Dundee Literary Festival 2017

Hip hip hooray! Tomorrow marks the beginning of my favourite bookie event, Dundee Literary Festival, which takes places in my native city.

This year’s event which takes it’s inspiration from the great thinker, biologist, mathematician and classics scholar, D’Arcy Thompson whose book On Growth and Form, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, peers inside the books and stories featured at the event, analysing their structure, form and secrets too.

Jam packed with literary stars from crime writer Denise Mina, Man Booker Prize shortlister, Graeme Macrae Burnet and Tracy Beaker author and Honorary Graduate of the University of Dundee, Jacqueline Wilson – there really is something for everything at this extraordinary book festival.

I’m looking forward to attending a number of events over the long weekend, including a writing tutorial with YA author Joan Lennon on Friday, Literature in Britain Today with Tim Robertson, Director of the Royal Society of Literature on Saturday and Beyond Our Times with Irish author Sara Baume and Journalist Mark O’Connell.

It’s going to be a fabulous few days and I’m looking forward to reviewing the events that I see, next week!

For more information and to book tickets, visit: https://literarydundee.co.uk/festival

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017

Once a year something magical happens in Edinburgh. All the bookish people in the world gather together in Charlotte Square, a beautiful part of the city named after the wife of King George III. It seems a fitting place to hold the world’s biggest book festival, a place where literary royalty, and their admirers, assemble. Saturday marked the official opening of Edinburgh International Book Festival. Julia Donaldson, Val McDermid, Paula Hawkins and Anthony Horowitz were all in camp, and despite the drizzly weather, the atmosphere was electric.

I started my day with the festival’s Opening Up event with authors Carl MacDougall and Frank Cottrell Boyce, who were chaired by Sally Magnusson. Both authors were there to talk about their latest short story collections, MacDougall’s Someone Always Robs The Poor and Cottrell Boyce’s still to be named Scrabble themed collection, which is due to be released this Autumn. Readings from both books were stunning, with MacDougall’s words moving me to tears. I look forward to picking up both collections, very soon.

My second event of the day was Julia Hobsbawn’s Too Much Information. Chaired by Bob McDevitt the event explored the themes of Hobsbawn’s book Fully Connected and examined how human beings are coping with the dizzying amounts of digital information that we’re exposed to on a daily basis. It was an interesting event which highlighted just how many people are struggling to keep afloat in an age when we are drowning in data.

Next up was the Paula Cocozza and Gail Honeyman Wild at Heart event at the Festival’s Writing Retreat. The authors were both there to discuss their debut novels; Cocozza’s How to be Human and Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Chaired by Lee Randall, the event featured lots of interesting discussion on the themes of mental health issues and loneliness.

My final event of the day was Sarah Moss & Helen Sedgwick’s Small Kids: Small Problems, Big Kids: Big Problems. I’ve been a fan of Sedgwick’s since reading The Comet Seekers (and interviewing her for The Scots Magazine in 2016), but I was completely new to Sarah Moss’s work. Both Moss’s latest novel The Tidal Zone and Sedgwick’s dystopian offering, The Growing Season, examine the complexities of motherhood. With beautiful, thought provoking readings from both authors, this event was my favourite of the day.

I left Charlotte Square with a head full of words and a TBR pile the length of my arm. I’m already looking forward to returning this Friday, for round two.

For further information about the Edinburgh International Book Festival, visit: https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/

 

 

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

I love reading a good thriller, so when I heard that Holly Seddon had a new one coming out this summer, I knew I was in for a treat. After devouring her novel Try Not To Breathe last year, I was desperate to get my hands on a preview copy of her latest book Don’t Close Your Eyes. The novel tells the story of sisters Robin and Sarah, whose ordinary lives are changed forever when a new family arrives in town. The book, which alternates between the girls’ past and present, is a gripping psychological thriller about childhood wounds and how they can last a lifetime.

Here’s the blurb…

Robin and Sarah weren’t the closest of twins. They weren’t even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another.

Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches – watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn’t…

And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted – the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she’s just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can’t be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.

