We are currently working on the programme for 2023, and will update this section soon. Meanwhile why not read about the featured authors from the 2022 festival.
The featured authors for the St Duthac Book & Arts Festival 2022.
Book launch: Highland Nightscapes
Highland Nightscapes, is an anthology of Marks best work, accumulated over the past few years. It combines imagery of the Highland landscape at night with location information, a bit of folklore and a sprinkling of “how to” advice.
When not out under the stars, Mark is an avid teacher of photography, current President of Dingwall Camera Club and founder of the Tain and District Online Photo Club. He also runs a commercial photography business providing services to businesses in the land-management, travel and tourism sectors.
Hamish MacDonald has been published in fiction and poetry while a number of his plays have toured in Scotland and beyond. He is the current Scottish Slam Poetry champion and World Slam Finalist in Paris 2022. Hamish was the first Robert Burns Writing Fellow for Dumfries and Galloway Arts Association (2003-06) and the first Scots Scriever at the National Library of Scotland (2015-17), and his latest poetry book, Wilson's Ornithology & Burds in Scots was published by Scotland Street Press in 2020.
As a Roving Poet at the 2022 St Duthac Book & Arts Festival Hamish popped up in a range of venues around Tain and delighted audiences and passers-by in this exciting, atmospheric event.
Cathel de Lima Hutchison
Children’s Interactive Talk: Bite and Mackay Go To Sea
Cathel de Lima Hutchison is an urban ecologist, copy-editor and part-time crofter, based between Glasgow and the Highlands. He was brought up near Tain and completed Gaidhlig medium at Craighill Primary School. The story of Bite and Mackay was inspired by the real-life sailing adventures of seasoned sea-dogs, Whyte and Mackay, as well as Cathel's desire to reconnect with his Gaidhlig youth.
Ingebjorg Smith, the illustrator of Bite and Mackay, works as a painter and studied illustration at Glasgow School of Art. She has painted for BBC Scotland Gaelic Children’s TV stories. She settled in the Highlands 25 years ago after a long spell as an illustrator & designer in Glasgow, lured north by the beautiful landscapes & wildlife, which is now the main subject for her paintings. She runs Studio Smith in Tain where you will find a large collection of her work as well as cards, calendars & lots of unusual gifts.
Talk: A Life Less Ordinary
From cradle to grave we are all storytellers.
Life is one long tale full of memorable chapters.
Jess Smith delighted her audience, in the Mansfield Castle Hotel in Tain, with stories and song. A fabulous evening that people are still talking about.
“All of my childhood was spent on the road travelling in a converted Bedford bus with forever-young parents, seven sisters and the occasional canine friend. Summers were natural playing fields and winter was school. One day after a promise to my father that I would write a book about Scottish Travellers, I turned to the only story I knew; my bus journey. Jessie’s Journey was my first attempt and proved very successful. This set my platform and an invitation to share my own story. Six published books and travelling the world sharing a ‘life’ less ordinary has proved an amazing journey. You bring the comfort and I’ll provide the atmosphere.”
School Visit (private) 2022
Aoife Lyall is the author of Mother, Nature (Bloodaxe Books, 2021), which was shortlisted for the Scottish First Book Award 2021. Her poems have been published in many prestigious literary magazines and journals, receiving national and international recognition through the Hennessy New Irish Writing Awards and the Cove Park Emerging Scottish Writer Award. In 2020, she was awarded National Lottery funding through Creative Scotland to support the writing of her second poetry collection. A poetry mentor for the Scottish Poetry Library and BOP Youth Theatre, she has also been a guest curator for the Scottish Poetry Library and a guest editor for Butcher’s Dog. Her reviews have appeared in Poetry London, PN Review and Poetry Ireland Review. Her work focuses on pregnancy and motherhood. Aoife lives in the Highlands with her family and is currently writing her first novel.
