It’s 11.30am in Stirling and the Golden Lion is buzzing with crime writers, bloggers and journalists waiting for the unveiling of this year’s programme.
I’m here at the launch to get the news hot off the press; it’s the best and most exciting crime festival anywhere, featuring the very best of Scottish and international crime writing as well as giving a great profile for new writers in the genre.
So, now that the hour has arrived, what can lovers of crime fiction look forward to from 20 – 22 September 2019?
Bloody Scotland has been praised for going beyond the usual remit of a literary festival to create a fringe featuring football, a torchlit procession, a cabaret, a podcast, a quiz and this year will also include a ‘Killer Ceilidh’; a procession of Harley Davidson riders; a play at the Sheriff Court which will allow the audience to vote on the verdict of a real murder trial and a screening of classic crime films from The 39 Steps to Reichenbach Falls, introduced by Ian Rankin.
The gala opening on Friday 20 September will once again feature the announcement of the winner of the McIlvanney Prize for the Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and will also reveal the first winner of the new prize for Scottish crime fiction debut. The winners will join one of the world’s leading thriller writers, David Baldacci, at the head of the annual torchlight procession down to the Albert Halls.
Highlights include Ian Rankin; Alexander McCall Smith; Alex Gray and Lin Anderson, interviewed by the BBC’s Janice Forsyth; Denise Mina and Louise Welsh; two married couple writing partnerships, Nicci French and Ambrose Parry; Icelandic queen of crime Yrsa Sigurdardottir; Stuart MacBride; Mark Billingham and, straight from Pointless, Richard Osman who has just signed a much publicised seven-figure deal for his first crime novel The Thursday Murder Club to be published by Viking next year. No sooner had he signed the deal than Bloody Scotland moved things around to get him in the programme.
Non-fiction highlights include Alice Vinten (police constable in the Met) appearing with Mim Skinner (insight into the experiences of women in prison); former prison governor Dr David Wilson (soon to be on TV) and forensic scientist Professor Angela Gallop (whose book details her high profile work on cases such as Damilola Taylor, Stephen Lawrence and Rachel Nickell).Panels that are likely to spark some debate include Till Death Do Us Part talking about novels based around highly dysfunctional marriages and the festival holds up a Mirror to Society with novels which address contemporary issues like online stalking and knife crime, including the brilliant Sarah Hilary.
First time visitors to the festival this year include the Canadian best-seller Shari Lapena who will be appearing with Caroline Kepnes, author of the massive Netflix hit You; Lisa Jewell (well known for her contemporary fiction now getting rave reviews for her thrillers); Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland (writing under the pseudonym of Sam Bourne); Boston-based lawyer David Hosp (aka Jack Flynn); Charlotte Philby (the granddaughter of the infamous double-agent Kim Philby); Lynne Truss (author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves) and Catherine Steadman (Mabel Lane (Mabel Lane Fox in Downton Abbey).
Bloody Scotland remains an open and welcoming international festival despite all the chaos at Westminster – this year welcoming authors from Spain, France, Iceland, Norway and Ireland as well as the US, Canada, Australia, India and Mexico.
Two Crime Writers and a Microphone, the (literally) Bloody Scotland football match, Crime at the Coo and so much more just adds to the charisma of this friendly and welcoming festival.
Bloody Scotland is such a brilliant event – Scotland’s best and you will not want to miss it! So get clicking now, before the tickets disappear like snow off a dyke, as we say in Scotland.
The Bloody Scotland website is here.
Now, please excuse me, I’m off to enjoy the launch of Val McDermid’s My Scotland with photographs by Alan McRedie.
Bloody Scotland is Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, providing a showcase for the best crime writing from Scotland and the world, unique in that it was set up by a group of Scottish crime writers in 2012. The festival uses a number of atmospheric, historic venues in Stirling’s Old Town setting it apart from other literary festivals. Full information at http://www.bloodyscotland.com
The McIlvanney Prize long-list will be announced later in the month along with the shortlist for the first ever McIlvanney Prize for a Debut Scottish Crime Novel.
In 2018 Bloody Scotland sold more tickets than ever before and saw a 17% growth nearing 10,000 sales.
Bloody Scotland is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Funding, Stirling Gin have remained a sponsor for the third year running and are kindly providing Bloody Scotland cocktails at both programme launches. Waterstone’s will once again be our festival bookseller and other sponsors include Stirling Council, Creative Scotland, Go Forth Stirling (the business Improvement District, whose sponsorship will see, among other things the Bloody Scotland branding of the land train), HW Fisher, Stirling University, The Faculty of Advocates, The Open University, The Sunday Times Crime Club, Unique Events, Stirling Castle, The Curly Coo Bar and The Crime Vault.