Bloody Scotland 2020 is virtual and free for all

Bloody Scotland is going virtual this year and you’re all invited to book in for a series of free events this coming weekend.

Criminal Mastermind...Ian Rankin will be taking centre stage as part of a double act on Saturday night. (Pic: Hamish Brown)

It has taken a monumental effort to organise the festival’s ninth staging, with the support of funders and sponsors – without whom it wouldn’t have been possible.

But Bob McDevitt, festival director, believes it will still be a blockbuster!

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He said: “What began with disappointment and seemingly endless challenges has turned into a genuine opportunity to try something a bit different this year.

Pairing up....Val McDermid will be joining forces on Sunday to discuss her amazing career and work. (Pic Fraser Rice)

“The festival has a truly epic scale – from our biggest ever panel featuring no less than 27 authors to a session that will bring five continents online together.

“There will also be more spotlights for debut and emerging writers than ever before.

“We all know the festival won’t feel quite the same this year but we have all the makings of a classic Bloody Scotland nonetheless!”

The festival will kick off this Friday and runs until Sunday, with a packed programme of events.

Author Lee Child will pair up with Val McDermid on Sunday night for a Criminal Masterminds event. (Pic: Axel Dupeux)

On Friday, the winner of the McIlvanney Prize for crime novel of the year will be announced at 7pm, before Jeffrey Deaver presents My Life in Crime (Writing) from 8pm to 9pm.

On Saturday, highlights include two of the UK’s leading crime writers joining forces to talk about their careers and books.

Ann Cleeves and Peter May will take centre stage online from 1pm to 1.55pm.

Steve Cavanagh, Simon Mayo and Adrian McKinty will share their secrets from 2pm to 2.55pm, followed by Five Continents of Crime featuring Lin Anderson, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Attica Locke, Shamini Flint and J.P. Pomare from 3pm.

Sharing the stage...with Ian Rankin on Saturday night is another crime writing mastermind, Lawrence Block. IPic: Mary Reagan)

Two giants of crime fiction, Lawrence Block and Ian Rankin, will team up for Criminal Masterminds from 6pm to 7.05pm.

And the day will close with Crime at the Coo Online. A firm festival favourite, it normally has just 40 public tickets which disappear in minutes.

However, this year’s virtual festival will allow the madness, mayhem and musical majesty to be seen by many, many more.

Among the highlights on Sunday is The Never-Ending Panel: A Bloody Tour of Bloody Scotland from 11am to 3pm.

Featuring 27 authors, the rough idea is that four or five authors will be chatting on your screen then one will drop off, a new one will appear, and the conversation will continue.

Desert Island Crooks featuring Chris Brookmyre, Ruth Ware, Harriet Tyce and Liz Nugent will be online from 3pm to 4pm.

And, in another not to be missed Criminal Masterminds session, Lee Child and Val McDermid will join forces at 7pm.

All will be streamed live on bloodyscotland.com, where the full schedule is also available.

Free tickets for all events can be booked now on Eventbrite.

* Going online means more people across Scotland will be able to enjoy the festival for the first time, for free, this year.

However, it is hoped those who enjoy the event will make a donation for the tenth anniversary staging next year at bloodyscotland.com/donate or by texting BLOODY plus the number of the amount you’d like to give (up to £20) to 70490.