Posted by: gillarbuthnott | August 15, 2012

Bookfest Blog #2: Cromwell and Crime

Lucky enough to attend two fantastic events yesterday… Hilary Mantel spoke about Bring up the Bodies, sequel to Wolf Hall. I’d been keeping everything crossed that I would get into this event, as I recently re-read Wolf Hall, and have just been given Bring up the Bodies for my birthday. It was a fascinating event, and I was particularly intrigued to listen to Hilary talking about how to make readers complicit with her characters in not jumping ahead in their minds to what they know will be the end of the story, but instead experiencing the development of that story as the constant present along with those characters.

Val McDermid was appearing with Professor Sue Black of Dundee University talking about… oooh, lots of things. Crime writing, forensic anthropology, advances in DNA technology, what people do in Fife on a Friday night, and several things too gruesome to put on an open blog. Suffice it to say, I’ll never look at a piece of tuna in quite the same way again, and nor, I suspect, will anyone else who was there! I’d expected that the event would be fascinating, but not that it would be hilariously funny as well as gory. I’ve seldom heard more laughter in a Book Festival event, and it was one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever attended. If Val and Sue ever fancy a change of career, they should consider becoming a comedy double act.

There was a serious point to the event as well, which is to promote the Million for a Morgue appeal. This is raising money for a state of the art morgue in Dundee,with the ability to carry out a new embalming procedure which will result in far better training for surgeons, as they will be able to practise on dead bodies that actually feel and behave like live ones. Well, not behave, they are actually dead, not zombies, but I’m sure you understand what I mean…

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