top of page

Keggie Carew:  Beastly: A New History of Animals and Us    

BEASTLY, throws readers headlong into the mind-blowing glittering pageant of life, and goes in search of our most revealing encounters with the animal world to show where we’ve come from and where we’re going. What does it mean when a young woman befriends a boar, a gorilla tells a joke, or a fish thinks? What does a wren sing? Beastly is the 40,000-year story of our changing kinship, reframing our understanding of what it is like to be an animal and what our role is as humans. There has never been a greater urgency to understand this foundational relationship, it has shaped our lives, our land, our civilisation, our planet, and if reimagined, could save it. 


Keggie is also the author of Dadland which won the 2016 Costa Biography Award and was a Sunday Times bestseller. She lives in Wiltshire with her husband, Jonathan, where they have rewilded 24 acres at Underhill Wood Nature Reserve for fauna, flora and the education of young people.


Hugh McMillan: History according to Hugh McMillan

with announcement of the winner of this year’s prestigious

Deirdre Roberts Poetry Prize


Hugh McMillan, poet and historian, leads us on a hilarious and electrifying trip through some of the lesser known by-ways of Scotland’s history. Scottish history as you’ve never heard it and, sometimes, as it never actually was. With a touch of Hugh’s own history thrown in.


‘Hugh McMillan is one of the funniest readers of poetry I’ve ever heard’.   Ali Smith 


Hugh is a poet from South-west Scotland, and is judge of this year’s poetry competition and is a renowned poet from South-West Scotland whose work has been widely published. He has won numerous prizes including, the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award in 2017 for Sheep Penned, published by Roncadora; the same award in 2009 for Postcards from the Hedge. He has been a winner in the Smith/Doorstop Prize, and the Cardiff International Poetry Competition, and has also been shortlisted for both the Michael Marks and the Basil Bunting poetry awards. In early 2023 he was chosen as poet most likely to offend the Prime Minister and travelled to London to do just that in celebration of Robert Burns at No 10 Downing Street.

James Crawford: Wild History – Journeys into Lost Scotland


You scramble up over the dunes of an isolated beach. You climb to the summit of a lonely hill. You pick your way through the eerie hush of a forest. And then you find them. The traces of the past. Perhaps they are marked by a tiny symbol on your map, perhaps not. There are no plaques to explain their fading presence before you, nothing to account for what they once were – who made them, lived in them, or abandoned them. Now they are merged with the landscape and are reclaimed by nature. They are wild history.

In this book acclaimed author and presenter James Crawford introduces many such places all over the country, from the ruins of prehistoric forts and ancient, arcane burial sites, to abandoned bothies and boathouses, and the derelict traces of old, faded industry.

James is a writer and broadcaster. His first major book, Fallen Glory: The Lives and Deaths of History’s Greatest Buildings was shortlisted for the Saltire Literary Award for best non-fiction. His other books include Who Built Scotland: 25 Journeys in Search of a Nation, Scotland’s Landscapes and The Edge of the Plain: How Borders Make and Break Our World. His most recent book is Wild History: Journeys into Lost Scotland. In 2019 he was named as the Archive and Records Association’s first-ever 'Explore Your Archives' Ambassador. He has written and presented three series of the BBC One landmark documentary series Scotland from the Sky which was Shortlisted as ‘Best Factual Series’ at the Royal Television Society Awards Scotland. 

