Thanks to the Authors 2023
Polly Pullar - The Horizontal Oak & Beyond.
Polly Pullar is a conservationist, writer, wildlife rehabilitator and photographer. In this illustrated talk, Polly takes us behind the scenes with entertaining stories of the animals and birds she loves so much, from hand-rearing owlets and hedgehogs to her passion for frogs and toads. Her work highlights the importance of love and respect for the natural world, and poignantly reveals its power to help us. This thought-provoking event will leave you with optimism and a smile.
Margaret Martin - Debut Novel
Margaret Martin is 87 years old and was delighted to accept Olympia Publishers’ offer to publish her debut, Family Matters, in 2022. She was chosen as having an ‘Inspirational Story’ for the pension company PIC and Margaret’s advice is that you should never lose your passion for life and trying new things.
J D Kirk -
JD Kirk is the author of the multi-million bestselling DCI Jack Logan crime fiction series, set in the Highlands. He also does not exist. Instead, JD is the pen name of former children’s author and screenwriter, Barry Hutchison.
Rodge Glass on Michel Faber:
The Writer & His Work
Michel Faber lived in Ross-shire for twenty-five years. It was here he wrote the Scottish contemporary classic Under the Skin, whose landscape can be mapped closely onto that of Tain and Portmahomack. Rodge Glass, award-winning author, discussed Faber’s work and his connection to the landscape of this area. Including readings from Faber’s work and discussion of Faber’s approach to compassionate storytelling, Glass explored how he developed a detailed, ongoing correspondence with Faber over several years, while Faber shared photos from his personal archives and reflected on what unites his radically different stories. Rodge Glass is the author of seven books including Alasdair Gray: A Secretary’s Biography, for which he won the Somerset Maugham Award for Nonfiction.
T.L. Huchu Weird Cityscapes:
Putting the Urban in Fantasy
T.L. Huchu is a multi-award-winning author of both literary and fantasy novels, most recently The Mystery at Dunvegan Castel. He has won an Alex Award, and a Nommo Award for African SFF, and has been shortlisted for the Caine Prize and the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire. In this unmissable talk he will be discussing the role of cityscapes in fantasy fiction. Drawing inspiration from popular contemporary works of urban fantasy, he traced the outlines of genre urban fantasy before discussing the dystopian design of Edinburgh in his Edinburgh Nights series.
Sara Sheridan: Where We Come From
Writer and activist, Sara Sheridan starts a creative conversation about the importance of history and how we tell stories about where we come from. Her ground-breaking non-fiction book Where are the Women? remaps Scotland according to female history and her novel, The Fair Botanists which won Scottish Book of the Year 2022, explores that female history in action, in Edinburgh in the late Georgian period. ‘What formed us did not all happen in white, male, heteronormative English,’ she says. ‘We come from a place far more diverse and exciting than we often realise. Sara Sheridan was named as one of the Saltire Society’s most Influential Scottish women, past and present.
James Robertson is a poet, editor and writer of fiction. He has published seven novels including Joseph Knight (Saltire and Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year in 2003), The Testament of Gideon Mack, And the Land Lay Still (Saltire Book of the Year in 2010) and News of the Dead, which was awarded the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction in 2022. His novels often explore the effect that the passage of time has on individuals and the communities they live in. In this event he reads from his most recent book, News of the Dead, set in an Angus glen and stretched across more than a thousand years, and discusses the relationship between past and present, and how history and his fictional worlds interact.
Archie Macpherson - Touching The Heights
Archie Macpherson has received a Scottish BAFTA award for special contribution to Scottish broadcasting and was inducted into Scottish football’s Hall of Fame in 2017. His latest book, Touching The Heights, has been short-listed for Sunday Times Sports Book of The Year in the entertainment category. “My first broadcast for BBC sport was on October 27 1962 which, in geopolitical circles became known as ‘Black Saturday’. This was not because of the unleashing of my dulcet tones on an unsuspecting world, but because Russian missiles were on the verge of arriving in Cuba amidst threats of American military intervention and an ensuing global holocaust. Perhaps it is not so surprising, therefore, that ‘survival’ has been a major theme in my books on sport through the years, in the sense that I am fascinated by victors – ranging from a southpaw in a boxing-ring, to a former coalminer who hewed a new seam in football to win a European trophy. My conversation will be about how I personally related to their efforts.”
