Hull Noir Makes Digital Return in March

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By Sarah Morgan

They say that all good things come to those who wait. With that in mind, the forthcoming Hull Noir crime writing festival should be a real humdinger.

Organised by the three Nicks – writers Nick Triplow and Nick Quantrill and publisher Nicola East – its line-up is certainly very exciting indeed.

The first event ran in 2017 during the City of Culture celebrations, and was originally designed to link in with the already established Iceland Noir event.

“Hull and Reykjavik are twin cities, all to do with the fishing industry,” explains Nicola. “So because we knew a few of the Icelandic authors, it all fell into line. We managed to get funding because of the City of Culture, and then the original plan was to run intermittent years.

“We were due to do it again in 2020, we had the Royal Station Hotel booked and good to go – and then Covid happened. So we had to make the decision to postpone and push it back to March this year, thinking we’d be one of the first on the festival circuit to take place – little did we know! But rather than cancelling it again, we decided to go digital. Luckily all the authors we pitched to come to Hull said yes again.”

hull noir 2021 three nicks

The ‘3 Nicks’ – organisers of Hull Noir, Quantrill, Triplow and East

“Opens in style”

Tickets are free and available worldwide, which Nicola finds exciting: “We’re curious to see where our audience is from. We’re looking forward to getting Hull on the international circuit!”

The event certainly opens in style on the evening of Friday, March 19th when Leeds-born author Peter Robinson will be talking to Quantrill about his latest novel, Not Dark Yet.

On Saturday, March 20th, highlights include ‘In Cold Blood’, which focuses on what it’s like to launch a book during a pandemic, and ‘Get Carter And Beyond’, a discussion about the influence Barton-born, Hull-educated author Ted Lewis has had on crime writing. In fact, Lewis was a starting point for the entire festival.

“Last year would have been Ted Lewis’s 80th birthday,” says Nicola. “This year it’s 50 years since his novel Plender was first published. All his books were very much involved with Hull and the Humber landscape, so we’ve linked everything around him, what he liked, what inspired him.”

hull noir 2021 peter robinson

Peter Robinson will be talking about his latest novel, ‘Not Dark Yet’
image: Pal Hansen

Other authors lined up to appear include Alan Parks, Abir Mukherjee, Rhiannon Ward and Marnie Riches.

“Looking ahead”

“We don’t think about who’s hot at the moment and try to mould a panel around them, we think about the conversation and the best people to put on a panel,” adds Nicola. “It means we get quite a diverse range of authors, from newbies to mid-range to big names.”

Some might say the best has been saved until last: “To finish off we’ve got Mark Billingham, Luca Veste and Chris Brookmyre, which I think will be really entertaining. They’re half of the rock band Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers and know each other really well. It’ll be a good conversation because they’ll talk about all sorts of things, they won’t just stick to the script.”

Once the 2021 event is over, the three Nicks start looking ahead, and their plans don’t just concern the next Hull Noir: “We’re adding a page to the website with a donate button because we’d like to still get our Arts Council funding, but if we can match that, we can do other things in between the festivals.”

So, while we’re thinking about the future, does Nicola have a dream panel she’d love to see?

“Getting Ian Rankin and Lee Child would be great fun. I’ve had a drink with Lee and Ian at the same time, so if I could get them from the bar to the stage together, interviewing each other, that would be my dream one.”

Can she make that happen in time for 2022? Watch this space…

Hull Noir takes place on March 19th & 20th. For more details and to register for the online event, visit: hullnoir.com

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