Still recovering from the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival. As ever I had a wonderful time, meeting old friends and making new ones. There were some fascinating panel discussions and great guests. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on crime fiction as morality tale, which Cath Staincliffe chaired with great skill, negotiating some tricky issues. The panel on dark art of the critic featured the uncompromising Ann Widdecombe who unsurprisingly would not be shaken from her position that criticism is only useful when it focuses on the book rather than the author. Eddie Izzard was in conversation with Mark Billingham in a very entertaining exchange of views on everything from comedy to the meaning of life. I’m told he stayed for quite a while, signing DVDs and chatting to fans which is very much in the spirit of the festival. Another regular, Lee Childs, talked to Rory Bremner revealing, amongst other things, the origin of his fictional hero Jack Reacher’s name – a supermarket employee who reaches for goods on high shelves, apparently. On Sunday morning, despite a very late, wine filled Saturday night, I watched the king of Icelandic crime fiction Arnaldur Indridason discuss his work with Barry Forshaw, which was a rare privilege.
On top of all of that my team managed a respectable third place in the quiz. Not bad but we didn’t beat Telegraph crime critic Jake Kerridge and the Faber team who still reign supreme. Next year, Jake, next year… Looking forward to it already.