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Saturday, 26 September 2015

Bloody Scotland Highlights 2015

It's that time of year again. It's time for my annual excursion to Stirling to attend Bloody Scotland. This is Scotland's very own crime writing festival, and it's hard to believe this the fourth year it has been running, and it just keeps getting better and better.

This year was slightly different though, because I took my thirteen year old granddaughter with me, and she had a ball. I have no doubt she enjoyed it because she wants to go again next year.

The other thing that was different was the hotel. The Stirling Highland Hotel was completely booked, so we checked into the Golden Lion. It was an older hotel, but the service and accommodation were top class, although the lift was deadly slow. On the other hand, we didn’t have to climb the hill to get to the hotel. I swear that hill up to the Stirling Highland Hotel gets steeper every year.

Because Amy was coming with me to Bloody Scotland, I had to wait until she finished school for the day, so we weren’t able to get to Stirling in time for the first event which was a shame because it meant we missed Val McDermid and Peter May in conversation. However, we were in time for Whose Crime is it Anyway, three top crime authors improvising a crime story on stage from clues and prompts from comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli, the audience, a spinning wheel, and phrases from a copy of Katie Price's (Jordan) autobiography. The authors, Caro Ramsay, Christopher Brookmyre, and Kevin Wignall, took up the challenge with gusto each one contributing and twisting the plot in turns. But just as they were getting into their stride Hardeep threw them a curveball from one of the prompts. Needless to say as the story developed it became more and more outrageous, and the writers more and more manic. It was a hilarious event and I'm sure the laughter of the audience must have been heard all over Stirling. This was a fantastic start to a great weekend.

The first event on Saturday morning was Forensics with Val McDermid and Lin Anderson. I had been looking forward to this, and it didn’t disappoint. They started the event off with the thing that most crime writers know, that when writing stories forensics is only a tool and that it is the character who creates suspense, But then they branched off into the rise of technology, and how this has impacted on storytelling. The discussion ranged over a wide-ranging variety of topics such as – computer science, maggots, blood spatter DNA, toxicology, soil forensics, and so on.

Some interesting facts came to light during the discussion. For example, did you know that flies can smell blood from a kilometre away, and even if they can’t get to them they will lay their eggs, even through zips if necessary? As for blood spatter, pigs are used to test this because their blood splatters just like human blood. The most interesting thing I heard about DNA was in relation to maggots. Apparently maggots tear flesh, and you can get fragments of DNA from between their tiny teeth. I’ll pause for a shudder here. Oh, and before I forget, there is a bone in your ear which can be analysed to reveal where your mother was living when she was pregnant with you. All very fascinating stuff.

Keeping up with forensic details is a massive task because science is constantly changing, therefore it is up to the writer to make things sound authentic. And a word of warning from Val – it’s the things you think you know that trip you up.

We attended other panels and events, but those two were the highlights as far as I am concerned. Although this year, because I had my granddaughter with me, I actually went to the football match – English authors versus Scottish authors (I’m not a football fan). It was hilarious and I found myself shouting, along with everyone else, when a goal was scored. And it resulted in a five all draw (I think). I believe that last year the Scottish authors won by fourteen goals to one.

All in all we had a great weekend, and arrived home on Sunday night absolutely knackered.

Chris Longmuir


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Alison Gray said...

What a fabulous granny - Amy is so lucky. It was nice to see you there although just in passing. And this is a great write-up. Those maggots and their teeth - omg!

Chris Longmuir said...

I know, I still shudder at the thought.