Having missed the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival last year (even though I live in Scotland) I was determined to get there this year. I could only make the Friday, it would involve a two hour drive home late at night, but I was up for it – And certainly wasn’t disappointed. What an introduction to a fabulous festival.

Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Master Class

Having never been to the festival before I opted for the master class. It was an all day event packed with workshops and other writers. This is a great way to get a flavour for an event, meet like minded people and learn from talented authors and other industry professionals. Christopher Brookmyre’s two hour workshop on his writing tips, how he go into the industry and the technique of, what he calls, the ‘pull back and reveal’ in writing, was superb. Plenty of food for thought and ideas to play with in my own writing. Helen Sedgwick ran a very interesting session on writing a synopsis, really getting us to boil down to the very essence of our stories. Liam Murray Bell had us creating characters, scenarios and conflict before condensing it all down into one opening sentence. My offering was –

‘The day he moved into Aunty’s house, Ryan had no idea how many people had died there.’

There was lunch, coffee, biscuits and networking before a closing panel of Craig Robertson, Jade Chandler and Sara Hunt who talked interestingly about current trends and opportunities in publishing.

When the event finished at 5pm I headed to the Hotel Colessio for two evening events. If you are ever in Stirling and looking for a place to eat I can highly recommend Hotel Colessio – The food was superb.

Denise Mina and Christopher Brookmyre’ – 7-8p.m – Hotel Colessio. 

My introduction to the festival proper. First we were treated to a twenty minute short story called ‘Puck Knows’ written and read by Christopher Brookmyre – Hilarious, creepy and very clever. It was very special to listen to the author read his own work.

IMG_2440    Christopher Brookmyre.

Christopher and Denise then discussed projects they have just finished and where they see their writing going next. An interesting insight into two established authors.

IMG_2449   Christopher Brookmyre and Denise Mina

I had been kidding myself I would then head home, but up next was…

Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride – Dead Funny’ – 8.30-9.30pm – Hotel Colessio.

This panel did exactly what it said in the title. The audience were in stitches from beginning to end. The authors created ‘letters from the readers’ to ask each other probing questions. They covered alternative writing projects. Stuart MacBride was brilliant, reading one of his children’s stories, which was pulled for being unsuitable for children! They also talked about embarrassing situations with members of the public, and cooking!

IMG_2453   Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride.

IMG_2459   Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride.

Absolutely brilliant. I chuckled thinking about the panel all the way home.

My trip to Bloody Scotland 2014 may have been short, and was most definitely sweet. I look forward to seeing far more of it next year.