Bloody Scotland crime writing festival enjoys most successful year yet
- Catharina Day
- 22 September 2014
'Tartan noir' highlights include Christopher Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Tony Parsons and Ian Rankin
Bloody Scotland started in 2012 with the intention of showcasing the best of Scottish and international crime writing. This has been the festival’s most successful year yet, with packed out author events and less traditional happenings, such as a medieval mystery tour of Stirling Castle, a play in the Stirling Sherriff Court and a good natured football match between Scottish and English crime authors.
Major writers at this year’s festival included Sophie Hannah, who has just released a new Poirot novel, and Peter May, who beat Louise Welsh, Christopher Brookmyre, Nicola White, Neil Broadfoot and Natalie Haynes to win this year’s Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award.
To kick off the festival on Friday 19 September, Christopher Brookmyre and Denise Mina discussed how the crime tag is limiting, if convenient. All writers explore human nature with its dark and light parts, they said, and most great literature is about crime. This universality goes beyond the national tag of ‘Tartan Noir’ that has been attached to Scottish crime writers. Of course, their individual writing is salted with local context, but it also responds to political and cultural shifts in Scotland, the UK and elsewhere. Investigate journalist Jack Parlabane, the central character in Brookmyre’s early novels, returns in January 2015 in Dead Girl Walking. Now, the author has made him vulnerable and damaged, reflecting how the status of journalists has declined in the post-Leveson Inquiry world.
At an event sponsored by The List, David Hewson and Peter Robinson offered insights into the craft of writing. Hewson – who has written books based on hit Danish TV series The Killing – has based his novels in European capitals, while Robinson has created his own imaginary Yorkshire town and dale. Robinson told the audience that he keeps his novels fresh by having characters that disappear and reappear so he has a variety to play with, while Hewson manages complexity by writing in episodes. They both keep diary notebooks in which to jot their ideas and both agreed that some blind alleys can propel their plots along felicitous paths.
Other highlights included Tony Parsons, Bloody Cinema at Stirling’s Old Town Jail and John Gordon Sinclair interviewing Norwegian ex-football player Arild Stavrum. Ian Rankin closed the festival in an event where he revealed he would wrap up his year-long sabbatical and start work on a new book.
So, if you enjoy a good read, there is plenty of inspiration to be found at Bloody Scotland.
Bloody Scotland, Stirling, 18-21 September 2014.