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Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. The Adoption Papers won the Forward Prize, a Saltire prize, and a Scottish Arts Council Prize. Fiere, one of many of her collections of poems, was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award. Her novel Trumpet won the Guardian Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the IMPAC award. Red Dust Road won the Scottish Book of the Year Award. She was awarded an MBE in 2006, and made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002. She was appointed Chancellor of the University of Salford and Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University in 2015 and was Scots Makar—the National Poet for Scotland—from 2016-2021. This year our celebration opening event will be with Jackie, together with brilliant musicians Ross Ainslie and Tim Edey. Prepare for something truly extraordinary.
Lin Anderson is a Scottish novelist best known for her bestselling series featuring forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod of which there are currently sixteen novels, five of which have been long listed for the McIlvanney Scottish Crime Book of the Year, with Follow the Dead and Paths of the Dead both finalists. Her latest book, The Party House is a deeply atmospheric psychological thriller set in the Scottish Highlands. Lin is co-founder of the international crime writing festival Bloody Scotland
Chris Brookmyre & Marisa Haetzman – husband and wife team, partners in crime under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry. Marisa is a consultant anaesthetist with a master's degree in the History of Medicine which led to the couple starting their series of popular historical crime novels. Chris was a journalist before becoming a full-time novelist with the publication of his award-winning debut Quite Ugly One Morning, which established him as one of Britain’s leading crime authors. His numerous novels have sold more than two million copies in the UK alone, and Black Widow won both the McIlvanney Prize and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award.
John Goodlad is a Shetlander who works in the seafood industry. He was the voice of the Shetland fishing industry as CEO of the Shetland Fishermen’s Association for many years before becoming a fish farmer. He now advises several national and international seafood organisations and companies. His previous book, The Cod Hunters was shortlisted for the Maritime Foundations’ Mountbatten Award for the Best Maritime Book in 2020. He will be talking about his latest – The Salt Roads – How Fish Made a Culture.
Emma Grae is an author and journalist from Glasgow. She has been writing in Scots since she was a student at the University of Strathclyde. She has published fiction and poetry in the UK and Ireland in journals including The Honest Ulsterman, From Glasgow to Saturn and The Open Mouse. As a journalist, she writes under her birth surname, Guinness, and has bylines in a number of publications including Cosmopolitan, the Huffington Post and Refinery29. Her first novel, Be Guid tae yer Mammy, was published to wide acclaim in August 2021. Her second novel, The Tongue She Speaks, is published this October.
Hannah Jackson came from a townie background and has defied the odds to become a highly respected hill shepherdess, training collies and working all over Cumbria as a contract shepherdess. More usually known as the Red Shepherdess who has regular appearances as a presenter on the BBC’s CountryFile, she is inspiring younger members of the farming community to follow their dreams and never give up hope of achieving their aims. In 2017 she was appointed as a National Sheep Association ‘Next Generation’ ambassador.
As well as her passion for animals, Hannah, who is tenacious and fearless has a love for adventure. In 2019 she completed the selection process for Channel 4’s SAS-Who-Dares Wins. Surviving in Arctic conditions in the Chilean Andes, she claims that her ability to survive both physical and mental challenges is further honed due to her physical farm work with sheep with her beloved collie Fraser.
Marjorie Lotfi is the judge of our new Poetry Competition. Her own writing has won numerous competitions and has been widely published. She has performed on BBC Radio 4 and is the winner of the inaugural James Berry Prize. Her first full collection of poetry is published by Bloodaxe Books in 2023. Refuge, contains a collection of poems about her childhood in Iran. Marjorie is Deputy Chair of StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, and the Co-Founder and Development Director of Open Book, a charity reading and writing in community settings across Scotland.
Polly Pullar is a conservationist, naturalist, writer and photographer, and co-founder of A Write Highland Hoolie. She specialises in wildlife and countryside matters and is also a wildlife rehabilitator. She contributes to a wide selection of magazines and her books, include – Fauna Scotica – Animals and People in Scotland, A Richness of Martens, and The Red Squirrel – A Future in the Forest. A Scurry of Squirrels, A Drop in the Ocean, and her latest, a memoir - The Horizontal Oak – A Life in Nature.
Romain Pizzi is a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Recognised Specialist in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, and the world’s leading expert in wildlife surgery. He has travelled the globe pioneering many world-first operations in endangered wild animals and has operated on everything from elephants to tarantulas, across the world from Ethiopia to Indonesia as well as here at home in Scotland. Tales from his book, Exotic Vetting, will leave you breathlessly astonished, but so too will his work ethic, and relentless vision to make the world a better place for its beleaguered wildlife.
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.
Ross Ainslie and Tim Edey are Award-winning multi-instrumentalists who are old friends and two of the best musicians of their generation.
Tim 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.
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.
Ingrid Henderson and Iain MacFarlane
Local musicians Ingrid and Iain have always been steeped in traditional music.
Ingrid has been in demand worldwide for many years and has 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 perform regularly with the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band based in their home village, where they run Old Laundry Productions, a fantastic recording studio and rehearsal space - the ideal venue to produce some of their wonderful music.
that instils awe.
Angela Proctor has been captivated by fairy stories since her childhood. When she took her own young children to the beautiful and mystical Isle of Arran, she began to tell them stories of witches and dragons. This opened the floodgates for her wonderful stories of Thumble Tumble the little witch. Set on Arran, these magical tales have garnered a huge following of adoring young fans, and let’s not forget their parents.
Alan Windram – our Hoolie regular never fails to thrill young and old alike with his wonderful award-winning tales of One Button Benny as well as a cast of other delightful characters. This year he will be entertaining the youngest members of the audience at our celebration tea party - prepare to join in the fun with interactive songs, and lots of dancing too.
Graeme Hawley - The Joy of Shapes
In 2019, Graeme Hawley lit up the festival with his show The Joy of Spines. We are delighted that he will return this year to consider new ways to perceive the National Library of Scotland’s 30 million things. Classification and cataloguing as you have never seen it done before, this is a journey that takes you from the centre of the Earth to Outer Space, on another fast-paced and entertaining romp through the published universe and the mysterious world of very large library collections. Perfectly irreverent pre-dinner nonsense. Graeme is the Head of General Collections at the National Library of Scotland, where he has worked for 20 years. He is an award-winning poetry slam champion, and his previous show, The Joy of Spines, has been performed around the UK to wide-acclaim, including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Chae Strathie Award-winning children's writer Chae Strathie is the author of more than 20 picture books, chapter books and non-fiction titles, including his current history series for the British Museum. His live events combine stories, music, puppets and drawing and have been enjoyed by children all over the UK and Europe.
Hugh McMillan is a poet from South West Scotland. His work has been published widely in Scotland and beyond, and he has won various prizes, most recently the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award in 2017 for Sheep Penned, published by Roncadora; he won the same award in 2009 for Postcards from the Hedge. In 2021 two new collections were published by Luath Press, ‘Haphazardly in the Starless Night’ and ‘Whit If? Poems on Scottish History.
In 2017 he was writer in residence at the Harvard Summer School. In 2020 he was chosen as one of four ‘Poetry Champions’ for Scotland by the Scottish Poetry Library, to seek out and commission new work. Recently he was given the role as editor of ‘Best Scottish Poems’ for 2021 and was commissioned by the Wigtown Book Festival to write a contemporary poem inspired by the classic ‘Brownie of Blednoch by William Nicholson.