Lizzie McDougall - Picturing A Story
Picturing the Story
Lizzie is an Artist and Storyteller and shared some of the traditional stories she has gathered around the Moray Firth and illustrated in her Highland Story Quilts.
Lizzie also brought some art materials so children can make pictures of the stories too, and some colouring-in illustrations from the book she illustrated for Elizabeth Sutherland’s Collection of Highland Tales .
The Highland StoryQuilts
All patched together, by stories, songs & tunes
Nicola White: A Distant Dublin
When we discuss historical novels, we generally mean centuries back; corsets, sailing ships, dark satanic mills. The past that Nicola White writes about is history too, but of a recent kind – the 1980s in Ireland. Before the boom years it was a sooty place of high unemployment and restrictive morals. Her acclaimed Detective Vincent Swan trilogy is based around unsolved real-life murders from that time. But buried secrets always rise to the light, and she will also talk about recent developments in these cases. “Infused with depth, darkness and acute psychological drama” ~ Herald
Sean Lusk: Writing, Research & Rabbit Holes
The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudesley is set in London and Constantinople in the 1750s. It tells the story of Zachary and his father, who is spirited away to use his remarkable clockwork skills to spy on the Ottoman court. Zachary is soon told that his father has vanished, and he makes the perilous journey to Constantinople in pursuit of the truth.
Longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction, Sean will talk about the process of writing the novel and the research rabbit holes he fell down.
Sally Magnusson MBE In Conversation
We were thrilled to announce that Sally Magnusson MBE is returning to the St Duthac Book & Arts Festival! Her new novel, Music in the Dark, is based on the women who resisted the Strathcarron clearances in the 1840s and 50s, with several references to Tain.
Sally was in conversation with our own Catherine Williams to a packed audience.
Ian Bradley - The Coffin Roads
Ian Bradley journeys along the coffin roads which criss-cross the Highlands and Islands to explore distinctive West Highland and Hebridean practices in relation to dying, mourning, grieving and the afterlife. Using lively accounts, predominantly from the 19th century, he explores the customs of singing over the dying, day and night long wakes and lengthy processions to remote graveyards. At a time when death is at last being more openly talked about and embraced, he argues that there may be much to learn from the way it was traditionally approached in the Highlands and Hebrides. He is Emeritus Professor of Cultural and Spiritual History at the University of St Andrews, a Church of Scotland minister and author of 46 books ranging from Celtic Christianity to Gilbert and Sullivan.
Jennifer Morag Henderson - Daughters of the North
Mary, Queen of Scots’ marriage to the Earl of Bothwell is notorious. Less known is Bothwell’s first wife, Jean Gordon, who extricated herself from their marriage and survived the intrigue of the Queen’s court. This event will look at Jean’s story, covering dramatic yet little-known history from the north of Scotland.
Roddy Maclean (Ruairidh MacIlleathain) is an award winning author, broadcaster, educator and storyteller. He’ll speak about his three Gaelic novels in the historical political genre, which blend historical fact and real persons with creative fiction and imaginary characters, in settings varying from the struggle for Irish independence to the assassination of JFK. The session will be in English, with readings in Gaelic. Gaelic speakers and learners at all levels welcome.
David Macpherson is the creator and writer of sci-fi thriller The Rig for Amazon Prime, staring Iain Glen and Martin Compston. In this workshop, he’ll lead participants through the screenwriting process, showing how writing can be brought to life through TV and Film. Using scripts from well-known films and programmes he’ll explore the choices writers make and how the script fits into collaborative filmmaking. For those new to screenwriting, he’ll discuss ways to make a start learning the craft and take the first steps into the industry.
