As many bookaholic readers may know I am Scottish and this weekend has seen the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival held in Stirling. For crime writers and readers this is the highlight of the literary year in Scotland. I have, therefore, spent the last two days immersed in all things crime and murder.
I would like to start by thanking two very talented Scottish writers Alex Gray and Lin Anderson for firstly thinking of, and secondly setting up the Bloody Scotland festival. Alex Gray was also ran 'Opening Your Novel', one of the workshops at the Crime Writing Day. I was fortunate to be a delegate and to have her look at, and give advice on, the opening of my novel. As all writers will know, every word counts in your book, but this is particularly important in the opening paragraph. Liam Murray Bell, another Scottish author, hosted a workshop on Point of View and how this can change the tone of your writing and your book. We then had an opportunity to play with points of view and see this in practice.
The whole day was choc full of advice about writing and publishing novels. The main theme that came across in every session was be passionate about what you do rather than trying to follow a trend. Characterisation also cam across loud and clear. Crime writers, and I am sure other writers, should make sure that they know their characters and where they are going throughout a series. Everything else will fall into place once you have done this.
I am now in danger of turning into some sort of Val McDermid groupie, or stalker. I went to hear her three times. She delivered the keynote speech at the Crime Writers Writers Day and a had us hanging on to every word. The advice she gave was second to none but again this theme of passion came over loud and clear. She said "In order to be successful you need to really want to be a writer." No matter what is going on, or when you are able to do it, you must write. She also said "The heart of the book needs to be characters." Later that day I also went to hear her talk about her books. As well as being one of the most talented crime writers today, she is also extremely funny. I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. her new book Cross and Burn is out on the 10th of October but we were fortunate to get advanced copies at the festival. Signed by Val herself of course. The link to the book is on the right hand side of the page if you want to pre-order.
The session with Val McDermid and Stuart MacBride was also side splittingly funny. I felt sorry for the poor chap who was chairing the discussion as he couldn't get a word in edge ways. Still the hour flashed past and came to an end far too quickly. The question still remains as to who would play DI Steel in any movie adaptation of the book. I thought Val McDermid but she assured the audience that this would not be the case. Stuart MacBride did point out the changes in the Scottish Police which were causing problems for Crime Writers. He and I both. I was slightly thrilled and excited to know that Stuart MacBride and I had something in common as authors. I reviewed one of Stuart's books in a previous post. If you missed it here is the link for Close to the Bone
Just in case you feel I am favouring the Scottish authors here, I also went to hear Jo Nesbo speak. This was slightly more serious than the others but still interesting. Did you know he had been a footballer and a rock star before writing books. I didn't, but how interesting is that. He talked about his childhood and the impact of the Second World War on his family. He also talked about his books and in particular The Snowman which is being made into a movie. I got shivers down my spine when he talked about writing the opening of this, and I've read the book. In fact it is sending shivers down my spine now. If you love crime and haven't read this, you need to.
So that brings me to the end of my forty eight hour immersion in crime writing. I am exhausted but I remain bloody but unbowed. Tune in again soon for another rave review from the bookaholic. Until then get off the computer, pick up a book and keep reading.