School visit (private) 2022
Corrina is a self-taught illustrator/author with a background in primary education. Having taught children from nursery to primary 7, Corrina has a wealth of knowledge with regards to engaging children in literature and knowing what makes a great story. It was this insight that encouraged her to start writing her own stories and then learn how to illustrate them from her kitchen table! Her debut picture book, The Girl who Stole the Stars was published by Little Door Books in 2020 as part of their Little Door Debuts imprint and is now onto its third print run. The follow up, The Boy Who Rescued a Rainbow, will be published by Little Door Books in July of 2022.
Talk: A Saga of Sea Eagles - 2022
John Loves love of nature shone through to a packed house in Platform 1864.
Born and bred in Inverness, John Love graduated Hons BSc in Zoology from Aberdeen in 1973 and went to work on the Isle of Rum to manage the reintroduction of the white-tailed sea eagle for 10 years and is still involved in an advisory capacity. In 1992 he moved to South Uist as Scottish Natural Heritage's Area Officer for Uist, Barra and St Kilda. Retiring in 2006 he remained there, writing several books on eagles, penguins, sea otters, the human history of Rum, the natural history of St Kilda and of lighthouses. Fourteen years ago he began working as a guide and lecturer on small expedition cruise ships, not just round the Hebrides and the UK but also in other places round the world. He is currently involved in developing a remote viewing/visitor centre for St Kilda to be built in North Uist
Workshop: Memoir Writing
Do you sometimes have a memorable day and think ‘Oh, I wish I could write all this down’? At her workshop, Vee Walker will be exploring how we record recent memories in prose. She will be considering the strange COVID years and how they have impacted us all, and how certain objects may always trigger related memories. Those attending are invited to bring along an object which reminds them of their experience of COVID, or of another challenging time of their life they would like to explore in creative writing.
A prize-winning author and consultant, Vee’s writing clients include national and international heritage sites and museums. She has recently been running the Write Enough programme, a creative writing workshop series for Highland Connecting Carers. Her first genealogy fiction novel, Major Tom’s War, was a prizewinner at the SAHR Military History Fiction Awards in 2019. The original source documents for her novel can be explored at www.majortomswar.com.
Workshop: Getting (and Staying) Published – An Insider Guide to Doing It Your Way
Bamboozled by the book world? Petrified of the publishing industry? Whether your book is ready to rock, nearly cooked or just a twinkle in your eye and a couple of snappy paragraphs on a page, Margaret Kirk will give you the lowdown on the How? What? When? of Getting and Staying Published. In this session, Margaret will lift the lid on hot topics such as:
Agents – Do you want one? Do you need one?
Traditional or Self Publishing? Advantages and Pitfalls.
Here Be Dragons! Red flags and Scenarios to Avoid.
Fame and Fortune? Or, Don’t Give Up the Day Job.
The winner of the 2016 Good Housekeeping First Novel competition, Margaret Kirk writes the DI Lukas Mahler series, set in Inverness and the north-east Highlands. She is currently working on the mysteriously-titled New Thing in between writing editorial reports for a literary agency.
Talk: Life in the Post Human Landscape
Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Cal Flyn discusses Islands of Abandonment, her bestselling book about abandoned places – ghost towns and exclusion zones, no man’s lands and post-industrial hinterlands – and what happens when nature is allowed to reclaim its place.
In Chernobyl, following the nuclear disaster, only a handful of people returned to their dangerously irradiated homes. On an uninhabited Scottish island, feral cattle live entirely wild. In Detroit, entire streets of houses are falling in on themselves, looters slipping through otherwise silent neighbourhoods. Exploring extraordinary places where humans no longer live – or survive in tiny, precarious numbers – Islands of Abandonment give us a glimpse of what nature gets up to when we’re not there to see it. From Tanzanian mountains to the mining regions of Scotland, Flyn brings together some of the most desolate, eerie, ravaged and polluted areas in the world – and shows how, against all odds, they offer our best opportunities for environmental recovery.
Talk: What the **** Were You Playing At!
