The Great, the Good and the Gory

This was the event I hadn’t planned to go to until a spare ticket fell into my hands a few hours earlier. And I’m so glad it did, and that I went. I and the rest of the audience had a great time, but I’d say Val McDermid and Stuart MacBride had even more fun. He might have been jetlagged, coming straight from down under, but he was more than up for some dirty jokes, and by the end Stuart and Val almost danced the Gay Gordons on stage, just as they’d threatened to do.

Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid and Craig Robertson

Craig Robertson was there to chair, but anyone requiring less chairing I’ve not come across. He also knew that we didn’t need introductions, but supplied them anyway, because it would have been rude not to. Craig said he couldn’t be certain that Val hadn’t written another book since the previous day, which is one way of describing her as prolific. Stuart, from the mean streets of Aberdeen, is famous for his mushroom soup. And last night he pointed out he was ‘the sensible, sober one’ on stage.


The short version of what happened would be to say that they are bonkers. But then you’d be missing all the fun.

In order to outdo Stuart, Val told us about touring New Zealand and performing for three days on no sleep, or some such unlikely fact. I forget where a certain bodypart in milk, and the chilli, and the subsequent coffee best drunk black came in, but it was there, and it made sense at the time. Not past the nine o’clock watershed, however.

Val McDermid

Val had once been treated to lesbian mudwrestling in Perth (Australia) to cheer her up. It didn’t. Stuart couldn’t beat this, because he’s from Aberdeen. (Did I say that already?) And it seems the Beatles came to Kirkcaldy in 1963. They didn’t stay. Not sure how this is relevant.

Someone – I forget who – mentioned a crime writer who tested how to drown people in the bath, just so she’d know it works. Val hasn’t had a bath this century. Which could be a lifesaver. She likes Swedes. 😀 In Dead Beat she has a mixed race character, who was a blonde on the cover of the Swedish version. (The publishers were poor. They had to use a friend for the cover photo and knew no ‘dark’ people.) Val had worried in case mixed race in Sweden meant half Norwegian.

While we are on the subject of that excellent country, Stuart had once had a book translated into Norwegian first. His deep fried pizza turned into frozen pizza. It continued being frozen in all subsequent translations he came across. Just as well it wasn’t a Mars bar.

Stuart MacBride

By the time Val talked about her German bath-sized sanitary towel (another translation issue), Craig muttered that his five minutes prep for the event were five minutes wasted. Both Val and Stuart are involved in collecting money for the Dundee mortuary, so that doctors can practise cutting up real dead people.

Titanium knees came up, and so did Jimmy Savile, who did inspire Val long before the current news broke. She also cited O J Simpson and Michael Jackson, and reckons crime novels deal with what scares us in the news.

Val gets inspiration when she sleeps, while Stuart goes to the supermarket. He was once accused of not being himself in a Chinese restaurant. Val had the same thing happen in a petrol station. Of not being Val McDermid, not of not being Stuart MacBride.

The reorganisation of Scottish police to Police Scotland is causing havoc for Stuart. Although Val is sticking to the English system, both feel that no one spared a thought for the crime writers when they reorganised.

Stuart was once asked permission by Aberdeen Council to quote him on something, and he rather hoped they’d go for ‘Aberdeen, hame of the serial killers,’ but they didn’t. For some reason.

We – and they, hopefully – could have gone on forever.


2 responses to “The Great, the Good and the Gory

  1. Wow! I wish I was there!

  2. Pingback: Neighbourhood watch | Bookwitch

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