When I was asked to appear on the New Crimes panel at Bloody Scotland with three other debut authors I literally jumped for joy.
Bloody Scotland, for those of you who don't know, is a crime writing festival, and the biggest of its kind in Scotland. It attracts writers of all levels from all over the world; Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Lynda LaPlante, to name but three. To be asked to take part in something of this scale was a great honour. And I had a ball.
I was very nervous on the first day and felt I had a permanent rictus grin on my face, but I was made to feel so welcome by everyone. We were all taken to Stirling castle for some VIP treatment - a piper piped us in, we then had champagne, and photos were taken. In the attached picture I'm standing to the left with a glass in my hand, right next to Christopher Brookmyre, Val McDermid and Denise Mina, amongst others. That was the first thing that struck me about this festival. There is no pecking order, or even so much of a whiff of corporate. Everyone is equal, no matter how advanced or famous they might be. I loved that.
I then met the amazing Alex Gray and she took me to the front of the procession for the opening Gala March and we were all given wax torches to light and take with us on our journey. Imagine my surprise and delight when a tall, dark-haired man in a suit turned round to speak to Alex - and it was none other than Ian Rankin! Alex kindly introduced us and he then lit my torch with his. (later that evening I was raving on social media about how Ian Rankin had 'lit my candle!') And we were off, with everybody coming out of their homes to watch the spectacle. It was truly magical. We then arrived at the Assembly Hall and I watched Ian talk about his career, and of course, his most famous creation, Rebus. Later, Val McDermid and others performed a medley of crime-related songs to conclude the evening's entertainment. They were brilliant. It was an amazing first day.
The next day it was my turn. I was nervous at first, but as the morning progressed and I mingled with everyone, I began to feel more focussed and ready for my event. Hosted by Alex Gray, the New Crimes panel went very well and it was nice to see a full house of about 120 or so people had come to see us.
I spent the rest of the day, and the following day watching other writers perform and talk about their work; Christopher Brookmyre, Caro Ramsay, Lynda LaPlante and many others. I was sad when the festival ended and I reluctantly went home - but I have lovely memories and lots of new ideas.
And yes, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.