Our 2019 Authors.
Born in Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. Before becoming a full-time novelist, Ian worked as a grape-picker, swineherd, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist, college secretary and punk musician in a band called the Dancing Pigs. Ian is now the multi-million copy worldwide bestseller of over thirty novels and creator of Inspector John Rebus. His books have been translated into thirty-six languages and have been adapted for radio, the stage and the screen. The recipient of a number of prestigious awards for crime fiction, and an OBE for services to literature, Ian retains a keen interest in music, and, along with Inspector Rebus, is also a connoisseur of the single malt. Ian’s latest Rebus novel, In a House of Lies, is out in paperback this year.
Poet and novelist Jackie Kay is the third modern Scots Makar, or national poet of Scotland. Jackie’s poetry, which deals candidly with issues of identity, race, nationality, gender and sexuality, has won multiple awards and she also writes extensively for the stage. Born in Edinburgh, in 1961, to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father, Jackie was adopted as a baby by a white Scottish couple and grew up in Bishopbriggs, a suburb of Glasgow. Jackie’s memoir, Red Dust Road, is an account of her search for her biological parents, who had met each other when her father was a student at Aberdeen University and her mother was a nurse. The book has recently been adapted for the stage by Tanika Gupta and will premiere in August 2019 at the Edinburgh International Festival. Jackie now lives in Manchester and is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. In 2006, she was awarded an MBE for services to literature. In 2014 she was appointed Chancellor of the University of Salford, where she has been the University 'Writer in Residence' since 2015.
Born in Paisley, Karen Campbell was brought up in Glasgow, where she studied English, Drama and French at university before joining Strathclyde Police and serving in Glasgow’s ‘A’ Division. Karen’s first four novels, which are police procedurals, are based on her time as a police officer, although she has since moved away from crime-writing. Karen is also a graduate of Glasgow University’s renowned Creative Writing Masters. She is the author of seven novels including This is Where I Am, which was a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, and has been optioned for TV. Her other titles include Rise, The Twilight Time, After the Fire, Proof of Life, and Shadowplay, which was shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger in 2010. Karen won the Best New Scottish Writer Award in 2009, and in 2015 was awarded a Creative Scotland Artist's Bursary for research into her most recent novel, The Sound of the Hours, set in Tuscany in the Second World War. Karen now lives with her family in Galloway, Scotland.
Local storyteller Kate Coutts comes from a traditional school of storytelling. Her first encounter with a storyteller was listening to George PS Peterson of Papa Stour, followed closely by renowned Shetland storyteller Laurence Tulloch of Cullivoe. Through Laurence, Kate then worked with Tom Muir of Orkney. Her most memorable storytelling weekend was with Laurence and the legendary Stanley Robertson. All of these people encouraged her and shared many stories from a variety of traditions, Gaelic, Norse, and from the traditional travellers. Kate is proud of her Islay heritage.
Morag Hood is an award-winning children's book author and illustrator from Edinburgh. She loves making up stories, print-making and cutting and sticking, and her favourite things to draw are eyebrows! Morag has an MA in Children's Book Illustration from Cambridge School of Art and a BA in Costume Design from Wimbledon College of Art. She used to work in theatre, but now spends her days in her Edinburgh studio with views of the hills. Morag is one of forty-five artists from across Europe to be included in Drawing Europe Together, and her book I Am Bat was shortlisted for the Bookbug Picture Book Prize 2019 and included in this year’s Bookbug packs.
Poet Norman Bissell became principal teacher of history and an EIS Area Officer after obtaining an MA (Hons) degree in Philosophy and History from the University of Glasgow. His first poetry collection, Slate, Sea and Sky, featured poems written in his native Glasgow and on the Isle of Luing, where he now lives in sight of Jura. His essays and reviews have been widely published and he has appeared at major literary festivals. He is the Director of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics and was awarded a Creative Scotland Artist’s Bursary to research and write Barnhill, his new novel about George Orwell’s desperate struggle on the Isle of Jura to finish Nineteen Eighty-Four before his health failed. As a writer, Bissell is inspired by the natural world and its creative expression in geopoetics, and this perspective permeates Barnhill, in which he depicts Orwell’s own passion for nature.
Philip Reeve is an author and illustrator of children's books. He is primarily known for the 2001 book Mortal Engines and its sequels, which was recently adapted for film by Lord of the Rings trilogy director Peter Jackson. Before becoming an illustrator he worked at a bookshop in Brighton for several years. Since 2013, Reeve has been collaborating with British-American writer-illustrator Sarah McIntyre. Their first book, Oliver and the Seawigs, was published by Oxford University Press and went on to win the UKLA Award. Their third book, Pugs of the Frozen North, won an Independent Bookshop Week children's book award. The duo have a contract with the same publisher for a series of four more books, beginning with The Legend of Kevin. Philip currently lives in Dartmoor with his wife and son.
