What happens at Harrogate (stays at Harrogate)

Zoë Sharp

This is a two-part post, really. The first part has to be about last weekend’s Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, part of the International Festivals and one of the biggest literary events in the UK.

And a hoot. An absolute hoot.

I didn’t go to take part this year, although I’ve been lucky enough in the past to be on several panels. This time, as they say, I went purely for the craic.‡

Rather bizarrely, most of the photographs from Harrogate have me cuddling other authors. It was purely platonic, honest! But it does show in general what a terrific bunch crime writers―and readers―are.

I could mention all the fun stuff that went on, like everybody at our table in the restaurant on Saturday night trying on Russel D McLean’s rather splendid hat. And that included the waiters, too 🙂

I could also mention that I was adopted as a surrogate mum by Katherine Heubeck, Adele Wearing and I think possibly by Vincent Holland-Keen as well (who took the pic above, by the way). Be nice to me kiddies, or everything goes to Battersea Dogs’ Home …

Just in case the tax man is reading this, it was not only great fun, but also an incredibly useful event from a networking point of view. I now have a promised blurb and a swap excerpt for the new series book, DIE EASY: Charlie Fox book ten, which is out in the UK in Oct; I have some terrific advice on graphic novels from Gregg Hurwitz, (pictured with fellow thriller author KD Kinchen) who has a wonderfully British sense of humour; I was asked for several review copies of my books and short stories to be sent out; and I received invites to do five guest blogs or interviews. How lovely is that?

In particular, I found reaction to the news I’d penned a supernatural thriller, currently being test-read, very interesting. Some people were more intrigued than they’ve ever been by my crime thrillers.

Hmm, what does this tell me?

Well, following on from David’s blog of yesterday, it tells me I should spread my wings more. The supernatural story is one I’ve been bursting to tell for years, but something always got in the way. And besides, I was always being told “you’re a crime writer” so I was always careful not to step on the cracks in the pavement, just in case Something Bad happened.

Now, to be frank, I’m not sure I care. I simply want to tell stories about characters in conflict, regardless of whether the cause of that conflict is supernatural, futuristic, psychological or straightforwardly criminal. And when you take the constraints of a specific genre away, the freedom is like a shot in the arm.

My question to you is, what was the last thing that gave you a burst of renewed enthusiasm for what you do? What effect did it have? And why?

And for all of you who heard various things about the ‘Wanted For Murder: the e-book’ panel at Harrogate, which I attended, here’s Stephen Leather’s take on what happened.

The debate is still raging …

Craic is this week’s Word of the Week. It means news, gossip, fun entertainment and enjoyable conversation, particularly used in Ireland, having been borrowed from northern English crack, meaning news or conversation, and then reimported with the far more attractive spelling of craic. This also helps differentiate it from the new slang meaning of crack, as in crack cocaine

And finally, our own talented PD Martin, writing as Pippa Dee, has penned a spooky new tale:

A tortured face, a haunted hotel and an obsession to solve the mystery. GROUNDED SPIRITS is part ghost story, part mystery and part historical fiction—set in Ireland in both the current day and the 1820s. For the next two days, it’s free on Amazon! 

The story is based on a real hotel in Ennis, Ireland, that is rumored to be haunted. The painting described in the story does, indeed, exist—a photograph of the tortured face is included in the book and that face appears on the book’s cover (to the left).

Download it quick while it’s free!

Amazon US

Amazon UK





18 thoughts on “What happens at Harrogate (stays at Harrogate)

  1. lil Gluckstern

    Downloaded and done. and I really like the hat! Looking forward to your new story.

  2. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Harrogate is the one festival I've never been to that I'm absolutely dying to go to. Next year FOR SURE.

    Thanks for the recap, Z! And exciting to hear that people are psyched about CARNIFEX. They should be!

  3. Sarah W

    Wonderful hat, Zoë! It suits you–you must get one to wear at Bouchercon.

    I'm excited about Grounded Spirits — such a terrific way to spend my reading time now that I've finished Alex's stunning Huntress Moon.

    (My First Reader loved my climactic chapter, which renewed my enthusiasm like whoa. It's all denouement and a bit more editing from here–she noticed that one of my characters had a 'hop holster,' which, as I'm sure you know, are normally used only by the security arm of the Easter Bunny Syndicate. So I'll probably have to change that . . . or plan a very strange sequel . . . )

  4. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Pari
    It was a great trip. Useful and a lot of fun, too.

    My supernatural book is already written―Alex very kindly test-read it for me―and I’m now deciding on rewrites while I contemplate the next project.

  5. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Seeley
    LOL. No vampires in this one, strangely enough. Nor werewolves, nor zombies. And with the amount of sunburn on show at Harrogate, that event was more like ‘Fifty Shades of Pink’ …

  6. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Gordon
    I’m interested to see all the comments flying around about THAT panel, as you refer to it. I was there, and have my own views, which I shall do everyone the courtesy of keeping to myself 🙂

  7. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Lil
    It is a terrific hat, isn’t it? Totally wasted on Russel <grin> I may have to steal it if he risks wearing it again next year. Or I’ll simply bring my own hat instead!

    And glad you’re looking forward to the supernatural tale. Quite a change from Charlie Fox, although it does feature another strong female lead character …

  8. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Alex
    Thank you for the kind words―you did a great job pointing out the plot-holes in CARNIFEX and rewrites are on the cards soon, when I get the last of the test-reader reports back in. Looking forward to it.

    Definitely you should come over for Harrogate next year, or CrimeFest in May. Or both!

  9. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Sarah
    Thank you! I have one or two hats up my sleeve―if that’s not a very mixed metaphor!

    LOL on the ‘hop holster’. Reminds me of a joke I’ll post on Twitter later:

    ‘Energizer Bunny arrested. Charged with battery.’

  10. Reine

    Hi Zoë,

    Looks like great fun… I mean… looks useful to your work.

    I think your thoughts on change are right on line with what I was saying in my comments to Pari the other day. For me the last thing that gave me a burst of renewed enthusiasm for writing was leaving my last doctoral program and discovery that I hated academic writing. It didn't all come together that cleanly. It was a huge effort to make myself look for my continuing theme. It was painful to let go, because i had identified with my label. What remained of my self view, after eliminating the peculiar tedium of trying to make a science out of a passion, was the passion. That was the story I wanted to write. Fiction, I realized, would do it best.

    I am anxious to see what you have going in your supernatural story. Sounds wonderful!

  11. PD Martin

    Thanks for letting me borrow some space today, Zoe! And thanks to everyone who's downloaded Grounded Spirits 🙂

    Looks like you had a great time, Zoe. And like everyone else I LOVE that hat on you. You should definitely pinch it 🙂

    On different genres – I think that's one of the benefits of self-publishing ebooks. The freedom.


  12. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Reine
    Yes, it was ― both fun AND useful. I don’t think they’ve yet passed a law making it illegal to enjoy your work, but give them time …

    I’m sorry to hear you were having a hard time with your academic writing, but if it’s a step you had to take in order to discover your creative side, it’s never a wasted journey, it’s just scenery along the way.

    I really enjoyed writing the supernatural book. Haven’t yet quite decided what route to publication I’m going to take with it, but watch this space … 🙂

  13. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Phillipa
    You’re very welcome. I confess I’ve downloaded a copy of GROUNDED SPIRITS for myself and it’s on my tottering TBR pile, calling to me!

    You nailed it with the ‘freedom’ bit and right now I’m having a great time enjoying that.

  14. Reine

    Zoë, I'm usually here… just not always able to comment! I am absolutely waiting for your supernatural venture and anxiously await its appearance somewhere!

Comments are closed.