Had a great day in Stirling yesterday – my blogging stopped at lunchtime as my afternoon schedule was pretty full-on.  I’ll give my honest thoughts here of the rest of the day – it had some logistical problems that they should be able to sort out for next year, but it’s given me the hunger to go to these things.
After my chilli beef nachos in Beanscene (I could have sworn that chain was extinct), I headed to the debate on whether a crime novel could win the Man Booker prize.  Ian Rankin and Peter James were arguing for it but unfortunately managed to change my mind – the point that I took from it was that the Booker Prize is to give some “worthy” literary novelists a wad of cash to live off.  I’ve delved into pwoper literature – you won’t find a bigger fan of Ian McEwan than me – but I think it would devalue crime fiction – with its rough edges, tight plots, real world issues and, let’s be honest, high sales – to win or be considered for the Booker prize.
Shortly after, Stuart MacBride and Christopher Brookmyre (both inspirations to me) headed off against people who dealt with murder as a day job, a Central Division DI and a Forensic Scientist.  It was both incredibly entertaining (Brookmyre corpsing as he read the infamous opening to QUITE UGLY ONE MORNING, with the jobby on the mantelpiece) and harrowing (the photograph of an almost severed arm in a real murder case in Stirling).  I took down eight A4 pages of notes during that session.
Finally, I went to see David Wilson and Jean McLennan give a talk on true crime.  Jean is, strangely enough, the sister of my mother’s best friend and someone I’ve talked at great length about the highs and lows of writing.  The session was stimulating – Wilson was a former prison governor turned academic, Jean is a retired lawyer who is an Associate Sherriff in Wick.  I’m going to read Jean’s BLOOD IN THE GLENS next (Amazon link) and track down some of David’s work.
The last two sessions were the biggest challenges to me.   My writing has so far tended to focus less on the forensics of an investigation, though it’s for valid reasons – both cases are personal and need to focus on that side of things.  I do want to delve into that side of things and DYED IN THE WOOL will feature that more prominently, though tightly integrated into what I write.
Overall, a lot to think about and a tremendous inspiration.  Will definitely be back next year.
— Ed
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