Celtic Noir Crime Writing Festival

Celtic Noir Crime Writing Festival

Crime fans take note – the Celtic Noir crime writing festival is nearly here! 

What Is Celtic Noir? (public talk)

Professor Liam McIlvanney, Co-Director of the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, explores the long and intertwined history of crime writing in Scotland and Ireland, identifying the key characteristic and assessing the major exponents of Celtic crime fiction.

When: Thursday 10 October, 5.00pm

Where: Burns 7 Lecture Theatre, University of Otago campus


Plotting a Thriller with Liam McIlvanney (workshop)

People read thrillers for lots of reasons, but mainly for the story. As Mickey Spillane famously put it, ‘Nobody reads a book to get to the middle’. Getting your story in shape is vital. Award-winning crime novelist Liam McIlvanney takes you through the process of plotting a thriller, explaining how to generate suspense, why the three-act structure is your friend, and what strategies will carry you from inciting incident to finale. The workshop includes space for practical exercises and class discussion.

When: Saturday 12 October, 10.00-11.30am

Where: 4th Floor, Dunedin City Library

Tickets: $49 (including service fees)

Fiona Kidman in Conversation with Majella Cullinane

Having established herself as one of New Zealand’s most celebrated and best-loved novelists over a long and varied career, Dame Fiona Kidman has belatedly turned to crime! Her latest novel, This Mortal Boy, tells the true story of young Irish immigrant Albert ‘Paddy’ Black, the so-called ‘Jukebox Killer’, who was hanged for the murder of a teenage acquaintance in 1950s Auckland. The novel, which won the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best NZ Crime Novel and the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, was described by the NZ Listener as ‘a tale about violent acts that is infused with humanity and compassion’. Dame Fiona will discuss This Mortal Boy, as well as her distinguished literary career, with prize-winning Irish poet and novelist, Majella Cullinane.

When: Saturday 12 October, 1.00-2.00pm

Where: 4th Floor, Dunedin City Library

Tickets: $17 (including service fees)

Adrian McKinty on Writing the ‘High-Concept’ Thriller

Adrian McKinty’s recent history reads like a novel in its own right. Two years ago, having seen his family evicted from their home because he couldn’t make the rent, McKinty had given up writing and was driving an Uber when his agent persuaded him to give his dream of literary glory one last shot. The resulting thriller, The Chain, is being published in thirty-five territories, is already a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller and Paramount recently bought the movie rights for a seven-figure sum. McKinty’s breakout novel, The Chain is a brilliant example of the ‘high-concept’ thriller, a ‘book with a hook’ – a premise that draws readers in and propels the narrative forward. McKinty will talk with fellow crime writer Liam McIlvanney about the process of writing a high-concept thriller, his phenomenal recent run of success, and where he goes from here.

When: Saturday 12 October, 2.30-3.30pm

Where: 4th Floor, Dunedin City Library

Tickets: $17 (including service fees)

Cops and Horrors featuring Vanda Symon and Liz Nugent

This session brings together two acclaimed crime writers working in very different genres. Dubliner Liz Nugent has been called ‘the finest psychological thriller writer currently at work’, serving up chilling portraits of psychopaths in dark, Gothic novels like Lying in WaitUnravelling Oliver and Skin Deep. Dunedin’s own Vanda Symon, by contrast, is a skilled exponent of the police procedural, pitting her gutsy heroine, Detective Constable Sam Shephard, against villains of various stripes in novels like Overkill and The Ringmaster. Sonja Tiernan, herself a Dubliner as well as the Eamon Cleary Professor of Irish Studies at Otago, chairs the discussion, exploring the visceral appeal of these ever-popular genres.

When: Saturday 12 October, 4.00pm-5.00pm

Where: 4th Floor, Dunedin City Library

Tickets: $17 (including service fees)

Val McDermid in conversation with Adrian McKinty

Scotland’s ‘Queen of Crime’ Val McDermid returns to the Edinburgh of the South to discuss the thirty-fifth novel of her stellar career. How the Dead Speak is the latest in the bestselling Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. It comes hot on the heels of My Scotland, a book of memoir and photography which takes readers on a journey to the landscapes Val has known all her life, and the places where her stories and characters reside. Val – who has recently taken up an appointment as Visiting Professor of Scottish Studies and Crime Fiction at the University of Otago – will discuss her long and extraordinary career with chair Adrian McKinty.

When: Saturday 12 October, 6.30pm Drinks reception. 7.00-8.00pm for author talk.

Where: 4th Floor, Dunedin City Library

Tickets: $28 (including service fees)

Liz Nugent Masterclass (workshop)

In this Masterclass, award-winning crime novelist Liz Nugent will talk about the core principles of writing drama that can apply to TV, radio, cinema or novels. Using the pilot episode of Breaking Bad as a teaching tool, she will examine plot, dialogue, characterisation, structure and awareness of the medium in question. Participants are required to bring only pen, paper and their imagination!

When: Sunday 13 October, 10.00am-1.00pm

Where: 4th Floor, Dunedin City Library

Tickets: $49 (including service fees)

Panel Discussion on Celtic Noir Featuring Val McDermid, Liz Nugent and Adrian McKinty

Some of the most successful and acclaimed crime fiction of recent years has emerged from Scotland and Ireland. Liam McIlvanney assembles a panel of Celtic crime writers – Scotland’s Val McDermid, and Ireland’s Liz Nugent and Adrian McKinty – to discuss the current landscape of crime fiction in both countries. What makes crime such a prominent genre in Scotland and Ireland? What do the two literatures have in common? How important is the shared inheritance of Gothic fiction in Ireland and Scotland? Panelists will debate these and other questions from the audience as the Celtic Noir Festival draws to a close.

When: Sunday 13 October, 2.00-3.00pm

Where: 4th Floor, Dunedin City Library

Tickets: $17 (including service fees)

Celtic Noir tickets available via www.eventbrite.co.nz