Feature: Bloody Scotland programme

Bloody Scotland crime fiction festival swaps Stirling for cyberspace in 2020

The Golden Lion, 2019
Torchlight procession, 2019

The Curly Coo Bar, 2019

As was announced a few months ago, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Bloody Scotland will not be going ahead as normal in Stirling in September. However, the organisers have created a virtual festival, to be held 17-20 September. Tickets will be completely free and the festival hopes the digital format will allow crime fiction fans who wouldn’t normally be able to travel to Stirling to join the fun – and possibly be tempted to return next year for its tenth anniversary celebrations. 

Festival director Bob McDevitt said: “What began with disappointment and seemingly endless challenges has turned into a genuine opportunity to try something a bit different this year. I’m particularly pleased with the diverse range of voices appearing on the panels from all over the world. We all know the festival won’t feel quite the same this year (has anything?) but we have all the makings of a classic Bloody Scotland year nonetheless!”

As is traditional, Friday night sees the winners of the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year, and the Bloody Scotland Debut Novel of the Year crowned. (The McIlvanney Prize shortlisted authors will be revealed on 1 September.)

High-profile names appearing during the weekend include Lee Child, Anne Cleeves, Jeffrey Deaver, Lawrence Block and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, as well as Scottish crime fiction royalty in Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Chris Brookmyre and Ian Rankin. The global nature of the online event is highlighted with Lin Anderson chairing a panel entitled Five Continents of Crime including Oyinkan Braithwaite, Attica Locke, Shamini Flint and JP Pomare, as well as by appearances from Steve Cavanagh, Adrian McKinty, Linwood Barclay, Tess Gerritsen and John Connolly. 

More offbeat events are still in the programme, including online Crime at the Coo and an event with the Fun Lovin Crime Writers featuring footage as well as conversation with the band members. There’s also Desert Island Crooks, where four writers have to choose the crime fiction they’d want if they were marooned, and there’s a film of last year’s courtroom play, You The Jury – which sold out each of its three performances – followed by a discussion with writer Douglas Skelton and some of the professional participants. And if you want offbeat and technologically challenging, Sunday sees a four-hour virtual tour of Scotland’s crime writers on the Never-Ending Panel, which is being pitched as “a rolling conversation” with participants dropping in and out through the morning and early afternoon.

Crime fiction on screen pops up in a panel featuring Robert Crais, Helen FitzGerald and Deon Meyer, chaired by Alexandra Sokoloff, and Bloody Scotland’s usual non-fiction strand returns in the shape of an interview with forensic anthropologist (and crime writer adviser) Professor Dame Sue Black, and an event with professor of forensic psychology Katherine Ramsland.

Nurturing new authors is something Bloody Scotland is proud of doing, and while there is no debut panel this year, the Crime In The Spotlight strand (where upcoming writers read from their work to the audience ahead of a programmed event) returns, along with the masterclasses for aspiring writers and Pitch Perfect for those looking to find an agent and/or publisher.

It all kicks off on Friday evening with an introductory panel featuring four Bloody Scotland board members – authors Craig Robertson, Lin Anderson, Abir Mukherjee and Gordon Brown – welcoming the audience and chatting about creating the online festival.

Full information on the programme is available at www.bloodyscotland.com and follow the festival on Twitter for updates at: @BloodyScotland
Tickets are available for each day’s events and are free, apart from the masterclass workshop and panel on the Friday which cost £35 for the two events.

Bloody Scotland is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Funding. Other key sponsors and supporters include: Stirling Council, Creative Scotland, Go Forth Stirling, HW Fisher, Waterstones, Stirling University, the Faculty of Advocates, Open University Scotland, Sunday Times Crime Club, the Curly Coo Bar, Culture & Business Fund Scotland and the Glencairn Glass.

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