Simon Theakston at the London launch of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

Harrogate, June 2022 

With the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year shortlist due to be revealed next Tuesday, 14 June, we talk to Simon Theakston about the Peculier of Masham, the joy of the Festival and his thoughts about writing a crime novel.

Simon is Executive Director of Theakston Brewery, one of Britain’s oldest established family brewing companies and longtime sponsors of #TheakstonsCrime.

How many years has Theakston’s sponsored the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival?

19 years.

Why do you consider it’s such a good fit for your brand?

It’s unique like Theakston Old Peculier. Our home town of Masham is in the Harrogate district, home of the Harrogate International Festivals, and the history of the Peculier of Masham is steeped in crime!

Where do you see the future of the partnership?

We think it’s a wonderful promotional vehicle for Old Peculier and look forward to taking our sponsorship of the Festival from strength to strength.

What do you like best about the four-day homage to crime writing?

The wonderful atmosphere created by the authors, editors, journalists, the media, a sprinkling of super stars and of course the public.

What is your one standout Festival moment?

Every year is a standout festival moment! They are just the greatest of fun!

Who is your favourite crime writing author?

There are just too many outstanding authors from which to choose. I think the quality of writing in the genre has improved exponentially in the near two decades of the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Val McDermid is the embodiment of the festival having been centrally involved in its creation from day one. A brilliant person and an outstanding author she would no doubt be at the top of any list.

To somebody who has never been to a Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival before, how would you best describe it to them?

The best four-day party of the year.

How important is Val McDermid’s ‘New Blood’ panel to the Festival?

It is axiomatic. The most sought-after route to the top for budding authors.

They say everybody has a book inside them, have you ever thought about writing a crime novel?

I think I’ll stick with brewing Yorkshire’s finest beer.

Your speech on the opening night is almost as legendary as your ales, will you be surprising the audience with something different this year?

I’m working on it.

From this year’s long list, and have any predictions as to who will be presented with the coveted Crime Novel of the Year Award?

Still too early to tell but the quality of listed books is outstanding.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival?

The joy of meeting old friends and new and to celebrating a brilliant institution.

Find out more about #TheakstonsCrime