Renowned Scottish children’s artist and illustrator, Kate Leiper will be joining us for a special children’s event at our Hoolie. Her much-loved illustration work includes The Book of the Howlat, by James Robertson, An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Mythological Creatures, by Theresa Breslin, following on from the success of An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales. For this project she was longlisted for the Kate Greenaway Award. More books are in production, including A Wee Bird was Watching by singer/song writer, Karine Polwart, which will be hot off the press in time for our exciting event.

We are thrilled that multi-award winning children's author, screenwriter and novelist, Barry Hutchison will be holding a special event for Mallaig High School pupils during our exciting Write Highland Hoolie in November. He also once came second in an archery competition, but as only two people entered, he doesn't tend to boast about it. As well as writing over 80 books for children and teenagers, Barry regularly contributes to comics like The Beano and DC Super Hero Girls, and has written for both the comic-book and TV versions of the US animated series, Supermansion, starring Bryan Cranston and Chris Pine. When not writing, Barry enjoys talking about writing, thinking about writing, and compulsively eating biscuits until he feels sick.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Charles MacLean will no longer be opening our festival. However the excellent news is that Dr Marc Ellington - raconteur and musician takes his place. One of the UK's leading Built Heritage Conservationists, his contributions to numerous publications addressing a wide range of subjects relating to Scotland's culture, history and heritage include compiling and editing, 'Scotland's Secret History - The Illicit Distilling and Smuggling of Whisky' together with authors Charles MacLean and Daniel MacCannell.

He has served on the board of Historic Environment Scotland; The Historic Buildings Council; The Heritage Lottery Fund; The British Heritage Committee; and The National Galleries of Scotland.

Formerly a renowned folk singer he recorded, and performed extensively with Fairport Convention.

We assure you that with his fabulous story telling, intimate knowledge of whisky and musical talents, Marc is certainly no second best.

Much-loved broadcaster and journalist Sally Magnusson will be joining us in November. She has written 10 books, most famously, her Sunday Times bestseller, WHERE MEMORIES GO (2014) about her mother's dementia. Half- Icelandic, half-Scottish, Sally has inherited a rich storytelling tradition. THE SEALWOMAN’S GIFT is her first novel and she will be telling us about the inspiration for this moving story based on fact.

Well-known Scottish literary critic and author Stuart Kelly latest book, the Minister and the Murderer, A Book of Aftermaths, is according to Richard Holloway - 'A colossal achievement one of the most moving and profound books I have read in a long time'. Stuart's work includes The Book of Lost Books, and Scott-Land: The Man who Invented a Nation, which was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. Former literary editor of Scotland on Sunday, Stuart also writes for the Guardian, Spectator and The Times, is a regular broadcaster for the BBC and chairs a great many literary talks throughout Scotland. In 2014 he was a judge for the Man Booker Prize. He lives in the Borders and is a regular churchgoer. He recently completed a course in leading church worship and is pondering where his path of faith next leads.

Paul Murton is renowned and celebrated for his fine documentary film making. His work includes the extremely popular television series - Grand Tours of Scotland and Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands. He grew up in rural Argyll and has been an inveterate traveller since his teenage years. The Hebrides, published in 2017 by Birlinn, is his first book. Appropriately given his love of the area, he will be joining us in November in Mallaig to tell us more of his fascinating life and travels.

Polly Pullar is a naturalist who specialises in wildlife and countryside matters. She is also a wildlife rehabilator who contributes to a wide selection of publications including the Scots Magazine, BBC Wildlife, Scottish Field, & People’s Friend. She has written numerous book and her latest, A Richness of Martens, focuses not only on this mercurial mustelid and the extraordinary story of Les and Chris Humphreys who have turned their garden on the shores of Loch Sunart over entirely to martens, but is also a deeply personal celebration of Ardnamurchan’s Atlantic oak woods through the author’s intimate encounters with its diverse wildlife.

Angus MacDonald is a Lochaber entrepreneur who was brought up in Glencoe. He left school early to join the Queens Own Highlanders, before starting his first business in data publishing at the age of 26. He currently has companies in Renewable Energy, Recycling and Online Education.
Angus’s passion is the economy of the West Highlands and endeavouring to find ways to make it thrive. He started the Moidart Trust, a charitable venture to help companies in their early stages, and also founded and ran the Caledonian Challenge raising £13m for charity. He was joint founder of The Highland Book shop, and is Chairman of The Highland Soap Company. He was awarded an OBE for his charitable work.
His second novel, ‘We fought for Ardnish is a sequel to the popular ‘Ardnish was home’, and is hot off the press – and given Angus’ persuasive skills it is likely you will shortly find it the length and breadth of Scotland in every available retail outlet.

