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Authors keen to return to St Duthac Book And Arts Festival as scene set for Easter Ross event

By Margaret Chrystall

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Ghillie Basan.
Ghillie Basan.

A measure of the success of the St Duthac Book And Arts Festival is that a previous guest author has got in touch asking to return this year.

The festival which is back from September 11-18 will see writer and broadcaster Sally Magnusson returning to talk about her latest book Music In The Dark, based on the story of the women who resisted the Strathcarron Clearances in the 1840s and 1850s.

Ms Magnusson revealed when she came to talk previously that she was researching the book which is now published.

And the volunteers pointed out that some events were sell-outs on the first day of ticket sales opening!

Sara Sheridan.
Sara Sheridan.

Read more about the book festival here

Joining the series of events this year are guest authors including sports broadcaster and writer Archie Macpherson, food writer and broadcaster Ghillie Basan, biographer Flora Fraser and writer of screen sci-fi thriller David Macpherson, of The Rig.

Speaking after the final names and events were revealed for this year’s St Duthac Book And Arts Festival event, Coral Allan, secretary of the volunteers who put together the festival, spokeabout what is new for this year.

The pop-up bookshop idea continues.
The pop-up bookshop idea continues.

She said: “We have gone bigger especially with the arts programme this year.

“We have introduced art workshops into the programme based in Tain and a satellite exhibition and pro-loco event in Portmahomack.

“Our first artist talk is taking place in Portmahomack with Katie Forbes who is originally from Tain.

“And we are delighted with the response so far to these additions!”

Taking some of last year’s events to the Balnagown Estate was a successful initiative – and more will be back for this year’s event.

Coral said: “They have been so supportive and hands on and this time we have not one but two events at Balnagown - and they are working on developing stand alone events due to the popularity of the St Duthac Book and Arts Festival programme.”

Crime writer JD Kirk.
Crime writer JD Kirk.

Polly Pullar, outdoor and wildlife conservationist, writer and photographer, will have an event there on Thursday, September 14.

Once again, a huge range of venues will host events – from Anta at Fearn to the Pop Up bookshop at the Royal Hotel in Tain, Tain golf Club, Platform 1864 at the railway station and Glenmorangie distillery, among many more.

Some events Helen Sedgwick, herself an acclaimed writer, and one of the festival’s author coordinators would highlight includes Sara Sheridan.

“Her work on putting women back into Scotland’s history is fantastic” Helen commented.

Rodge Glass is speaking about the writer Michel Faber and how the local area inspired his work, including his sci-fi novel Under The Skin, focused on the A9.

The writer will be presenting the talk at Tain – and Edinburgh International Book Festival!

The Scottish fantasy and folklore morning on Friday, September 12 with Lorraine Wilson and Tendai Huchu, is set to offer a fascinating look at stories using folklore, and bringing new diversity (both in terms of the authors and the genre) to the festival.

Polly Pullar.
Polly Pullar.

Helen added: “In terms of local authors Nicola White (Black Isle), Margaret Martin, JD Kirk and Jennifer Morag Henderson (Inverness) and Sean Lusk (Nairn), are with us this time. “We have a wonderful spread of local talent!

Gillie Bassan is also exciting to have, and I love her talk being in Anta (to tie in with her food drink and heritage) and then Anne Mary Paterson being in Platform, Polly Pullar in Balnagown – all lovely examples of how we are using venues to tie in beautifully with the themes of the speakers.

I love our range of traditionally and self published writers, authors of all ages and backgrounds, of all different genres from environmentalism to historical to mystery.

Honestly, every event this year is so exciting I could just list them all!!

The Coffin Roads book and author event with Ian Bradley on Sunday, September 17 will perhaps bring a fascinating and unusual side of North culture to a new audience.

Check out the festival programme: www.stduthacbookfest.com/copy-of-arts-events

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