We are sorry that Jenny Colgan has had to cancel her visit to the Hoolie, however we are excited to have the wonderful Sandy Winterbottom to fill her slot at 11am on Saturday 11th November. Her book The Two- Headed Whale is shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Saltire Prize for first book. 
We will refund tickets for Jenny’s event, but really hope you might consider joining us for Sandy’s instead at the same time instead. Once again, we apologies and thank you for your support. 
The Two-Headed Whale | Sandy Winterbottom
In 2016, Sandy Winterbottom embarked on a tall-ship voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula. Through vivid and vital descriptions we follow her journey across the vast southern oceans. But sailing alongside her is the shadow of Anthony Ford, a 15 year old from Edinburgh, who’s grave Winterbottom encounters on the tiny island of South Georgia, leading to an obsession that diverts her adventure into the brutal world of industrial-scale whaling. In the third part of the book, the stories converge in this unlikely true-life tale of a vegan who ends up befriending the men that partook in the slaughter of two-million whales.
In a world that seems increasingly divided, The Two-Headed Whale reminds us of our common humanity and resurects a history of environmental exploitation that holds crucial parallels with the modern day climate emergency.  

Molly Arbuthnott replaces Jonathan Meres for a special event for the Hoolie Hoolets. 
Molly is a Scottish teacher, author, editor, and academic who is passionate about the promotion of children’s literature. 

She transitioned her career to children’s literature in 2019 and completed a Master’s in Children’s Literature in 2021 at Glasgow University. Molly crafts narratives that are simultaneously honest and gentle, teaching children about empathy, teamwork and moral courage. Each story is loosely based on family or friends who have been important in her life whilst also trying to tell stories in an honest way. Each book collaborates with a charity which is associated with the theme of the book in some way. 
Molly has written eleven award winning children’s picture books. Her writing has received acclaim during book tours worldwide and won national awards; they have been shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize, won the Wishing Shelf Book awards and the Firebird Book Awards. She’s shared academic papers with IRSCL Congress. She has been published in the ‘Once Upon Another Time’ anthology by the Book Whisperers and she has received the Emily Dickinson Award. She has a contract with Celene Press in Greece and Select Books in USA. 


SandyWinterbottom_BL (1).jpeg

Denise Mina – Darkland Tales

From the gruesome murder of Rizzio, to her award-winning best-selling Garnethill trilogy, Denise is an outstanding Scottish crime writer and playwright revered as an author of Tartan Noir fiction. She has also dabbled in comic book writing. Born in East Kilbride in 1966, her novels include The End of the Wasp Season and Gods and Beasts, both of which won the prestigious Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award in consecutive years. Her novel Conviction was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick and a Sunday Times, Observer and Telegraph 'Book of the Year'. Denise also writes short stories, and plays and regularly contributes to TV and radio.

Lin Anderson – The Wild Coast:

A remote shoreline. A lethal killer. As lone visitors disappear from the rural northwest of Scotland, campsites are becoming crime scenes. The Wild Coast is a chilling new thriller – indeed Lin’s inspiration for this latest dark, and murderous tale came from a well-known and popular campsite very close to us here – beware! When forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod is brought in to analyse a shallow grave on Scotland’s west coast, she is disturbed by a bundle of twigs crafted into a stickman and left in the victim’s mouth. Then, when a young woman is reported missing from a nearby campsite with another sinister figurine left in her van, it seems that someone is targeting wild campers. An idyllic coastline known for providing peace and serenity, now the area is a hunting ground.

Lin is an author and screenwriter known for her bestselling crime series featuring forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod. In 2022, she was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger Library Award. Four of her novels have been longlisted for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, with Follow the Dead being a 2018 finalist. Her short film River Child won both a Scottish BAFTA for Best Fiction and the Celtic Film Festival's Best Drama award and has now been viewed over a million times on YouTube. Lin is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Bloody Scotland.

Sir John Lister-Kaye - Footprints in the Woods 


Footprints in the woods is John’s account of a year spent observing the comings and goings of otters, badgers, weasels and pine martens. This family - Mustelidae - all live in the wild at Aigas, the conservation and field study centre that has been John's home for nearly half a century. With the patient and meticulous care of a true naturalist, John observes and records the lives, habits and habitats of these elusive animals. Hours of careful waiting and watching in the woods and loch, the river, fields and moorland is rewarded with insight into how these animals live when unhindered by human interference, sometimes red in tooth and claw, but often playful, familial, curious and surprising.


