Stuart MacBride and Susan Calman hold a discussion at Granite Noir in the Aberdeen Music Hall
Stuart MacBride and Susan Calman hold a discussion at Granite Noir in the Aberdeen Music Hall

Granite Noir’s biggest crime writing festival to date

Aberdeen’s crime writing festival Granite Noir was held at the weekend – with organisers hailing it the biggest and best since its launch in 2017.

Highlights of the weekend included an evening with Aberdeen’s own Stuart MacBride and his biggest fan comedian Susan Calman in the newly renovated Music Hall, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon chairing an author discussion with Abir Mukherjee, and a packed audience for Sophie Hannah who discussed bringing Agatha Christie favourite Hercule Poirot back to life.

In a first for Granite Noir, there was a live link up with Murder in the Mountains festival in Crested Butte, Colorado to debate across both sides of the Atlantic the influence of place in crime fiction and crime fiction festivals.

The festival this year featured a number of high profile chairs including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Susan Calman, James Naughtie, Edi Stark and Fiona Stalker, all avid crime fictions fans.

More than 25 authors descended on the city from across the globe, and International visitors included Iceland’s Queen of Crime Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Jorn Lier Horst and Alex Dahl.

Granite Noir has established a reputation for supporting fresh talent and discovering the next best thing, and this year’s first published novelists included Claire Askew, Harriet Tyce and Ruth Mancini.

Last year Granite Noir author Stuart Turton’s first novel The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle went on to win the Costa First Novel Award 2018.

Stuart MacBride and Susan Calman hold a discussion at Granite Noir in the Aberdeen Music Hall

Produced by Aberdeen Performing Arts on behalf of Aberdeen City Libraries, Aberdeen City and Shire Archives and Belmont Filmhouse, and funded by Aberdeen City Council, crime fiction fans were treated to a wide array of free and ticketed events over three days, which included a Crime and Punishment Walk, ‘Murder at the Movies’ escape rooms, and a Poisoned High tea, in which Dr Kathryn Harkup treated diners to a talk on literary Grande Dame Agatha Christie’s favourite poisons, and where she found her inspiration.

Designed for readers and writers alike, events included In Conversation sessions, Granite Noir workshops and masterclasses, film screenings and Young Criminals family events. ‘Locals in the Limelight’ ran alongside the festival, offering aspiring local writers to share the stage with top crime fiction authors.

Aberdeen Performing Arts chief executive, Jane Spiers, said: ‘It’s been a weekend to remember showcasing the city at its best on a global stage with writers and readers descending on Aberdeen for the festival from far and wide. We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback from writers, audiences and local businesses. Granite Noir has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2017, and it was wonderful to see so many people coming out to support the festival and get involved.’

This year the festival was supported by Granite North gin and Mackie’s who created a very special Granite Noir ice cream.

Ticket sales were up by 50% on the 2018 event, and an exhibition of 19 th century mugshots also captured imaginations, with more than 1,500 flocking to view the display.