Steve Mosby, Harrogate chair and author of The Nightmare Place, answers our fiendish questions on the biggest UK crime festival of the year.
What’s your favourite thing about Harrogate?
There are too many to list! The panels, the friendly atmosphere, catching up with friends old and new. But having attended for several years now, there’s something about getting off the train and then walking through Harrogate and up to the Old Swan, with the body marked out in tape on the drive, that’s just amazing. You can see the people outside already, and you know the weekend is starting and it’s going to be absolutely brilliant.
What are you looking forward to most at Harrogate?
Well, this year is obviously going to be a little different for me. I’m the chair of this year’s programming committee, so I’m not going to have the chance to relax and socialise the way I normally would, and in general, that’s what I look forward to the most. This year, I imagine I’m going to be running around a lot more than usual! I’m looking forward to moderating two panels, as I’ve got eight excellent authors to talk to, and I love talking to other people about their work. That aside, as much mingling and conversation as possible. Some sensible early nights.
Who are you looking forward to seeing most at Harrogate?
It goes without saying that it’s a massive coup for the festival to have J. K. Rowling – as Robert Galbraith – appearing this year, and I’m really looking forward to seeing her in conversation with Val McDermid. But at the same time, I personally think the whole bill, from the special guests to the individual panels, is awesome. I’ve never seen Lynda La Plante in person before, and I can’t wait for that. And I was a huge fan of Broadchurch, so that’s a dream panel for me, assuming I can get through the crowds at the door. But I couldn’t really pick. Judging by past festivals, there’ll be countless highlights. I suppose my lazy (but true) answer to the question would also be: my friends. The crime fiction community is an enormously welcoming one, and I know there’ll be authors I like there who aren’t on panels, and who it will be great to have a catch-up with.
What will you be reading while you’re at Harrogate?
Probably just Twitter, and general news online. I used to take books to festivals, but I found I never ended up getting any reading done: too much burning the candle at both ends. And this year, I’ll have done a huge amount in advance anyway. There are my panellists, and also the long- and shortlists for the award, which I’m one of the judges for, so I’ll probably be grateful to have a few days when I don’t read anything for a bit. Which is not to say my to-be-read pile isn’t towering, because it is. And no doubt I’ll add to it over the weekend, even if I don’t start anything straight away.
Your top Harrogate tip
Ah, that’s an impossible question, as everyone enjoys a festival like Harrogate in their own way. Some people like to attend every panel, while some like to go to a few, and others just spend their whole time socialising in the bar and on the lawn. I’d say remember that this is a very open festival, and for the most part the authors who are appearing on the stage will also all be hanging out, going to panels and mingling with the crowd just like everyone else. Don’t be afraid of going up to authors you recognise and talking to them – you’ll probably make their day. Everybody is there because they love crime fiction, so don’t be nervous about striking up a conversation with a total stranger. And if you get the chance, have a wander round Harrogate itself: it’s really lovely.
What you can’t leave home without for Harrogate.
Sun cream! Hopefully, at least, as the last few years have been beautiful. That aside, you’re probably going to end up wanting to buy books, so leave some space in your luggage for those on the way home. You can never leave enough space for all the books you want to buy. Of course, this advice isn’t specific to Harrogate . . .
Steve Mosby’s latest thriller, The Nightmare Place, is published by Orion and is available in hardback and ebook. The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival takes place 17-20 July at The Old Swan in Harrogate.