Bloody Scotland Preview: INTO THE DARK with Malcolm MacKay, James Oswald & Craig Robertson

 

 

Another of the events I can’t wait to see at Bloody Scotland is the Sunday 11.45am INTO THE DARK panel with Malcolm Mackay, James Oswald and Craig Robertson. These bestselling writers know a thing or two about the dark side of human nature, and I think their panel on the subject will be totally fascinating. So, in advance of the festival, I thought I’d put a few questions to them, to get them warmed up …

Firstly, for those new to your work, can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel?

MALCOLM: For Those Who Know the Ending opens with Martin Sivok tied to a chair in an empty warehouse, bleeding from the head. As the story spools back to reveal the journey that’s led him here we follow two men, Martin and Usman Kassar, coming at organised crime from different directions, risking the wrath of the dangerous Nate Colgan as they test the value and limits of loyalty.

JAMES: The sixth instalment in the ongoing Inspector McLean series, The Damage Done sees Tony McLean with egg on his face when a raid on a suspected brothel goes spectacularly wrong. Expecting to find prostitutes and clients, instead the police interrupt a private swingers party. Investigating how their intelligence could have been so badly wrong, McLean finds alarming similarities with another raid, twenty years earlier, but when he begins to look deeper he opens up a nasty can of worms.

CRAIG: Murderabilia is my seventh novel and the fifth featuring DI Rachel Narey and her partner, photographer Tony Winter. It revolves around the pursuit of serial killer collectibles, something most people won’t have heard of but which is big business online. There are a number of specialist websites selling items related to killers and Rachel gets reluctantly drawn into this world after items go missing from a murder scene. There is often a high price to be paid for murderabilia – as Rachel and Tony find out.

You’re on stage at 11.45am – 12.45pm on Sunday 11th at Bloody Scotland – what can the audience expect?

MALCOLM: Well the event promises to explore the dark side of human nature, which is a slightly worrying thought. In the true spirit of Bloody Scotland I doubt it’ll stay too grim for too long.

JAMES: I’m really not sure. A hangover? The title of the discussion is Into the Dark, so maybe they’ll just turn the lights off? Seriously though, I imagine we will be examining the enduring appeal of tales that delve into the darker side of human nature. Why are we drawn to the worst in people and so fascinated by the horrible things they do? I don’t think it will be for the faint-hearted.

CRAIG: Revelations, insight laughs, shocks. All three of us tend to enjoy delving into the dark side of humanity and it will be fun to explore the psychology of that during the event. I’m keen to know what attracts James and Malcolm to that side of the genre and what it says about them – and me. I’ve appeared with both of them before and know that as well as being terrific writers, they’re fascinating to listen to too.

Bloody Scotland is one of my favourite crime fiction festivals. What makes it great for you? 

MALCOLM: This will be my third Bloody Scotland, and it’s always been a brilliant experience, laid back and friendly, like a gang of old mates taking a weekend to recharge batteries and gain inspiration for future acts of fictional criminality.

JAMES: I’ve been to every Bloody Scotland since it started, so I’m something of an old hand. The panels are always great and informative, but what I most like is meeting up with other writers, chatting with readers and generally relaxing for a weekend. So what makes it great for me? I’d have to say the bar.

CRAIG: Well I’m a bit biased because I’m one of the festival organisers and have been for its five-year existence. I like to think Bloody Scotland is friendly and fun, welcoming and a bit different. We try to think outside the box so events like Crime at the Coo, the crime writers football match and holding a play in Stirling’s Sheriff Court are what makes us what we are. There is also a great opportunity for readers and authors to mingle and we encourage that.

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?

MALCOLM: If turning up slightly late and terribly baffled counts as a routine then I’ve got it down to an art form.

JAMES: Boringly, no. Like most writers, I am something of an introvert. The thought of talking to a crowd of people fills me with sweaty-palmed dread. The reality of it has turned out to be a much better experience though. I spent a few years working as an Agricultural Consultant and that has been good training in public speaking. Farmers are a hard audience to please, especially the ones who’ve only come for the free food and a beer. Talking to people who are interested in crime fiction, or just writing in general, is genuinely one of the best parts of being a published author, and I’ve never really found it necessary to calm my nerves before going on stage. I get to wear my famous pink jacket though. I suppose I would feel naked without it.