John is one of Scotland’s best-known naturalists and a lecturer of international repute.  He was a Times columnist and is the author of ten books on nature and wildlife.  Gods of the Morning (2015) won the inaugural Richard Jefferies Prize for nature writing. In a 40-year career he was the first Chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage for the Highlands & Islands, President of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and Chairman of the government’s Environmental Training Organisation and is a Vice President of RSPB. In 1986 he received the World Wilderness Foundation’s gold award for environmental education; he has received honorary doctorates from St Andrew’s and Stirling Universities and in 2003 he was awarded an OBE for services to nature conservation.  In 2016 he was awarded the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s Geddes Medal for conservation and made an honorary FRSGS.

Tom McClean – Between A Rock and a Hard Place

Former SAS soldier, Paratrooper and Adventurer Tom has a wealth of remarkable stories. A veteran of both the Parachute Regiment and the SAS, he is a survival expert. He survived life on the island of Rockall, in 1985 from 26 May to 4 July to affirm Britain’s claim to it; this is the third longest human occupancy of the island, surpassed in 1997 by a team from Greenpeace that spent 42 days on the island, and in 2014 by Nick Hancock who endured 45 days there. Following his retirement from military service, he gained fame for numerous feats of endurance. He holds the world record as the first man to row across the Atlantic from west to east solo in 1969. In 1982 he sailed across the Atlantic in the smallest boat to accomplish that crossing. The self-built boat measured 9 feet and 9 inches, and because of the weight of the food took seven weeks to cross. His record was broken three weeks later by a sailor in a 9 foot 1-inch-long boat. In response McClean, used a chainsaw to cut two foot off his own vessel making it 7 foot 9 inches long. During the return trip he lost his mast - the journey took even longer than his first attempt, but he regained the record.

In 1990 Tom completed a west-east crossing in a 37 ft bottle-shaped vessel. The Typhoo Atlantic Challenger sailed from New York to Falmouth.   This vessel is now preserved at Fort William Diving Centre. Tom’s most recent feat was the construction, in 1996, of a boat shaped like a giant whale, which completed a circumnavigation of Britain. 'Moby' Prince of Whales, is 25 ft high and 65 ft long. It has a spout which can launch water as high as 6 metres in the air.

Duncan Chisholm


Duncan Chisholm is one of Scotland’s most accomplished fiddle players and composers.  He has spent most of his life developing his unique musical voice.   His feather-light handling of dynamics and ornamentation, allied with his pure-distilled tone, lend characteristic spine-tingling magic to his music. He regularly plays with Gaelic singing sensation Julie Fowlis and sets the heather on fire with his folk-rock band Wolfstone. Duncan also composes music for BBC documentaries as well as most of the tunes that feature on his fabulous albums. He returns to A Write Highland Hoolie this year, by popular demand and will also be running another of our Hoolie School of Music Sessions together with Hamish Napier, for senior music pupils at Mallaig High School.

Hamish Napier


Hamish Napier is an innovator - a Scottish folk multi-instrumentalist, educator and composer inspired by the heritage and nature of his native landscape. He transcends boundaries with jazz, electronic and classical techniques combining wooden flutes, fiddles and pipes, with a modern rhythm section and pioneering techniques. Like Duncan he collaborates with many leading artists including, Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson, and Julie Fowlis and the late Martyn Bennett.

Jim Mackintosh


Jim Mackintosh is a poet, editor and producer based in Perthshire who has published six collections of poetry, and edited or co-edited four anthologies including The Darg (contemporary poems celebrating the centenary of Hamish Henderson) as well as the critically acclaimed Beyond The Swelkie, a celebration in poems and essays to mark the centenary of George Mackay Brown. Beyond the Swelkie spawned a multi-media production for which Jim collaborated with renowned musicians Duncan Chisholm and Hamish Napier.

