It’s a privilege to be part of this year’s Granite Noir festival and have the opportunity to speak with Abir Mukherjee who wrote Smoke and Ashes, one of my favourite crime books of 2018.
Now in its third year, Granite Noir’s programme just seems to be getting bigger and better with so many great authors, events, workshops and exhibitions transforming the city for a feast of crime fiction.
We are so lucky to have such a wealth of literary talent in Scotland and some of the world’s best book festivals and events in Scotland.
For the public, this is an incredible chance to hear from some of Scotland’s great storytellers. And for writers – it’s a chance to discuss their work with fans, new audiences and even to inspire the next generation of thrillers.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I’m an avid reader – so for me book festivals are a unique chance to hear from some of my favourite writers.
And I am being particularly spoilt at Granite Noir where I get to put my questions to Abir Mukherjee, whose thrillers featuring ex-Scotland Yard detective Captain Sam Wyndham have taken me back in time to 1920s Calcutta and captivated and intrigued me throughout.
I’m looking forward to hearing the inspiration behind Abir’s crime novels.
Reading fiction, I think, is an indispensable part of the job. In my view leaders in all positions of responsibility should read fiction, because it uses personal stories to bring issues to life. After a day of government papers and activity, reading – even just a few pages – helps to clear my mind and give me perspective.
This personal experience and love of reading inspired me to launch the First Minister’s Reading Challenge, which encourages children to read for pleasure from an early age, and which I believe can help to improve children’s attainment in a fun way.
Primary schools across Scotland, including many in the north east, have participated in the challenge and I am delighted that we have now rolled it out to all secondary schools to encourage young people to continue reading for pleasure as they progress through their education.
Reading has transported me to different countries, ages and social situations – it’s taken me on rollercoaster journeys and opened my eyes to new experiences. And with a packed programme featuring the cream of crime fiction I’m sure Granite Noir will provide plenty of mystery and intrigue this weekend.