Authors / Ùghdaran
Ailie Finlay from Flotsam and Jetsam Puppets and Stories has been working as a puppeteer and storyteller for over 25 years. She specialises in telling and making multi-sensory stories and resources for young children, people with additional support needs and people living with dementia. Ailie has a passionate belief that telling and hearing stories is a fundamental human experience which everyone can enjoy. Find out more about Ailie’s work here: flotsamandjetsam.co.uk
Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith, one of the world’s most prolific and best-loved authors, who wrote the highly successful No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, has sold over 25 million copies. His books are translated in over 46 languages and have become bestsellers throughout the world. These include the 44 Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in the Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the Von Igelfeld series and the Corduroy Mansions novels. Recently Alexander has written a new children’s series – The School Ship Tobermory – the first of which was published in 2015, with the second, The Sands of Shark Island, published in September 2016, increasing the number of children’s books he has written to more than 30. He has received numerous awards for his writing and holds 12 honorary doctorates from universities in Europe and North America. In 2007 he received a CBE for services to literature and in 2011 was honoured by the President of Botswana for services through literature to the country. alexandermccallsmith.co.uk
Angela Barry, from Bermuda, holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her writing has been published in journals including The Massachusetts Review and is one of the contributors of So Many Islands: Stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific Oceans. She is the author of Endangered Species and Other Stories and Gorée: Point of Departure, published by Peepal Tree Press. She resides in Bermuda.
Aonghas MacNeacail, poet and songwriter, was born in Uig on the Isle of Skye. A vibrant communicator, he is also a broadcaster, journalist, scriptwriter, librettist and translator. A native Gael, he writes in Gaelic and English. His collections of poetry have been published in both languages, and his writing has appeared in literary journals all over the world and in many languages. He has given poetry readings at major literary festivals across the globe, from Russia to Canada, and throughout Western Europe. Aonghas won the prestigious Scottish Writer of the Year Stakis Prize with his third collection, Oideachadh Ceart (A Proper Schooling and Other Poems), in 1997. Aonghas has collaborated, in both folk and classical idioms, with many of Scotland’s top composers, including Phil Cunningham, Donald Shaw, William Sweeney and Ronald Stevenson. aonghasmacneacail.co.uk
Rugadh Aonghas MacNeacail, bàrd agus sgrìobhaiche-òrain, ann an Ùige an Eilein Sgitheanaich. Mar neach-conaltraidh beòthail, tha e cuideachd na chraoladair, naidheachdair, sgrìobhaiche-sgriobtaichean, ùghdar agus eadar-theangair. Na Ghàidheal bho a dhùthchas, bidh e a’ sgrìobhadh ann an Gàidhlig agus Beurla. Tha a chruinneachaidhean de bhàrdachd air am foillseachadh san dà chànan, agus tha a sgrìobhaidhean air nochdadh ann an irisean litreachais air feadh an t-saoghail agus ann am mòran chànanan. Tha e air leughaidhean bàrdachd a lìbhrigeadh aig prìomh fhèisean litreachais air feadh na cruinne, bhon Ruis gu Canada, agus tro Thaobh Siar na Roinn Eòrpa. Bhuannaich Aonghas duais chliùiteach Stakis airson Sgrìobhadair Albannach na Bliadhna le a threasaibh cruinneachadh, Oideachadh Ceart (A Proper Schooling and Other Poems), ann an 1997. Tha Aonghas air co-obrachadh, san dà chuid gnàthas-cainnt dùthchail agus clasaigeach, le mòran àrd-sgrìobhaichean ciùil, a’ gabhail a-steach Phil Cunningham, Donald Shaw, William Sweeney agus Ronald Stevenson. aonghasmacneacail.co.uk
The Bookshop Band
The Bookshop Band is the offspring of an artistic love affair between a duo of English folk singer-songwriters and a multi award-winning independent bookshop in the UK, Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights. Beth Porter and Ben Please write and perform songs inspired by books, by hundreds of authors from Shakespeare to Philip Pullman, and have released 13 studio albums featuring many of the authors they have worked with. Authors they’ve performed with include Louis de Bernières, Patrick Gale among others. Want to hear a song about a favourite book? Email us before their event. thebookshopband.co.uk
