Authors gear up for Scots crime-writing festival

SCOTLAND’S annual crime-writing festival is to explore whether men or women are better placed to write about murder, the painstaking investigation to capture the man behind the World’s End murders and the real-life poisons deployed by Agatha Christie to kill off characters.

Val McDermid is one of the star guests at this year's Bloody Scotland festival. Picture: Neil Hanna

An all-women panel of writers will be discussing whether men and women write and read crime differently, what they think about violence, and whether they are equally subjected to it at Stirling’s Bloody Scotland event in September.

The one-off event, Killer Women - Deadlier Than The Male?, has evolved out of a new 15-strong collective who have come together to help raise the profile of female crime writers and run special all-women events.

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The 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birthday just days after the festival will be celebrated with a talk by research chemist Dr Kathryn Harkup, whose book “A is for Arsenic” looks at the famous writer’s obsession with poison.

The Agatha Christie anniversary will also be marked with special events looking at forensic and science detection during the three-day festival, including appearances by authors Lin Anderson, creator of the forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod, and Val McDermid, who has written her own non-fiction book on the issues.

Writers and comics, including Christopher Brookmyre and Hardeep Singh Kohli, will join forces to improvise the plot of a crime novel on stage during the festival, while fans will get the chance to see their heroes perform readings, poems, stories and songs at a late-night pub “lock-in.”

The fourth Bloody Scotland will bring a host of the nation’s leading writers together, including Peter May, William McIlvanney, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin and Denise Mina.

However the star-studded line-up will also feature Martina Cole, the acclaimed English writer and broadcaster who has sold 14 million books and had a string of her novels turned into TV dramas, and Canadian author Linwood Barclay, who will be offering a sneak preview of his next novel.

Other guests will include South African novelist Belinda Bauer, one of Sweden’s most celebrated crime writers, Arne Dahl and Ann Cleeves, the creator of the Shetland novels, will be making a special appearance at the festival to discuss her next book ahead of accompanying a group of fans on a guided tour of Britain’s most northerly outpost.

Festival manager Dom Hastings said: “The breadth of writers in this programme shows what a diverse genre crime writing is – there really is something for everybody.

“This festival is created for people who are passionate about crime writing, and I think that’s something to be celebrated – it’s an open, accessible weekend, and above everything else, it’s a lot of serious fun.”

Jenny Niven, portfolio manager for literature and publishing at Creative Scotland, one of the event’s main funders, said: “Bloody Scotland is going from strength to strength and this year’s programme definitely looks set to continue that trend.

“With a host of crime fiction greats, as well as a splendidly eclectic programme, the festival presents a wonderful opportunity for readers and audiences who are keen to indulge their (fictional) criminal side.”

Tickets for this year’s Bloody Scotland festival, which runs from 11-13 September, are on sale now.