Authors 2021

Chris Brookmyre: The Cut.  

 

One of Britain’s leading, award-winning crime writers, Chris’ books have sold millions of copies - Black Widow won both the McIlvanney Prize and the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year award. Born in Glasgow, his novels mix comedy, politics, social comment and action with a strong narrative. In 2020 he was the winner of the Crime Writer's Association Dagger in the Library. His prolific output also includes writing with his wife – Dr Marisa Haetzman, under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry.

 

Chris is also a vital band member of Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers with fellow crime-writing stars – Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Doug Johnstone, Stuart Neville, and Luca Veste. Their burgeoning fan base agrees that they are astonishingly good at murdering their bloody songs for the sheer joy of it.

 

Chris’ latest novel, The Cut, features Millie Spark, who will kill anyone. A special effects make-up artist, her talent is to create realistic scenes of bloody violence. Then, one day, she wakes to find her lover dead in her bed. Twenty-five years later, her sentence for murder served, Millicent is ready to give up on her broken life - until she meets troubled film student and reluctant petty thief, Jerry. Together, they begin to discover that all was not what it seemed on that fateful night and someone doesn't want them to find out why.

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Paul Murton: The Highlands

With Duncan Chisholm & Hamish Napier

 

Paul is well-known and loved as a TV presenter, broadcaster, and historian, and for his colourful travelogues around Scotland. In his latest book, The Highlands, his peregrinations take him to spectacularly beautiful parts of the country. Here his instinct for the unusual, sense of humour and fresh eye uncover wonderful stories relating to people and places as he meets numerous modern Highlanders, from caber tossers and gamekeepers to lairds and pipers.  As well as visiting popular areas including Glencoe, Ben Nevis and the Cairngorms, many of the locations he includes are remote and little-known.  He also uncovers strange tales, myths and legends: stories of Jacobites, clan warfare, murder and cattle rustling – as well as hilarious anecdotes based on his extensive personal experience of a place he loves to call home.

In this unique event, Paul will be chatting to musicians Duncan Chisholm and Hamish Napier. They will play tunes associated with or appropriate to many of the places discussed. So prepare for a most exhilarating and moving session with three of Scotland's most excellent ambassadors, and a free dram.

Donald S. Murray:  For the Safety of All: A Story of Scotland’s Lighthouses

Donald was born in Ness in the Isle of Lewis. He has written numerous books, essays, columns, short stories, and poems. His writing, both fiction and non-fiction, has received widespread critical acclaim. As the Women Lay Dreaming, his debut novel, won the Paul Torday Memorial Award in 2020. It was shortlisted for The Herald Scottish Culture Awards Outstanding Literature Award and the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award in 2019. His latest novel, In a Veil of Mist, is receiving outstanding accolades.

Lighthouses are a stoic presence that punctuate Scotland's jagged coasts and islands. Since the construction of the earliest of these hardy structures, they have provided a lifeline for seafarers at the mercy of treacherous weather and dubious navigation. Today over 100 of Scotland's lighthouses are listed buildings. Donald explores their fascinating history through storytelling and the voices of the lightkeepers. From ancient beacons to the work of the Stevensons and the Northern Lighthouse Board, and from wartime strife to automation and preservation, lighthouses stand as a testament to the nation's innate connection to the sea.

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Vivian French

Vivian has written more than 300 books for children, including picture books, non-fiction, early readers and longer novels; her books have been amongst the most borrowed in libraries for the past twenty years. The Literary Review described her as,   'a writer of tremendous charm...' While the Sunday Telegraph said that she is,  'A sublime story teller...’

 

She co-founded Picture Hooks, a much-acclaimed project supporting and mentoring emerging illustrators, and regularly runs masterclasses and workshops. In 2016 she received an MBE for services to literature, literacy, illustration, and the arts, and in 2018 the Outstanding Achievement award from Scottish Book Trust. 

