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Audiences flock to seventh Granite Noir crime writing festival

By Alan Beresford

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THE seventh outing of Granite Noir, Aberdeen’s International Crime Writing Festival, has left the organisers delighted with the success of the event.

Scotland's Queen of Crime Val McDermid chats to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Music Hall.
Scotland's Queen of Crime Val McDermid chats to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Music Hall.

It returned with a packed programme of sold-out, live, in person events, workshops and conversations as well as music, film, spoken word and theatre performances.

Highlights included a sold-out audience enjoying a lively conversation between Scotland’s Queen of Crime, Val McDermid and the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Music Hall, Fast Show star Charlie Higson discussing his first adult crime novel in over 20 years at The Lemon Tree and celebrated folk musicians Rachel Newton and Lauren MacColl who entranced their audience with a performance of Heal & Harrow in the atmospheric surroundings of the Kirk of St Nicholas.

Talking about his first crime novel in 20 years is the Fast Show's Charlie Higson.
Talking about his first crime novel in 20 years is the Fast Show's Charlie Higson.

Granite Noir is produced by Aberdeen Performing Arts on behalf of partners Aberdeen City Libraries and Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.

Ben Torrie, Director of Programming and Creative Projects at Aberdeen Performing Arts, said “Granite Noir is a Festival that is rooted in Aberdeen and has become a firm fixture in the annual cultural calendar.

"Not only are we introducing Aberdeen audiences to some of the finest crime fiction, and non-fiction, writers around but each year we create a diverse programme across other disciplines including film, theatre and music, all with a noir twist.

"The festival also supports aspiring writers from in and around the city, offering them an opportunity to read their work through our Locals in the Limelight strand in front of an audience. And that audience is not just from Aberdeen. Granite Noir welcomes visitors from across the UK, Europe and even further afield.”

Events across the Granite Noir programme, including the two shows at His Majesty’s, enjoyed an attendance of almost 11,500, which together with an additional 3000 visits to the Curriculum of Crime exhibition at the Music Hall, brings the total 2023 Granite Noir audience to just under 15,000 making it the most successful Festival so far.

The enthusiastic Aberdeen audience was swelled by visitors from all over Scotland and the UK and as far afield as Switzerland, Germany, France, Poland and the USA making it a truly international event.

Granite Noir welcomed over 60 participants to the festival including Her Honour KC Wendy Joseph who is only the third woman to hold a permanent position at the Old Bailey, Lina Bengtsdotter and Annti Tuomainen, two of Scandinavia’s leading crime writers, and Dr Kathryn Harkup who hosted two sold out events exploring the science behind the gadgets in the James Bond stories (accompanied by cocktails). The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers rocked the Lemon Tree with a riotous night of murderous tunes and Scots Scriever Shane Strachan hosted a gritty, grimy and twisted evening of spoken word performances.

Writers Network explored new voices in crime fiction, and Haunt Publishing introduced an element of horror into proceedings. A number of events were live streamed, allowing audience members who were not able attend the festival in person to join in the fun from their homes.

The Curriculum of Crime, a free exhibition in The Music Hall, shone a light on the darker side of Victorian Aberdeen, through an extraordinary collection of documents and illustrations drawn from the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire archives. The exhibition exposed the lives of young offenders, some as young as eight, and the efforts made by the city to steer them away from a life of crime.

Councillor Martin Greig, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesman said: “Granite Noir has provided another welcome opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the best of crime fiction.

"This event has become a much-loved literary festival giving pleasure to many, locals and visitors alike. The addition of historical events and materials gave interesting insights and added to the fun and learning over the weekend.”

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