Below are our 2018 authors. Watch out for our 2019 author announcements over the next few weeks.
Alan Dapré is the author of sixty books for children. His stories and plays have been on BBC Radio and published for use in schools. A former TV scriptwriter, whose work was BAFTA nominated, Alan now lives on the west coast of Scotland and writes zany stories for young readers. Alan gets lots of ideas while walking his dog on the beach … in the rain. As he dries off, he enjoys writing sunny, funny children’s stories, with a Scottish twist. His new series stars Porridge the (world’s only) Tartan Cat, who lives by Loch Ness with the lovable McFun family! Everyone has a suPURR silly secret and Porridge is always there to lend a helping paw – or four – when things go awry.
Internationally acclaimed writer Bernard MacLaverty was born in Belfast and lived there until 1975 when he moved to Scotland with his wife and four children. He has been a medical laboratory technician, a mature student, a teacher of English (including a stint as Head of English at Islay High School) and occasionally a writer-in-residence. After living for a time in Edinburgh and the Isle of Islay he now lives in Glasgow. Over the years, he has written novels, short stories, radio plays, television plays, screenplays and libretti. 'Midwinter Break' is his fifth novel. Bernard recently won Best Writer in the Sunday Herald's Culture Awards 2018, to add to his many other awards and prizes.
Brian Johnstone is a poet, writer and performer who was born in Edinburgh in 1950, but who has lived in Fife since 1972. A well known figure on the Scottish poetry scene, he is a widely published poet with six published collections, a literary event organiser, a frequent collaborator with visual artists and a live performer of his poems both as a solo reader and with various musical collaborators. First published as a student in the late 1960s, he gave his first public reading at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe poetry sessions in the Traverse Theatre aged only 18. A founder in 1998 of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, Brian has been active on the Scottish literary scene for over 25 years and his work has been translated into 10 languages.
Artist and writer Catriona Black, an 'Edinburgh Gael', grew up with Gaelic thanks to her father Ronald Black's work as a Gaelic scholar. Now based in the Dutch town of Santpoort-Noord, Catriona has worked as an art critic for the Sunday Herald, as an illustrator of children's books (including two of her own) and as an animator for TV. With her latest project, 'Sly Cooking', Catriona has been able to combine her love for Gaelic with her skills as an artist, creating linocut prints to illustrate 42 weird and wonderful Gaelic words collected by 19th century priest, poet and folklorist Father Allan Macdonald in South Uist and Eriskay, and many of which have fallen out of use. Her linoprints can be seen on display at the Gaelic College in Bowmore during September.
Chrys Salt is a widely published poet and a happy performer of her work. Although she has written in every genre except the novel, including plays, books and features, she’s primarily a poet with roots deeply planted in the theatre. She has written four full poetry collections and five pamphlet collections and performed UK wide, in the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Finland and India. Her work has been broadcast on both Radio 3 and 4, read by Chrys and by others, and has appeared in anthologies, magazines and journals worldwide. Chrys is a trained performer and worked as an actress for some years alongside her writing career. Chrys has been a recipient of bursaries and awards (various) and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2014 for services to the arts.
Poet Ciara MacLaverty was born in Belfast, raised on Islay and lives in Glasgow. Her first pamphlet, 'Seats for Landing', was well received in 2005, with ‘Peeled’ chosen for Best Scottish Poems 2006. In 2015, Ciara was among 12 poets to write a commemorative poem for Glasgow’s Theatre Royal. Her poems have appeared in The Scotsman, New Writing Scotland and Gutter. In 2017 she was a recipient of a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Her latest pamphlet, 'Past Love in the Museum of Transport', explores different kinds of love in everyday life. Liz Lochhead said, these poems are ‘often funny, always generous, accessible, inclusive, deeply humane celebrating small things that say some very big things indeed.' The former Belle and Sebastian album cover model, Ciara has also published short stories and has been named one of the top new writers to watch in Scotland.
Donald S. Murray
Poet, teacher and playwright Donald S. Murray was born in the crofting district of Ness on the Isle of Lewis and now lives in Shetland. In his poetry, and in his non-fiction work, he has written much about islands and the seabirds that fly around them, and about the weaving, fishing and other trades and traditions associated with his native and adopted islands. He has been a recipient of both the Robert Louis Stevenson and Jessie Kesson Fellowships, and has been shortlisted for both the Saltire Award and Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. Donald has two books out in 2018, 'The Dark Stuff' about the peatlands of Scotland, Europe and beyond, and a forthcoming novel, ‘As The Women Lay Dreaming’, about the Iolaire tragedy of January 1919 and its effect on Lewis society.
Writer, artist and storyteller, Ian Stephen was born in Stornoway in 1955, and still lives on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Ian fell in love with boats and sailing as a boy. Having studied English, drama and education at Aberdeen University, and after 15 years in the coastguard, Ian decided to pair his passion for the Scottish coastline with his interest in writing and became a full-time creator of poetry, prose, drama and visual art projects. He was the inaugural winner of the Christian Salvesen/Robert Louis Stevenson Award in 1995, and in 2004, he was the first artist in residence at StAnza, Scotland's annual poetry festival. He was given a Creative Scotland Award in 2002–3 to sail through the geography of Scottish maritime stories. 'Waypoints' is the first in a trilogy combining the seascapes and stories of Scotland's west coast.
