The Gala Opening of Bloody Scotland 2018 was held in the beautiful Church of the Holy Rude, where we drank Bloody Scotland gin cocktails and learned that Liam McIlvanney was the worthy winner of this year's Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Prize for his novel The Quaker.
After that, we headed up to Stirling Castle to start the torchlight procession down to the Albert Halls. This is one of my favourite parts of the weekend, such a great atmosphere.
After getting something to eat, we headed back to the Albert Halls to hear a two hour set from the fabulous Fun Lovin' Crime Writers, the band comprising Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville, Luca Veste and Doug Johnstone. An excellent way to spend a Friday evening, and Luca doing Britney was a particular highlight!
After an easy Saturday morning, I went to hear Frank Gardner talk about Ultimatum, the second book in his Luke Carlton trilogy. Always an engaging speaker, Frank entertained a packed house with book talk and politics.
From there, it was back up the hill to the Cowane Hospital Grounds for the annual Scotland vs. England crime writers football match. Typically, this was the only time it rained in the whole weekend. But it didn't last long, and we soon forgot about it with more cocktails from the Stirling Gin pop up bar. Oh, and the football, of course! The final score, and I'll say it quietly, was England 6, Scotland 3.
Back down Spittal Street and into town (my step count for the weekend was brilliant!) for Michael J Malone's pop up launch of his new book, After He Died. And the sun shone for it.
A wee coffee and cake with lovely crime writer Caro Ramsay, her husband Alan, my bestie Pam and the fabulous Doug Sinclair, who is just finishing his first book. And the Loving Food cafe was gorgeous!
Then an evening of back to back events, starting with 'Local Crimes for Local People' with Margaret Kirk, Hania Allen, Neil Broadfoot and Charles E McGarry. These authors have chosen to set the books outside of Edinburgh and Glasgow - in the case of Neil Broadfoot's No Man's Land in Stirling itself - and they talked about the reasons behind that, their inspiration, writing habits and planning, or lack of in the case of Neil!
|Gorgeous and talented Neil Broadfoot|
After that, the 'Come Hell or High Concept' panel with Gordon Brown, Will Carver and Doug Johnstone, and admirably chaired by Jacky Collins, who had stepped in at the very last minute. This was a really fun panel, with lots of laughter, but at the end of it, none of us, authors included, knew what high concept meant! But all the books featured sound fab, so perhaps when I've read them, I'll have a better idea!
My final event for Saturday was a Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast recording - a special featuring 'Would a Crime Writer Lie To You' which was in no way based on a game show of a similar name. Joining podcast hosts Steve Cavanagh, Luca Veste, musician Stuart Neville and game host Mark Billingham were crime authors Denise Mina, Sarah Pinborough, Will Dean, Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre and Abir Mukerjee. All of them told outrageous truths and lies - Chris Brookmyre watching Swedish porn with Ian Rankin, and the Dalai Lama telling Abir he was fat were my two favourites. An hysterically funny night.
After a much needed lazy morning and lunch with relatives I headed to 'Word of Mouth, Page by Page' with three authors, all at different stages of their writing careers but who have all seen huge success with their books. Jo Spain, Elly Griffiths and Sarah Pinborough were all very entertaining and the snippets from the books sounded great.
Then it was off to talk 'Crime That Goes Bump In The Night' with CJ Tudor, Alison Belsham and Luca Veste. All three have written about the darker side of crime, sometimes gruesome, sometimes scary. I've read Alison's The Tattoo Thief and will be reviewing it on Thursday as part of the blog tour, but I can't wait to get into The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor and Luca's The Bone Keeper. And I finally got my (very poor) selfie game on.
|Fabulous and funny Luca Veste|
|Talented Alison Belsham|
|Gorgeous CJ Tudor|
My final event was Carry On Sleuthing: Murder at the Knickerage, a comedy crime play from the mind (be very afraid!) and pen of fantastic author Douglas Skelton. The actors were authors Caro Ramsay, Michael J Malone, Douglas himself, Teresa Talbot, Alex Gray, Lin Anderson, Neil Broadfoot and Gordon Brown, all doing a fine job of humiliating themselves in the name of comedy. Really, they did a fabulous job and brought the full house down. It was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend.
I am not a crime writer, nor even an aspiring one, but as a huge fan (stalker) and (fairly new) blogger, this was a weekend full of my people. It's one of the highlights of my year. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and the authors so tolerant and accessible. And fun. It was great to see old friends, make new ones and learn new things. Bob McDevitt, you, your team and the army of volunteers are magicians. I can't imagine how much work it takes beforehand and behind the scenes, but it all runs perfectly. Don't know how you all do it, but THANK YOU! My only regret was that I couldn't get to everything!
|Bloody Scotland 2018 book haul|
Roll on Bloody Scotland 2019!