The first full weekend I was in Stirling saw me volunteering at Bloody Scotland, “Scotland’s First International Crime Writing Festival.” I’d heard about the event before arriving in Scotland and offered to volunteer during the weekend. I am SO glad that I did. I had the time of my life!
Due to my previous experience volunteering at the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium at Mississippi University for Women, the Front of House Manager for Bloody Scotland, Dom Hastings, asked if I’d be willing to volunteer more than one four-hour shift. I wanted to say “Are you kidding me??!! DUH!” but I politely said, “I can be here whenever you need me.” I ended up being on the schedule all three days (Friday through Sunday) for pretty much the entire day; this was exactly what I wanted.
Friday was the first evening of Bloody Scotland, and I worked the Author Hospitality room, where I checked authors in to the festival and gave them their name badges and goodie bags. I also worked at and helped set up the reception for the authors, which was the kickoff for the festival. After the reception, it was back to Albert Halls for the opening session called, “Why Bloody Scotland?” featuring Alex Gray, Lin Anderson, and Ian Rankin. This session was followed by an author signing, which is where I started getting authors to sign my program (more on this later). I loved these duties because it meant that I was able to meet EVERY author who came into the Stirling Highland Hotel to check in. Friday Night Highlight: Ian Rankin remembered me! I’ve met him previously, as I interviewed him last year for my honors research project (“The City as Character: Edinburgh in the Works of Ian Rankin”), and I was hoping that he’d remember me when I saw him again. HE DID! It made my entire weekend. We had a short conversation about the future of publishing and editors at the reception before I left him alone so he could socialize with other authors.
Saturday began at 9 a.m. with the Author Hospitality room. I spent all of that day at the Stirling Highland Hotel. I worked FOUR signings that morning, meeting authors like Allan Guthrie, Sara Sheridan, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Caro Ramsay, and more. After that I worked inside front-of-house for two events, which meant I operated the roving microphone and made sure the authors got to their signings after. My shift on Saturday was supposed to end around 3:30 p.m., but I was still needed so I didn’t leave until 7:45 p.m. I worked about 8 hours that day alone! Saturday Highlight: “Meet My Alter Ego” session with Gillian Galbraith, Aline Templeton, Tony Black, and chair Lin Anderson. At the session, the authors spoke as if they were their characters. This was fantastic, because at one point Gillian Galbraith spoke as her character about her author, so it ended up sounding something like, “Sometimes Gillian writes about things that even I don’t know!” or “She explains what happens to me even better than I could!” It was great.
Sunday was the last day, and I can’t even explain how sad I was about this. It was spent at Albert Halls, where I worked inside front-of-house and signing for “The Next Big Thing” with Jade Chandler, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Val McDermid, and Barry Forshaw. While they didn’t stay on topic much, it was a laugh and very interesting. I also worked inside FOH and the signing for “A Formidable Duo” with Quintin Jardine, Anne Perry, and chair Peter Guttridge. Sunday Highlight: I was able to attend the dramatized performance of “The Red-Headed League.” Stuart MacBride as Holmes was amazing.
Every author I met this weekend was fantastic. Alex Gray remembered my name ALL weekend and called me “wonderful” and “a star.” I thought this was amazing. Also, Gordon Brown (not the ex-prime minister, but the red-headed crime fiction author, as everyone joked at Bloody Scotland) was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. I got him, Craig Robertson, Gillian Philip, and Gordon Ferris to sign books I’d bought by them. I also had TWENTY-FOUR authors to sign my program, which is something I will always treasure; I plan to have it framed! I am so glad that I decided to do this; I couldn’t afford to buy one book by every author I wanted to read and have signed, so I used my program. I think it was a great idea!
I learned a lot about publishing, and I came to realize that I’d one day like to work festivals. It has also fueled my love for crime fiction, and I think I would like to work with it in the future. I think Bloody Scotland is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been involved in.
I’ve since had a few of the authors follow me on twitter, which is an honor. I hope to keep in contact with them and see them again next year!