Monday, 27 April 2015

Focus on Crime Writing


Today on the blog we are going to be focussing on the Cromarty Crime and Thriller Weekend. For those Bookaholics who don't know about this weekend, it happens every April and is masterminded by Ian Rankin. As always this was a fabulous weekend, with great authors, who are also genuinely nice and funny in the extreme. Apart from meeting, and chatting to, the authors, the talks that they give are a highlight of the weekend. Each author brought their own unique perspective and I found them fascinating. Below is an overview of each of the talks.

The weekend started with a fancy dress, murder mystery dinner party. This had a 1945 theme, hence my wearing an army uniform. I failed to win the prize yet again. However, I was in good company, as neither did Ian Rankin. 

Saturday and Sunday were given over to talks by the authors. 

Louise Welsh talked about Writing the End of The World. This focused on her trilogy the first book of which is A Lovely Way to Burn. Denise read from this and had me hooked from the first page. This book shows how a well written opening can not only hook a reader, but grab then by the throat and pull them in. The second book is called Death is a Welcome Guest, but here's the kicker. It's not released until June. I will be the first person in the queue to buy it. After hearing Louise speak I will be looking very carefully at the opening of my crime novels in the future. 

Ian Rankin talked about using the real world in your books. The real world changes, and writers have to be aware of this. Whilst most readers do not care about minutiae, it is important to be correct where possible. It is also important to know about changes and reflect these in books, where possible. The example given was that of the change to policing in Scotland. They now come under one big umbrella as Scottish Police. 

Christopher Brookmyre focussed on Characterisation and highlighted this through the character of Jack Parlabane. As writers it is important to know what happens to characters and how they change. The real world will change characters, but more importantly our impression of characters. Chris, thinks that Jack Parlabane becomes more interesting as real life changes. 

Denise Mina said that in crime writing the reader is being told a story which will make some sort of sense. Crime writing comes from an oral tradition, therefore crime writers should listen to people who tell stories. She also quoted Graham Greene in that writers always need to remember the question in the readers mind. She also talked about writing adult comics and her experience of this. 

All the writers are fascinating and funny. I laughed for the whole weekend, and had so much fun. One thing they all have in common is that, whilst they all love being writers, and are thankful they can do this, they all wonder when it will come to an end. This can be summed up in something Denise Mina quoted. 

Teach a man to read an he'll read for a day. Teach a man to write and he'll experience a lifetime of paralysing self doubt. 

Another thing that these writers have in common, is that they all write outstanding crime books. You can find out more by clicking the link to their Amazon author page below.


  1. Sounds like you had an amazing time, Wendy!

    1. I did Aggie. Great chatting to the writers

  2. Sounds to have been really interesting. Thanks for the overview, Wendy.

  3. A photo with the great Ian R. I have only ever got as far as tripping over his big feet at the Edinburgh Book Fest! Sounds like a well-worth-it weekend. Love Denise Mina's quote. It's good to know that even well known authors worry.

    1. He's a really nice bloke Fran. Funny and friendly