SPECIAL GUEST: Lee Child & Andrew Child
Lee 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 McGovern.
22:00 – Late Quiz Night
Val McDermid and Mark Billingham return as the ultimate Quizmasters for the crime fiction Late Night Quiz.
Sunday 23rd July
9:00 – PANEL: The Never Ending Golden Age
Agatha 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.
10:30 – PANEL: When Sally Killed Harry
Domestic 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.
12:00 – SPECIAL GUEST: Lucy Worsley
Historian 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.