What's happening this year?

This year we're bringing you a fantastic range of events, author sessions and family gatherings. Whether you're a weathered book lover adding to your collection or a toddler still teething on the corners, there's something for everyone at Islay Book Festival 2017. 
Please remember that some events may sell out fast, so don't hang around when booking your place.

Adult Highlights.


Our Authors.

E.S. Thomson

Elaine, publishing as E.S. Thomson, is the author of Beloved Poison and Dark Asylum, the first two books in the Jem Flockhart crime series, dark gory tales of gothic Victoriana and both of which have received wide critical acclaim.

Elaine studied the history of medicine at Edinburgh University, and tries to put as many interesting things about nineteenth-century medical history into her books as she can. Her fiction has been shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award, the Scottish Arts Council First Book Award, and the William MacIlvanney Crime Book of the Year Award.

Originally hailing from Ormskirk, Lancashire, Elaine lives in Edinburgh with her two sons. She writes by night and works as a university lecturer by day.

Helen Sedgwick

Helen’s debut novel, The Comet Seekers, has been published in the UK and Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa. The New York Times called it ‘An exquisitely layered, thrilling novel, which leaps across centuries and continents to delve into the role of destiny and the elusiveness of perception and memory’, and it was selected as one of the best books of 2016 in The Herald and Glamour. Helen’s second novel, The Growing Season, will be published in September 2017, just in time for our festival.

Helen holds an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University, and won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award in 2012. Prior to that, Helen was a research physicist with a PhD in physics from Edinburgh University. Read more at helensedgwick.com and follow Helen on twitter @helensedgwick. 

Pauline Prior-Pitt

Pauline Prior-Pitt is an award-winning poet living on the island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Pauline has published seven collections of poetry and four poetry pamphlets. Her North Uist Sea Poems won the Callum Macdonald Award. Her one-woman shows attract sell-out audiences in festivals all over the country and she has appeared on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Pick of the Week, With Great Pleasure, and Poetry Please; and on Channel 4 Television.

Pauline is one of Scotland's Live Literature Poets, a former Poet Partner for the Scottish Poetry Library, and the founder of ‘Last Thursdays’ poetry evenings and the ‘Uist Writing Workshop’.

Her readings have been described as ‘a pure, indulgent delight’. As Maureen Lipman has observed, ‘Everyone needs a Pauline Prior-Pitt on their bookshelves’. Pauline will be reading from her latest collection, Be an Angel, and from Storm Biscuits, her collection about islands.

Sara Sheridan

Sara writes a cosy crime series set in the 1950s and is obsessed with Agatha Christie. When a certain Scottish crime author announced he considered cosy crime a bit spineless and not really Scottish, she had a thistle drawn up her spine and posed topless for Edinburgh Book Festival photographer, Chris Close. She then spent the rest of the book festival trying to make sure her mother and elderly aunts didn’t see the picture.

Sara’s Mirabelle Bevan Mysteries have been optioned by STV. Sara also writes historical novels (epics, not crime) in which there are invariably several murders. She tweets as @sarasheridan and sits on the UK board of the Crime Writers Association, where she is considered a troublemaker because of her feminist, left wing views.

Sara is also ‘head bitch’ at REEK perfume, where she mixes the award-winning eau de parfum, DAMN REBEL BITCHES, and oversees a beauty campaign that challenges attitudes to beauty within the industry. As a result of this she usually smells amazing and always carries some with her, so just ask for a spray if you’re feeling at all bitchy.

Colin MacIntyre

Colin grew up on the Isle of Mull in a family of writers and storytellers. A descendant of the Gaelic warrior-poet, Duncan Ban MacIntyre, Colin is also the grandson of the ‘Bard of Mull’, Angus MacIntyre, and son of BBC Scotland correspondent, Kenny MacIntyre.

Colin is an award-winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and author, who has released seven albums to date, most notably under the name Mull Historical Society, so far achieving two Top 20 albums and four Top 40 singles. His most recent MHS album is 2016’s Dear Satellite, which features the song ‘The Ballad of Ivor Punch’.

Colin has been voted Scotland’s Top Creative Talent and has toured worldwide, including with The Strokes, Elbow and REM, and has played all the major festivals. He has performed live on numerous radio and TV shows. He is the co-author of a Radio 4 Afternoon Play, and has collaborated with Tony Benn and Irvine Welsh.

