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Before Covid, Scotland could boast festivals dedicated to nearly everything: chutney, Vikings, ploughing, magic, ducks, to name but a niche few. Now, at last, it’s the return of a festival celebrating crime.
But before our criminal readers pack up their burglar masks, lock picks, jemmies and false passports into their swag bags and jump into a fast getaway car to Stirlingshire, beware that you may become the subject of this festival celebrating the dark art of crime writing.
The Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, which will reveal all in Stirling and online from September 17-19, has just teased lovers of crime fiction with its line-up of bestselling authors.
Given the pandemic, this year’s Bloody Scotland will be a ‘hybrid festival’, giving festival goers in Stirling the full-on festival experience, while allowing authors and readers who can’t be there in person the opportunity to join in on its website: www.bloodyscotland.com
The 2021 Festival will feature huge names including Stephen King, Kathy Reichs, Karin Slaughter, Lee Child, Jeanine Cummins, Linwood Barclay and Robert Peston beamed into the Albert Halls where live interviewers will question them in front of a live and digital audience.
Meanwhile, pacing the boards in Stirling itself will be the great and the good of the Scottish crime scene including Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, Chris Brookmyre, Marisa Haetzman, Lin Anderson, Abir Mukherjee, Craig Robertson, Alan Parks, Morgan Cry, Craig Russell and Stuart MacBride. Plus some big names from outside Scotland: Paula Hawkins, Luca Veste, Mark Billingham, Mick Herron, S J Watson, Lisa Jewell, Stuart Neville, Kia Abdullah, E S Thomson and Louise Candlish.
Bloody Scotland has long been praised for going beyond the usual remit of a literary festival and this year is no different with old favourites Pitch Perfect and Crime in the Spotlight, a performance by the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers and a cabaret twist on the normal Quiz which will see each quizzer (Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnston, Mark Billingham, Luca Veste and Stuart Neville) performing a musical number.
Up the road at The Golden Lion, panels will be recorded in front of a live audience and broadcast 24 hours later. Hosts of The Red Hot Chilli Writers, Vaseem Khan and Abir Mukherjee, will be on stage with a live version of their popular crime podcast. There is a discount for local residents, and organisers have improved disabled access with a taxi between venues for those that need it.
Following last year’s digital first with The Never-Ending panel featuring 27 Scottish writers from home and abroad, this year’s marathon digital-only event will be an A-Z of Crime starting with Megan Abbott and concluding with Anne Zouroudi hosted by the crime writers on the Bloody Scotland board. The global element continues with Around the World in 80 Deaths featuring authors from Argentina, the Sicangu Lakota Nation, Russia and Nigeria chaired by Craig Sisterson.
Festival director Bob McDevitt said: ‘It’s going to be a Bloody Scotland like no other but we do love a challenge and I can’t wait to see all of our authors, and crime fans back together in real life while extending our global reach as we beam the festival all over the world.’
Meanwhile Stirling Council Leader, Councillor Scott Farmer, was delighted to welcome crime lovers back into the city: ‘The return of this famous event, which showcases the best in Scottish crime writing, is a significant boost for tourism as well as Stirling’s wider economic recovery from the pandemic,’ he said. ‘Stirling is without doubt an excellent destination for world class events and the hosting of Bloody Scotland does justice to our reputation for hosting further events of this nature.’
Depute Leader, Councillor Chris Kane, added: ‘Our recovery from the pandemic is helped enormously by being able to host the Bloody Scotland International Crime Festival and highlights our historic city as a hub for culture and arts for visitors around the world.’