A month or so ago my publisher sent me a link to a new initiative from the organisers of the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival in Stirling. Called “Crime in the Spotlight” it is designed to give emerging authors an opportunity to shine by reading from their books at one of the main festival events. The application process was online and involved uploading a biography, an excerpt of writing and a personal statement about why you think you should be given the opportunity.
I knew the competition was going to be really tough and honestly believing I didn’t stand a chance I entered anyway, thinking that at least there would be people reading my application and in doing so, becoming even a little bit aware of who I am and the book I have written.
I’m not strictly speaking a ‘crime writer’ but TBTNF deals with the impact and consequences of crime, both on its victims and its perpetrators.
I was really thrilled then when I received an email from Bloody Scotland General Director Dom Hastings saying that the spotlight would be on me! Wow. What an amazing opportunity. Not only did I “win” the chance to read from my book at one of the headline acts (I got to choose which one) my book was also going to be on sale at the festival bookshop. Hurrah!
Today was the day of my “appearance” and I turned up to meet author, and Bloody Scotland committee member, Gordon Brown for rehearsals at 10am. Prior to this I made my way to the festival office to collect my author accreditation (hark at me all gallus cos ah’ve got a wee pass wae my name oan it!) and wait for him in the green room. We had a wee chat with fellow spotlighter Graeme Macrae Burnet and headed over to the Albert Hall for rehearsals and a wee walk through the process.
I opted to appear at the Dear Mean Place event which was a discussion on the use of Glasgow and its people as a backdrop for great crime writing. Chairing the event was the fab writer Michael Malone (who was very lovely to spend so much time talking to me in the green room when I suspected he would much rather have used the time to prepare for his event. Thank you Michael!) and featuring in the session were Lin Anderson and Craig Robertson, both incredibly brilliant writers with considerable success and experience.
They were all fabulous, friendly and considerate and they treated me as if I was one of the writing team which was lovely. I can’t thank them all enough for allowing me to gatecrash their party, it couldn’t have happened without the support of the writers and organisers of the festival.
Backstage I asked them all for some final words of advice. Lin and Alex said smile and enjoy the experience and Craig said, you’ll be totally fine, just go for it.
Alex Gray (yes Alex Gray!!) introduced the event, and me(!), and off I went. I had the opportunity to say a bit about myself and my book and then I had the chance to read from it. Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Whilst writing is an intimate experience during its actual process, ultimately we do it for an audience and readers so I loved the chance to read from The Birds That Never Flew.
At the end of my period in the spotlight I received a lovely, warm, round of applause and then joined the audience to listen to the session, which was funny, engaging and enriching.
After the event I went to the festival book shop where Lin and Craig were signing and I had the joy of not only seeing my books sell really quickly, but also to be asked several times for them to be signed! Amazing. People that I spoke to said they really enjoyed my reading and that it had made them so interested that they wanted to buy my book!
Brilliant! If you are one of those lovely people thank you so much and thank you too to Bloody Scotland for the brilliant, bloody bloody brilliant idea to carve out opportunities for new writers.
I want to do it all again!