Ronnie Black (Raghnall MacilleDhuibh), formerly Senior Lecturer in Celtic Studies at the University of Edinburgh and Gaelic Editor of The Scotsman, is acknowledged by many as one of the greatest living Scottish Gaelic scholars. Widely published in the field of Highland literature, folklore and history, he lives in Peebles, Scotland. He is currently coordinating a project aimed at editing, translating and publishing the Dewar Manuscripts, a massive collection of Gaelic historical tales made in the 1860s and stored in the archives of Inveraray Castle. The Dewar Project, which is voluntary and unfunded, depends on the services of local experts and a worldwide team of transcribers. Its first outcome will be a volume on Islay, Jura and Colonsay.
Award-winning illustrator and writer Sarah McIntyre is easy to spot in her pointy glasses and hats. Sometimes she writes and draws picture books and comics herself, sometimes she illustrates books for other people, including Giles Andreae, Alan MacDonald, Gillian Rogerson, Anne Cottringer and Claire Freedman. When she makes books with Philip Reeve, they both brainstorm the story ideas together, then Philip writes them and Sarah illustrates them. But occasionally they swap roles for a bit. And they love dressing up. In 2015, Sarah launched the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign to show how everyone benefits when illustrators are properly credited for their work. Sarah’s also an Ambassador for a charity called Read for Good, which helps schools to run fundraising Readathons. Sarah’s father, Melville, grew up in Bridgend, the son of one of Islay’s GPs.
Stacey MacLean is the 2019 Islay Book Festival international writer in residence. She is involved with various Gaelic cultural and language initiatives throughout Cape Breton Island, Canada. Coming from a Gaelic-speaking family, Stacey has been exposed to the language from a very early age and actively sought out the expertise of community tradition bearers who might share their knowledge of Gaelic language and culture with her. Today, she spends the summer season delivering children’s programmes at the living history museum Baile nan Gàidheal | Highland Village in Iona, Cape Breton. During the winter season she works at the Beaton Institute archive at Cape Breton University improving the levels of description of items and sound recordings which pertain to Gaelic Cape Breton. Between these jobs, she is involved in a number of socially-based learning programmes that aim at bringing youth and adults to fluency in the Gaelic language. A strong believer in the importance of cultural sustainability for rural sustainability, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to share her skills and experience with another island community.
Raised in Dundee, Sue Lawrence originally trained as a journalist before winning fame on the BBC’s MasterChef in 1991. Sue has since forged a career as one of the UK’s leading cookery writers, specialising in traditional Scottish food and baking. She writes a regular column for Scotland on Sunday, wrote for the Sunday Times for six years and regularly contributes to Sainsbury’s Magazine, Woman & Home, Country Living and BBC Good Food Magazine. A regular face on British and Australian television, until 2011 she was one of the food experts on STV’s The Hour. Sue has written 17 cookery books including Book of Baking and A Cook’s Tour of Scotland. Her latest cookbook is A Taste of Scotland’s Islands, due out in August 2019. Sue has also more recently moved into writing fiction: her second novel, The Night He Left, was published in April 2016. Her latest novel, Down to the Sea, was published earlier this year. Sue now lives in Edinburgh.
Tom Devine is the Sir William Fraser Professor Emeritus of Scottish History and Palaeography in the University of Edinburgh, the world’s oldest and most prestigious chair in the field. He has also held professorial chairs at Aberdeen and Strathclyde, where he was also Deputy Principal of the latter in the 1990s. He is the author or editor of over forty books, several of which have become international bestsellers, especially The Scottish Nation, which has sold over 100,000 copies to date in the UK alone, and for a time even outsold the adventures of Harry Potter in Scotland when first published! His most recent book, The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed 1600-1900 (Allen Lane: The Penguin Press), was published last year to glowing reviews in the UK press. Professor Devine has a high media profile and contributes regularly to newspapers, social media, periodicals, radio and television both at home and abroad. He has received many prizes, honorary degrees and accolades during his career. Most notably in 2001, with the Nobel Laureate, the late Sir James Black OM, inventor of beta blockers, he was awarded the Royal Gold Medal, Scotland’s supreme academic accolade, by HM The Queen on the recommendation of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2014 he was knighted ‘for services to the study of Scottish history’, the first historian of Scotland to be so honoured. Last summer, the Joint Committee of the Houses of Lords and Commons on History and Archives bestowed on him its Lifetime Achievement Award. Sir Tom is the only UK-based humanities scholar to be elected to all three of the national academies in the British Isles for which he is eligible: Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE), Royal Irish Academy (Hon MRIA) and the British Academy (FBA). The Times Scotland noted in 2013 that ‘Tom Devine is as close to a national bard as the nation has’.
DAVE BROOM AND ADAM PARK:
“THE AMBER LIGHT”
Award-winning whisky writer Dave Broom and his film director collaborator Adam Park bring their documentary “The Amber Light” to Islay Book Festival this year, fresh from its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film explores the untold story of whisky, past and present, and how it intertwines with Scottish culture: art, music, literature and food. Featuring music from the likes of King Creosote, and interviews with whisky-loving authors Ian Rankin and Alasdair Gray, Dave also speaks to the key innovators and thinkers in the whisky world – farmers, distillers, bar owners, historians – and explores the unsung role of women in distilling and blending over the centuries. Find out more about the film here: www.amberlightfilm.com, or watch the teaser trailer below.