From Hilton to Hong Kong, Tannadice to the Wine Shed, these are the memoirs of a Highland footballer. What the **** Were You Playing At! covers Jim Oliver’s sporting career from his school years to his early days in the dugout, sharing fond memories of bygone clubs, players and places. A mixture of hilarious anecdotes and candid self-reflection, Jim tells the story of a near 20 year playing career in a style of his own, complimented by a wealth of photographs and news cuttings from Jim's own collection of memorabilia.
Talk: On the Road
James Naughtie first visited the United States as a young student more than half a century ago. Since then he has travelled its byways, and written and broadcast about a country that continues to fascinate him in a journalistic life which has taken him round the world for the BBC. On the Road tells the story of his adventures from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump and Joe Biden, an affectionate and often hilarious account of an immersion in American life, from politics to baseball, that is also a commentary on how the country that dominated the twentieth century faces the challenges of the 21st. James's newspaper career began on The Press and Journal in the 1970s and he became one of the country's best-known broadcasters in twenty-one years as a presenter of Today on BBC Radio 4. Now a special correspondent for BBC News, and presenter of Bookclub on Radio 4, his third espionage novel, The Spy Across the Water, is published this autumn.
D James Ross
Talk: Lockdown Poetry
Highland poet, writer, musician and raconteur D James Ross performs and talks about his poems. Reflecting the poet’s diverse interests, his poetry covers a wide range of subjects including the natural world, travel, music and historical events. Over the past fifteen years, he has brought out six major collections of poetry entitled ‘Life & Death & Stuff” (2008) and ‘Orkney Strata & Mosaics’ (2009), ‘American Sublime’ (2015), ‘Shifting Shorelines’ (2017), ‘Open Sea’ (2020), and most recently a collection written during lockdown, ‘Visions, Revisions and Reflections’ (2021). He is an active member of the arts community in the Highlands, directing the music ensembles Musick Fyne, Coronach, The Marvel of Peru and The Skibo Strings, playing clarinet in a number of local ensembles, and writing regular concert reviews for the local press. In 2017 he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to Scottish Renaissance and Baroque music.
Event: Trial By Jury
Mark Bridgeman (author of The Nearly Man and Perthshire's Pound of Flesh) presents a real life murder case in which YOU the audience will become the jury. After hearing the case for the prosecution and defence, you will be asked to consider your verdict - will you send a man to the gallows? With a prize for the winner, the actual verdict revealed and a Q&A with the author, this promises to be an event to remember!
After many years spent researching potential stories, Mark turned his talents to writing in 2018, and he has appeared on ITV, Channel 5, the History Channel, and BBC Radio. His stories have been dramatised on Canadian radio, and featured in newspaper serial form. Nominated for the John Bryne Award in 2022, Mark is the author of nine books.
Caledonia Crime Collective
Talk: The Crime Worlds of the CCC
The Caledonia Crime Collective is made up of seven of Scotland’s crime writers. Formed in 2021 the group was the brainchild of double Bloody Scotland award nominee Emma Christie. Drawn from a variety of backgrounds and styles, the CCC members champion the best of new and current tartan noir.
In this lighthearted session the CCC will take you around their personal crime worlds, from GR Halliday’s crime thrillers set close to home in Inverness, to the west Highlands with Andrew Greig and Allan Martin, Glasgow with JD Whitelaw, then over to Edinburgh, St Andrews and Aberdeen with Emma Christie, Marion Todd, and Deborah Masson. Expect laughs and audience interaction.
Dr Iain MacInnes
Talk: Ross, Sutherland and the Scottish Wars of Independence (1296-1357)
The Highlands are often omitted from much of the history of the Scottish Wars of Independence, in large part because it is often seen as a border conflict. But this is an oversimplification. The north was, at various times, a battleground for forces of both sides. Northern forces provided notable contributions to campaigns fought elsewhere in Scotland, and further afield. And popular views of the war also tend to focus particularly on its first phase under Wallace and Bruce (1296-1328), but little understanding exists of that which followed (1332-1357), and the importance of the north to this conflict. This talk will, then, look to address some of these issues. By focusing in particular on Ross and Sutherland, it will consider two important medieval earldoms, their lords, and their people, and analyse their involvement in the conflict, as well as the impact of the war on this region and its people.
