What should you expect on your first visit to The Harrogate International Crime Writing Festival?
Last year was full of many firsts for me, publication of my debut CLOSE TO ME being the biggest, but going to Harrogate was certainly up there as one of the most memorable and fun. I was days away from paperback publication and full of anticipation and excitement. A special time. My second book LYING TO YOU is also due out just a few days after Harrogate so it's turning into a bit of a tradition for me.
Here are my top tips for first-timers, as I was in 2017...
- Don't worry about going alone, or being published, or an author. Loads of people come on their own, from all backgrounds: writers, bloggers, readers as well as their family and friends. It's a great chance to mingle with everyone. If you do know someone who is going, why not arrange to get together when you arrive? That's what Laura Marshall and I did after connecting on Twitter (our debuts were both due out just after Harrogate). It was great to have that support, but if you know no one, I promise you soon will.
- Have the courage to mix. If you think you recognise someone from Twitter or Facebook then say Hi. They will be just as pleased as you are to have a chat.
- If you buy a weekend pass/package you will get a great big goody bag of books, so make sure you have a way of carrying it home. It's heavy but you will cry if you have to leave any of your bounty behind. (You'll also get a lanyard that gets you in to all the panels and entitles you to free tea/coffee and lunches in The Old Swan, which were excellent.)
- If you don't book a weekend pass you'll need to buy tickets for the panels in advance, and get there early on the day as the seats fill up fast and the back is a long way away!
- People come and go, generally milling around outside on the lawns (where the bar is!). There are a lot of things happening: panel events, hosted drinks/dinners, proof giveaways, signings. If you're at a loose end (unlikely) take the chance to have a breather or look for someone new to chat with.
- If you see an author whose books you've read, enjoyed, maybe reviewed, then let them know. They will be so happy to hear it and have the chance to thank you in person.
- Simiarly if you see a Blogger who has supported you, go chat. I'm sure they'd love that too.
- Stay somewhere within walking distance so you can pop back if you need to. It's a great few days but can be exhausting. Good sometimes to take a moment and maybe change, eat, call home, sleep!
- It's a long convivial day-into-evening vibe. I'd say it's an unwise move to start the proceedings with two G&Ts at four in the afternoon - not that I'd do that, of course!
- Take photos! This is the sum total of mine. I'll try harder this year.