It’ll be murder on the dancefloor​​​​​​​ at Melrose

From left: Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Mark Billingham, Luca Veste, Val McDermid and Stuart Neville.From left: Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Mark Billingham, Luca Veste, Val McDermid and Stuart Neville.
From left: Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Mark Billingham, Luca Veste, Val McDermid and Stuart Neville.
Between them, they've sold more than 20million books about the darkest crimes you could imagine, so it can’t come as a surprise that for light relief, they sing songs about murder.

The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers are taking to the stage at Harmony Gardens on Sunday, June 18, to close the Borders Book Festival in some style.

Drummer Doug Johnstone, who is at the festival to chat about his new science fiction book, The Space Between Us, explained how the band began.

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He said: “Like all good rock and roll stories, it started in New Orleans, when me, Stuart Neville and Mark Billingham got on stage during an open mic night.

"We didn’t really know what we were doing, but surprisingly, it went down really well, and we decided to get a band together when we got home.

"The crime writing community is so supportive and friendly and we knew each other really well, and we knew who could hold a tune.

"The Edinburgh Book Festival got wind of it, and sort of booked us to play, and it’s gone on from there.”

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Unlike most of his fellow band members, this will be Doug’s first appearance at the Borders Book Festival, but he said: “I’ve heard all about it from the others and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre (both guitar and vocals) are two festival legends, and they, too, can’t wait to get the band back together.

Mark, perhaps best known for his Tom Thorne novels, is at the festival to launch a new series of books which begins with The Last Dance.

He told The Southern: “Melrose is such a brilliant festival, not one the band has played at yet. We were meant to a couple of years ago, but Covid put paid to that.

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"The band was supposed to be a bit of fun, just performing at book festivals we were all at, but then we were booked to play Glastonbury. We’ve also played in Iceland and Canada.

"We thought, well, this is getting a bit out of hand, but it’s such a lot of fun.

"It’s just six mates hanging out and playing music.

"What we do as writers is very solitary, so to be able to collaborate with a bunch of other writers is brilliant.

"We do cover songs, all of which are about murder, funnily enough.

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"We’re a party band, so there’s plenty of opportunities to get up and dance along.”

Chris, best known for his Jack Parlabane novels, and is launching the fourth Ambrose Parry book Voices of the Dead at the festival, along with his wife Marisa Haetzman, said he loves coming to the Borders.

He told us: “It’s one of my favourite festivals if not the favourite. I would be gutted if I wasn’t invited, and even then I’d probably just turn up anyway.

"What I love about it is that even though it has big audiences, and very big names, it still feels homely.

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"It’s what the Hay Book Festival [in Powys, Wales] was like 30 years ago, and you can see big names going past you in the garden and there’s a great sense of the local community taking part, whereas now the Hay is a bit of a corporate monster.”

The other members of the band, Val McDermid (vocals), Luca Veste (bass) and Stuart Neville (guitar and vocals) also appear at the festival.

Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers appear at the BSW Group Marquee on Sunday, June 18 at 8.30pm. Tickets, £16, from the festival website.

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