Shetland’s first crime festival, Shetland Noir, was launched at Lerwick Town Hall on what was appropriately Friday the 13th.
Crime writers from Scandinavia, Iceland and beyond (as well as the mainland) had come to Lerwick for the event, “borrowed” for one year only as it had been from Iceland Noir, thanks to the efforts of crime writer Ann Cleeves, Shetland Arts and Promote Shetland.
The next Iceland Noir festival will be in Reykjavik, but, as Glaswegian crime writer Denise Mina said: “All the authors wanted an excuse to come to Shetland.”
Shetland Arts chairwoman Lorraine Hall said: “The Iceland Noir festival is highly acclaimed and for us to be allowed to host it is a tremendous opportunity. Wonderful writers are giving workshops and it’s a chance to learn from them, and they are going out to see what Shetland has to offer.” This referred to a bus tour being organised to show writers the scenes used in Ann Cleeves’s Shetland series.
Ms Hall said that Pan Macmillan representatives had come up from London for the event, and added: “It’s fantastic for that to happen, it all helps put Shetland on the map. It’s really good for arts development, we’re speaking here to people from all over the world.”
Star of the Shetland series Douglas Henshall, the Jimmy Perez of the stories, had also come to the isles specially for the event. He said, referring to the raging storm Abigail: “It’s nice to hang out and be here in winter when the real Shetland’s going on.”
Former culture minister and now MP in Iceland Katrin Jakobsdottir said there was a connection between Icelandic and Shetland cultures and how it lent itself to crime writing: “We have a close connection to the weather and darkness.”
This was also mentioned by Swedish writer Hakon Nesser, who said: “Shetland is a great place for crime, walking through the lanes felt like a film noir with the rain, hail and darkness, I expected to find a corpse.”
The evening culminated in a buffet from Marian Armitage, with authentic Shetland produce – mackerel on the oatcakes and roast lamb in the bannocks.
More in next week’s Shetland Times.