It would be a crime to miss the festival, say top authors

Val McDermid and Chris Brookmyre.Val McDermid and Chris Brookmyre.
Val McDermid and Chris Brookmyre.
Top authors have this week been talking of their love of the Borders Book Festival, which this year runs from Tuesday, November 2 until Sunday, November 7 at Abbotsford.

Borderers do love a good crime yarn, so there are plenty of events this year to keep them happy.

Val McDermid, author of many crime novels, some of which are set in the Borders, says the event, which normally takes place in Harmony Gardens in Melrose, is one of her favourites.

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Speaking to the Southern today, she said: “It’s a very convivial festival for the writers and they always look after us.

"At other festivals, you turn up for your event, you might meet the person on before you and after you, but that’s about it. At the Borders Book Festival, there’s a communal area where we all eat, drink and converse, and the crowds are fantastic.”

Val will appear on Saturday, November 6 at 8pm, to talk about her new book 1979, which tells the tale of reporter Allie Burns, who in a bid to make her way in the macho world of the newsroom,attempts to expose the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland.

She says: “I began writing this at the start of the pandemic, and it was a very uncertain time … no-one could begin to guess what the world would be like in 2021, so I decided to start a new series, going up in 10 year increments, beginning with 1979.”

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While Val was in journalism then, she is quick to say this book is by no means autobiographical.

She said: “If it was about me, it would have been a very different book.

"I was young, free and single, with money in my pocket, and I had a lot more fun than Allie Burns does.”

Chairing Val’s gig is fellow author and fellow Fun Loving Crimewriters bandmate Chris Brookmyre, and the pair are good friends.

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The festival is also a favourite of Chris, who told us: “I’ve been going to the Borders Book Festival for 13 years or more.

"I’ve done a couple of gigs with Mark Billingham, and I’ve also chaired John Connolly there as well, and I always feel warmly welcomed in the Borders.”

This year, Chris is joined by his wife, anaesthetist Marisa Haetzman, who together go by the pen-name Ambrose Parry.

And on Friday, November 5, the pair will be talking about their latest book A Corruption of Blood, the third in the Raven and Fisher series, set in Victorian Edinburgh.

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He said: “I always had ambitions to write historical fiction, but could never imagine having the time to research it enough to do it justice.

"Fortunately with Marisa doing her Masters, she spent three years doing research into historic medical practices, that research became the bedrock for the Ambrose Parry books.

"It was a great body of knowledge we were able to build upon.”

Perhaps best known for his Jack Parlabane books, Brookmyre wouldn’t be drawn into whether we would see any more of his anarchic anti-hero, last seen in 2017’s ‘Want You Gone’.

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He said: “I've never really set out to write a Jack Parlabane book. An idea comes along and I then decide whether he is appropriate for that book.”

Tickets for the festival are available on