BESTSELLING author Chris Brookmyre is urging people to support a Scotland/England football match with a difference.

The free event will see crime writers from both countries swap their pens for football boots for their annual clash in Stirling during the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

Brookmyre said: “It’s not often you have a Scotland v England football match on your doorstep; it’s free, there are Bloody Scotland cocktails and most of the crime writers don’t bite so come and join us.”

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The dramatic annual torchlight procession is also returning this year after a halt during the pandemic. Led by the pipes and drums of the Royal Burgh of Stirling Pipe Band and Stirling and District Schools Pipe Band, it also aims to encourage people who don’t normally attend literary events to take part.

“The Torchlit Parade is an amazing, rousing experience,” said writer Denise Mina. “We all light torches in the castle forecourt at sundown and march off following a pipe band as the sun sets over the valley. By the time we get to the bottom of the hill it is pitch black and the atmosphere is incredible.”

“Festivals often happen in towns that feel excluded but the torchlit parade brings us all together through the medium of fire and pipe music.”

This year also sees the return of the popular Crime at the Coo cabaret, featuring an array of crime writers showing off their musical talents, while the annual quiz takes the form of Vaseem Khan and Abir Mukherjee’s “Red Hot Night of a Million Games” in which they aim to steal and mash up the best parts from the game shows of yesteryear.

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Guests at the festival, which will run for four days from September 15-18, include Sir Ian Rankin, Anthony Horowitz, Lisa Unger, Jeffrey Archer, Ann Cleeves and Frankie Boyle.

Those who can’t make it to Stirling can buy digital passes for individual events or the whole weekend. Writers Val McDermid, David Baldacci, Sara Paretsky, Donna Leon and Irvine Welsh will all join live for digital sessions. More information about online events can be found here