 

We are thrilled that she has agreed to join us at this year’s event and will be with pupils in Mallaig Primary School on Friday. She will also be running a special workshop for senior English pupils at Mallaig High School, together with Literary Agent, Jenny Brown, and freelance writer, editor, interviewer and book festival programmer Lee Randall.

Alan Windram

Alan is the author of numerous children's picture books, including the 2019 BookBug Picture Book Prize-winning, One Button Benny. He is also a publisher and co-founder of indie children's publishing house Little Door Books. He writes the kind of stories that he loved reading as child - fun adventures with the odd twist and moral tale.

 

His picture book events are highly interactive full of songs, images, stories, audience interaction and participation. There is often some robot dancing too! Alan has taken his events all over Scotland and Northern England, working in schools, libraries and book festivals.

This year Alan is the judge of our children's writing and art competitions, both themed – Lighthouse in honour of Donald S. Murray's latest book, For the Safety of All. Alan will present prizes and perform at our celebration tea party on Sunday afternoon. This family event is not only for the community's youngest members, but all our festival visitors too – prepare for a cheery end to a fabulous weekend rounded off with sumptuous and delicious tea and cakes.

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E. S. Thomson (Elaine Thomson): Nightshade

Elaine’s work has been long-listed for the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger and shortlisted for the Saltire Prize, the Scottish Arts Council First Book Award and the William McIlvanney Crime Book of the Year.  She has a PhD in the history of medicine and tries to fit as much medical history into her books as possible.  She lives in Edinburgh with her two sons and works as a university lecturer by day and writes by night.  

 

Nightshade is the fifth book following the adventures of cross-dressing Victorian apothecary Jem Flockhart and her friend Will Quartermain.  A skeleton is uncovered in the physic garden, buried beneath the deadly nightshade.  When Jem and Will start asking questions, the murders begin. Each victim has a past association with the garden; each corpse is found with its jaw broken wide and its mouth stuffed with deadly nightshade... Join ES Thomson in conversation with Lee Randall for a discussion about poisonous plants, murderous plots, and women behaving very, very badly,

Polly Pullar : A Scurry of Squirrels – Nurturing the Wild

Naturalist, author and photographer, Polly spent a formative part of her childhood on Britain’s most westerly mainland peninsula – Ardnamurchan. Here she forged her lifelong passion for the natural world. Polly has since written numerous books on the subject, including Fauna Scotica, Animals & People in Scotland, and A Richness of Martens – Wildlife Tales from the Highlands. As one of Scotland's foremost wildlife and nature writers, for the past 35 years she has contributed regularly to numerous publications including, The Scots Magazine, The People's Friend, BBC Wildlife, SCOTLAND: the Big Picture, Scottish Wildlife, Scotland on Sunday, and The Herald, and was wildlife writer for The Scottish Field for ten years.

Here she discusses the history and natural history of this enchanting mammal that she has come to know on an intimate level having hand-reared numerous kits for return to the wild. This is an enchanting, important portrait of not only the red squirrel but many of the creatures that share their world.

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Ghillie Basan – A Taste of the Highlands & The Scottish Brunch Bible

 

Ghillie Basan has led a colourful and fascinating life. Formerly an Istanbul-based foreign correspondent, then a broadcaster for the BBC, the Cordon Bleu-certified chef has written more than 40 cookbooks. A Scotswoman raised in East Africa with a degree in social anthropology, she now lives in a remote part of the Cairngorms and, as well as writing, runs a wealth of fabulous food workshops. 

 

In her latest book, A Taste of the Highlands, she takes her readers on a journey to visit some of the most beautiful places as she chats to food producers, farmers, fishermen, distillers and local characters about food and life, gleaning recipes along the way. From the wild glens of the Cairngorms National Park and the bountiful fishing villages of the Moray Coast to Loch Ness, Fort William, Ullapool, the rugged bays and barren moors of Caithness and Sutherland and the rich sea lochs and glens of Argyll, Ghillie travels many mountain roads and windswept landscapes.

