Bloody Scotland 2016 – My Top 5 Moments


I’m sitting in my dressing gown on the Monday morning. My head is mince and my body is telling me that I’m not 21.

Three days and two nights of festivalling have done for me. But what a weekend. This is year 5 of Bloody Scotland and attendance is up. The feedback I received over the weekend was brilliant. So I thought I’d try and detail my top 5 highlights (although it could easily be a top 20).

Number 5: I don’t really want to pull out any one session as being better than the others but I have to give a big thumbs up to Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyres’ Friday night slot. They rocked the place and, according to Chris only four people walked out  – oh and one person fainted (don’t worry the casualty is fine).

‘Chris and Mark  – A quiet night was had by all.’

Number 4: My own panel – chaired by the wonderful Catriona McPherson, I was subjected to a gentle, but probing, examination of my knowledge of all things America along with Mason Cross and Steve Cavanagh (because all three of us set our novels in the U.S.). Mason won Catriona’s pop quiz. Steve insulted my surname and Catriona won us all over from minute one by bringing coffee.

‘Me, Steve, Mason and Catriona – I forgot to take a photo of my own panel in action – go figure.’

Number 3: Crime at the Coo – the alternative event down at the local pub (now in its second year) was a runaway success. The authors were allowed to cut loose and entertain us in any way they fancied. Val McDermid and Doug Johnstone rocked the place with 500 miles. Bob McDevit and his friend Tommy did a Full Monty on us (but didn’t strip), Alex Gray and Lin Anderson sang a few Scottish songs, the Slice Girls heated the place up no end and… – well there were just so many ‘ands’.

‘Slice Girls in full flow at the Curly Coo.’

Number 2: Crime in the Spotlight – I spent the weekend with what I called my ‘kids’. 12 new authors who each had an opportunity to open for one of the main sessions. They all read a short passage from their new book. Not easy as , for many, this was the first time in front of such a large audience. I need to name check them all because they were all simply fantastic. So in order – Stephen Watt, Shelley Day, Daniel Pembrey, Amanda Fleet, Eva Holland, Les Wood, Tom Ogden Keenan, Michael Grothaus, Jackie Baldwin, Sandra Ireland, Liz Mistry and Lesley Kelly. Thanks to them all.

‘Some of the ‘Spotlighters’ – pre their slots – spot the nervous smiles.’

Number 1 – truthfully I thought Crime in the Spotlight would be number 1 – but then along came Alanna Knights’ play – ‘The Horrific Hotel Slaying’. Stuart MacBride played Inspector Faro, Theresa Talbot was Pearl Stark, Amir Mukherjee played Paul Vane, Marsali Taylor was Isobel Vane and I played P C Baillie. Now let’s put a little perspective on this. Our rehearsal was a quick meeting just before the play. The ballroom was sold out. And we were all looking at the audience thinking – ‘Are you all expecting a professional show?’ But what a show. We had a ball. Everyone of my fellow actors (first and last time I’ll probably use those words) were superb. Theresa’s Russian/French accent, Abir’s discovery half way in that he was supposed to be Scottish, Marcelia Oscar winning solilioqhy and Stuarts;’ show stealing leading part – were all magic moments in an evening of magic moments. I had to leave straight after the play to introduce the next Crime in the Spotlight author and missed the standing ovation.

‘Myself and fellow thespians in full flow.’

And if you want proof I enjoyed the play (and the weekend) – well this photo says it all.

Roll on 2017.