This year’s Bloody Scotland event in Stirling was, if anything, even better than last year’s.Whereas the inaugural event in 2012 focussed on Scottish crime writers, this year, several renowned international writers were also present. I attended six sessions – three ‘international’ and three ‘Scottish’ – as well as the Saturday evening dinner.
On the international front, Jo Nesbo was probably the highlight, giving a very interesting insight into his background, as well as his writing. Arne Dahl was also very good – and he had to contend with this tricky question from the floor: ‘You describe one of your characters as ‘tall’. Why?’ Lee Child was the third international star I saw – his sales figures are mind-blowing. Both Nesbo and Child’s events were sell-outs (700 people packed into the Albert Halls), which contributed to the ticket sales for 2013 being 43% up on last year.On the home front, I saw Val McDermid and Stuart McBride do a very funny double act on ‘gory’ crime. I had the opportunity to ask Val a question from the floor on the subject of ‘lesbian mud wrestling in Perth’, though I hasten to add it was Val who brought up the subject. Mark Billingham and Stuart Neville held an insightful discussion on writing ‘crime series’, but the highlight of the event for me, as it was last year, was Willie McIlvanney. I have to admit to a certain lack of objectivity here, because I consider the man to be a genius! As well as giving his talk, he read an extract from Laidlaw, then had the audience in stitches as he read one of his articles on the relationship between humans and dogs. Towards the end, he gave a very strong hint that we wouldn’t have to wait too long for a new book in the Laidlaw series.
The format for the Saturday evening dinner was excellent this year, with a thirty minute aperitif prior to the meal, which gave the attendees the opportunity to mingle with all the authors.Overall, the organisation was superb and I would recommend it to one and all in 2014, starting as it does, the day after the Independence referendum!