Ian Rankin, Tony Parsons, Kathy Reichs and Ian Mcwhirter among highlights at Bloody Scotland 2014

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John Gordon Sinclair / Photo: Eoin Carey

The crime fiction festival also welcomes Denise Mina, John Gordon Sinclair, David Hewson and Sophie Hannah

Now an established literary festival which continues to grow and attract ever more well-known international guests, Stirling-based Bloody Scotland was established with the intention of celebrating what co-founder Lin Anderson calls 'Scotland’s other cultural export'.

Alex (Gray) and I were at a Crime Writers Association conference in Lincoln and noted yet again how many crime writers hailed from Scotland, yet how all the crime festivals were south of the border,’ she says. ‘Alex came up with the name, which is a bloody brilliant one. Very Scottish, very tongue in cheek. She imagined people saying to crime writers, "where are you going in September?" "Bloody Scotland, of course."’

This year of all years sees the festival given a once in a lifetime opportunity to take Scottish crime fiction to a bigger international stage. ‘We open the day after the referendum,’ points out Anderson. ‘The world's press will be on Scotland's doorstep, so we aim to use that to promote the festival. We’ll have the first Sunday Herald debate in post-referendum Scotland, with Iain Macwhirter chairing a panel consisting of William McIlvanney, Tom Devine, Karine Polwart and Mona Siddiqui. Willie, who’s arguably the originator of Tartan Noir, says he'll be wearing either a bright flower or a black tie.’

Elsewhere on the bill the festival will demonstrate precisely why it’s becoming known for its colourful programmes, with a mixture of national and international author talks and crime-related events. ‘I'm a huge fan of the Kathy Reichs books and she's one of our international stars this year,’ says Anderson. ‘There's a big focus on forensics, which people can't get enough of, and we also have a dramatisation of the Peter Manuel trial and a wonderful collection of writers from Europe and Iceland. There's even a crime writers five-a-side football match between England and Scotland, and we have our own international star Ian Rankin to close the proceedings.’

The balance between Scots and international authors on the bill is a diverse one, with around 50 authors appearing at 37 events. Along with all of the above, Scotland will be well-represented by Christopher Brookmyre and Denise Mina, Stuart MacBride and Peter May and Alanna Knight, while actor turned crime writer John Gordon Sinclair will host a discussion event with Norwegian former footballer (and sometime Aberdeen player) Arild Stavrum. Author Tony Parsons will also discuss his first crime novel The Murder Bag and Hamish MacBeth creator MC Beaton will appear, as will The Killing writer David Hewson and Sophie Hannah, who discusses the new Hercule Poirot novel she's written with the approval of Agatha Christie’s estate.

The Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year will also be awarded, from a shortlist comprising new works by Brookmyre, Neil Broadfoot, Natalie Haynes, Peter May, Louise Welsh and Nicola White, while ‘The Female in Crime Fiction’ looks at how women in the genre are treated, even as the list of guests mirrors the even 50-50 gender divide which the CWA reports the genre as enjoying.

‘When we launched Bloody Scotland, Ian Rankin said to us, Scandinavia doesn't have better crime writers than Scotland, it just has better PR,’ says Anderson. ‘This festival was created to change that idea, to promote the Scottish crime writing brand in Scotland, the UK and internationally, and it's certainly doing that. This year Alex and I won the Booksellers award for emerging talent because of Bloody Scotland, although we’re only a small part of a great team. Bloody Scotland’s having an impact in boosting sales of Scottish crime novels and letting the world know just how good we are at this genre.’

Bloody Scotland, Stirling, Fri 19–Sat 21 Sep.

Bloody Scotland

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…

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