Bloody Scotland in Dundee

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I was glad to have the chance to catch the Bloody Scotland tour in the Dundee Library last night. As a part of the Dundee Festival of Libraries and Book Week Scotland, it was a great kick off of the week of events. I even made it to the book swap flashmob (though a bit late so more flash than mob) where I picked up a copy of the Treasures anthology and swapped a review book for a signed copy of Jeff Noon’s Automated Alice which looks fun.

I have to say any event that starts off with offering folks a cuppa before they’ve even sat down gets high marks immediately. 🙂

Featured writers included Gordon Brown, Chris Longmuir and Will Jordan, all of whom read a little then answered a few questions. Brown was up first. One of the organisers for the fest, he spoke of the perils of retaining his name, relating an episode where a drunken woman mistook him for the politician and castigated him for selling books when he ought to be sorting out the economy. Having the mistake pointed out, however, she was apologetic and bought three books.

Longmuir read from her Dundee-set novel Missing Believed Dead and spoke about how her years as a social worker helped in her “overnight” success of winning the Dundee prize after years of work. Like many crime writers she bemoaned the administrative changes in the polis and also noted that Dundee keeps changing so fast that it’s hard to set stories in specific places.

Will Jordan admitted it was his first time actually doing a reading but he seemed entirely at ease as he read from his thriller Redemption. He later admitted to writing a lot of his first book while at work, after discovering the super-hard working admin he viewed with awe was actually writing romances (three a year). I suspect during NaNoWriMo the numbers of folks doing that increases.

As usual Waterstones was there to sell their books to the audience. Friday has more crime fiction when James Oswald comes to town. There are all kinds of events this week at the library and at the DCA.

[Pssst, there’s still time to win the Michael Crichton/John Lange books, too.]
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Chris Brookmyre at Dundee Library

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Dundee’s central library hosted “An Evening with Chris Brookmyre” in support of his new novel Flesh Wounds. I ran into Russel D. McLean before the event, part of the Waterstone’s pop up bookstore on hand. He said the good thing about Brookmyre was that he could just hand things over to him and know he’d be entertaining. It was certainly true.

Brookmyre had the crowd laughing at once, even before he kicked off a reading of his one star reviews on Amazon. Curious about how the Scottish ambiance of the stories was getting across to American readers, he sifted through the .com reviews and found people appalled at the language, although more than the “British” nature of it, it was the vocabulary — one reader slammed the book down after the first word (“Jesus”) and thus was spared the second (“fuck”); another immediately removed it from his Kindle as if it would somehow infect the rest of the library.

Brookmyre imagined if genre or writer fans had their own chants like football fans, offering his ideas of what Ian Rankin’s fans chants would be (arrogant and dismissive of other writers’ fans) or Val McDermid’s — or how the scariest chants would be from Patricia Cornwell’s fans (impossible to reproduce but spot on).

He read from the opening chapter — judiciously editing out bits so you couldn’t just skip the first chapter, he explained. It had the audience riveted, which as Brookmyre pointed out was impossible to tell from having the audience bored. Laughter at least suggested a good response; he mentioned Alexei Sayles commenting that book event crowds were so much more friendly and encouraging than comedy crowds.

The Q&A covered a broad swath of topics, from writing (he writes only one book at a time) and editing (good to hear a shout out for the importance of editors and publishers in shaping your career) to Scottish independence (he seemed cagey at first as if reluctant to tip his hand “other people get the privacy of a voting booth” but said he supported it) and even his thoughts on the new Doctor (he doesn’t really watch it, but thinks Capaldi is always good).

A busy man, Brookmyre had just flown up to Dundee from Brighton where he was testing out the video game based on the Bedlam books; the BBC is developing Where the Bodies are Buried for a television series. Good stuff.