I had a lot of fun at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, and as usual the combination of socialising and crime fiction-related activities made the hours fly by all too quickly.
For me, the event got off to a brisk start as I presented a session on ‘Legalese’ as part of the Creative Thursday session for aspiring crime novelists. Zoe Sharp, ably assisted by husband Andy, had presented a very popular session on self-defence, just before lunch, and the morning’s topics had also included crime scene investigation, so I did wonder if my 45 minutes on legal stuff would see the audience nodding off or checking their watches. But they became very engaged, and a fascinating range of questions showed how seriously and intelligently they took their craft.
I’d prepared hand-outs for attendees to take away, which offered an outline of some of the detail of the law as it applies to writers, and in the session itself I focused on telling stories about writers who have become caught up in litigation. I hoped this would prove entertaining, but I couldn’t be sure in advance whether this was the best approach. Fortunately, the feedback was very positive, and if I ever did something similar in the future, I think I’d use the same type of format.
What struck me throughout was the cool professionalism of the team that runs the Festival. I once organised a week-end social get-together in Knutsford for northern crime writers, and even that relatively small event proved quite challenging to organise. It must be extremely stressful to run a complex Festival, because hitches are utterly inevitable, but I thought that Sharon Canavar, Erica Morris and their colleagues did a great job, as usual. They have the knack of remaining pleasant and seeming unflappable whatever the circumstances. This is no mean achievement, and it adds considerably to the enjoyability of the occasion for all the writers and readers who attend.