Amidst the glamour of the Poisoned Cocktail Party, the Granite Noir programme was launched this evening.
And what a line up it is! Writers, panel discussions, masterclasses, exhibitions and screenings not to mention the inimitable Noir at the Bar, combine to produce a festival that is bigger and sparkles more brightly than ever before.
Ann Cleeves, Chris Brookmyre, Val McDermid, Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws feature in Most Wanted – a series of headline events.
Ann Cleeves, who is the only living crime writer to have two different adaptations on television at the same time – the hugely successful Shetland and Vera, will be joined by Dr James Grieve, Emeritus Professor of Forensic pathology at The University of Aberdeen. A frequent consultant to crime writers, Dr Grieves also appears as himself in Ann’s Shetland novels. The event will be chaired by BBC Radio Scotland presenter Fiona Stalker.
One of the biggest and best-loved names in crime writing, Val McDermid’s novels have been translated into 30 languages and more than 10 million copies have been sold worldwide. Her work was adapted for the highly popular Wire in the Blood, starring Robson Green. Among her many awards are the Portico Prize for Fiction, the LA Times Book Prize and the Cartier Diamond Dagger. The award-winning writer has appeared at two of APA’s Culture Café events in previous years.
2018 will be Christopher Brookmyre’s second appearance at Granite Noir. One of Scotland’s finest, and funniest writers, his headline gig at the inaugural Granite Noir sold out quickly and tickets are expected to fly for February’s event, which will see him share his gift for storytelling as he talks about two of his recent works, Want You Gone and Places in the Darkness.
Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws complete the headliners lineup. The pair will appear together in an event chaired by Fiona Stalker, where they will share their experiences of acting and writing. Known for playing Poirot’s sidekick, Captain Hastings, as well as the Duke of Wellington in Sharpe, Hugh Fraser’s written work includes the latest in his Rina Walker series, Threat. Robert Daws has appeared in Midsomer Murders, New Tricks, Death in Paradise and Father Brown, to give just a few of his screen credits. He co-created and wrote the long running BBC Radio detective series, Trueman and Riley, and writes the Sullivan and Brock novels, set in Gibraltar.
Granite Noir will open with an In Conversation event: The Truth is Out There – Or Is It? with authors Matt Wesolowski and Michael J Malone. This will be followed by Breathtaking Thrillers, with Icelandic and Irish writers Lilja Sigurdarottir and Catherine Ryan Howard. May The (Police) Force Be With You welcomes back author, reviewer, blogger and Scandi crime aficionado Sarah Ward, talking about her new DC Connie Childs novel, A Patient Fury. For this event Sarah will be joined by probation officer-turned crime writer Mari Hannah, whose award-winning novels are now in development with Stephen Fry’s production company. Jorn Lier Horst completes the trio and brings insight into his successful William Wisting series, which follows Wisting’s police career.
Saturday’s schedule kicks off with a Granite Noir Workshop – How to Get Ahead in Publishing, delivered by powerhouse publisher Karen Sullivan, founder of Orenda Books. Karen will give a masterclass for aspiring writers about how the publishing industry works, how to pitch, what to expect if a publisher asks to see your work, whether you need an agent, and what happens after a book is accepted for publication.
Publish and Perish brings together three authors whose stories are set in the cut-throat world of books. Louise Hutcheson, Lucy Atkins and Sarah Stovell will speak about their work and inspirations in this event chaired by festival author Sarah Ward.
Three authors will again take to the stage for Here’s Looking at You, Kids. Melanie McGrath, Colette McBeth and Sanjida Kay will talk about their novels, where children at the heart of the crime.
Next up, discover how two authors juggle work as novelists and screenwriters, and how those disciplines compare and contrast. MJ Aldridge, who writes the bestselling DI Helen Grace thrillers, and Sweden’s Stefan Ahnhem are our authors for Page and Screen on Saturday afternoon.
The second Granite Noir Workshop – How To Plan Your Novel, will take place on Saturday afternoon, with author and former BBC TV news correspondent Colette McBeth. This class demystifies the process of novel writing, helping writers break their story down into manageable chunks. Storyboarding techniques, outlining, character arcs and how to weave suspense into the tale will all be covered.
Granite Noir’s Most Wanted for the Saturday afternoon are Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws, followed by Chris Brookmyre’s headline appearance in the evening.
Saturday will be wrapped up with Late Night Noir in the form of Folk – a new musical play which unites multi-disciplined artists Annie Grace, Alan McHugh and Morna Young with director Dougie Irvine. Co-written, composed and performed by the artists, this is a contemporary folktale – a story of faith and love – exploring human existence in our modern world.
The final day of the festival begins bright and early with Petrifying Psychological Noir. Torkil Damhaug, author of the bestselling Oslo Crime Files series, was a psychiatrist and brings specialist knowledge to his taut thrillers. He is joined by Louise Voss, who has been writing psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction for 18 years.
What follows is two Granite Noir Workshops – Crafting Compelling Characters in the city’s Central Library and Crime in Medieval Aberdeen, in the Town House. Learn how to develop convincing characters and how to avoid the most common character pitfalls with bestselling author and cofounder of Killer Women, Melanie McGrath. Meanwhile at the Town House, William Hepburn will lead a workshop on historic crimes in the city, including how crime was tried in Aberdeen’s courts 500 years ago, and what kind of punishment people faced if found guilty.