Colin’s debut novel, The Letters of Ivor Punch, won the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s 2015 First Book Award and was also longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize. Colin’s first picture book for children, The Humdrum Drum, will be published in 2018 by Little Door Books, featuring an accompanying CD of children’s songs and audiobook.

Corinna Krause

Corinna Krause has been involved with the craft of binding books since the early 1990s when she spent many summer placements in a small hand bindery in Berlin. She learnt most of her skills from Sylvia Juhl, a master bookbinder from Salzwedel in Germany, and has received mentoring from the renowned London-based designer binder Tracey Rowledge.

Corinna has had her own workshop since 2004 in Sollas, North Uist, where she continues to make books and boxes of various styles, employing traditional bookbinding techniques while applying her own unique design. Corinna designs and makes the decorative papers she uses herself, which often evoke sea, sand and rock patterns.

Corinna enjoys passing her skills on during workshop sessions and working on commissions, which include book repair work and bespoke projects. Corinna will be running a series of bookbinding workshops, demos and drop-in sessions for us over the festival weekend.

Jenni Minto & Les Wilson

Jenni Minto studied accountancy at Aberdeen University and, after gaining a professional qualification, worked for BBC Scotland in a variety of business support roles. She now works in the Museum of Islay Life in Port Charlotte and is chairing WW100 Islay, which is planning Islay-wide commemorations marking the centenary of WW1 and the impact it had on the island.

Les Wilson is a writer and award-winning documentary maker who specialises in Scottish historical subjects. He is the author of a novel, Fire in the Head, and co-author of Scotland's War, an account of WW2.

Jenni and Les are married and live in Port Charlotte, Islay, where they moved in 2011 after having a holiday home there for many years.

Ken MacTaggart

Ken is the author of the Haynes Astronaut Manual and a journalist who covers spaceflight and astronomy topics. His family originates on Islay and he has worked in many countries as a writer and technology adviser. Ken is also co-editor of NASA’s Apollo 11 Flight Journal and has contributed to The Scotsman, The Herald, The Independent and other newspapers and magazines.

For his book, which was recently BBC Sky at Night ‘Book of the Month’, he interviewed most of the surviving astronauts who made nine trips to the Moon and back almost 50 years ago. These extraordinary voyages were the culmination of Cold War rivalry between the USA and Russia. Now the former enemies fly to and fro in each other’s craft to the International Space Station, while China tries to catch up with its own space programme. 

Ken’s interests cover the human side of spaceflight, the Scottish origins of several astronauts, and how the lives of these intrepid explorers were changed by their unique viewpoint on the Earth.

Ryan Van Winkle

Ryan Van Winkle, originally from Connecticut, is a poet, editor, live artist and workshop leader based in Edinburgh. His second collection, The Good Dark, won the Saltire Society's 2015 Poetry Book of the Year award. His poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, The Prairie Schooner and The American Poetry Review.

As a member of Highlight Arts, Ryan has organised festivals and translation workshops in Syria, Pakistan and Iraq. Ryan has also read poems to audiences all over the world including at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival and Shakespeare and Company (Paris).

Ryan was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2012 and a residency at The Studios of Key West in 2016. Ryan has also been Poet in Residence at Edinburgh City Libraries and the Scottish Poetry Library’s first-ever Reader in Residence. Ryan continues to encourage the reading of poetry, some say ‘by any means necessary’.

Konrad Borkowski

Konrad Borkowski is a Jura-based photographer specialising in landscape, documentary and lifestyle photography. He photographs all around Scotland and worldwide. His images have featured in a variety of publications including The Times, The ScotsmanPlanet Golf, GQ GermanySwedish First Class Magazine and Italian Internazionale. He has also worked on a range of commissions from corporate clients such as Glenmorangie, Moët Hennessy, Whyte & Mackay, and Ardfin Estate.

Konrad will be sharing the photography from his recent book with Fiona Rintoul, Whisky Island, which is a celebration of the whiskies of Islay and of the beautiful island that shaped them. It is filled with stunning full-colour photographs, documenting each distillery at work through the seasons. Whisky Island was winner of the Gourmand Award for Best UK Spirits Book 2017 and was shortlisted for the Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards 2017.