Bloody Scotland: Bloody Good

I was glad to have the chance to go to Bloody Scotland‘s second iteration, if only for a day, even though that included the dread “rail replacement service” (oh noes!). Fortunately it was a fairly painless process and I met another woman who had been to the conference last year, so we chatted and had a coffee when we got to Stirling while we waited for her friend to arrive and then all walked over to the first venue.

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Denise Mina and Louise Welsh started things off on a high note; two fascinating writers who happen to be friends – very different in their styles and working methods, but both agreeing that crime novels are very political, whether their authors intend it or not.

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Here’s Agnieszka getting her book signed by Mina; I had a chance to tell Mina how much I’d loved her run on HELLBLAZER, too. She’s just a terrific writer and absolutely forthright in her opinions, which is wonderful.

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Rob Roy brandishes his sword to keep the rabble at bay.

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Chalk outlines helped mark the way between the venues; this one was in front of the library which was a simply gorgeous building.

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The Stirling Highland Hotel hosted many events. We lunched just down the hill from it.

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The historic Old Town Coffee House has an illustrious history — and delicious omlettes!

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It was such a delight meeting Agnieszka after knowing her online for so long. We had a chance to chat about all kinds of things including the conference in Gdansk next year (more news on that when it’s firmed up).

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The distinctive poster could be found all around the festival area.

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The spies and espionage panel with Charles Cumming and Chris Morgan Jones was interesting, but I have to admit it made me feel like I went to the wrong sort of schools for the genre…

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The view from the Highland Hotel — they have their own Whisky Shop, too, but I didn’t have time to go browsing. Pity: they have free tastings!

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Some gorgeous buildings in the old town, the Old Jail and the Church of the Holy Rude waylay you on the road to the castle.

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Of course I was drawn to the old cemetery.

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There’s even a pyramid.

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Virgin martyrs under glass.

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And just across the way, the castle — alas, this is as close as I got to it. Will have to go back.

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I think this could be the cover for my next gothic novel.

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The view off into the hills was superb.

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I like the clash of old and new.

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The tangibility of heartache.

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Back when advertising was a little more subtle.

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I dawdled so long in the cemetery that I had to sit waaaaay in the back of the auditorium for Val McDermid and Stuart MacBride. Didn’t matter: they were hilarious of course.

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The big draw of the day had to be Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, though all the Scandinavians were riding a huge wave of reader excitement.

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The last panel I caught was with the lovely Zoë Sharp and Julia Crouch, each of whom were prompted to read a short passage from their latest pulse-pounding tales by criminologist panel chair, David Wilson. He really tried to probe into the psychology of the works — and the audience. Some of the people put on the spot seemed more than a tad uncomfortable, but the two writers showed great aplomb.

I came away with new ideas, more to read and some lovely photos. If you enjoy crime writing, you’ll definitely want to add it to your to do list. The location alone should be enough to tempt you; the fine slate of writers they gathered is quite amazing.

Bons mots:

  • Denise Mina talking about the toll writing takes physically, imagining her hands were going to look like Keith Richards’ one day.
  • Louise Welsh describing the power of storytelling via her Welsh grandmother, who stopped by a friend as they went about town, told their day in such a way that she hadn’t realised just how exciting it had been.
  • Mina reiterating, “Never feel guilty about reading. If you’re not enjoying it, stop.” She called crime a “low art” which allowed you to sneak in all kinds of things, but admitted that more people were eschewing the distinctions of high and low, all the better.
  • Julia Crouch talking about writers being “magpies” putting things into our “novel nests” (love that of course).
  • Stuart MacBride suggesting Aberdeen’s motto could be “At least we’re not Dundee” and Val McDermid saying “And you wonder why they won’t give you an honorary degree” (she has one).
  • The milk story o_o

If all has gone according to plan, I am on my way to NY and Bouchercon. Wish me well! I’ll doubtless check in where I can along the journey.

4 thoughts on “Bloody Scotland: Bloody Good

  1. Lovin’ the view from castles to the significance you illustrated in your enthuse. (Pity about missing that gratis whiskey though). Indeed a Gothic novel — complete with contemporary juxtapositions of cemeteries must not die out.

    Magpies theme is a special glean. I’d wax more eloquent towards your (as usual) splendid share as if we readers were there . . . but I’m in the hurry and scurry for Boucherconning myself.

    But you knew that.
    I get to meet up with the likes of YOU there.

    ~ Absolutely*Kate

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