A quick break from reviews to take in the Stirling based Crime Writing Festival Bloody Scotland. It was an exceeding wet night as we queued for entry to the opening session with Caro Ramsay and Stuart MacBride, with an unscheduled photographic appearance by Douglas Skelton.
What you may not know about (especially) the grizzliest of crime writers, is that they have a brilliant sense of humour. So Caro Ramsay appears with her badminton racquet of reason overlaid with a photo of the aforementioned Douglas Skelton, in order to wield it when and if there are any spoiler alerts.
It’s difficult to describe their session and do it justice. With every appearance of being unscripted and unplanned, it nevertheless flowed from anecdote to anecdote with a great deal of laughter and quite a lot of ideas on how to dispose of a body – much suggestion from Caro of nibbling rats; Stuart contributed chicken wire wrapped around rocks around the body and dumped in the North Sea in the manner of the Krays.
Their session was followed by Chris Brookmyre, newly crowned winner of the first McIlvanney prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year and a very worthy winner for his novel, Black Widow. Chris was paired with Mark Billingham and together they rocked the Albert Halls. I honestly can’t remember when I have laughed so much for so long.
Their session was well plotted, excellently scripted, beautifully executed and a real triumph. I have paid a lot more for comedy acts who were a lot less funny. As others have said, really this should be a regular feature.
Then off to the launch of Craig Robertson’s new book, Murderabilia, which I am very much looking forward to reading.
Saturday morning and I chose to hear more about the crime novelist and playwright Josephine Tey, whose biography has been written by Jennifer Morag Henderson. In a session chaired by Val McDermid, she explored why this hugely talented woman who hailed from and spent a deal of her life in Inverness remained under- recognised and virtually ignored by her home town. We learned of her tenacity, her ability to adapt to the times and to find new outlets for her work. This sounds like a fascinating biography and one to add to the list.
A couple of things to mention about Bloody Scotland. I am very much appreciating their debut spots at the start of each session. These are allocated to newly published writers to allow them to air a short extract from their work to a decent sized audience – what a great idea.
I also really like the Book Donors initiative. Every seat at a Bloody Scotland session has a crime book donated free of charge by this community interest company. The company trades in second hand books to help people, charities and the environment.
it’s a great way to get the word out about this excellent idea, and I hope they do get donations and a lot more trade in return.
Anyway, time for my next session. Wish I could stay all weekend, but sadly have to leave tonight. Ah well, next year…..