The result is a spectacular celebration of local produce, including lamb and grass-fed Highland beef, wild venison, fresh salmon and juicy scallops, seasonal fruits and berries, artisan cheeses and bread and, of course, beer, gin and whisky. We will celebrate her new book with a wee taste of gin.

Myrtle Simpson - A Life on Ice

 

Myrtle is a trailblazing pioneer, an intrepid explorer, mountain climber, polar explorer, and writer. In 2017, over 50 years after becoming the first woman to cross the polar ice cap of Greenland on foot she was awarded the Polar Medal for services in the Arctic. Named by National Geographic as one of four women who ‘defied expectations and explored the world.’ Her colourful life has taken her all over the world from Spitsbergen to Greenland, from the Scottish Highlands to New Zealand, from the high Arctic to Peru. During her extraordinary expeditions she frequently took her young children and managed to not only contribute to numerous newspapers and journals to help pay for the trips, but also succeeded in writing 13 books. And she also spent time collecting specimens for important botanical collections around the world. Sadly, her books are now out of print and have become collector’s items and can be found (making high prices) in second-hand bookshops. Now at a very youthful 91 she continues to explore the world around her, regularly swims in the loch close to her home, enjoys feeding a friendly young badger and takes to the hills for long walks with her children and numerous grandchildren all who appear to have inherited a great love of the outdoors. A wonderful humorous raconteur, many of her tales would send a health and safety inspector into orbit. Though she would deny it she is a true explorer of the old school and her amazing life has recently been the subject of a moving celebratory documentary film by Leigh-Anne Sides.

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Leonie Charlton – Marram

 

Marram, Memories of Sea & Spider Silk is Leonie’s first book. Seven years after her mother's death, she is still gripped by memories of their fraught relationship. In May 2017, Leonie trekked through the Outer Hebrides in the company of a friend and their Highland ponies in search of closure. However, when Leonie's pony has a serious accident, she begins to realise that finding peace with her mother is less important than letting go. Marram skillfully blends travel and nature writing with intimate mem oir in this beautifully written account of grief and acceptance.

Much of Leonie’s work is influenced by nature and our connection with the non-human world. She is also the author of poetry as well as fiction and is the joint winner of the Cinnamon Press Poetry Pamphlet Prize. Ten Minutes of Weather Away was published recently, while her writing has appeared in Northwords Now, Causeway/Cabhsair, The Blue Nib, and Dreich. Leonie is currently working on a novel but says that there are always poems in progress too. 

Tom Bowser – A Skyful of Kites

Tom is a journalist and nature writer as well as head ranger at Argaty Red Kites. From his family farm near Dunblane, he runs the award-winning kite project. His first book, A Sky Full of Kites, A Rewilding Story, relates the venture's story and includes the history and natural history of these glorious raptors in Scotland. Together with his family, they have helped re-establish the kite and turn Argaty into a haven for these oft-misunderstood birds. His book also reveals their ongoing work to rewild the farm, encouraging red squirrels, pine martens, otters and other incredible wildlife. As a freelance journalist, he has written for The Scotsman, The Herald, The Times and Scotland: The Big Picture. At a time when Britain's wildlife is in significant decline, Tom's is a much-needed tale of hope.

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Duncan Chisholm

Duncan is one of Scotland’s best known and most accomplished fiddle players and composers.  Born and brought up near Inverness, he has spent most of his life developing his unique musical voice.   Duncan's feather-light handling of dynamics and ornamentation, allied with his pure-distilled tone, lend characteristic spine-tingling magic to his music. His established career has taken him throughout the UK, Europe and the USA, both through his solo work and playing with other musicians.  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 has been labelled ‘the new sound of traditional Scotland.’

In his own words, ‘My creative world widens with each passing year, and the possibilities for self-expression are limitless.  Enjoy the music.’ Its fiddle playing at its best.

