Bloody Scotland - Crime on the Costa
This is the second year that Bloody Scotland authors have been invited to participate in Xabia Negra.
The place - Xabia, Spain, the event - Xabia Negra, the time - 2nd to the 4thof November and the Bloody Scotland team, on tour, were Lin Anderson, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Abir Muckerjee and myself.
First things first, the artwork for the festival is amongst the coolest I’ve seen and this year was no exception. The only fly, in an otherwise smooth and sweet ointment - Graeme Macrae Burnet’s name was shortened to Graeme Macrae on all the literature. Even the fame of being a shortlisted Booker author can’t protect you from typos.
The festival is not just a literature event, it celebrates photography, cinema, short stories, even fancy dress and is a melting pot of all things crime. Low key is the way the festival organisers like to play it. Events are held in the pubs, restaurants and local venues across the old town of Xabia, wrapped around a 16thcentury church and in the port, with the closing event held in the local cinema yards from the sea front.
On Friday night Lesley and I attended the first of what the festival calls roundtables (we call them panels) with Toni Hill, Nieves Abarca and Vicente Garrido along with the Xabia Mayor. I managed to grab Toni, one of Spain’s best-selling crime writers, for a quick selfie and a chat about coming to Bloody Scotland one day. To say he was keen was an understatement.
Vicente, my contact at the Ajuntament de Xàbia, invited us all to join him and other festival participants for dinner that night in a wonderful restaurant. You have to say this writing job is hard work – food, drink, good company – in sunny climes – tough, tough, tough.
On the Saturday morning the festival held a street fair in the old town with a small band playing and a number book stalls. We have tied up with a local book shop, called Polly’s, to supply our books and help spread the word about Bloody Scotland’s involvement with the festival.
Our panel followed at midday, in a restaurant called l’Embruix. As with many things in Spain, the pace of life is a little more relaxed than back home and, with ten minutes to our start time, there was no audience to be seen. Then someone opened a minor flood gate and bodies flowed in. With the four of us in full voice (we had to be loud, as there were no microphones) the hour flew by. We read from our books, discussed how we name characters, told our stories and indulged in lightweight digs at each other as often as we could. The audience were great.
After the event we signed some books, chatted with readers and struggled along the street to force ourselves to eat lunch in the late afternoon sun.
The close of the festival was a large affair with the awards for best film, costume, short story and photograph handed out. In addition, there were a few speeches and, seeded throughout the hour and a half, a ‘play’ involving ‘criminals’. The only downside was that the entire thing was conducted in Valenciano and Spanish, which left the Bloody Scotland contingent a little bewildered – although we got name checked twice (Graeme still didn’t get Burnet appended).
Before he left, we managed to grab a word with Mayor Chulvi to thank him for inviting us.
As we said our goodbyes, Vincente, a charming host for the whole weekend, told us, as a word of caution, that there is a local election next May but he’s hopeful of being there to extend an invitation for Bloody Scotland to participate in the 2019 event.
Let’s hope so.