He is the current Makar of the Cateran EcoMuseum in East Perthshire and the Angus Glens. Jim was one of the creators of the Hamish Matters Festival in Blairgowrie, which aims to celebrate the life and legacy of Hamish Henderson who was born in the town.

Jonathan Meres


Former paper boy, merchant seaman, ice cream van driver, hand model, pop video extra, voice-over artist and Perrier Award-nominated stand-up comedian. As an actor he’s appeared on television and in movies. As a writer he’s written for TV and radio but is best known for being the author of over 40 books for children and in particular his best-selling, award-winning series, The World of Norm, which has been translated into more than 20 languages.  Jonathan's hugely entertaining live performances ensure that he’s in constant demand at schools and book festivals throughout the UK and beyond.

Jenny Brown


Edinburgh based literary agency Jenny Brown Associates was established in 2002. Jenny works with 50 writers of literary fiction and narrative non-fiction, mostly based in Scotland. She was previously first director of Edinburgh International Book Festival (of which she’s now vice-chair), Head of Literature at Creative Scotland and one of the Founders of Edinburgh as first UNESCO City of Literature. She is former Chair of Bloody Scotland crime writing festival.  Jenny was shortlisted as Agent of the Year in 2014 and 2020. In demand to chair numerous literary events, Jenny’s positive approach, kind and patient advice to dozens of authors has culminated in making her one of the best-loved literary figures in Scotland. She will be running a workshop with senior English students keen to further a career in writing, or book promotion.

Ross Ainslie


Multi-instrumentalist Ross whose piping and whistle playing is legendary, is three-times nominated Musician of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He won best duo in the same awards with Ali Hutton in 2017 and won Composer of the Year in 2015 at the Scots Trad Music Awards. He performs with bands including Treacherous Orchestra, Salsa Celtica, Dougie Maclean and many, many more. To date, Ross has produced five impressive solo albums, and continues to compose his own outstanding, eclectic material – music that instils awe.

Tim Edey

Tim Edey is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist. He is a double BBC Musician of the year (BBC Folk Awards 2012) and BBC Scotland 2020. He was The Chieftains’ guitarist and accordionist of choice for 10 years touring globally and appearing with artists including Ry Cooder and Paul Brady. He also has a long-standing solo career. Rated by many in the Celtic Folk scene as one of the world’s finest guitarists and melodeon players, he has recorded & toured with Christy Moore, Altan,  Natalie MacMaster, Julie Fowlis and Lunasa. With his  equally award-winning smile and wonderfully madcap demeanour, his performances, particularly when paired with Ross are guaranteed to leave you glowing for months after!

Alan Windram 


Hoolie favourite, and now very much integral to our annual programme, Alan is a publisher, award-winning author and writer of the hugely popular Mac and Bob series of picture books and a Puppy’s Tale. His first One Button Benny book won the Bookbug Book Prize in 2019. Alan is on the road for much of the year taking part in book festivals, school, and library events. He loves meeting children, telling stories, singing songs and doing some ‘robot dancing’. He is an accomplished singer-songwriter with four independent albums of original songs under his belt. He has toured extensively with some of Scotland's top musical artists. His latest book, One Button Benny and the Dinosaur Dilemma was published earlier this year to wide acclaim. Alan lives in Argyll and Bute with his wife and two cats Sparkie and George.

Breege Smyth


Our much-loved Hoolie team member and expert chair is a couture trained fashion designer who has worked in the Industry for over 35 years, today she teaches pattern making/sewing to keen learners and mentors 'start-up' textile companies. She is a past Deacon of the Incorporation of Weavers of Glasgow  and is currently writing  a book about textiles in Scotland. She will be at Mallaig High School to chat to pupils about careers in the fashion industry. During her school session - From Rags to Riches she will explore the challenges and opportunities facing the ‘rag-trade’. What does the future look like?  Can it be sustainable? What career paths does this industry offer?  Can we really turn rags to riches?