OSLO 20131101 Portrait of author Ben McPherson downtown Oslo, Norway. Photo byline: nyebilder.no
One of the events I’m really looking forward to at Bloody Scotland is the Saturday 10.30am panel with Eva Dolan, Mari Hannah and Ben McPherson. Having seen each of these dynamic writers in action before, I’m sure this is going to be a lively and entertaining debate. So, in advance of the festival, I thought I’d pop them a few questions, you know, to get them warmed up …
Firstly, for those new to your work, can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel?
EVA: After You Die is the third in the Zigic and Ferreira series and follows the investigation into the suspicious death of a young right-to-die activist and the murder of her mother, in an idyllic commuter village a long way away from the team’s usual stamping ground. It was quite an emotional book to write as it covers the complicated and contentious issue of right to die, the demands of being a carer and the way a family copes in the aftermath of a terrible accident.
BEN: A Line of Blood is my first novel. It’s about a father and his eleven-year-old son who discover a corpse in the house next door. The father fails to stop his son from seeing the dead man, and at first he thinks that’s his biggest problem, but then his marriage begins to unravel, and he realises his wife knew the dead man. The murder exposes fault lines in the marriage and confronts the family with a past that none of them can escape. I’m deep into my second novel at the moment. Again it’s about a family, and again something terrible happens to that family, but this time they’ve done nothing to deserve it. They have to choose between justice and revenge…
MARI: I’m best known for my Kate Daniels series but my latest book is a standalone. THE SILENT ROOM is conspiracy thriller introducing Special Branch DS Matthew Ryan who I am a little bit in love with. The opener sees his disgraced boss, DI Jack Fenwick, sprung from a prison van. Professional Standards officer, Eloise O’Neil investigates. Under suspicion of aiding the audacious escape, Ryan is suspended, warned not to interfere. Convinced of Jack’s innocence, he works off-book with Grace Ellis (ex-DCI) & Frank Newman (ex-MI5) to find him. I had such a lot of fun writing this book. Fear not if you are a Kate Daniels groupie. She’s back in GALLOWS DROP in November.
You’re on stage at 10.30 – 11.30am on Saturday 10th at Bloody Scotland – what can the audience expect?
EVA: At half past ten in the morning? Three bright-eyed and bushy-tailed crime writers who definitely didn’t stay up all night in the hotel bar and then quickly freshened up to go straight on stage. I think it will be a pretty lively panel, Mari Hannah is a marvellous writer and lovely lady and Ben McPherson’s book starts with a dead guy with an erection, so he’s obviously not shy!
BEN: I’m on with Mari Hannah an Eva Dolan, so I think the audience can expect to be entertained! I also hope we’ll have something to say about the big questions that crime books raise: What makes a murderer? How should people react when terrible things happen? And for me the two most important questions: Why do good people do bad things? And what does it take for a bad person to do the right thing? But the pleasure in being on a panel is that you never know exactly which way the conversation is going to go. The audience can lead you in unexpected directions…
MARI: There will be blood! Ben, Eva and I have written very different books. The discussion will no doubt reflect this. We’ve all met before and I’m looking forward to taking the stage in such brilliant company. From a personal point of view, I’m hoping to meet some passionate readers and have a few laughs.
Bloody Scotland is one of my favourite crime fiction festivals. If you’ve been before, what makes it great for you? And, if you haven’t, what are you most looking forward to?
EVA: I love Bloody Scotland and am delighted to be back again this year as it really is the highlight of the crime calendar. The programme is always a good blend of big names and newcomers and the organisers have a knack of putting the right people together on stage so the panels are generally much sparkier and funnier than at some more, um…staid festivals. I’m marking up Chris Brookmyre and Stuart Neville in conversation, Into the Dark with Malcolm Mackay, James Oswald and Craig Robertson looks very good too and (Not) Born in the USA on Sunday afternoon is bound to be fascinating and fiery. Away from the purely bookish things I’m looking forward to catching My Darling Clementine and Mark Billingham’s The Other Half show, which I’ve heard is brilliant. Then the late night cabaret at Crime at the Coo straight after. And, of course, the Scotland v England football match, where the fittest authors available – and some who probably aren’t – show off their silky skills.
BEN: I was born in Glasgow and grew up in Edinburgh, so it’s great to becoming home to Scotland. I’ve heard such good things about Bloody Scotland. I’m most looking forward to seeing friends and colleagues, and just talking! Writing is lonely, especially if you live away from your home country, so festivals give you the chance to see people you would otherwise only know from Facebook. And the crime fiction community — writers, readers and bloggers — is very supportive. It makes you feel part of something bigger.
MARI: Living in rural Northumberland – no that far from Scottish border – I was delighted to learn that Scotland was planning its very own International Crime Festival back in 2012. So, like a true Border Reiver, my clan and I hopped over Hadrian’s Wall to see what all the fuss was about. Any excuse for a trip to Stirling. Right from the off, I knew that Bloody Scotland was a wee bit special. Over and above the quality crime writers on the programme – everyone knows that Scotland has produced some of the finest in the genre – what I like most about the festival is the relaxed atmosphere and how much fun the fringe events are. Crime in the Coo is a sell-out, must see event. Please someone drop out so I can get a ticket! And then there’s the grudge footy match. C’mon England!
And, lastly, do you have any pre-panel routines, green room riders, or quirky foibles, that you’ll have to do before you go on stage?
EVA: I’m quite relaxed about events generally and the crowd at Bloody Scotland tends to be very welcoming, which is a big help. So it’s a quick nervous wee and check my dress isn’t tucked into my knickers and I’m good to go!
BEN: Coffee. Far too much coffee.
MARI: Other than checking that I haven’t split the waistband of my pants before I’m called for a sound check – yes, that really did happen – I don’t think so. I suppose it very much depends on my fellow panelists. If Eva’s up for a rum beforehand, it would be churlish to expect her to drink alone. I’m sure Ben and I could manage a wee dram of something to take the edge off the nerves. J
Brilliant! And if you want someone to join you for a quick dram let me know!
Huge thanks to the terrific EVA DOLAN, BEN MCPHERSON, and MARI HANNAH for chatting with me in the run up to the fabulous BLOODY SCOTLAND CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL.
As you can tell, their panel is going to be a cracker. It’s not too late to get yourself a ticket. Hop over to the BLOODY SCOTLAND website and grab one quick at www.bloodyscotland.com
To find out more about EVA DOLAN follow her on Twitter @eva_dolan and AFTER YOU DIE is out now, you can buy it here
To find out more about BEN MCPHERSON follow him on Twitter @TheBenMcPherson and A LINE OF BLOOD is out now, you can buy it here
To find out more about MARI HANNAH follow her on Twitter @mariwriter and THE SILENT ROOM is out now, you can buy it here
THE BLOODY SCOTLAND CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL is held in Stirling from the 9th – 11th September 2016. It’s a fantastic programme. Find out more at their website here and be sure to follow them on Twitter @BloodyScotland to stay up-to-date with all their news