Authors behind bars – Bloody Scotland 2014

The Bloody Scotland 2014 programme was launched today with a bunch of the usual suspects, and a few new faces, throwing themselves in jail.

Alexandra Sokoloff, Craig Robertson, Alex Gray, Alanna Knight, Danielle Ramsay, John Gordon Sinclair and Gordon Brown were captured by photographer Eoin Carey behind bars* at the Old Town Jail in Stirling.

The event itself isn’t until September, but with the Borders Bookfest, Wigtown, Harrogate and, of course, the EIBF all on the horizon it’s a sensible move to get people booking now. The programme is as packed as usual with the big draw this year probably being Kathy Reichs in conversation with Ian Rankin.

One eyebrow-raising fixture is the Bloody Scotland Football Match, pitting English and Scottish authors against each other on the 20th September. Given that just two days earlier Scotland will have voted either for independence or another few decades of Westminster rule, this could become a good-natured celebration or a grudge match. The proximity of Bannockburn should not be forgotten. I trust there will be a “no heavy pike” rule.

It seems a bit odd that there will be a panel on the independence debate, too. I have to note that the panel is so far, as so often with political discussions at festivals, woman-free. I suspect I won’t be alone in hoping that won’t be the case, especially as there is also a session on The Female in Crime Fiction.

You can bet one of those wearing a blue strip at the match will be Chris Brookmyre, who is also taking part in a day-long masterclass in crime writing, as are Helen Sedgwick and Liam Murray-Bell, and then joining Denise Mina for a chat.

John Gordon Sinclair, who I wrote a quick post on the other day is back for his second visit to Bloody Scotland, having been at the first in 2012. he was among those at the launch today, and provided a suitably atmospheric shot, left, peering through a hole in a door with more than a touch of Fulton Mackay about him. He’ll be talking with former Aberdeen footballer Arild Stavrum about their novels, the latter having written two crime novels set in the world of football.

Another highlight is the presence of MC Beaton, best known as the creator of Hamish Macbeth, talking to Catriona McPherson.  She has also written over 100 romance novels, under various noms de plume as well as the Agatha Raisin series.

One person not normally seen on the crime festival circuit is Tony Parsons, who has turned his hand to the genre by writing The Murder Bag, which came out last month. If the phenomenal sales of his previous books are anything to go by, his event could draw a huge crowd, so book early if you like his work. I suspect he may also take the chance to play for England in the match.

There are loads more events through the weekend, and I’m sure the official site will keep you informed, but it would be remiss not to mention that everyone’s favourite, Ian Rankin, closes the festival at the Albert Halls. Which reminds me, that today it was announced that his script for Dark Road, a play that opened last year at Edinburgh Lyceum, is to be released by Orion as a book.

So, as we opened with writers behind bars, it seems appropriate to close with one who is often found in them.


*The bars  do look suspiciously thin, almost as if an ingenious photographer realised there were no bars in the jail and he’d have to, say, use some cables on a lighting rig. Such necessity is the mother of invention in getting the right shot.

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