Ghillie Basan: Off The Beaten Track
Food Writer and Broadcaster, Ghillie Basan, takes us from the influences of growing up in East Africa to living in a remote part of the Cairngorms National Park where she has raised her children on her own and maintained an international career. She is the author of over 50 books, and she runs cookery workshops, food and whisky events and produces her own podcast. A Taste of the Highlands was shortlisted for a Guild of Food Writers’ Award 2022 and her most recent book, Spirit & Spice is a biographical cookery book based on her life. Her story is both inspiring and entertaining as she shares with us some of the funny and challenging moments and reminds us that what we have in Scotland is worth more than any money in the bank.
Anne-Mary Paterson is the great grandniece of William & Murdoch Paterson, railway civil engineers who were involved in the design and construction of railways radiating from Inverness. This year is the 125th anniversary of the opening of the direct line from Aviemore to Inverness including the Culloden Viaduct, considered to be Murdoch’s greatest work and his solution for the tricky way through Slochd Summit. Anne-Mary has written three books about Highland railways and appeared in several TV programmes including Great Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo and Landward with Dougie Vipond. She will talk about her Great Grand Uncles William & Murdoch Paterson and her new book, a biography of Alexander Matheson, chairman of the Highland Railway for over twenty years, and owner of estates in Ross-shire including Ardross and Duncraig Castles
John McLellan: The Faultline
Many people can reflect on a time and place and think ‘that made me who I am’. The Faultline is about such a moment. In the wild and rugged North West Highlands, a group of young people are brought together by chance. Amidst wild swimming, geological surveys, and a crashed war time plane, they begin to confront their futures, their feelings and their sexuality. Author John McLellan will explore the use of landscape, geology and friendships, and the impact that these have had on his life and career, as he reads from, and answers questions about his debut novel. Having worked in logistics, film and television, and as an equality, diversity and inclusion adviser to the NHS, he undertakes voluntary geology fieldwork guiding on the Jurassic Coast, North West Highlands
J D Burns: Bothy Tales
In a remote Highland bothy, a weary traveller finds shelter from the storm. In his rucksack he has coal for the fire, candles to ward off the darkness, and a little whisky to bring some cheer. The wanderer invites you into his world. There are stories of wild places, with near death adventures on ice wreathed cliff faces. Poems about the folk who wander high places. Tales of dark deeds in distant bothies and even a brush with royalty. There is also a little theatre, relating the struggles of working class folk, fighting to establish their right to wander. Come and join John, smell the woodsmoke and be transported to a world where all you have is what is packed on your back and the dreams that you follow.
Tom & Luke Stoltman - Lifting
The annual St Duthac Book and Arts Festival is going from strength to strength and aptly launched with the world’s strongest brothers and local celebrities, Tom, and Luke Stoltman, who have joined the literary world with their autobiography released in July 2023 "Lifting: Becoming the World's Strongest Brothers".
Having recently competed in London the pair don’t take for granted the opportunity they have competing in big competitions, what makes it even more special is knowing the support they have at home in the Highlands.
Emma Horne - twobluedogsdesigns.com
'I am currently living and working from my home studio near Tain. The changing vista and panoramic views from the beaches where I walk with my two collies, are a constant source of inspiration for my paintings. My stories are inspired mostly by my dogs and life in the Highlands. They provide an overflow for my imagination and give me a perfect excuse to write and illustrate all kinds of adventures for my dogs and cat'
My current book is called The Bath Escape, it's about a cat that builds a submarine from an old bath to help his sheepdog friends get their tennis balls back....
I also have a book out called The Gather, about bringing sheep in for shearing.
My website www.twobluedogsdesigns.com
Claire Walsh-Jones - Smashing Stereotypes
Claire is an author and writing coach who writes books for children and adults.
The Princess Without a Crown, is a stereotype smashing story for children. The Pink Widow shares her experiences of grief after becoming a widow aged 45. Claire lives in the Highlands and spends her time writing and encouraging others to write.
