Stevie Marsden reports on the launch of this year’s Bloody Scotland festival:
Wednesday 4th June saw the launch of the third Bloody Scotland festival, Scotland’s first and only literary festival dedicated to celebrating crime fiction from all over the world, which will take place from Friday 19th to Sunday 21st of September this year. The intimate lunch time unveiling of this year’s programme was held at Tolbooth, Stirling where Dom Hastings, the festival manager, commented on the diversity of the festival’s proceedings with events ranging from live talks from best-selling and world-renowned crime writers Ian Rankin and Kathy Reichs, to a discussion about the representation of women in crime fiction hosted by the Glasgow Women’s Library and a play re-enacting the trial of notorious serial killer Peter Manual to be held in the fitting setting of Stirling Sheriff Court.
As well as putting together a fantastic programme every year, which not only promotes Scotland’s extraordinary love for crime writing but also encourages crime fiction lovers from all over the world to visit Stirling, one of Scotland’s most historic (and haunted!) cities, the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing festival is unique in that it actively encourages crime fiction fans to become creators of crime fiction.
Since its conception, Bloody Scotland has had a strong commitment to finding and promoting the next generation of crime writers. Even before the festival programme was launched, the Bloody Scotland Short Story Competition was open for submissions. This competition – the winner of which receives £1,000 and a
weekend pass to the festival – is open to all previously unpublished writers from all over the world. I’m lucky enough to help in the co-ordination of the competition, and it’s really exciting to see undiscovered authors get the opportunity to have their work read by a worldwide audience; last year’s winner was US writer Mindy Quigley who won a landslide public vote for her story ‘The Best Dish’.
Not content with inviting the world’s crime-lit-enthusiasts to try their hand at writing short fiction, the festival weekend opens with a day of Crime Writing Masterclasses held at the MacRobert Arts Centre at the University of Stirling on Friday 19th September. The day is full of enlightening and insightful workshops, allowing budding crime writers to spend time refining their writing skills under the guidance of best-selling authors and experts in the publishing field. This year’s line-up of writers and publishers includes Christopher Broomkyre, Helen Sedgwick, Craig Robertson and Sara Hunt to name but a few!
As if all this wasn’t enough, Bloody Scotland also holds its annual ‘Pitch Perfect’ event on Sunday 21st September. Sponsored by the Open University Scotland, this competition allows aspiring novelists to pitch their idea to a panel of publishers for the chance to gain invaluable feedback from experts in the field. This year’s panel includes Alison Hennessey, Senior Crime Editor at Harvill Secker, Krystyna Green, Editorial Director for Constable & Robinson crime fiction and Tricia Jackson, Editorial Director at Pan MacMillan. Last year’s ‘Pitch Perfect’ event was brilliant, and it was fascinating to hear some of the ideas for (as yet!) unpublished work and the feedback that the specialists in the field had to offer.
What all of these events show is that the Bloody Scotland festival is not just an amazing opportunity for readers and writers to come together in a celebration of all things crime-lit related, but it is also a brilliant occasion dedicated to inspiring the next cohort of crime writers. Bloody Scotland, along with the University of Stirling’s Creative Writing team, the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication and Open University Scotland, actively encourages attendees to get involved in crime writing, arguably making Bloody Scotland one of the most inspiring literary festivals in the world.