Scotland's most murdersome literary festival also features a new award for BME writers and celebrates Muriel Spark's dark side
The streets of Stirling's Old Town will once more run red with the return of Bloody Scotland, Scotland's international crime writing festival. From 21–23 September, writers, publishers and fans will celebrate new releases, toast anniversaries, discuss the most pressing issues facing the genre – and have a lot of bloody fun while they're at it.
The gala opening of the festival at the Church of the Holy Rude will feature, as ever, the presentation of the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year, which was won by Denise Mina for The Long Drop last year. Mina and Tartan Noir superstar Val McDermid will then lead the torchlight procession to the Albert Halls for their panel event, as they discuss their prolific careers in dispatching (fictional) bodies.
Torchlight procession at Bloody Scotland 2017 Other literary luminaries slated to make an appearance this year include Louise Penny, best known for her series centred upon Chief Inspector Armand Gamache; Ann Cleeves, whose Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez novels have both been adapted for television by ITV; Quintin Jardine of Bob Skinner fame; Aberdeen's own Stuart MacBride; Quintin Jardine; Denzil Meyrick; Martyn Waites; and many more.
Bloody Scotland is, however, by no means confined to its geographical borders. The Swedish Crime Wave looks to the continuing dominance of Nordic noir's bleak landscapes and moral complexity, whilst The Kiwis are Coming! will welcome a panel of authors from New Zealand and celebrate Bloody Scotland's special relationship with the WORD Festival in Christchurch. There will also be Brexit chat at Adios, Auf Weidersehen, Arrivederci, Au Revoir, in which continental crime writers discuss what might happen post-March 2019.
The genre's cross-pollination across different forms and mediums can also be seen in Crime that Goes Bump in the Night and 21st Century Spies, which are centred around crime's intersection with horror and espionage thrillers, respectively. There will also be two book-to-TV events, with MC Beaton appearing alongside the cast and crew of her Agatha Raisin series, and Helen Fitzgerald in conversation with a cast member from the new adaptation of The Cry.
Bloody Scotland's board members Gordon Brown, Craig Robertson and Lin Anderson (L-R) Crime writing has always held up a mirror to society, and several events this year are no different. In Time's Up for Violence Against Women, Sophie Hannah, Alexandra Sokoloff and Jo Jakeman will discuss the violence against girls and women that is endemic in both crime fiction and real life, and whether writers have a responsibility to avoid its depiction, or if the issue should be addressed head-on. Meanwhile, Bloody Scotland launches a new prize for BME writers in partnership with Harvill Secker, Abir Mukherjee, AA Dhand, Sanjida Kay and Lilja Sigurdardottis. The collaborators will examine the particular challenges faced by writers in breaking through the glass ceilings of race, gender, class and sexual orientation in Breaking Barriers.
More informal and close-knit than its festival counterparts, several non-literary events have also become features in the festival's canon. These include the Scotland v England football match, wherein crime writers from both sides of the border battle it out for the Bloody Cup, and the famous quiz, refereed by Quizmaster Craig Robertson, who will attempt keep bloodshed between teams to a minimum. The Fun Lovin' Crime Writers – a supergroup made up of authors Doug Johnstone, Mark Billingham, Stuart Neville, Luca Veste, Chris Brookmyre and Val McDermid – are also scheduled to rip through a few rock'n'roll tunes.
Other hallmarks in this year's programme include The Crimes and Misdemeanours of Muriel Spark, marking the centenary of Scotland's crème de la crème. The panel discussion, composed of Louise Welsh, Zoe Strachan and Alan Taylor, will make the compelling argument for the great Dame to be considered the true progenitor of Scottish crime fiction. The festival will then close with a tête-à-tête between Kevin Wignall and the great Irvine Welsh, who checks in on Renton, Spud, Begbie and Sickboy in his latest release Dead Men's Trousers.
An innovative festival drawing on Scotland's love of the literary macabre and celebrating crime writing by bringing together leading Scottish and international writers, showcasing debut voices and encouraging new writers. As well as interviews and panels there is a torchlight procession, criminal cabaret, a crime writer's…