Pop along to the pop-up bookshop on our opening day from 1 p.m. to find out more and follow Claire on Facebook
Isla Plumtree - Teller of Stories
Isla Plumtree in her words "is a retired teacher, waitress, barmaid, laundrymaid, kennel maid, Post Office/bookshop assistant, venue caterer...I now enjoy macro photography, growing tulips, lepidoptery, Darjeeling tea, Bach and ballet. I can't dance, sing, draw or sail, but once upon a time I cooked for a King.
At heart I'm a teller of stories."
Sylvie Harrington - meet the author
Sylvie Harrington was raised in the Royal Burgh of Tain.
In 1999, Sylvie emigrated to Texas. During bouts of homesickness, she channelled her longing for Scotland into creativity. After completing a diploma course on writing, the bones of ‘Eye Stone’ were born.
Now living back in Tain, Sylvie remains actively creative.
Flora Fraser - meet the author
Flora Fraser who grew up between London and Scotland. Her mother is noted historical biographer, Antonia Fraser.
In 2002, Flora set up the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography to commemorate her grandmother, Elizabeth Longford.
Her most recent publication, Pretty Young Rebel, details the life of her courageous namesake, Flora Macdonald.
"In this probing, evocative portrait of a tumultuous life, master historian Flora Fraser peels away the layers of misinformation, legend, and myth to reveal Flora MacDonald in full. Fraser presents a fascinating picture of this headstrong and irrepressible woman". Pretty Young Rebel: The Life of Flora Macdonald: Flora Fraser: Bloomsbury Publishing
Flora Fraser is the winner of the George Washington Book Prize 2016.
Image credit Nicholas Latimer.
Red Rabbit Rises Publishing -
“Self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-respect” sits at the heart of the children’s stories published by Red Rabbit Rises.
The creation of Chris O’Malley as an independent publishing company based in Inverness, growing to include other authors and adult novels, most publications at present are self-published children’s books, with local artists as illustrators.
A selection of the Red Rabbit Rises publications will be on sale in the St Duthac Book and Arts Festival pop-up bookshop through out the festival run.
Come in and enjoy the atmosphere.
Debbie + Tony Ross
Debbie has been writing for many years, with a variety of publications to her name. She has worked in copywriting and publishing and has degree in English.
Tony came to books late, with a computing and design background and has written and supported a number of technical publications. Both are authors in their own right and have always been supportive of Highland writers. RCP was formed in 2018 with the publication of Debbie’s first cookbook- A micro-indie publishing house with a local flavour. Since then another 4 books have been published with a further 4 in the pipeline.
V J Cooper - meet the author
VJ Cooper, a local author born in Inverness, writes historical fiction with a twist. Her debut novel ‘A Sense of Jane’ was inspired by a true story encompassing her love of the Victorian era and her family tree. Her work is evocative, imaginative and compelling.
From illegitimacy to war: an evocative tale of loss, hope and secrets.
At a time when the belief in fairies is as strong as the whisky, Jane grows up ‘a lamb in another lamb’s skin.’ Born illegitimately in 1857, in rural Scotland, she lives the life of one family, but carries the name of another, and suffers the consequences.
A secret lives in Jane, and as the ghosts of the past reside quietly within the peaks and troughs of her life, will she learn how to thrive in a sometimes cruel world?
World politics gather pace and as the horrors of WW1 encompass life, can Jane face her inner fears?
Beth Jordan - meet the author
Beth Jordan a local author, living in the Highlands of Scotland. having moved from East Sussex in 2021. Beth has kept a diary of her life and travels around the globe.
"During my travels I kept diaries, knowing that in years to come I would forget so much of what I had seen. I’m glad I did."
After discovering a creative writing course 15 years ago, followed by a memoir writing class, Beth learned the craft of writing. Her first exercise in memoir writing was entitled ‘A sense of place’, 1000 words which soon became 86000 words and her debut novel, 'Thank You for the First Kiss' was born.
Harnessing Creativity; Inspiring Expression