A keen sailor, Mandy Haggith lives in Assynt, northwest Scotland, and is a lecturer in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Her books include four poetry collections (Letting Light In, Castings, A-B-Tree, Why the Sky is Far Away), a poetry anthology (Into the Forest), a non-fiction book (Paper Trails) and five novels: The Last Bear, Bear Witness and a novel trilogy set in the Iron Age, The Walrus Mutterer, The Amber Seeker and The Lyre Dancers. Her most recent writing project, ‘The Liminal Zone’ explores shorelines as a metaphor for boundaries in our lives. She has been poet in residence at the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh and at Inverewe Garden, and ‘Trees Meet Sea’, an exhibition of her poetry with linked artworks inspired by and inspiring her poems, was at the Sawyer Gallery at Inverewe Garden and at Dundee Botanics earlier in 2022.
Talk: Hutton’s Arse
Peter Harrison took up the challenge of revising and updating Hutton’s Arse, the original text having been produced in 2005 by Dr Malcolm Rider. Just the blink of a geological eye. Peter has lived for 40 years in the northwest Highlands working as a teacher and geoscience educator. He now leads geotours for the North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark. The book introduces the science and people involved in unpicking the immense history involved in shaping this landscape, which still moulds those who live there today. We are all dependant on our planet and yet do we know how it works and how it should be treated? Some words of Hutton from his texts on geology have become well known: ‘no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end’. We now know more about the beginning and must learn quickly so as not to hasten the end.
Talk: The Max Craigie Series
Neil grew up in Kent, leaving aged seventeen where he served for six years in the Military Police. Following this he joined the Metropolitan Police where he served for over twenty-five years, predominantly as a detective, leading and conducting investigations into serious criminals across the UK and beyond. Neil acted as a surveillance and covert policing specialist, using techniques to arrest and prosecute serious and organised crime. Since retiring from the Metropolitan Police, Neil has relocated to the Black Isle with his wife and son, where he now writes full time. Dead Man’s Grave was the first in the Max Craigie series and was longlisted for the Scottish Book of The Year. The follow up, The Blood Tide has been widely praised, and the third in the series will be released in September. Neil will give a visually aided presentation looking at his working life, and how it influenced his writing.
Storytelling with Bob Pegg
Bob Pegg is a storyteller, songwriter and musician who lives in Strathpeffer. In a career stretching back to the 1960s, he has performed in venues as diverse as the Royal Festival Hall, Dunbeath’s salmon fishing bothy, and a Viking longhouse in the wilds of Iceland. Bob’s stories are predominantly traditional legends and myths from the northern lands, enriched with the sounds of instruments which include shells and stones, ocarinas and flutes, and the jaw harp. His most recent books are Highland Folk Tales, Argyll Folk Tales, and The Little Book of Hogmanay, all published by The History Press. www.bobpegg.com
Talk with Marion Todd: The DI Clare Mackay Series
A native of Dundee, Marion studied music with the Open University and worked for many years as a piano teacher and jobbing accompanist. A spell as a hotel lounge pianist provided rich fodder for her writing and she began experimenting with a variety of genres. Early success saw her winning first prize in the Family Circle Magazine short story for children national competition and she followed this up by writing short stories and articles for her local newspaper. Now a full-time writer, Marion lives in North-east Fife, overlooking the River Tay. Her debut crime novel, the first in the DI Clare Mackay series, was published by Canelo in October 2019 and the series has gone on to be a huge success.
Talk: Vet Stories
Guy Gordon is a veterinary surgeon based in Thurso. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh is 1993 and worked in Fife and Perthshire before moving to Thurso in 1997. After the success of the popular Channel 5 series The Highland Vet, the rewards and challenges of working in a mixed-species veterinary practice on the far edge of the Scottish Highlands can now be experienced through a literary lens in the book subtitled A year at Thurso.
