Fiona Cummins, Jane Harper, Joseph Knox and Kristen Lepionka have been revealed as the four debut authors picked by crime writer Val McDermid for her influential “New Blood” panel at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.
McDermid has hosted the annual panel since 2004 and has included S J Watson, Stuart MacBride, Clare Mackintosh, Belinda Bauer and Dreda Say Mitchell among her past New Blood picks.
Fiona Cummins’ Rattle (Macmillan) is a serial killer tale set in London’s Blackheath; Jane Harper’s The Dry (Little, Brown) tells of a triple killing in a small Australian town; Joseph Knox’s Sirens (Doubleday) is the story of a teenage runaway; and Kristen Lepionka’s The Last Place You Look (Faber) has PI Roxane Weary seeking to prove the innocence of a man on death row.
The New Blood panel will take place on Saturday 22nd July at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, during the 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Special guests for the festival, the 15th, will include Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Dennis Lehane, Brenda Blethyn, Peter May and Arne Dahl.
Six books are in contention for the annual award for excellence in science and health writing, including a trainee neurosurgeon’s posthumous memoir and books about the NHS, HIV/Aids and organ donorship.
The key thing about these books is that they draw people in to something they otherwise might find a bit scary to read about…
Spanning human origins, national health services, microbial life forms and death, the shortlist for the 2017 Wellcome Book prize has been hailed as one that will “shift perceptions” by chair Val McDermid.
Photograph: Thomas S.G. Farnetti | Wellcome Images
Announcing the six books in contention for the award, which pits fiction against non-fiction, McDermid told the Guardian: “The key thing about these books is that they draw people in to something they otherwise might find a bit scary to read about. There will be people who read one of the books on this list and it will change their lives.”
Val McDermid, chair of this year’s judges, hails a selection that crosses divide between arts and sciences.
Crime writer Val McDermid, who is chairing the judges for this year’s Wellcome book prize, has criticised the divide between arts and sciences in the UK’s education system, speaking out as the longlist for the £30,000 award was announced.
In an interview with the Guardian about the longlist, which identifies the best science writing across fiction and nonfiction, The Wire in the Blood author said: “Science is clearly something that we need to be focusing our energy on, because that is where the economic future of the country lies and we really should be driving our education towards it – but that does not mean we should turn our back on the arts.”
Citing her own education in Scotland, McDermid said she feared the modern curriculum left little opportunity for students to be creative and investigate things that engage their interest “for the joy of it”.
“I have concerns about what is happening in education,” added the author, who has a son at school. “Everything is so curriculum-led now that there is very little opportunity for teachers to encourage students to go off and discover things for themselves.”
Developments in education, she added, meant that the Wellcome prize – one of the richest in the UK – was more important than ever because it focuses on making science accessible through both fiction and nonfiction.
The 12 books chosen for the 2017 longlist are split between seven factual and five fiction titles, ranging from Victorian gothic in Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent to Jo Marchant’s Cure, which investigates how the mind can cure the body. French novelist Maylis de Kerangal’s blow-by-blow account of a heart transplant in Mend the Living is also longlisted, and is the first foreign-language book to be considered for the award.