Saturday, 12 September 2015

Bloody Scotland

My attendance at Bloody Scotland depended on whether or not I managed to catch my overnight train (The Caledonia Sleeper) from Euston to Stirling.  I am please to say that I did and I was she only one who got off at Stirling Station at 5:00am in the morning much to the dismay of the train guard who looked at me rather anxiously and asked if I was going to be okay.  What can I say?  Not much.  It was equally nice that the hotel where I was staying was not very far from the train station and took me less than five minutes to get there.  Though I think that the porter must have been rather surprised when I pressed the doorbell and asked to be let in.

Housekeeping aside, so far Bloody Scotland has been amazing. It is always nice to come to these events and not only hear interesting talks but also catch up with various people.  It is extremely well run and huge thanks must go to the Festival Director Dom Hastings and the Press Officer Kirstin Innes (along with all the volunteers) for the way in which the event is being managed.

My first event was not one that I had intended on going to but I was persuaded by the lovely Karen Sullivan to go with her to the panel on current crime market trends which she had been asked to do at very short notice.  Also on the panel were Al Guthrie who has his fingers in a number of different pies at the moment to very good effect and Jo Dickerson from Simon and Schuster.  The audience was made up of over 50 people who had been on the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Masterclass earlier in the day.  It was a very informative panel with all three panel members covering various topics such as what they are looking for in the books that are submitted to them, what they are working on, public relations and marketing along with the fact that writers should write what they are interested in and not write on trends. They also touched on short stories; the fact that as a writer you have to accept the fact that sometimes self-publishing might be the way to go for you.  The pros and cons of self publishing and being proactive. As they said, they are looking for passionate writing, writing that will stand out and books that will resonate.  Claire Squires who is the Director of the Stirling Centre for International Publishing & Communication moderated the panel. 

The opening ceremony took place at the Cowane’s Hospital with Ragnar Jonasson giving a brief opening speech along Provost Mike Robins of Stirling and along with Jenny Brown the Chair of Bloody Scotland.

©Eoin Carey
The first event of the evening was a talk between Val McDermid and Peter May which was moderated by Douglas Skelton. With over 600 people it was a fascinating to listen to them both talk about their careers and the way in which they write. It was pointed out that with crime fiction you can accomplish anything and also that the themes that were being written about today were very interesting.  Both Val McDermid and Peter May agreed that the process is always working away in their heads and that it is not a stop and start way of writing as something will always be bubbling a way at the back of your mind even if you are doing something else.  Saying that, most writers always have a love hate relationship with the process and it never gets any easier no matter how long you have been a writer.

One of the issues that came up was research and as Val McDermid pointed out you can get
© Eoin Carey
funny looks when you are doing research.  The example she gave was when she was doing research for The Mermaid Singing and having to do research on torture.  She also praised Professor Sue Black for all the help that she has given her. Peter May likewise indicated that the research help that he has been given has been invaluable.  They both agreed that it had taught them to be fearless about research and that being former journalists it helped.  As Val McDermid commented, “sometimes research buggers you up!”. 

After the event both Val McDermid and Peter May signed books for the huge queue of people that waited patiently inline.

If you didn’t get to see Whose Crime is it Anyway then you missed a treat.  Hosted by comic Hardeep Singh Kohli it saw authors Caro Ramsay, Christopher Brookmyre and Kevin Wignall improvise a new novel on the spot with some help from some props which included a spinning wheel and Katie Price’s biography.  

For my first night at Bloody Scotland I had a wonderful time.  As can be expected after the first two events most people wandered off back to the hotel bar, went and had some supper or just hung around.

I ended up going out to dinner with Craig Robertson and James Oswald which was wonderful.  So what about Saturday? Lots of things to do and the anticipation of seeing The Slice Girls in action for what may turn out to be their one and only performance.

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