I don’t often have guest posts so I’m very excited to welcome debut novelist Heleen Kist to my blog to tell us all about her experience at Bloody Scotland. Heleen had the opportunity to read from her new book, In Servitude, at one of the Spotlight sessions before the panels took place.
A dissection of Bloody Scotland in 10 body parts
The scene has cleared and the fingerprint dust has settled. The banners obstructing Stirling’s historic facades have been packed away like forensic tents, and as the lingering buzz of congratulatory tweets dissipates into the ether, I perform a post mortem on my first Bloody Scotland experience.
The biggest leg up
Bloody Scotland’s support for new authors is unparalleled: 13 lucky ‘Crime in the Spotlight’ authors (including me!) read from their debuts in front of hundreds of readers, and the Pitch Perfect participants endured a harrowing three minutes with an industry panel – congrats to C.O. Vollmer for his win!
A nose for prose
Graeme Macrae Burnet accused us of all being voyeurs in Friday’s Crime Writing Masterclass, then pursed his lips around some of his favourite writing. A.K. Benedict handed out scents to sniff to awaken the imagination and encourage our usage of all five senses.
The cadaver of a human
Should we curtail violence against women in our novels? The debate rages on – is it OK to murder men, then?—but one thing is clear: the age of objectified dead bodies is over and writers, like Helen Fields, increasingly ensure that the victim is known as a human first.
It was difficult to keep events from running over given the intense enthusiasm from audience members waving their fingers in the air for an opportunity to ask questions to their favourite authors, and the authors’ equal enthusiasm in answering them.
A healthy diaphragm
We always talk about the importance of an author’s voice. But Friday night’s gig by the Fun Loving Crime Writers proved that goes way beyond words on a page. Mark Billingham’s rendition of Psycho had us all reaching for our Mamas.
The Face behind the mask
Would you believe Val McDermid admitted she still suffers from Impostor Syndrome? Yes, Val, a.k.a. ‘queen of Crime’. What hope is there for the rest of us? The authors’ honesty and openness on panels let us peer into their psyche – perhaps nowhere more than with Lin Anderson and Craig Robertson on the couch with psychologist Kathy Charles.
Some sharp tongues
While the festival may feel like a huge love-in, and despite some events taking place in a church, panellists didn’t shy away from debate. Dame Denise Mina and Paul Cleave gave us a tense moment on the appropriateness of writing about True Crime. The Time’s Up panel showcased a range of views expertly.
A ‘quaking’ beard
The McIlvanney Prize for crime fictions was awarded to Liam McIlvanney for ‘The Quaker’, and he seemed as shaken as the lovely Stirling Gin cocktails with which we toasted his good fortune.
A horse’s ass
Who got the smelly end of the pantomime horse in ‘Murder at the Knickerage’?
As authors we’re good at keeping secrets…
A giant heart
My heart now aches for next September.
I’d always heard the crime writing community was welcoming, and I’m delighted to now be able to vouch for this big-hearted group of people, which includes the readers and the bloggers. I think I surprised Gordon Brown with my adrenaline-fuelled hug as I rushed off stage, but I welcomed the hug from (crime genre and football) cheerleader extraordinaire Karen Sullivan.
Thank you so much Heleen! Bloody Scotland looks like a fabulous festival and I hope I can get there one day.
Heleen’s debut novel is In Servitude and it was published in August 2018.
Do you owe your family your life?
When Grace McBride’s beloved sister Glory dies in a car crash, her carefully planned life spirals out of control. She discovers Glory had been drawn into illegal activities at odds with her seemingly charmed existence. What’s worse, Grace finds herself an unwitting accomplice now forced to take over her sister’s shady dealings.
Determined to keep her fingers clean and redeem her sister’s reputation, Grace plots to extricate herself–and all those Glory held dear–from the clutches of Glasgow’s criminal underworld. But her moral certitude is challenged when familial pressure mounts and Glory’s past intentions remain unclear. Grace grows convinced Glory’s death was no accident, even if no-one will listen…
Seeking justice, she finds betrayal.
Click here to find out more about Heleen and buy the book.
Heleen Kist is a Dutch quintilingual globetrotting career woman who fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about its (sometimes scary) people from her garden office in Glasgow. Heleen is a recognised expert in small business finance, which came in handy for the accounting skulduggery depicted in her debut novel ‘In Servitude’.