Catrìona Black, an Edinburgh Gael living in the Netherlands, lives her life in three languages. We are pleased to welcome her back to Islay Book Festival, two years after she took the festival by storm with Sly Cooking, her pocket book and exhibition of prints inspired by long-lost Gaelic words from South Uist and Eriskay. Over the past 20 years, Catrìona’s short, mostly animated, Gaelic films, have enjoyed critical success on TV and at film festivals across the world. Her most recent, Tha thu air Aigeann m’ Inntinn (You Are at the Bottom of my Mind), marks the centenary of the Iolaire disaster in the Isle of Lewis. The film has picked up laurels from festivals in Europe, North America and Australia, been nominated for numerous awards, been shortlisted by Amsterdam’s prestigious Stedelijk Museum, and won Best Animation at the New Renaissance Film Festival Amsterdam. Catrìona has been nominated for the culture and international prizes at the annual Scottish Gaelic Awards. catrionablack.com
Tha Caitrìona NicIlleDhuibh, Gàidheal à Dùn Èideann a tha a’ fuireach san Òlaind, a’ caitheamh a beatha agus i beò ann an trì cànanan. Tha sinn toilichte fàilte a chur oirre gu Fèis Leabhraichean Ìle, dà bhliadhna an dèidh dhi cliù a chosnadh aig an fhèis le Sly Cooking, a leabhar pòcaid sa bheil taisbeanadh de phriontaichean a bha air am brosnachadh le facail Ghàidhlig a chaidh a-mach à bith ann an Uibhist a Deas agus Èirisgeigh. Thar nam fichead bliadhna a dh’fhalbh, tha na filmichean goirid beòthaichte Gàidhlig aig Caitrìona, air soirbheachas mòr a chosnadh air TBh agus aig fèisean film air feadh an t-saoghail. Tha an obair as ùire aice, Tha thu air Aigeann m’ Inntinn (You Are at the Bottom of my Mind), a’ comharrachadh cuimhneachan nan ceud-bliadhna de mhòr-thubaist an Iolaire ann an Eilean Leòdhais. Tha am film air labhrasan a thogail aig fèisean san Roinn Eòrpa, Aimeireaga a Tuath agus Astràilia, air ainmeachadh airson mòran duaisean, air a’ gheàrr-liostadh le Taigh-tasgaidh ainmeil Stedelijk ann an Amsterdam, agus air am Beò-dhealbhadh as Fheàrr a chosnadh aig Fèis Film New Renaissance ann an Amsterdam. Tha Caitrìona air a h-ainmeachadh airson duaisean cultair agus eadar-nàiseanta aig Duaisean bliadhnail Gàidhlig na h-Alba. catrionablack.com
Donald S. Murray
Donald S. Murray’s family background comes from both the Western Isles – Lewis – and the Inner Hebrides, Skye and Tiree with even a smattering of Uist, North and South, thrown in for good measure. He was a teacher of English for 30 years. His work includes The Guga Hunters (Birlinn), Weaving Songs (Acair), Herring Tales (Bloomsbury), The Guga Stone (Luath), and The Dark Stuff: Stories from the Peatlands (Bloomsbury). He has received the Jessie Kesson and Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowships in recent years. A native Gaelic speaker, his poetry has been widely published with several poems chosen among the Scottish Poetry Library Poems of the Year. His most recent book, As the Women Lay Dreaming (Saraband, 2018), a novel about the Iolaire disaster, received critical acclaim and was awarded the Paul Torday Memorial Prize as part of the Society of Authors’ Awards 2020. donaldsmurray.co.uk
Tha dualchas teaghlaich Dhòmhnaill S. Moireach a’ tighinn bhon dà chuid na h-Eileanan an Iar – Leòdhas – agus na h-Eileanan A-staigh, an t-Eilean Sgitheanach agus Tiriodh, le fiù crathadh de dh’Uibhist a Tuath agus Deas air a thilgeil a-steach don mheasgachadh. B’ e neach-teagaisg Beurla a bh’ ann airson 30 bliadhna. Am measg na h-obrach aige tha The Guga Hunters (Birlinn), Weaving Songs (Acair), Herring Tales (Bloomsbury), The Guga Stone (Luath), agus The Dark Stuff: Stories from the Peatlands (Bloomsbury). Tha e air Comhaltachdan Jessie Kesson agus Robert Louis Stevenson fhaotainn sna bliadhnaichean mu dheireadh. Le Gàidhlig aige bho dhùthchas, tha a chuid bàrdachd air a foillseachadh fad’ is farsaing agus grunn dhàin air an taghadh am measg Dàin Leabharlann Bàrdachd Alba na Bliadhna. Choisinn an leabhar as ùire aige, As the Women Lay Dreaming (Saraband, 2018), nobhail mu dheidhinn mòr-thubaist an Iolaire, sàr-chliù agus chaidh Duais Cuimhneachaidh Paul Torday a bhuileachadh air mar phàirt de Dhuaisean Comann nan Ùghdar 2020. donaldsmurray.co.uk