Hamish Napier  

Hamish is a Scottish folk multi-instrumentalist, educator and composer inspired by the heritage and nature of his native landscape. He was born and brought up in Strathspey. For 17 years, he lived and worked in Glasgow and Boston's vibrant, multi-genre music scenes. On returning home four years ago, he began his 'Strathspey Pentalogy', an ambitious 10-year project to produce five landscape inspired albums. His album, The Woods (2020) was awarded 'Album of the Year in the Scots Traditional Music Awards.

Hamish has collaborated with leading artists such as Eddi Reader, Karen Matheson (Capercaillie), Julie Fowlis (Brave), Duncan Chisholm (Wolfstone), Blue Rose Code and Martyn Bennett. In addition, he has worked on national TV/radio as both performer and presenter and appeared at numerous events both nationally and internationally.

Hamish’s work is innovative and often includes elements of Gaelic & Scots modelled on traditional reels and jigs. While celebrating and respecting Scotland's rich musical heritage, he transcends boundaries with jazz, electronic and classical techniques and combines wooden flutes, fiddles and pipes, with a modern rhythm section and pioneering techniques.

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Ingrid Henderson and Iain MacFarlane

Local musicians Ingrid and Iain have been steeped in traditional music all their lives. With early guidance from music tutors such as Savourna Stevenson, Angus Grant and strong family influences, Ingrid couldn’t help but fall into a musical career and began performing, touring and recording at a young age, while Iain was influenced by ‘greats’ such as his father Tearlach , Donald Riddell, Fearchar MacRae and Evan MacRae.

Ingrid has been in demand worldwide for many years, and also toured with Gaelic supergroup Cliar for eight years. Iain has become one of the most sought-after fiddlers in Scotland, best known for his role in the dynamic ‘Blazin’ Fiddles’. 

Both now performs regularly with the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band based in their home village, where they run Old Laundry Productions, a fantastic recording studio and rehearsal space where they produce some of their own wonderful music. 

It’s from this inspiring environment that Ingrid’s own solo album “The Little Beauty”, co-produced with Donald Shaw (Capercaillie), and Iain’s first solo album, ‘Gallop to Callop’ has been created with musical pals including Ewan Robertson (Breabach), Ingrid Henderson, Iain MacDonald (ex Battlefield Band) and Dermot Byrne (Altan).

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.

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Lee Randall

 

Lee is a freelance, writer and editor. She is well known on the literary circuit as an expert interviewer and is in demand at book festivals including, Wigtown Book Festival and Edinburgh International Book Festival, plus numerous others around the country. Based in Edinburgh, she is exactly the person you need to have on your team in literary pub quizzes for there really isn’t much she doesn’t know when it comes to books. With a scrupulous eye and impressive attention to detail, any author who is lucky enough to have Lee as their chairperson, can rest assured that she will be thoroughly au fait with the subject matter. She will be joining forces with Jenny Brown and Vivian French to run a special workshop for a few lucky senior English pupils at Mallaig High School, who wish to further a career in anything English-related.

Anne Martin

 

The roots of Anne’s singing lie deep, having learnt many of her songs from women in the community around the kitchen table. Variously described as “awesomely beautiful” and “percussively powerful” she brings the sound and tradition of her native Isle of Skye to the stage. Her repertoire gives a true sense of place in an international context. 

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Breege Smyth

 

Breege has been a valued member of the Write Highland Hoolie since its conception and is one of our valued interviewers chairing author events. A couture trained designer she has enjoyed an exciting and varied career in the fashion industry for over thirty years. She has trained machinists in Guangzhou, re-located a design team from Airdrie to Alness that manufactured in Morocco. She has dressed the stars and designed for fast-fashion high street stores.

In recent years Breege has focused on passing on her skills by acting as advisor to start-up businesses.  She is a community activist and has recently led a successful community buy-out of an old school in the remote rural area where she lives.  During a break from fashion, Breege trained in Broadcast Journalism, and has produced radio documentaries for Irish Radio.  She hosts a Sunday morning show on Oban FM, along with great music, she talks to authors about their work and as an avid reader, admits to being ‘in awe’ of writers and their craft.

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