Dubbed the Queen of Crime, Val McDermid has sold over 15 million books and her work is translated into over 30 languages. She is perhaps best-known for her Wire in the Blood series, featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan, adapted for television starring Robson Green. She has written three other series and has also published a lengthy list of novels, plays and short story collections and a children’s picture book; her work has won numerous international awards. She makes regular appearances on TV and radio, has been Celebrity Mastermind champion, captained the winning University Challenge alumnae team, and judged various literary awards. This year she is a judge for the Man Booker Prize. In 2017 she was elected a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Recently she shot to further fame teaming-up with fellow crime writers, Stuart Neville, Mark Billingham, Doug Johnstone Luca Veste and Chris Brookmyre to form the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a full-on rawk experience, murdering songs for fun in front of anyone who will listen. A Write Highland Hoolie is in for a treat!

Mairi Hedderwick is a graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, and was a teacher before she began illustrating children’s books. Her most popular character, Katie Morag, was created in 1984. Katie Morag’s home on the fictional Hebridean island of Struay is not a million sea miles away from her author’s life long association with the Isle of Coll. In 2013 Katie Morag joined Cbeebies with the successful TV series produced by Move On Up.

Mairi has also written and illustrated many other books for children and adults, all with the backdrop of the Highlands and Islands. She was awarded an Honorary Degree from Stirling University in 2003 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to writing and illustration in Scotland, especially for children.  Recently she has been awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the RIAS.

Her illustrated adult books include An Eye on the Hebrides, Highland Journey, Sea Change,  & Shetland Rambles. The Last Laird of Coll is a memoir of Kenneth Stewart.

Bernard MacLaverty was born in Belfast but now lives in Glasgow. He has published five collections of short stories, most of which are gathered into his Collected Stories (Vintage) and five novels – Lamb, Cal, Grace Notes (short listed for the Booker Prize) The Anatomy School and Midwinter Break. He has written versions of his fiction for other media - radio plays, television plays, screenplays and libretti. He wrote and directed a short film ‘Bye-Child’ which won a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best First Director and a BAFTA nomination for Best Short Film. He is a member of Aosdana in Ireland. 

Andrew Greig is a widely-enjoyed writer of poetry, non-fiction memoirs, and novels including, Electric Brae, Found At Sea, At the Loch of the Green Corrie  and You Know What You Could Be: tuning in to the 1960s (with Mike heron), and Fair Helen, being his latest in each form. He enjoys reading/performing from his work, and tends to play banjo and guitar. A full-time writer, he is married to novelist Lesley Glaister; they live and work in Edinburgh and Orkney.

Colin Speedie has the sea in his blood. Born in Aberdeen within sight of the North Sea, he began his nautical apprenticeship as a child in Devon, sailing small boats around the local coastline.

As time went by, a love of exploration led him to extend his horizons beyond the English Channel, altering course northwards through the Irish Sea to the wild waters of the Western Islesof Scotland. A professional yacht skipper for much of his life,he took a circuitous route to marine conservation, skippering scientific research vessels on projects studying whales, dolphins, sharks, seabirds and turtles. He is best known for his pioneering work spearheading one of Britain’s longest running boat-based citizen science studies on the whereabouts of the Basking Shark through Britain’s western seaboard. His findings have enabled government agencies, university teams and fellow sea-users to better understand this enigmatic creature.

With sailing, wilderness, history, conservation and writing as hislife’s callings, Colin’s life has become entwined with the fate of the Basking Shark. Colin and his wife Louise divide their time between their home in Falmouth, Cornwall, and sailing the world aboard their yacht Pèlerin – French for ‘Basking Shark’!

Robert Wight is the Editor of The Scots Magazine and was named Consumer Magazine Editor of the Year at the Scottish Magazine Awards, 2016.

Before taking the helm of The Scots Magazine – the oldest magazine in the world still in publication (1739) – Robert worked in the newspaper industry for a decade. He started his career as a news reporter, before specialising as an investigative journalist and working on high-profile campaigns. Alongside this work, Robert was lead feature writer on The Sunday Post.

A mountaineer and climber, Robert is passionate about Scotland’s outdoors. He recently completed a round of the Munros and is now working his way through the Corbetts. Robert is at his happiest exploring Scotland’s remote and wild places. He particularly loves winter climbing – the colder and more miserable the better!

Elsa Jean McTaggart is one of eleven children who grew up on a croft in Highland Perthshire. Her family now lives on the Isle of Lewis. Her illustrious musical career began when she was 20 and since then she has become renowned far and wide, and toured in Ireland with the legendary Finbar Furey.  With the voice of an angel her performances are mesmerising. She writes much of her own material in a wide range of genres. She is currently learning Gaelic and has already made her mark with her Gaelic singing. She plays guitar, fiddle, button box and penny whistle, and is also a fabulous storyteller. Bewitching her audiences, her performances are colourful. Her husband, equally talented musician - GARY LISTER, who hails from Fife, accompanies her. He plays piano/keyboards, piano accordion and vocals. As a duo their Mercenary Fiddler Tour proved highly successful and included their trademark eclectic selection of music: Scottish and Irish folk, Country, & Rock.