CRAIG: For luck, I always read a chapter of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell My Lovely written in the original Spanish then sing the first two verses of the Star Spangled Banner. In the green room, I have to have a bowl of red smarties and small glass of chartreuse. Apart from that, I just go on stage and make stuff up as I go along.

You heard it here folks, be sure to get a ticket for the INTO THE DARK panel for an hour of revelations, laughs and shocks, and perhaps a few red smarties if we can wrestle them away from Craig!

Huge thanks to the terrific MALCOLM MACKAY, JAMES OSWALD, and CRAIG ROBERTSON for chatting with me in the run up to the fabulous BLOODY SCOTLAND CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL.

It’s not too late to get yourself a ticket for the INTO THE DARK panel. Hop over to the BLOODY SCOTLAND website and grab one quick at www.bloodyscotland.com

To find out more about MALCOLM MACKAY follow him on Twitter @malcolm_mackay and FOR THOSE WHO KNOW THE ENDING is out now, you can buy it here

To find out more about JAMES OSWALD follow him on Twitter @SirBenfro and THE DAMAGE DONE is out now, you can buy it here

To find out more about CRAIG ROBERTSON follow him on Twitter @CraigRobertson_ and MURDERABILIA is on the 8th September, you can pre-order 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

AudioBook Addict reviews: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay

audio book cover

audio book cover

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter

Author: Malcolm Mackay

Narrated by: Angus King

Run time: 8 Hrs and 12 mins

Unabridged – released on audiobook 06/06/2013

What the blurb says: “An arresting, gripping novel of dark relationships and even darker moralities: introducing a remarkable new voice in crime fiction.

A 29-year-old man lives alone in his Glasgow flat. The telephone rings; a casual conversation, but behind this a job offer. The clues are there if you know to look for them. He is an expert. A loner. Freelance. Another job is another job, but what if this organisation wants more? A meeting at a club. An offer. A brief. A target: Lewis Winter. It’s hard to kill a man well. People who do it well know this. People who do it badly find out the hard way. The hard way has consequences.”

Ok – full disclosure – when I started this audiobook, I just didn’t like it at all! The style felt like head-hopping and when other reviewers said it was ‘different’ they weren’t kidding. BUT, boy am I glad I stuck with it. This debut novel by Malcolm Mackay follows a young freelance gunman as he is drawn deeper into working for a gangland organisation. The novel is written in a way that zooms out from the actions and dialogue and takes you into the mind and thought processes of the characters – I think, dredging up memories of my MA, that it actually verges on meta-fiction in parts.

Callum is a freelance gunman and is asked by Peter Jameson, the head of an ambitious criminal gang, to kill Lewis Winter; the man’s death is necessary. We follow Callum on the job, see him prepare and watch him interact with the characters that will assist him to complete the job, and those that will hunt him afterwards.

This novel is really well written. Any misgivings that I had in the beginning were only due to the fact that this is a genuinely different type of novel to those I normally read (or listen to). Mackay openly discusses the thought processes of the characters and this draws you into them even more as the story goes on. At a little over 8 hours, the length was good, although, as is often the case, I would have happily listened for longer. Angus King is a solid narrator.

I have already bought the next audiobook in the series, ‘How a Gunman says Goodbye,’ and that alone is testament to just how good this book is.

Highly recommended.

[AudioBook Addict bought his own copy of The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter]

CTG reports from Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival: Day 2

Queue for Jo Nesbo

Queue for Jo Nesbo

Now queuing might normally be viewed as an annoying if not frustrating aspect of festival going, but not at Bloody Scotland. The buzz in the queue for the sold out sessions at the Albert Halls was tremendous, and it was great to strike up conversations with fellow fans of crime fiction and find out what their highlights of the festival had been and which sessions and authors they were looking forward to seeing. In the process I managed to add a few more authors to my ever growing ‘must read’ list.

As for the sessions I attended, the highlights of my day were:

The Fresh Blood panel. Chaired by Michael Malone, the panel of Matt Bendoris, Lisa Ballantyne and Malcolm Mackay talked about their debut novels and their experiences of getting to publication. They talked of the challenges (and need for dogged determination) when juggling home, work and writing, with Matt Bendoris admitting that he wrote his debut (and second novel) on his Blackberry while standing on a packed commuter train en-route (and back) to his day job!