Paul Murton is a writer, television producer and director who is most widely known for his Grand Tours television series, which include: Grand Tours of Scotland, Grand Tours of Scotland’s Islands, Grand Tours of Scotland’s Lochs, and Grand Tours of Scotland’s Rivers. He has also presented and directed a range of history-based documentaries for the BBC, Channel Four and the Discovery Channel including, The Maya Apocalypse, Unbuilt Britain, The Best King We Never Had, and Scotland’s Clans. Paul originally comes from Argyll, studied Philosophy at Aberdeen University, made films at Edinburgh Film Workshop Trust, before enrolling at the National Film and Television School. After graduating, he worked as a drama director of The Bill, Casualty, River City, The Blue Boy and Bramwell before returning to Scotland to make documentaries. Paul is the author of three Scottish travel books published by Birlinn: Hebrides, The Viking Isles, and The Highlands
Finding Joy with Morven-May MacCallum
Morven-May MacCallum is the debut author of Finding Joy - a fictitious story influenced by her own 17 year battle with Lyme disease. Told from three points of view, Finding Joy captures the affects of this terrible disease, the challenges around diagnosis and the hope that treatment can bring. An avid writer from a young age, this Highland-based author has toured the country with her work - which has been featured on Countryfile, BBC Disclosure, Channel Four's Steph's Packed Lunch, and countless radio shows, her book has also been held before the Scottish Parliament.
Cait O'Neill McCullagh
Pop-Up Meet and Signing Event
A reformed archaeologist and curator, Cáit O’Neill McCullagh started writing poetry at home in Easter Ross, in December 2020. Since then over forty of her poems have been published in diverse media, including in the journals Northwords Now, The Poets Republic, Poetry Scotland, The Banyan Review, Drawn to the Light Press, The Storms, and in anthologies including Dreich’s ‘The Edge of All Storms and ‘Not the Time to be Silent: Collected Works’. She has also had poems commissioned for exhibitions including North Antrim Pub Poetry’s ‘This is the World’, and Crowvus’ ‘ Book Week Scotland: Poetry in the High Street ‘. Cáit’s work has won and been placed in various competitions including being longlisted for a prize in Galway’s Cúirt International Festival of Literature and in the Scottish Poetry Library’s ‘Roddy Lumsden Memorial Mentorship Programme’. Her first pamphlet ‘The songs I sing are sisters’, co-authored with Sligo poet Sinead McClure was a ‘Dreich Classic Chapbooks, 2022’ winner. An essayist, Cáit’s writing on cultural life in Scotland has been commissioned for and published in ‘Beyond the Swelkie’ (2021) and ‘Bella Caledonia: 2007 – 2021: An Anthology’ (2021). Recently, Cáit has embarked on a series of new multimedia collaborations, including with Ceramic artist Rachel Ho, with whom she is exploring fresh readings of her poem ‘Birth’’. Currently working on a new collection invited for consideration by an independent publisher, Cáit continues to be a becoming poet. See more at https://www.highlandlit.com/cait-oneill-mccullagh
Introducing Ruth Adams
R.K.J. Adams was born in part of the industrial West Midlands, known as the Black Country, yet her ancestral roots lie in Scotland as part of Clan Chisholm. She and her husband moved to a small Sutherland village in the northern Highlands in 2011..
She trained to be a teacher in the early 1980s, choosing to specialise in primary school education for over thirty-five years. She steadily rose through the leadership ranks to headship. Through her career, she was the headteacher of five primary schools ranging in size from more than two hundred and fifty children to one that had just five pupils.
‘Wasn’t Me, Miss!’ is her first published work, a humorous, yet poignant, semi-autobiographical book about a life in teaching and changes in attitudes and society over six decades. Having only started writing in October 2021, the journey to becoming an author has been a swift one. This year she has achieved a commendation in her first ever entry in a writing competition, after taking part in this year’s Neil Gunn writing competition. She has also had a story published as part of the Spirit of the Highlands Story project, part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022.
To find out more about her future writing projects and news, subscribe to her website, https://www.rkjadams.com. or better still pop into meet her on Tuesday 27th September 2022.