SHE is better known for her novels but best-selling author Val McDermid will be entertaining fiction fans by singing at this year’s Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival.

McDermid, who is to sing The Twa Corbies, will be just one of the authors performing musical numbers at a ceilidh-type event during the festival.

There will also be a performance from the newly formed Slice Girls led by American author Alexandra Sokoloff, while Scottish novelist Doug Johnstone will be playing guitar and singing.

Other performers include Steve Cavanagh, Luca Veste, Mason Cross and Michael J Malone.

“Ian Rankin will be with us too but he’s not declared his hand as to whether he’ll be entertaining us,” said author Craig Robertson, who will compere the event. “All the authors at the festival are invited so I’m certain there will be other major names in attendance. There will be readings, songs, short stories and poetry from some of the best-known crime writers.

He added: “It will be all quite informal. I’m quite open to authors deciding on the night that they’d like to get up and do something so it will be flexible and open to change.”

The event is at the Curly Coo on the Saturday evening of the festival which this year takes place from September 11-13.


THIS year’s festival should be a more straightforward affair than last year which opened the day after the Independence Referendum.

It was a tricky weekend, especially since the Albert Hall, their major venue, was being used for the count and therefore wasn’t available for the opening night.

“When we realised the weekends would clash, we considered moving but then decided that if the world was looking to Scotland at that time, we would make good use of the publicity,” said festival co-founder Lin Anderson. “In fact we had a Russian camera crew there for the entire weekend. They also filmed the Scotland-England crime writers’ football match, which Scotland won 13-1.”

To mark the occasion, no matter the outcome, they held the Sunday Herald Referendum debate featuring William McIlvanney, Tom Devine, Karine Polwarth and Mona Siddiqui and chaired by Ian Macwhirter, which was a sell-out.

At one point the audience was asked if they felt the BBC had been biased in its coverage and the majority agreed.

“That was my feeling too,” said Anderson. “As a huge former fan of the BBC, I felt very let down, and now look for my news and political coverage elsewhere, such as in the National.”

Anderson believes it is just a matter of time before Scotland becomes independent.

“I think it is a question of when, not if.

“When we have another referendum depends on events but if it had been a Yes vote would we expect to have another referendum so the Nos could win that time? We really need to have 60 per cent in favour for it to be properly settled. That is what we need to be working towards.”


THE crime festival, which famously stems from a chat with fellow crime writer Alex Gray over a few glasses of wine, is now in its fourth year and has become a brand that is recognised internationally.

“We were at Lincoln at a crime-writers’ conference and we were talking about the fact that there were so many great Scottish crime writers at a festival down south,” explained Anderson. “A big percentage of the writers were Scottish and we thought it was ridiculous that people were not coming to us in Scotland. Ian Rankin was the biggest-selling crime writer in the UK at the time, backed up by many strong contenders, yet there was not a festival to reflect this.

“We decided we would try and create something on the model of the Harrogate festival. Alex came up with this fabulous tongue-in-cheek name – Bloody Scotland – so that if someone asked a crime writer where they were going in September they could say ‘Bloody Scotland’.

“We chose Stirling because we did not want it to be in the major cities which already have festivals. It is also historically important and on the Highland line which makes it a good festival venue.”

Then followed an “incredibly hectic” three-and-a-half years of planning before the festival started in 2011.

The effort was worth it as it was popular from the start.

“It has taken off incredibly well so it shows the market was there,” said Anderson. “When we launched it Ian Rankin said that Scandinavia does not have better crime writers but it does have better PR. Bloody Scotland was set up to address that and we now have an international identity as a brand. We get visitors from America and elsewhere in Europe. Deciding to have it in Stirling helps with that as it gives people an opportunity to see a bit more of Scotland.”

She added: “I think Bloody Scotland is now on the world map. Nowhere else are there better crime writers and now we have the PR to promote them.”

At this year’s festival she will be talking forensics with Val McDermid, who famously came out in support of a Yes vote and moved back to Scotland prior to the referendum. Anderson’s The Paths of the Dead is in this year’s shortlist for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year to be announced at the Authors’ Dinner on Saturday 12th and her latest book The Special Dead has just been published. It will be her tenth novel featuring her popular character Dr Rhona MacLeod.

She says she is looking forward to meeting her fans at this year’s Bloody Scotland.“At crime festivals writers and readers mingle and that is why readers love it,” said Anderson.

Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival takes place in Stirling from September 11-13.