Granite Noir takes crime fiction online

With authors joining from across Scotland, Scandinavia and the USA, Aberdeen’s international crime writing festival, Granite Noir, returns with an exciting programme of online events.

By Dawn Renton
Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 11:29 am
The popular event returns for its fifth year.
The popular event returns for its fifth year.

From Friday 19 to Sunday 21 February, Granite Noir will stream a mix of live and pre-recorded author conversations, workshops and events for younger audiences featuring luminaries of the genre.

Jane Spiers, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts, said: “With a wonderful line-up of the very best crime writers from right here in Scotland and across the world, we’re looking forward to welcoming both authors and audiences to explore the heart of darkness that is Granite Noir – from the comfort of their own homes. We hope that Granite Noir can offer a little bit of easily accessible distraction, fascination and inspiration for lovers of crime fiction wherever they are in the world.”

Home grown talent includes best-selling Scottish author Peter May who discusses his novel Lockdown. First written in 2005, this prescient book set against a background of a deadly influenza pandemic was finally published this year. Aberdeen’s own Stuart MacBride joins Ian Rankin to explore the way fashions come and go in literature, the persistent rumour that the Police Procedural is dead and how and why they’ve chosen the protagonists in their own work.

Granite Noir reflects the close ties between the North East of Scotland and Scandinavia and welcomes Scandi-Noir superstars Jo Nesbo and Camilla Läckberg to talk about their latest work.

Läckberg, the Queen of Swedish crime fiction with books published in more than 60 countries, discusses her latest novel The Gilded Cage with Alex Clark. Nesbo, creator of Harry Hole, is one of the world’s bestselling crime writers selling over 33 million copies around the globe. He talks about his life, career and most recent book The Kingdom with Jacky Collins.

Stina Jackson won the Best Swedish Crime Award of 2018 and is joined in a panel discussion by Iceland’s Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir and the UK’s Lesley Kara to explore the concept of revenge in their writing.

From his home in the USA David Baldacci, one of the world’s favourite storytellers, makes his first appearance at Granite Noir to talk to Lee Randall about his life and work and the conclusion of his thrilling Atlee Pine trilogy. Attica Locke also joins the Festival from America to discuss her crime fiction and her writing for television, including Netflix’s When They See Us and Hulu’s Little Fire’s Everywhere.

In a very special collaboration, Backlisted Podcast, the standout podcast for bibliophiles which has topped 2 million downloads, comes to Granite Noir to discuss Inverness-born Josephine Tey with special guest Val McDermid. McDermid, a longtime fan of Tey’s work, has chosen Miss Pym Disposes as the centrepiece of this conversation.

Three exciting new voices come together in a special Granite Noir showcase to discuss their debut novels. Femi Kayode, Susie Yang and Saima Mir have written crime novels set in Nigeria, America and the UK’s Pakistani community respectively. S J Watson, whose debut bestseller Before I Go To Sleep was turned into a film starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, is joined by Will Dean and Catherine Ryan Howard to discuss their personal experiences of success, hard work and luck, and to pass on some tips for writers at the beginning of their careers and award-winning screen writer and TV dramatist, D V Bishop, hosts a bespoke workshop exploring different ways to conceive and build a character that lasts and captures readers’ imagination.

In February 2020 City Archivist Phil Astley started the Criminal Portraits blog as a result of the popular response to exhibitions of mugshots from the Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives which were part of Granite Noir. Astley wanted to dig deeper into the backgrounds of these criminals, and for Granite Noir 2021 leads a webinar taking a closer look at a selection of the mugshots, the people behind them and the fascinating insight they provide into Victorian Aberdeen.

For younger readers, M G Leonard takes her readers on a journey with Harrison Beck and his travel writing Uncle in the latest of her Adventures on Trains series, Murder on the Safari Star, set in Southern Africa (suitable for ages 7+). Bestselling author Katherine Rundell explains how to plan the perfect heist. Her latest novel, The Good Thieves (suitable for 9 – 11 yr olds) follows the story of a group of children who will do anything to right a wrong.

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokeswoman, said, “It’s been a tumultuous year since we hosted the biggest and best event yet of our world-renowned crime-writing festival and here we are once again, ready to welcome authors and afficionados from across the globe to Granite Noir 2021 in its new and temporary online format. It’s great to see the line-up include the fantastic Jo Nesbo make his first appearance at Granite Noir along with other superstars of the genre such as Val McDermid whom we are delighted to welcome back. There’s also Aberdeen City Council’s very own Phil Astley to talk us through the fascinating histories of some infamous locals!”

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, said: “During these unprecedented times, literary festivals have been finding innovative new ways of engaging with audiences, and Granite Noir is another wonderful example of this. With a wide-ranging digital programme boasting a thrilling array of author conversations, workshops and events from some of the best authors, both local and International, there’s plenty for crime fiction fans to enjoy online this February.”

Full programme details can be found at

All events in the programme are available to view free of charge and will be available On Demand on the website after the end of the Festival.