You may be aware that I have been one incredibly lucky blogger of late, with a stream of sensational guest posts from superbly talented and truly lovely authors. Well, today I am thrilled to welcome one of the loveliest ladies in literature to damppebbles, Tara Lyons. Tara is the author of brilliant serial killer thriller, In The Shadows, along with co-author of Web of Deceit and The Caller with M A Comley. If you click here you can ready my review of In The Shadows and if you click here you can ready my review of The Caller.
If my 5 star review isn’t enough to tempt you into purchasing a copy, here is the synopsis and the cover (which definitely will!):
“Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is tasked with apprehending a brutal murderer stalking the streets of London – and leaving not a shred of DNA evidence. As the suspect list mounts, his frustration and pressure from his superiors intensify.
Grace Murphy, who is dealing with the recent loss of her beloved grandfather, falls deeper into despair when her friends’ bodies are discovered. Fearing she may be the killer’s next target, she begins to question if her horrifying nightmares are the key to unravelling the murderer’s identity.
How far would you go to uncover the truth? Would you venture into the shadows to unmask a killer?”
One of my favourite books of the year so far, BRILLIANT!
Sadly I wasn’t able to make it to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate this year. So we sent our intrepid roving reporter….no actually, we didn’t! But Tara very kindly offered to write a piece about her first visit to Harrogate for damppebbles. Oh, and keep an eye out for some familiar faces in the slide show below…
My first time… at Harrogate
As I write this, a week has passed since the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, but it feels more like a month. It was my first experience of Harrogate, and any kind of book festival, and I’ve had a major comedown from the amazing event.
I booked up late, only securing a B&B in April (most people attending had booked the previous year as soon as the dates were announced), and now I’m so glad that my ‘fear of missing out’ bug kicked me up the butt just in time.
As a very new author, I was feeling quite daunted as the day to travel to Yorkshire approached. However, I pulled on my big girl pants and had a good talking to myself – this was a great opportunity to meet other authors, bloggers, publishers, publicists and people I’d spoken to online for over a year. If I’m honest, I think I embraced the experience more as a reader than an author, because once I was there my nerves took over on more than one occasion. But I don’t think it altered my experience at all. The festival is overflowing with new and established authors, crime fiction fans, bloggers etc. – all happy to chat about their writing journey, love of books and everything else in between. And I’ll admit, I had a huge fangirl moment when Martina Cole high-fived me over our shared love of Ireland and Clonakilty black pudding.
I think the truth of it is, at Harrogate it doesn’t matter what you do or your reason for being there because your passion for crime fiction means you’ll always find someone to talk too – trust me, the bar is always heaving and the conversation is always flowing. So, if you’re worried about going alone, please don’t! The whole weekend had a very chilled and relaxed atmosphere, with people happy to pose for photos, sign books and share a bottle of wine!
After booking my B&B it was clear I couldn’t afford to attend all the events on offer, so I carefully chose a few I didn’t want to miss. Despite the heat of the room (and I’m not complaining about the awesome weather we had), they were very interesting, well-structured conversations, with a chance for audience participation at the end. There’s nothing like hearing a successful author share their lows and highs to get the creative juices pumping – and yes, I have been at the laptop with an array of ideas since coming home. I came away from Harrogate feeling very inspired – and not just about crime fiction! Thanks to a very passionate blogger, I’m excited about quite a few things (but if I told you now, I’d have to kill you… but watch this space). I hope by time next year’s festival comes around – and yes, I have booked my room already – I’ll feel more confident as a writer, not just a reader.
There’s an author North versus South football match to enjoy, a chalked outline of a dead body on the ground, a huge WHSmith tent – that not only sells books but holds book signings too, deck chairs and a beer tent, the word ‘read’ in enormous cardboard letters that make you feel like you’re being welcomed to the book equivalent of Glastonbury and much, much more.
I have only just skimmed the surface about my time at Harrogate because I think if I launched into it fully you’d be scrolling down your screen for quite some time. But I’ll end on this – if you love crime fiction, be it because you’re a writer, a reader, a publisher, a blogger, a publicist or anything in between, then treat yourself to Harrogate 2017. The enjoyable atmosphere is contagious and I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. I met some wonderful people, was asked to sign a copy of my paperback (that was an “OMG, is this real?” moment for me) and had the opportunity to talk to authors about their writing experiences and get some valuable tips and advice. I didn’t buy a rover pass for the day/weekend, but many people did, some dined with authors and publicists while others soaked up the sun… Harrogate is what you make it, but it’s definitely a book festival not to be missed.
Oh, FYI… this year, I stayed at the Baytree House, which is about 20 minutes from The Old Swan Hotel (the hub of the festival). It’s a beautiful B&B, reasonably priced with a fab breakfast and lovely staff.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Harrogate, please just give me a shout, I’m more than happy to have a chat about my first time…
Thank you so much roving report…*ahem* I mean, Tara. It sounds like you and everyone who attended had an awesome time. I’ve started saving for my 2017 festival ticket, just don’t tell the hubby!
Tara is a crime/psychological thriller author from London, UK. Turning 30 in 2015 propelled her to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a writer.
In the Shadows is the author’s solo debut novel published in March 2016. She also co-writes with New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, M.A Comley; The Caller is the first book in their new Organised Crime Series. Web of Deceit is a standalone novella written by the duo.
When she’s not writing, Tara can be found at a local Wacky Warehouse stuck in the ball-pit with her young, energetic son.
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