International Mystery-Writing Conferences

Last year, the ten winners of the prestigious Emirate Literary Fellowship came to Gotham Writers in NYC, where I work. I taught them a six-hour class on fiction writing. They were a wonderful group of writers and we all enjoyed the class. (I think.) And this year, the ELF is flying me to Dubai (to the Hotel Intercontinental, pictured below), where I will be teaching a two day Novel-Writing Book Camp at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.

There’s definitely something special about attending an international writing festival. I’ll be hearing voices I’ve never heard and meeting some fabulous authors and (New York) editors. Among the people there will be Curtis Sittenfeld, Tony Horowitz, Rebecca Yarros, Icelandic crime writer Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Booker Prize winner Paul Lynch. And many Arab writers, whom I am looking forward to meet.

A number of international mystery writing ones have been on my radar and here are three worth checking out. (There would have been five, but I’m getting ready to go to Dubai. :))

1. Iceland Noir

Iceland Noir is a literature festival celebrating darkness in all its forms, held in Reykjavík at the darkest time of year.  November. The conference was started in 2013 by internationally bestselling Icelandic authors Ragnar Jónasson and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. Panels have included: Why do we love serial killers so much? and Go into the dark. They also have panels on cozy mysteries!

2. The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 

The Theakston Ole Peculiar Crime Writing Festival takes place in July in Harrogate, England. Fans of Agatha Christie will remember Harrogate as being the town where the great author reappeared in 1926 following her mysterious disappearance. This festival is billed as thefriendliest of crime festivals and Ruth Ware is the organizer for 2025.

3. Bloody Scotland

Priding itself as “the literary festival where you can let down your hair and enjoy a drink at the bar with your favorite crime writer,” Bloody Scotland takes place in Stirling, Scotland. It features a short story contest, a pitch conference and a football game, along with a slate of well-known Scottish writers.

How about you? Have you been to an international writing festival?


  1. You highlighted the ones I want to get!

    I’ve been to St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Conference in Oxford several times. It’s highly civilized, with a break for afternoon tea! Capitol Crimes in London is getting good feedback, too.

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