by Erin Mitchell
Years ago, I used to bring an empty suitcase with me when I visited Dublin because I needed a dedicated piece of luggage for all the books available there that I couldn’t get in the US. Now, thankfully, the world has evolved. Books travel the Atlantic regularly, and getting them from anywhere takes little more than a few clicks. Still, though, there are books and authors who are better known in the US or UK, and bridging this gap is no small part of my day job, which is my perfect excuse to attend Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, England.
So here I sit, in a picturesque town in Yorkshire, surrounded by readers, some of whom are also authors.
Harrogate, as it is commonly known, is a special event. It’s not small, but it feels intimate. It draws an incredible list of authors—this year’s list includes folks with names like Child, Billingham, Paretsky, McDermid, Cleeves, and Gardner—as well as many who are headliners of tomorrow. It is held at the Old Swan Hotel, which is where Agatha Christie disappeared to in 1926. It really is a special gathering.
“But I’m not published in the UK. So there’s no point my going.” Not so fast. Lots of authors come to Harrogate who are not on panels; there’s just one panel at a time over the course of the weekend, so panel spots are competitive. But the crime fiction reader community is, today, global (see above). We all share in the joy of talking about the books we love, and this is an ideal venue for so doing.