Sunday’s headline event comes from the creator of Shetland and Vera, Ann Cleeves, followed by When Bygones Aren’t Bygones – a panel discussion delivered by Johana Gustawsson and Clare Carson. French native Johana co-authored the bestelling On se retrouva, which drew more than 7 million viewers when it was adapted for television in 2015. Clare, an anthropologist and international development specialist working in human rights, is the daughter of an undercover policeman which brings a special insight to her latest novel The Dark Isle.
And what could be more inviting on a chilly Sunday afternoon than a plate piled high with scones, pastries and dainty sandwiches… but beware! Poisoned High Tea is an event with a twist. Dr Kathryn Harkup, author of A is for Arsenic, will be there to remind us that in the hands of queen of crime Dame Agatha Christie, everything on the menu could become a lethal weapon.
For The Write Investigator, audiences will meet two authors putting fellow writers front and centre to solve crimes. Will Dean, who has lived in Sweden for the past five years, offers a unique take on Scandi noir in his acclaimed debut, Dark Pines. Eva Dolan’s newest book, This is How it Ends, is a gritty standalone thriller that places an idealistic blogger and a seasoned campaigner at the heart of the action.
Who Do You Think You Are? Features two of the most talked-about recent debuts which feature protagonists with unstable identities. Stuart Turton’s The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, has been called “Gosford Park meets Inception, by way of Agatha Christie”, while Felicia Yap has been named one of The Observer’s Rising Stars of 2017.
Rounding off the festival are four brilliant Late Night Noir events and a Poisoned Cocktail Party, where guests can enjoy specially concocted cocktails, all made using ingredients inspired by Agatha Christie’s penchant for poison. Dr Kathryn Harkup, who is also hosting the Poisoned High Tea, will be on hand to divulge expert guidance on the ingredients and how things could go awry should they get into the wrong hands in a Christie novel.
A Criminal Mastermind Pub Quiz gives people the chance to pit their wits against some of Granite Noir’s authors, while Words and Music Scandi Style will be a unique evening hosted by Norwegian bestseller Thomas Enger, (be still my beating heart) who will play some of his original piano compositions, as well as talking about his writing.
Finally, it’s Noir at the Bar, an informal gathering of festival and local talent for a night of reading and hijinks.
Also throughout the festival is an expertly guided Granite Noir Walking Tour through Aberdeen’s dark underbelly, an exhibition of Crime Scene Photographs and an Exhibition of Police Wanted Posters.
There are four Young Criminals events for young people and their families: a Writing Workshop with award-winning children’s author Elen Caldecott; Steve and Frandan Take on the World with poet, playwright, novelist and former Edinburgh Makar Ron Butlin and Magic, Mystery and Mayhem with Meg McLaren. There is even a SFX Make-Up Workshop with theatre make-up artist specialist and teacher Raymond Wood, for ages 16+
There are three Crimewatch Film Screenings at Belmont Filmhouse: Double Indemnity, The Big Clock and The Big Easy, as well as Locals in the Limelight which offers a stage to North-east writers for the second Granite Noir. Five of the region’s most talented authors will read extracts from their noir fiction in front of audiences at The Lemon Tree, and there will be pop-up readings by these authors in the Central Library café throughout the weekend.
All week at HMT (until Saturday) will be Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic thriller starring Phil Daniels.
For those who can’t be there in person, this year Granite Noir has launched a live streaming and pay-per-view service for selected talks, along with exclusive content and interviews.
Aberdeen Performing Arts chief executive Jane Spiers said: “Aberdeen will be in the grip of Granite Noir in February as we bring our crime fiction festival to venues across the city. Our inaugural event earlier this year was a huge success, with multiple sell out events. This year we’re bringing more authors and more variety, with something for people of all passions and ages.
“Brilliant writers from far and wide will share insights into their work in our author talks and panels, while aspiring authors can hone their craft at special writing workshops. We are providing a platform for local authors to share their work with our spotlight readings at The Lemon Tree, and we are holding classic Noir film screenings, a Granite Noir guided walk, our popular Poisoned High Tea and a brand new Poisoned Cocktail Party, as well as crime scene exhibition and a unique words-and-music book launch.”
I think you will agree this is a pretty stunning programme featuring some great masterclasses and fascinating opportunities to delve deeper into the world of crime. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Granite Noir is produced by Aberdeen Performing Arts in partnership with Aberdeen City Library and Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives and Belmont Filmhouse, with support from Aberdeen City Council and Waterstones. Freelance writer and interviewer Lee Randall has programmed the author conversation strand of the festival for the second time. Lee regularly appears at book festivals throughout the UK, and has twice been a judge Bloody Scotland’s McIlvanney Prize.
Events are individually priced and tickets go on sale on the evening of Sunday, November 26. Tickets are available from aberdeenperformingarts.com or by phone on 01224 641122. From Monday (November 27), tickets will also be available in person at the Box Office at HMT and The Lemon Tree. Discounts apply for certain group purchases and festival passes are available (excludes some events). Please check the programme or website for more information.
Follow Granite Noir on @GraniteNoirFest