• The Publishing Post

Capital Crime Festival: An Interview with David Headley

By Caitlin Davies, Danielle Hernandez and Georgia Rees


Capital Crime is a “festival like no other” for crime and thriller enthusiasts, promising “a packed schedule of entertaining and thought-provoking events,” bringing fans and creatives together to celebrate this often overlooked genre. Over the two days, there is a jam-packed schedule of exciting panels and events. Crime writing giants including Robert Harris, Lisa Jewell, Paula Hawkins and Richard Osman will be in attendance to discuss their experiences and inspirations as writers. Capital Crime will also be highlighting filmmaking, journalism, and podcasts, the latter of which is becoming increasingly popular with crime genre enthusiasts. Outside of these exciting panels, there will be events such as drinks receptions, book launches and signings, in keeping with the aim of bringing people together and to entertain.


This year’s top novels will also be in the spotlight at The Fingerprint Awards, where standout works from categories including debut novels and audiobooks will be acknowledged by fans on 29 September 2022 during the festival. In addition, should any novels showcased at Capital Crime grab the attention of readers, Goldsboro Books will be on hand with a dedicated pop-up shop. An independent shop located in Central London, whilst normally specialising in signed copies and first editions, their pop-up will be based in the Pump House Gallery for the festival.


Another key element to the festival is the community outreach work and focus upon fresh talent in the industry. The Capital Crime Social Outreach Initiative aims to “demystify the publishing industry…broaden minds, give these young people the confidence to pursue their goals, and attract new and diverse voices to publishing.” With a dedicated afternoon during the festival, twenty state schools in London will be invited to engage with this initiative. At the “Future Generations Afternoon Takeover,” future publishing hopefuls can interact with industry agents, writers and editors. What is more, the “Pitch An Agent” session will enable future crime authors to pitch their ideas for potential novels.


Capital Crime 2022 will be a chance to both highlight the success of the British crime and thriller genres, as well as a moment to look to the future and ensure that future talent is included in the conversation. This week, the co-founder David Headley kindly joined us in a discussion of what we could expect from Capital Crime 2022.


Photo by: @CapitalCrime1 on Twitter

This year Capital Crime is even bigger than in previous years and includes not just panel events with bestselling authors and pop-up bookshops, but a community outreach programme and the new Fingerprint Awards. How do you ensure an event like this is growing organically? How do you balance expanding the literary festival with remaining connected to the individual readers who are attending?


“I would say that all of Capital Crime’s growth is organic. The difference between the 2019 and 2022 festivals, is that we’ve had three years of not being able to hold one, so therefore we have been given the gift of time: we’ve started a book club, we’ve consciously and directly engaged with readers. The success of the inaugural festival in 2019 has meant that more authors and publishers have wanted to be involved with the 2022 festival, which of course we welcome with open arms.”


How important are events such as this for publicising a arguably overlooked genre in the events space and for encouraging diversity within the publishing industry?


“I’m not sure I agree that crime is an overlooked genre; I think it is a very crowded market, and certainly there are a lot of people writing within the crime fiction space. That being said, crime fiction is so perennial; it’s so successful. There’s a saying - “crime pays” - and it literally does; it’s a lucrative genre. And we have our Outreach Programme specifically to target the diverse audience we are lucky enough to have. As an agent, as well as a festival organiser and bookseller, I spend my time trying to find diverse voices and bring that into publishing. As a working-class boy, from a very modest background, I am very well aware of the need to bring these voices into publishing.”


Last year’s social media engagement was in the millions across a number of platforms. What role does social media play in promoting the Capital Crime event?


“It’s massive and surprised us all by how successful it was in 2021. Social media is a brilliant tool (when used correctly), and those who couldn’t join the festival in previous years were able to take part, thanks to that very thing. And those same people have now bought tickets to, and are attending the 2022 Festival, even from as far as Canada and the United States. We can unequivocally promise that it’s going to be the best crime festival in the UK.”


We want to extend a big thank you to David Headley for taking the time to speak to us about the upcoming Capital Crime Festival and the importance of a successful social media outreach campaign. Tickets are still available for the festival which will be taking place in London’s Battersea Park from 29 September to 1 October. To find out more about the event, you can follow them on Twitter at @CapitalCrime1 or head to the website.

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