It was the end of August, just a couple of weeks to go before Bloody Scotland took place in Stirling. We were in the middle of one of our final committee meetings, fretting about the small stuff that might go wrong. Like whether the local railway station would be shut over the weekend of the festival, whether Jo Nesbo would get here on time, and whether Mark Billingham and Christopher Brookmyre would swear so much we’d be in danger of getting closed down.
It turned out that the answer to all three was yes.
You’d think that we’d have had enough to be worrying about, but no. Instead, when it was mentioned that the Scottish Book Trust wanted us to get involved in Book Week Scotland in November, it suddenly got out of hand. ‘Let’s take this show on the road.’ ‘Yeah, let’s get the band back together.’ ‘Hang on. We’ve got a festival to run first . . .’ That kind of thing.
So anyway, it all went rather well. Mr Nesbo had his biggest audience ever in the UK, Lee Child signed for two hours after his event, Denise Mina dazzled, William McIlvanney wowed, and both Val McDermid and Stuart MacBride were a pain in the jacksie to their ‘interviewer’ (me).
This was thanks in no small part to our friends at The Murder Room, who gave us an alibi when we needed one as well as making us an offer that no writing festival could refuse: sponsorship. Thanks, guys.
But wait. As if that wasn’t enough, we managed to arrange our tour, too. In the spirit of Cliff Richard going on a summer holiday, we’ve hired a big old double-decker bus,* and we are going to drive around Scotland during Book Week, stopping only to buy fish suppers and talk about crime novels.
We kicked off in Edinburgh on Monday 25 November, and we were in Dundee the same evening (beat that, Dr Who), Then we went to Orkney and Stirling on Wednesday, Lasswade plus Stirling again on Thursday, Glasgow on Friday 29th, and finished up with Bloody Scotland in St Andrews on St Andrew’s Day.**
Our starry cast of crime writers included Christopher Brookmyre, James Oswald, Quintin Jardine, Alex Gray, Lin Anderson, Allan Guthrie and Helen Fitzgerald. All details can be found at http://www.bloodyscotland.com/announcements/bloody-scotland-on-tour/
So that’s what, who, where and when. Why? Because we think we’ve got a terrific product. Scottish crime writing is in a great place, with global bestsellers leading the way for some very exciting emerging talent.
Whether it’s tartan noir or Caledonian crime, it’s as good as anything out there. Let’s take this show on the road.
*Sadly, we can’t afford the petrol to go as far as England this year, but if you ask nicely then in 2014 we might load up with rocket fuel and head south armed with claymores and laptops.
**We don’t really have a bus.
Craig Robertson, a former journalist, is the author of four gritty, contemporary crime novels including Sunday Times bestseller Random and Amazon top-ten hit Cold Grave. His latest book, Witness the Dead, was released in paperback on 21 November.
Now a major date in Scotland’s cultural calendar, Book Week Scotland is a national celebration of reading created to highlight Scotland’s exceptional cultural, creative and literary talent, and to remind everyone of the unique pleasure that can be gained from a good book.
For more crime reads, visit The Murder Room.