Saturday 22 July | 8.30pm
The Old Swan Hotel | Harrogate
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“The Author was born in Dumbarton, but ran away to join the circus at the age of nine, where he specialised in wrestling bears for money (Going on to represent Great Britain at the Atlanta Olympics). In 1975 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his revolutionary work on Irn-Bru, then went on to create the world’s biggest ball of bellybutton lint. In 1989 he joined the secret intelligence service, but was later invalided out due to a back injury sustained while performing a reverse-overhead-piledriver on a grizzly bear. Now confined to his pyjamas, he fritters away his time writing crime novels set in Aberdeen and lying to journalists.”
…Of course, none of the above is true other than the fact he was born in Dumbarton! The opening paragraph to Stuart’s biography is actually the version of events he told Trend Magazine – which they published!
In real life he was born in Dumbarton and moved up to Aberdeen at the age of just two. There followed a less than stellar academic career, starting out in Marchburn Primary School, where his “evil parents” forced him to join the cub scouts (specialising in tying unnecessary knots in things and wearing shorts). Stuart then went on to Middlefield Academy for some combat recorder practice.
Here followed an attempt to study architecture at Herriot Watt in Edinburgh, which he found to be “every bit as exciting and interesting as watching a badger decompose”. Giving up the life of an academic, Stuart decided to begin working offshore instead. This involved a lot of swearing as he recalls – swearing and drinking endless cups of tea. After his stint offshore, Stuart had a bash at being a graphic designer, a professional actor, an undertaker, a marketing company’s studio manager, a web designer, programmer, technical lead… Then last, but by all means least, finally circling the career drain by becoming a project manager for a huge IT company.
Whilst working here, he wrote a book about an Aberdonian detective sergeant and his dysfunctional colleagues: Cold Granite. HarperCollins bought it, and overnight Stuart went from “a grumpy project manager caterpillar to a writing butterfly”.
MacBride has since gone on to become the bestselling author of the Logan McRae and Ash Henderson novels and has also published a near-future thriller, a short story collection, a couple of novellas, and a slightly twisted picture book for slightly twisted children.
He was crowned World Stovies Champion in 2014 and was given an honorary doctorate by Dundee University in 2015. He tries not to let either of these things go to his head though.
Peter May is a multi award-winning author of various novels. His works include the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell, the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, set in France as well as several standalone books.
From the beginning May’s dream was to be a novelist and he spent his childhood and teen years writing. However, he decided to go into journalism as this seemed like a reasonable career choice. He went on to win the Scottish Young Journalist of the Year Award at the age of 21, but the pull of fiction continued, and every spare moment was spent on creative writing. May left journalism and began writing television drama. By the age of 30 he had created two major TV series for the BBC, The Standard and Squadron. In the 1990s, he co-created the ground-breaking Machair, the first ever major drama serial in the Gaelic language, which he also produced.
With the approach of the new millennium, May quit television to return to his first love, novels, and embarked on a series of thrillers which took him half-way across the world. He gained unprecedented access to the homicide and forensic science sections of Beijing and Shanghai police forces and made a painstaking study of the methodology of Chinese detectives and pathologists. His outstanding China Thrillers series of books are now published worldwide.
The Blackhouse is the first of three books set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. After being turned down by all the major UK publishers, the first of Peter’s The Lewis Trilogy was published in France as L’Ile des Chasseurs d’Oiseaux where it was hailed as “a masterpiece” by the French national newspaper L’Humanité. His novels have a large following in France. The trilogy has won several French literature awards, including one of the world’s largest adjudicated readers awards, the Prix Cezam.
Peter’s recent works have been standalone books, in other words single novels, not forming part of any series. In 2014 Entry Island was published, it won the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award 2014 and the ITC Specsavers Crime Thriller Club Best Read of the Year 2014. He has also written Runaway, which was published in the UK in January 2015 and his latest book Coffin Road which was published in the UK in January 2016.