But Sarah isn’t the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship…

The book is full of twists and turns which will have readers turning the pages late into the night. I read it in two sittings and couldn’t put it down until I’d finished that final, last page.

Don’t Close Your Eyes, which is out on the 6th of July, is bound to be a huge hit this summer. Make sure you get your hands on a copy!

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon is published by Corvus.

You can pre-order a copy on Amazon.

 

The Man Who Loved Islands by David F. Ross – Blog Tour

Today I’m delighted to be part of the #TheManWhoLovedIslands Blog Tour.

Written by David F. Ross, the book is the third instalment of the series and comes after The Last Days of Disco and The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas.

Here’s the blurb:

THE DISCO BOYS AND THE BAND ARE BACK…

In the early ’80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven’t spoken to each other in more than ten years. A bizarre opportunity to honour the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive … and forget.

With the help of the deluded Max Mojo and the faithful Hamish May, can they pull off the impossible, and reunite the legendary Ayrshire band, The Miraculous Vespas, for a one off Music Festival – The Big Bang – on a remote, uninhabited Scottish island? Absurdly funny, deeply moving and utterly human, The Man Who Loved Islands is an unforgettable finale to the Disco Days trilogy – a modern classic pumped full of music and middle-aged madness, written from the heart and pen of one of Scotland’s finest new voices.

This book is right up my husband’s street – so I passed my copy straight on to him to read. As a fan of authors such as Irvine Welsh who write in Scots dialect, he loved it!

After being completely engrossed from the first page, he flew through the book and is now looking forward to reading the first two books of the series.

And I’m not surprised! Ross’s work has been endorsed by everyone from Chris Brookmyre to Hardeep Singh Kohli. He has a brave and distinctive voice which is sure to appeal to men and woman across the country.

The Man Who Loved Islands is published by Orenda Books and is available to buy now.


Dundee Literary Festival 2016 – Review

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When I was a little girl, it’s fair to say that I didn’t exactly fit in. I was rubbish at sports, useless at computer games and I wasn’t really the outdoorsy, go out and ride on your bicycle kind of girl. The only thing that I ever really wanted to do was just sit down and read. In front of the fire with a cat on my lap was always the best case scenario, but you know what, it didn’t really matter where I read, as long as I had a book in my hand I was happy.

It took me until adulthood to realise that being bookish was my kind of my “thing”. Perhaps I even rebelled a little against the label, because let’s face it, reading isn’t the most sociable of hobbies…

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Outer Edges with Amy Liptrot and Malachy Tallack, hosted by Stuart Kelly

Except sometimes it is! Once a year, when the autumn leaves start to fall, being a book geek like me is actually an extremely sociable thing to be – thanks to Dundee Literary Festival.

Now in its 10th year, the festival is THE place to be in October if you love reading. With a schedule packed full of book events for every taste right in the centre of Dundee, the event is every literature lover’s dream.

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First Writes with Shelley Day and Sandra Ireland hosted by Zoe Venditozzi

A few weeks back I attended the five day festival, fitting in as many events as I possibly could. You could say that the range of events I attended was pretty eclectic!- From A Rock & Roll Roald Dahl Party with Scots writer Matthew Fitt and Outer Edges with non fiction writers Amy Liptrot and Malachy Tallack to Haunting Afterlives – an event examining the work of Shirley Jackson and Josephine Tey – the subject matters were pretty diverse but I got something out of them all.

Attending debut author events with the wonderful Sandra Ireland, Shelley Day and Martin Cathcart Froden was a real highlight, especially to an aspiring novelist like me. As was seeing more established authors such as James Kelman, the only Scottish author to ever win The Booker Prize, read with such passion.

But for me, the best thing about Dundee Literary Festival is the sense of community that it has. It’s a fabulously warm and engaging event, full of friendly faces who all share the same love and passion for reading.

So thank you Dundee Literary Festival! Thank you for making me feel part of the best bookish gang in Scotland! I’m already counting down the days until next year!

Dundee Literary Festival is run by Literary Dundee as part of Dundee University. For more information, visit their website: http://www.literarydundee.co.uk/

Photographs by Bob McDevitt