STAV Sherez admits that modern-day crime writers like him are lucky. The internet and its almost infinite possibilities have given them a wholly new type of crime to write about. “So many great crime writers have come before us that have used all the great plots – Christie, James Ellroy – that it’s good to have new criminality to deal with,” he told an audience at Harrogate's Old Swan Hotel. “But it’s not only criminality. The internet is affecting politics, it’s affecting elections, it affects us and our kids.”

Sherez was speaking on Thursday on the opening day of this year’s Harrogate Crime Writing Festival after picking up the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the year award for his thriller The Intrusions. The book has been likened to Zola and Dostoevsky and was described by Ian Rankin as a ‘Silence of the Lambs for the internet age’.

But what is that title all about? “The Intrusions are the stuff we have all around us – all the static and scatter of TV and phones – everything is impinging on our consciousness and you don’t have time to think,” he said. Yup, that’s our lives today...

Sherez beat off stiff competition from a shortlist of six crime novels to win the prestigious crime award and a £3,000 cash prize. The winner was decided by a panel of judges, chaired this year by Lee Child, as well as a public vote.

A special presentation was also made to John Grisham, who was named the winner of the ninth Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

Elsewhere at the festival, The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers band fronted by Val McDermid with Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Luca Veste, Doug Johnstone and Stuart Neville, gave a blistering performance of rock and pop crime standards, including Watching the Detectives and Sympathy for the Devil.

Other panels have included authors talking about how they often draw upon personal experience to ‘write what they know’.

So Joseph Finder, who was recruited by the CIA but refused the offer, has used social media and technology in his book The Switch, in which his hero is forced to dip below the radar, avoiding technology and mobile phones when on the run. Former Mirror journalist Fiona Cummings, meanwhile, talked about how she draws on the emotions of the tragedies she has reported on, rather than using specific details of cases, when writing.

This year’s festival is chaired by Lee Child, who has brought in US heavyweights including Grisham, Laura Lippman and Don Winslow. The festival continues until Sunday lunchtime. To find out more, visit