Fiona Mackenzie was born in Aberdeen and has lived in the Highlands for most of her life. She is a graduate in Music and Scottish History from Aberdeen University, has a degree in Librarianship and recently  graduated with a Masters degree ( Distinction) in Songwriting & Performance from the University of the West of Scotland. Always a singer, she began her career as a professional Gaelic singer in the mid 90’s and won the Royal National Mod Gold medal for Gaelic Singing, in Stornoway in 2005. She is a recording artist on the Greentrax label and has produced four commercial albums. She took up post as the Archivist for the National Trust for Scotland in Canna House on the Isle of Canna in the Inner Hebrides,  in May 2015 and describes her post in curating and developing awareness of  the Campbell Collections of Song ,Folklore & Films “as her dream job”.

JIM CRUMLEY is a nature writer with more than 30 books to his name.

In the last few years he has written books about whales, wolves, the native forest of Scotland, eagles and the reintroduction of beavers. He has also begun a series of short monographs called “Encounters in the Wild” (the first four titles are Fox, Barn Owl, Hare and Swan). Hot off the press for Mallaig will be a new full-length work, The Nature of Autumn, a very personal exploration of the most flamboyant of the seasons all across Scotland from Harris, Skye and the West Highlands to Wigtown Bay to the Berwickshire coast, the Tay Estuary, the Cairngorms, and especially in what he calls his nature writer’s territory, among the mountains, lochs, forests and river valleys where Highlands and Lowlands collide and overlap. Jim is also a widely published poet, and a journalist with a weekly column in The Courier, and a monthly one in The Scots Magazine.

CAMILLE DRESSLER plays an active part in community regeneration on the Isle of Eigg as a Director of the Isle of Eigg Craft Shop, also an active Community Councillor she supports academic programmes in rural and island contexts. She devotes time to finding ways to improve the economic and social well being of island communities. She is involved with the Scottish Islands Federation and the European Small Islands Networks. 


As a volunteer and Director she helped build the organisation that owns and runs the Isle of Eigg, experiencing at first hand the benefits of working in a co-operative way. She has seen the role that creative thinking and learning as a group can have in improving community dynamics. With her literary background and training as a folklore collector, she has put together the definitive tale of her island, Eigg, the story of an island. She founded Comunn Eachdraidh Eige, and now delivers cultural interpretation through her own art organisation Ealan nan Eilean/Island Arts.

DEBI GLIORI, who lives in Edinburgh is well known for both her picture books and children’s novels, and has been shortlisted for all the major prizes, including the Kate Greenaway Award (twice) and the Scottish Arts Council Award. Debi was the Shetland Islands’ first Children’s Writer-in-Residence. She published her first book in 1990 and since then has published so many successful books that she has lost count. She has written and illustrated No Matter What, The Trouble With Dragons, Stormy Weather, The Scariest Thing of All, What's the Time, Mr Wolf?, Dragon Loves Penguin and, most recently, Alfie in the Bath and Alfie in the Garden for Bloomsbury. The Tobermory Cat is extremely popular, and her new Hebridean Alphabet came out this summer
SUE LAWRENCE is a multi award-winning food writer, author of 15 cookery books including ‘Sue Lawrence on Baking’, A Cook's Tour of Scotland and Scottish Baking. Her illustrious career started as a journalist then, after winning BBC Masterchef in 1991, she embarked on a new career as a food columnist for various newspapers and magazines. She is now also writing fiction, her debut novel Fields of Blue Flax was published in 2015 to wide acclaim, and The Night He Left a dark tale based around the Tay Rail Disaster, came out this year.
JOHN LOVE was born in Inverness, and is a graduate in Zoology from Aberdeen University. He managed the Sea Eagle Reintroduction for the Nature Conservancy Council on the Isle of Rum from 1975-1985. Then, as a freelance author and illustrator, he published and illustrated several books on a wide range of natural history subjects. In 1992 he was appointed Area Officer for Scottish Natural Heritage covering the Uists, Barra and St Kilda until he retired in 2006. He still lives in South Uist and again works as a freelance author, also giving illustrated lectures about the Hebrides and about his travels to many parts of the world, islands and seabirds being particular passions.

ANGUS MACDONALD was bought up in Glencoe, where his parents ran the Clachaig Inn. He went straight to the Queens own

Highlanders aged 18, serving at Sandhurst, the Falklands and Northern Ireland, here he met his future wife. He became a ski guide in the French Alps before blagging his way into finance, where he adored his four years as an investment manager in Edinburgh. Aged 26 he founded Edinburgh Financial Publishing, then Financial News followed, and eventually sold in 2007. He is involved in several businesses, and runs TheMoidart Trust.  Angus has always written for newspapers and other media.