Ella Berthoud started reading on a journey from Tehran to London, on the parcel shelf of a Wolsey 1300 when she was five. She spent the next thirteen years reading books in inappropriate places like ski-lifts and trampolines. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University, where she read as many novels as she could at once. She continued on to University of East London where she studied Fine Art, and combined her twin passions of reading and painting by listening to books while creating works of art. She has worked as an artist in residence at Pentonville Prison, Friends School Saffron Walden and Queenswood School. Ella first started talking about bibliotherapy with Susan Elderkin when they were at Cambridge together. Over the ensuing years they prescribed literature to their friends and family, while Ella worked as an artist and Susan wrote her own novels. In 2007 they developed the idea in conjunction with The School of Life into what it is today, a one-to-one service taking place in person, or over the phone. Ella lives in West Sussex with her husband and three daughters. @Ellaberthoud ellaberthoud.com
Dr Emily McEwan lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada where she is president of Bradan Press, which aims to connect readers worldwide with Gaelic language and culture. She has been involved with Gaelic language and culture for 30 years. Trained as a linguistic anthropologist, Dr McEwan is a former academic and author of The Scottish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook (2016) and Gaelic Language Revitalization Concepts and Challenges (2020). She also blogs about Gaelic language and culture at Gaelic.co and enjoys gardening and Gaelic singing. @DrEmilyMcEwan @BradanPress
Tha an Dr Emily NicEòghainn a’ fuireach ann an Halifax, Alba Nuadh ann an Canada, far a bheil i na ceann-suidhe air Bradan Press, a tha ag amas air leughadairean a cho-cheangal air feadh an t-saoghail le cànan is cultar na Gàidhlig. Tha i air a bhith an sàs ann an cànan agus cultar na Gàidhlig fad 30 bliadhna. Air a trèanadh mar dhaon-eòlaiche cànanach, tha an Dr NicEòghainn air a bhith na h-acadaimig agus na h-ùghdar air The Scottish Gaelic Tattoo Handbook (2016) agus Gaelic Language Revitalization Concepts and Challenges (2020). Bidh i cuideachd a’ blogadh mu chànan is cultar na Gàidhlig aig Gaelic.co agus bidh i a’ faotainn tlachd à gàirnealaireachd agus seinn ann an Gàidhlig. @DrEmilyMcEwan @BradanPress
Freeland Barbour is one of Scotland’s leading accordionists and has been a very well-known figure on the Scottish music scene for many years, performing with many of the world’s greatest traditional musicians. A BBC music producer for a number of years, Freeland has taught at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He runs a music publishing company and is the owner and former manager of Castlesound, one of the leading independent recording studios in the UK. A descendent of Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne, Freeland now presents a long-overdue biography and reassessment of her life and work, much of it based on research into family papers to which he has recently had access. He lives in Edinburgh. freelandbarbour.co.uk
Gerda Stevenson, writer/actor/director/singer/songwriter, works in theatre, television, radio, film, and opera, throughout Britain and abroad. Her poetry, drama and prose are widely published, staged and broadcast, including plays for BBC Radio 4. She has been nominated for the MG Alba Trad Music Awards, for Scots Singer of the Year following the release of her album Night Touches Day, and three times for the Critics Awards for Theatre, Scotland. She is also the winner of a BAFTA Best Film Actress award for Margaret Tait’s feature film, Blue Black Permanent. Her published poetry collections include If This Were Real (Smokestack Books, 2013) and the bestselling Quines: Poems in Tribute to Women of Scotland (Luath Press, 2018; 2nd edition, 2020), which was described by Jackie Kay as being ‘a ground-breaker of a book’. gerdastevenson.co.uk
