Bute Noir will be bigger, better and bloodier the second time around

Craig Robertson was one of the co-founders of Bute Noir last year and will be returning this time around.
Craig Robertson was one of the co-founders of Bute Noir last year and will be returning this time around.

After being a big hit in Rothesay’s social calendar last year, the Bute Noir crime writing festival is set to return with a vengeance this summer.

Bute Museum, Rothesay Library and the Print Point bookshop all played host to a number of talks, quizzes and question and answer sessions last August, and the three venues will all be involved again for this year’s literary gathering.

A greater number of contributors and therefore events means that Bute Noir 2017 will take place across three days from Friday, August 4, to Sunday, August 6.

Bute Noir first came about because of a chance meeting between Scottish crime author Craig Robertson and Karen Latto of Rothesay’s Print Point bookstore.

The two went on to organise the festival and invite crime authors from Scotland and further afield to Bute.

Craig spoke to the Buteman about how an event dedicated to crime writing came to Rothesay.

He said: “I used to holiday on the island most years when I was young – the family went over most summers until I was about 12.

“I have great memories of being on the beach at Ettrick Bay, walking out to Port Bannatyne or spending hours on the putting greens.

“But I hadn’t been in over 30 years until I was invited to do a talk in Rothesay Library in November 2015. At that event, Karen Latto was selling books and I’d said how great Bute was and that other crime writers would love to come across.

“She said that we should organise a small festival and I agreed it would be great. The next morning I went down to breakfast in the Victoria Hotel to be told how much everyone was looking forward to the crime festival I was organising!

“Still, I managed to fob Karen off as I had a book to write and was doing a lot of travelling to book events in the UK and US. She was persistent though and finally broke my resistance in June last year and I agreed to do it.

“Contacting authors was pretty straightforward as I knew everyone I invited and was able to get a quick response. They all loved the idea and everyone of them agreed on the spot.

“It was pretty amazing and with the help of the library, Bute Museum and Print Point, we put an entire festival together in just ten days.

“We were very hopeful that if we put the festival together then the people of Bute and beyond would come out to hear the authors. It was still a bit of a risk as there hadn’t been anything like that on the island before, so we couldn’t be sure what the response would be.

“We needn’t have worried as the response was overwhelming. Almost all events were sold out and people from Bute plus visitors from Edinburgh and Glasgow really embraced the festival.”

Bute Noir 2017 will host 16 authors from Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, the USA and Finland, comprising 14 events across the three venues.

Craig and Karen are hoping to repeat and build on the success of the first Bute Noir with the bigger list of contributors and events.

Craig said: “We didn’t want to change too much from last year as everything went so well but we gained the confidence to add more authors this time around and to add more events on the programme to make it a three-day festival.

“Authors have again been delighted to make the trip to Bute and unfortunately I’ve had to disappoint a few who were hoping to come but we simply ran out of room.

“I’m confident we’ve got a great line-up of writers, a truly international cast with five different countries represented. I can’t wait for August.”

Programmes and tickets for all the events are available now from Print Point, Rothesay Library and Bute Museum.