Popular children's author Janis Mackay always wanted to be a writer, but following advice to get ‘a proper job’ took herself off to London at the age of 19 to train as a journalist. By 21 she was a journalist on Fleet Street, but soon realised this wasn’t the kind of writing she wanted to do. After a stint of travelling – sailing yachts, sleeping on beaches, looking after children, working on kibbutz – Janis returned to Scotland and spent some time looking after children with learning disabilities and studying speech and drama. She became a storyteller, drama teacher and voice teacher before studying for an MA in creative writing at Sussex University and finally realising her childhood dream of becoming a writer.
Islay resident 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. Les also co-edited 'Islay Voices', a collection of writings about Islay in 2016. Les's recent book, 'The Drowned and the Saved', is the result of painstaking research into the events surrounding the sinking of two US troopships, the Tuscania and the Otranto, off the coast of Islay in 1918 and features many first-hand accounts of when WW1 came to the Hebrides. Les lives in Port Charlotte with his wife and co-author Jenni Minto.
Lin Anderson, best known as the creator of the forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod series of crime thriller novels and for her part in founding the annual Bloody Scotland crime writing festival, is an award-winning scriptwriter and multi-published champion of Tartan Noir. Originally from Greenock, Lin has degrees in mathematics and education from the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and in screenwriting from Edinburgh Napier. Her work has been broadcast internationally on TV and radio, and she received a Celtic Film Festival ‘Best Drama’ award for her ‘River Child’ film. Lin's Rhona MacLeod novel 'Paths of the Dead' was shortlisted for the 2015 Scottish Crime Book of the Year, and this year Lin has again been longlisted for the William McIlvanney Prize.
Professor Lorna Dawson is head of Forensic Soil Science at the James Hutton Institute and professor of Forensic Science at Robert Gordon University. She has worked with police forces and agencies across the UK and has acted as an expert on a number of high-profile cases. Lorna has worked on sabbatical for the BBC and has advised on programmes such as 'Countryfile', ‘Vera’ and 'Silent Witness'. Lorna won a national live communications prize for her Murder, Mystery & Microscopes series of events, based on forensic case histories in 2012. She lectures extensively and has contributed to several books by leading UK authors including Lin Anderson, Ann Cleeves, Val McDermid, Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride. As a world leader in her field, in October 2017 she was awarded the Pride of Britain Special Recognition award for her contribution to evidence and communication within the Criminal Justice System, and in June 2018 a CBE for services to soil and forensic science.
Lynn MacDonald is a longtime teacher of the Alexander Technique who also works with Gaelic projects and development. She lives in a beautiful place in Islay overlooking the Rhinns lighthouse with her husband and dog and sings with the Islay Gaelic Choir. This is her first publication. Lynn worked with Kenneth Thomson to produce the 'Òrain Ìleach', a collection of Islay songs with musical notation and English translations. Original photographs are by local artist Raymond Lafferty.
Malachy Tallack is a writer, editor and singer-songwriter from Shetland, currently based in Glasgow. His articles, essays and reviews have been published widely, and he has written on a variety of subjects, including politics, literature, landscape and agriculture. Malachy's non-fiction books, 'Sixty Degrees North' and the beautifully illustrated 'The Un-Discovered Islands' both received critical acclaim and the latter won the Edward Stanford Illustrated Travel Book of the Year Award in 2017. Malachy received a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust in 2014, and the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2015. His first novel, 'The Valley at the Centre of the World', about a small remote island community in modern-day Shetland, was published by Canongate in May 2018. Malachy was really shortlisted for the Sunday Herald's Culture Award for Best Writer.
Mary McGregor was born and raised on Islay. Her folk have farmed the same farm for three generations – it has always been her way of life. Now that the old ways are dying out, she would like to share the stories she has collected over the years. Mary's first book, 'Baba King of the Castle and Jacket Potato', contains two of these stories, and they are the first of many to come.
Michelle Sloan was born and brought up in Edinburgh but now lives with her husband, three children, two crazy dogs and grumpy cat in Broughty Ferry near Dundee. She trained as a primary school teacher and has also studied drama and arts journalism. 'The Fourth Bonniest Baby in Dundee', inspired by her son (who came fourth in the Broughty Ferry Bonnie Baby competition), was shortlisted in 2017 for the Bookbug Picture Book Prize and selected to be included in the Bookbug Family Pack the same year. Michelle has also written a historical adventure for young adults, 'Revenge of Tirpitz', set between modern-day Shetland and Norway in WW2.
Mike Nicholson is an Edinburgh-based children’s author who began loving adventure stories with Dr Who, Tintin and Asterix. He has written for all ages of primary school children. His most recent books are the popular 'Museum Mystery Squad' series for early readers (6–8 year olds). One of these (‘Hidden Hieroglyphics’) was shortlisted in the 2018 Teach Primary Book Awards. Mike’s two novels for 8–12 year olds are the Kelpies Prize winning ‘Catscape’ and ‘Grimm’ – mystery adventures with many twists, turns and cliffhangers.
Trevor Royle is a historian, broadcaster and widely-published author with over 40 books specialising in the history of war and empire. He was formerly associate editor of the Sunday Herald and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Trevor's books include 'The Flowers of the Forest: Scotland and the First World War' and 'A Time of Tyrants: Scotland and the Second World War', and more recently he wrote a history of Culloden and its role in the subsequent creation of the British Empire.