With an Irish childhood steeped in folk music, fiddle player Gráinne Brady evokes the musical lyricism of Leitrim, Clare, and her native Cavan. Gráinne’s broad repertoire of Irish tunes now incorporates new-found Scottish influences; as a composer living at the heart of Glasgow’s trad scene, she relishes Glasgow’s uniquely vibrant community. Her first album, The Road Across the Hills, was inspired by Patrick MacGill’s 1914 novel, Children of the Dead End, considered canonical in classic Irish and Scottish literature, telling an untold story of emigration, poverty and loss. The album is comprised entirely of her compositions and the music is enriched by spoken word with some of MacGill’s poetry. Gráinne’s second album, Newcomer, produced by award-winning musician and composer Mike Vass, was released in June 2020. Newcomer focuses on a literary heroine explored in MacGill’s novel The Rat Pit: Norah Ryan was a woman of strength, beauty and feistiness who was nevertheless vulnerable to poverty, sexual exploitation, and great emotional loss. Gráinne’s music has featured on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, BBC NI and BBC Radio Scotland, and BBC Alba’s Seirm television series. In 2019, Gráinne showcased The Road Across the Hills to great acclaim at Glasgow’s prestigious Celtic Connections. grainnebradyfiddle.com
Heather Barker writes fiction from Barbados about girls and women in the Caribbean and the African Diaspora. Her short story, ‘African Burial Ground’, was shortlisted for the 2016 Small Axe Literary Competition while her manuscript, ‘The Plundering’, came top in 2017 in the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment. Heather was also shortlisted for the 2019 Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize. Heather’s writing is in publications in the Caribbean, US, and UK including So Many Islands: Stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian, and Pacific Oceans (Peekash Press [US], Telegram [UK]).
Poet and novelist Jackie Kay is the third modern Scots Makar, or national poet of Scotland. A favourite of our 2019 festival, 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 was recently adapted for the stage by Tanika Gupta and premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival last year. Jackie now lives in Manchester and is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She was awarded an MBE in 2006 and then a CBE in 2020, both 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.
Jenni Fagan is an award-winning poet and novelist. She is the author of three novels and five poetry collections, including the much-acclaimed debut The Panopticon, which Jenni adapted for last year’s stage production by the National Theatre of Scotland. Her screenplay for The Panopticon is being made by Sixteen Films, the stage play saw a sold-out run with National Theatre of Scotland. Once dubbed the ‘patron saint of literary street urchins’ by the New York Times, Fagan has been on lists including Granta Best of Young British Novelists, James Tait Black, Dublin Impact, BBC Short Story Prize among others. Her work is translated in nine languages. Her much-anticipated forthcoming novel, Luckenbooth, is out next year. jennifagan.com
Jim Hunter is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of the Highlands and Islands. He has written extensively about the Scottish north and about the area’s worldwide diaspora. In the course of a varied career he has been, among other things, director of the Scottish Crofters Union, chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and an award-winning journalist. His latest book, Insurrection (Birlinn, 2019), was described by the Herald as ‘a gripping, heart-breaking account of the famine winter of 1847’. His previous book, Set Adrift Upon the World, was Saltire History Book of the Year in 2016. @JimHunter22
Born in Rotorua, Karlo Mila is an award-winning New Zealand poet, Fulbright Scholar, researcher, academic and author of Tongan, Samoan and European descent. She was awarded the Contemporary Pacific Art Award at the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards (2016) and received the New Zealand Order of Merit both for services to the Pacific community and as a poet (2017). Both personal and political, urban and island, Karlo’s poetry is rooted in concerns of identity, voice, migration and family.
Karlo published her first book of poetry in 2006 to critical acclaim. The work, Dream Fish Floating, went on to win the NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards (2006). She represented Tonga at the 2012 Cultural Olympiad Poetry event Parnassus Festival in London, and was recipient of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency (2015). Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including including Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English and Best New Zealand Poems 2003, 2005 ,2006 and 2017. In 2008 Karlo collaborated with German-born artist Delicia Sampero to produce A Well Written Body, a combination of text and image.