Thrilling Tales and Psychological Twists saw Professor David Wilson in conversation with Zoe Sharp and Julia Crouch. Professor Wilson asked Zoe and Julia to first read excerpts from their books – Julia from her most recent novel Tarnished, and Zoe from her new standalone novel The Blood Whisperer – and then invited the audience to say how the narrative had made them feel. It was fascinating stuff, and so interesting to hear the impact both the writers’ narrative had.

Professor Wilson was keen to learn what had prompted the authors to write crime thrillers and prompted Zoe Sharp speak of her real life experience of receiving death threats when working as a photo journalist. In a rather unconventional departure from the standard interview format he then turned a question to the audience – why do you read the crime genre? An overriding theme from the discussion was that readers enjoy the sense of justice and resolution in crime novels – something that you don’t always get in real life crimes.

So, by the end of these two sessions, I’d added five more books to my reading pile:

The Blood Whisperer by Zoe Sharp

Tarnished by Julia Crouch

The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

Killing with Confidence by Matt Bendoris

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackey

 

I just hoped that there would be enough room in my case for all the books I wanted to buy, especially as there was still one more day to go …

 

[hop on over to www.bloodyscotland.com to check out the early bird offers for Bloody Scotland 2014]

Notes from Harrogate: Part 2

Lee Child interviewed by Sarah Millican

Lee Child interviewed by Sarah Millican

Saturday at Harrogate was again gorgeously sunny. After a fabulous breakfast, I went along (with minimal hangover) to Forensics: Val McDermid in conversation with Sue Black. It was a great session, and especially useful for any budding crime writers. Sue Black demystified the world of forensics with a special focus on identity including DNA sampling and facial reconstruction.

After a quick coffee (my fifth of the day) I went back into the hall for the New Book panel. Expertly chaired by Val McDermid, debut authors Derek B. Miller (Norwegian by Night), Anya Lipska (Where The Devil Can’t Go), Malcolm Mackay (The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter) and Colette McBeth (Precious Thing), discussed their novels, their journey to publication, and what was next for them. From this panel I heard one of my favourite quotes of the festival. It was from Derek B. Miller, who said, “crime writers don’t love crime, they love justice.” Brilliant.

After a quick lunch (sandwiches and crisps on the lawn – no alcohol) I headed to the Library for the C&R Crime party (and a glass of wine!). It was great to catch up with the team from C&R Crime, hear about all the exciting releases they’ve got coming up, and talk to their authors.

By this point it was almost five o’clock, and that meant it was time to get my seat for the Lee Child interview. The hall was packed to bursting, but with my trusty Festival Friend card (which gave the equivalent of ‘speedy boarding’ into the hall) I was able to get a seat three rows from the front. Comedienne Sarah Millican did a superb job with the interview – it was witty, insightful and all round entertaining. The hour-long session went past far too fast, but I was thrilled that I managed to meet Lee Child afterwards (he is my literary hero) and get a photo with him. I was grinning for the rest of the evening.

Anyway, from there it was a mad dash to the License to Thrill dinner. Author David Mark had written a bond themed murder mystery puzzle for the tables to solve during dinner. It was great fun and although the table I was on didn’t win, we had a lot of fun trying.

After a brief rest in the bar (!) it was on to the Late Night Quiz with quizmasters Mark Billingham and Val McDermid. Although the rules clearly stated teams should have six members, we flexed the rules a little and went with seven. It didn’t matter, we reasoned, we were going to lose anyway. But, with plenty of wine (plus the Theakstons beers that we ‘had to’ drink as part of the Name That Beer Round) we discovered that we were not quite as rubbish at the questions as we had thought that we would be. We didn’t win a prize, but we weren’t too far off. So to celebrate we returned to the bar until the early hours.

And then it was Sunday. After a ridiculously late night/early morning I needed a bit of a lie in, so I only made it to one session. But what a great one it was. Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series (which became HBO’s True Blood) and a whole bunch of stand-alone novels and other mystery series’, was interviewed by Paul Blezard. An inspiring and highly entertaining hour.

And then it was over.

As I packed up my bags, loaded the car, and said goodbye to all the fabulous people I’d met over the weekend I knew one thing for sure. I’ll definitely be back next year.