Kintyre book launch shows potential for literary festival

Denzil Meyrick photographed in Kintyre last week.

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With queues to get in and extra seats added to venues, the Kintyre launch of the seventh instalment in Denzil Meyrick’s internationally acclaimed DCI Daley book series showed that people in Kintyre have a passion for literature.

A Breath on Dying Embers is the latest addition to Denzil’s fictional crime series, of which two million copies have been sold worldwide since the launch of Whisky From Small Glasses in 2012.

The series follows the trials and tribulations of DCI Jim Daley in Kinloch, a fictional town based on Campbeltown. Denzil says it is important to him to host book launch events in the area which inspired the setting, with one in Campbeltown’s Commercial Inn last Thursday afternoon and Southend’s Argyll Arms Hotel in the evening.

He said: ‘I like to come to Kintyre because the books are so dependent on the setting – it’s the area that makes the books, not me, necessarily.’

It has just been announced that Denzil is longlisted for the William McIlvanney Prize 2019, Bloody Scotland’s annual award for the best Scottish crime book of the year, for his newest publication.

Denzil said he was ‘thrilled’ to be among ‘so many fine writers’ on the longlist, including Douglas Skelton and Neil Broadfoot, who joined Denzil at the Kintyre launch events, alongside fellow authors Michael J Malone and Sandra Ireland.

The authors held question and answer sessions with captivated audiences at the launch events and sold signed copies of their latest books.

‘My aim was to show that it is possible to have a literary festival in Kintyre,’ Denzil said. ‘You’d want to go round different areas in Kintyre and I think that’s doable – the interest in Southend shows that it is possible.

‘But you need someone involved who knows the business, someone with contacts.’

Denzil says that while he could not organise a book festival himself owing to work commitments, he would be happy to support and appear at one.

A committee was set up last year with a view to establishing a book festival in Kintyre but a spokesperson said this week that at the group’s last meeting it was agreed to postpone any festival until 2021.

The spokesperson added: ‘In the meantime, we would put our energy into making World Book Day on March 5, 2020, more prominent in Campbeltown and also work with Campbeltown Grammar School’s English department to bring along some authors to inspire and encourage students to read more.’

Denzil revealed last week that he is in talks with a Hollywood producer about transforming his hit series into a show for the small screen – and he says that, while it is early days, he will push to have scenes filmed in Kintyre.

Denzil went to Castlehill Primary School and Campbeltown Grammar School and can trace his Campbeltown heritage back for generations. He now lives on Loch Lomondside with his wife, Fiona, but says Campbeltown will always be ‘home’.

Growing up, he did not dream of being a crime writer but, having done various jobs throughout his life, from being a police officer and freelance journalist to a distillery manager and company director, he said of writing: ‘It’s the only thing that has ever worked out.’

The winner of the William McIlvanney Prize 2019 will be announced at the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, held in September.

The authors who joined Denzil in Kintyre are, from left: Douglas Skelton, Michael J Malone, Sandra Ireland and Neil Broadfoot.
The authors who joined Denzil in Kintyre are, from left: Douglas Skelton, Michael J Malone, Sandra Ireland and Neil Broadfoot. 50_c28authors01