Kate Leiper is an artist and illustrator based in Edinburgh. She was brought up on the north-east coast of Scotland and studied printmaking at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen. She has most recently illustrated An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Castle Legends, the third in a series of highly acclaimed Scottish treasuries written by Theresa Breslin and published by Floris Books. Other illustration work includes The Book of the Howlat, written by James Robertson, and A Wee Bird was Watching, written by the award-winning singer and songwriter, Karine Polwart, both published by Birlinn. Kate and Karine are currently working on their second picture book, The Queen of the Birds, which is due out in 2020, published by Birlinn. kateleiper.co.uk
Kendel Hippolyte is a poet, playwright and director and sporadic researcher into areas of Saint Lucian and Caribbean arts and culture. His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies regionally and internationally. He has taught poetry workshops in various countries and performed at literary events within the Caribbean and beyond. His latest collection is Wordplanting, and he is the author of seven previous collections of poetry, including Fault Lines, which won the OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry in 2013.
Malcolm Alexander graduated from Edinburgh University in 1980 with the single thought of becoming a General Practitioner. Life had other plans, and he became Medical Director for Orkney Health Board and he finished his career working for 11 years as Associate Medical Director for the Scottish National Telephone Triage service, NHS 24, before finally returning to face-to-face practice in his local GP practice on one of the Scottish islands. He lives in an old Victorian home on the Isle of Bute. His book, Close to Where the Heart Gives Out (Michael O’Mara Books, 2019), is an unflinchingly honest and moving memoir of his life as a doctor in the remote landscape of Eday, part of the Orkney archipelago. @Doc_Malcolm_A
Mòrag Anna NicNèill
Mòrag Anna NicNèill (Morag Ann MacNeil) is originally from the Isle of Harris, and now lives on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Mòrag Anna studied English Literature and Celtic Studies at Glasgow University and she was a Gaelic teacher for 26 years. She received a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust and the Gaelic Books Council in 2015 and now writes full-time. She is especially interested in children’s fiction and she has written and translated several children’s books, in addition to poetry, short stories, and plays. @mogibarra
’S ann às Na Hearadh a tha Mòrag Anna NicNèill, ged a tha i a-nis a’ fuireach ann am Barraigh. Rinn i Litreachas na Beurla agus Ceiltis ann an Oilthigh Ghlaschu, agus chuir i seachad còrr is 25 bliadhna a’ teagasg Gàidhlig aig ìre àrd-sgoile. Choisinn i Duais nan Sgrìobhadairean Ùra bho Chomhairle nan Leabhraichean is Urras Leabhraichean na h-Alba ann an 2015 agus tha i a-nis a’ sgrìobhadh làn ùine. Tha ùidh shònraichte aice ann am ficsean chloinne agus tha i air grunn leabhraichean chloinne a sgrìobhadh is eadar-theangachadh, a thuilleadh air bàrdachd, sgeulachdan goirid agus sgriobtaichean dràma. @mogibarra
Nicholas Laughlin is a writer and editor from Trinidad. He is editor of the popular arts and travel magazine Caribbean Beat, and in 2004 he revived the literary journal The Caribbean Review of Books, covering Caribbean writing for a general audience, published in print and online. As programme director of the Bocas Lit Fest, Trinidad and Tobago’s annual literary festival, he works to bring contemporary Caribbean writers to broader audiences, with a special focus on new literary talent. He is also co-director of Alice Yard, a non-profit contemporary art space in Port of Spain. He has two poetry collections, The Strange Years of My Life (2015) and Enemy Luck (2019), both published by Peepal Tree Press. nicholaslaughlin.net
The Poetry Busker
Kornel Kossuth, otherwise known as ‘The Poetry Busker’, writes poetry and prose, both playful and thoughtful, after long reflection or off the cuff on his Remington portable typewriter, and complements this with illustrations in a variety of media. Currently he is modernising a number of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In his free time he teaches English. Kornel will be composing a series of real-time poems for each day of Islay Book Festival. Find him on Facebook as ‘The Poetry Busker’ or on Instagram @poetrybusker
Bestselling author, journalist and broadcaster Sally Magnusson has written several books, most recently her Sunday Times bestseller Where Memories Go (Two Roads, 2014) about her mother’s dementia, and The Sealwoman’s Gift (Two Roads, 2018), her acclaimed debut novel. Sally has inherited a rich storytelling tradition from her Scottish and Icelandic forebears. The Sealwoman’s Gift was a Radio 2 Book Club and ITV Zoe Ball Book Club selection, and was shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award, the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year, the Paul Torday Memorial Prize, the McKitterick Prize, the Waverton Good Read Award and the HWA Debut Fiction Crown. Sally lives outside Glasgow. Loch Katrine and the surrounding area have long been a favourite haunt.