Denise Mina is the doyenne of Tartan Noir and at this month’s Paisley Book Festival, she will be teaming up with Bloody Scotland Debut prize-winner, Tariq Ashkanani. Their Criminally Good sessions takes place on 19 February, with Denise discussing her most recent book Confidence which transports everyone to a Scottish seaside town in the middle of an internet frenzy to find a missing person, and Tariq whisks readers off to Cooper, Nebraska for tales of murder and corruption. You can book tickets here.
In an exclusive interview with Paisley Book Festival, Denise looks forward to her event and tells us how she ‘mans up’ to fight oppression.
Are you looking forward to being in Paisley for the festival and can you tell us a little about your event with Tariq Ashkanani?
I’m delighted to be back at Paisley Book Festival, having been there during lock down it feels like a wonderful return! And Tariq is one of the new lights in Tartan Noir, a really interesting writer.
It’s been a while since we had in-person festivals, is there something special about being back with an audience?
The randomness of live events is what I’ve really missed. I actually came off Twitter recently because Im so sick of my own voice and I think zoom events may have contributed to that. In person events I tend to remember what other people have said. With zoom events there is only my voice. It’s like “Being John Malkovich’ but with yourself. Nightmare.
What is it about Scotland that means we are home to so many successful crime writers?
I’ve always answered this with the pragmatic observation that once Scottish crime started to sell publishers were looking for the next Ian Rankin or Val McDermaid. Recently though I realised that Glasgow Mosque is on the site of a rotting block of flats and Alan Pinkerton of the Pinkerton Detective agency grew up there. He emigrated to the US, set up the Pinkertons and published a series of case studies. Dashiel Hammett was a Pinkerton man before TB set in.
Apparently the style of Noir detective fiction, the clipped sentences, abhorrence of adverbs and working class heroes come from the house style of reporting in Pinkerton cases.
Are you okay with the term, Tartan Noir?
Tell us a little about your latest book, Confidence?
It starts with an UrbEx film in a French Chateau where the film maker finds a silver casket in a secret room. Then she disappears, presumed murdered, and the casket is up for auction in Paris. It is sealed but purports to contain proof of the resurrection of Christ.
The theme of Paisley Book Festival is Remake and Rebel – are there things you like to remake and when have you found yourself rebelling?
It’s hard to rebel as you get older. There comes a point where you have to realise that you are The Man and make sure you dont keep thinking of yourself as oppressed. That way lies Toryism.