Wigan Noir: Crime writers head to court for literary event

Crime authors are coming to The Old Courts again in October for the third Wigan Noir night, sponsored by William Santus and Create Print
Crime authors are coming to The Old Courts again in October for the third Wigan Noir night, sponsored by William Santus and Create Print

Crime writers from across the country will gather once more in Wigan for a night of law and literature held in a former borough courtroom.

Six best-selling wordsmiths, including Wigan’s very own Paul Finch, will be at The Old Courts for the third edition of Wigan Noir, organised by Orrell author Malcolm Hollingdrake.

Orrell author Malcolm Hollingdrake

Orrell author Malcolm Hollingdrake

This year’s event promises to be a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at an author’s life as Malcolm has chosen people who have all taken an interesting or unusual route into writing crime fiction.

That means the panel is composed of three former police officers, an ex-offender and fighter who used writing to turn his life around and a divorce lawyer.

The discussion will also take place in a building historically linked with justice in the borough.

Malcolm said: “It’s going to be about how that experience affects how, what and why they write. There’s a real variety of writing, the panel is quite diverse.

“We’ve also got the perfect setting for crime writers in The Old Courts. We’re in the old courtroom with the authors on the judge’s bench looking down at the people attending.

“Last year we were full and I hope it will be the same again.”

The most intriguing backstory on the panel belongs to Dale Brendan Hyde, whose experiences on the wrong side of the law inform his tough, gritty style.

His work has also been highly acclaimed by Standish author Paul, who will discuss his chart-topping Heck series.

Malcolm said: “Dale is an ex-bareknuckle fighter and he’s been a naughty boy generally. He’s now turned his life around through writing.

“I met him at one of my book signings in Wigan. He’s one of life’s characters. He’s going to be the grit in the oyster making the pearl of the event, if you can put it that way.

“His writing has a lot of deliberately poor use of grammar and spelling to fit with the sort of characters he deals with.

“Paul Finch gave a really good review of one of his books. It’s nice to see the authors linking up. Paul is a Wigan institution and I wouldn’t want to do the event without him.”

The rest of the panel is made up of R.C. Bridgestock, the pen name of a former CID officer who worked on the Yorkshire Ripper case and his wife who now write as a duo, fellow ex-policeman Nick Oldham and lawyer Caroline England. Radio hosts Martin and Emma Truelove will lead the conversation,

The evening will also include music by Wigan country-influenced act The Huers.

Malcolm brought the idea of panel discussions allowing crime fiction fans to hear their favourite authors talk about their work and read extracts from their books to his hometown after being invited to similar events elsewhere.

He hopes the Wigan event will eventually expand into a two-day affair along the lines of successful literature celebrations in Harrogate and Scotland.

While acknowledging there is some way to go until then Wigan Noir is growing, with the event this year attracting sponsorship from William Santus and Create Print.

Wigan Noir is at The Old Courts on October 17. Doors open at 7pm and tickets are £3, available from www.theoldcourts.com