Vera goes to Harrogate
The Theakston's Crime-Writing Festival in Harrogate has become a massive event in the publishing world and I was delighted to take part again this year. It's easy to take the warmth and generosity of crime readers and writers for granted; we KNOW we're friendly, supportive and that we like to party. It's only when we see the reaction of outsiders that it really hits home. This year I brought some very special friends to Harrogate. Brenda (Blethyn, who plays Vera in the ITV drama) and BBC Breakfast's Steph McGovern had been there before, but Kenny Doughty, who plays Vera's sidekick Aidan was a newcomer.
It started on Friday night at the Pan Macmillan barbecue. The rain held off, the wine flowed and Brenda, Kenny and Steph arrived just in time for food after filming all day. Then we found The Seagull ale. My wonderful publicist Maura had contacted a little brewery in my home town of Whitley Bay and asked them to make a special beer to celebrate the publication of the book of the same name. That too is set in Whitley Bay. The beer will be available at my tour events in September. We did sample a few on the night of course, just to check that it was fit to send out.
Our panel was on Sunday morning and we spoke to a packed hall. Steph chaired beautifully, Brenda showed her amazing talent for comedy and Kenny spoke rather movingly about what it meant to be part of the Vera team. Later he told me how overwhelmed he'd been by the reception we all received and by the obvious affection the audience had for the show. Television actors don't usually have the chance to meet their viewers, and we forget how lucky we are to get to know readers and other writers at festivals like Harrogate.
So a huge thanks to Elly Griffiths and the programming committee and to all the festival staff for their welcome, their efficiency and for another terrific Harrogate.