‘Ardnishwas Home’

was started in 2000 and continued when on holiday over the following decades. His love for the people and stories of the West Highlands and Islands shines through, and as his hero Donald Peter Gillies moves from Peanmeanach, on the Ardnish peninsula, and off to Gallipoli, he gets every chance to tell his beloved nurse the anecdotest that flow throughout the book. 

The author’s family are from Roybridge, his ancestors founded the distillery in Fort William and his father still has a sheep farm nearby. Angus, his wife Michie (and their four boys) have a house at Roshven

and have lived their 30 years of married life in the Highlands.

DONALD S. MURRAY is from Ness in the Isle of Lewis. A former teacher now living in Shetland, he has published a number of books, winning the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship, the Jessie Kesson Writing Fellowship and obtaining a Creative Scotland travel bursary for researching a non-fiction book about the herring industry – Herring Tales; How The Silver Darlings Shaped Human Taste And History Featuring Mallaig alongside ports in locations as far away as Iceland, the western edge of Norway and Baltic coast of Germany, this book has received wide-ranging and excellent reviews, including in the Spectator, Economist, Geographical, Scottish Review of Books and BBC Countryfile. It was chosen as one of the best Nature books of 2015 in the Guardian. His poetry has also been included among the Scottish Poetry Library’s Best Scottish Poems on three occasions in recent years. His previous books including ‘The Guga Hunters’, ‘Weaving Songs’,‘The Guga Stone’ and‘SY StorY’ – have also been generously praised.


The Gaelic drama production, Sequamur was his first full-length play and toured throughout much of Scotland. Produced by Proiseact Nan Ealan, it was also performed in Ireland, London and in Flanders Museum in Ypres, Belgium.

STUART MURRAY has an association with the Hebrides stretching back to 1974, when he went out to St Kilda to work on the breeding biology of puffins. In subsequent years he has returned many times, conducting aerial surveys of the gannet population, working with archaeologists, and even acting as the island warden in the 1990s. Subsequent work has taken him to most of the remotest islands and he has published academic papers on a variety of their marine birds, including the Manx Shearwater's of Rum and Leach's Petrel on North Rona. As a result of the Rona work he met Robert Atkinson in 1980 and enjoyed a friendship with him until his death in 1995. Robert left him the ms of 'A Stag from Rum' published in 2015 by the Islands Book Trust, which he will talk about at the festival.   

POLLY PULLAR is a full-time writer and photographer whose work reflects a passion for the natural world and includes, Rural Portraits, Scotland Native Farm Animals, Characters & Landscapes, Further Afield with a Camera, Dancing with Ospreys, Fauna Scotica, People and Animals in Scotland, and A Drop in the Ocean – Lawrence MacEwen & the Island of Muck. She is currently the wildlife writer for the Scottish Field, and has contributed to the Scots Magazine and People’s Friend for the past 25 years. She regularly contributes to a wide selection of other publications including, Tractor and Farming Heritage, The Scottish Farmer, The Field, & Scottish Wildlife. She is currently working on a nature-writing memoir, and is providing the text for a book on red squirrels with the wildlife photographer Neil McIntyre. Having grown-up farming in Ardnamurchan she is a great supporter of remote rural communities. She is a wildlife rehabilitator and wildlife guide, and lives in Highland Perthshire with an extended menagerie, including owls and a red deer hind. 


has worked extensively in Gaelic education, history

and research. He studied history at Edinburgh University and was a  lecturer in teacher training at the Northern College in Aberdeen. Now retired, he lives with his wife beside Loch Morar. His numerous books include,

Tales of the Morar Highlands, and his famous, bestselling Midges

MICHAEL F. RUSSELL, is deputy editor of the West Highland Free Press. His debut novel ‘Lie of the Land’ documents an outsider’s journey towards uneasy redemption in a dystopian near-future Scotland. It was shortlisted for the Saltire Society’s First Book of the Year Award for 2015 and is out in paperback in June of this year. Michael Russell grew up on the Isle of Barra, and is a University of Glasgow graduate.

JESS SMITH who is a brilliant raconteur, was raised as a Scottish Traveller. Her home a blue Bedford bus shared with parents and seven sisters was her base of many summers, and the platform for her colourful writing. She now lives in Glen Lednock with husband Dave, a keen photographer. Her life is dedicated to unearthing the little known history of the Tinker people for future generations. She began writing in 2000, and has a biographical trilogy: Jessie’s Journey, Tales from the Tent and Tears for a Tinker, a novel, and a storybook. Her latest book, Way of the Wanderers, captures their turbulent history and reveals centuries of violence towards Travellers.