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PICTURES: Ullapool Book Festival roars back with sold out sessions and live music for its first day


By Federica Stefani

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A very busy first session kicks off the first day at the Ullapool Book Festival 2022. Picture by: Federica Stefani
A very busy first session kicks off the first day at the Ullapool Book Festival 2022. Picture by: Federica Stefani

The cheer was palpable at the opening of a Wester Ross literary festival as the event kicked off yesterday after two years of absence.

With an impressive line-up of writers and artists penned in for the session that will run over the weekend, the Ullapool Book Festival made an electric start as it returned to the village hall yesterday.

The first day was packed full of engaging, fascinating – and at points hilarious – talks with authors of the calibre of James Robertson, Graeme Macrae Burnet and Jan Carson taking on stage, and an evening of infectious live music and cheer (only briefly interrupted by technical issues).

Festival's honorary president Chris Dolan welcomes the public. Picture by: Federica Stefani
Festival's honorary president Chris Dolan welcomes the public. Picture by: Federica Stefani

Honorary president Chris Dolan said: "It's really been fantastic to be back. For me it's been three years, and although the online festivals were so well done and organised, but that human connection, although one of the beauties of reading itself is being alone with a book, but I still want to talk about it, I want to talk to other readers and writers and know what they think.

"I particularly love Ullapool because I think it's more of a reader's festival, the writers aren't spirited away, they are out and about with anybody else. So that's what makes it special.

"It's incredible to have writers from all over the world, and the quality of the selection is a testament to the amazing work that the committee do to make it happen."

Ullapool Book Festival 2022 Day 1. People lining up for the first session. Picture by: Federica Stefani
Ullapool Book Festival 2022 Day 1. People lining up for the first session. Picture by: Federica Stefani

Taking on mic duties for public questions was MSP Maree Todd, who regularly volunteers at the event.

She said: "The festival is such a special event. It's wonderful to have it back.

"It's really gives you food for thought and over the years it has allowed people to meet authors that we wouldn't otherwise be able to meet."

A talk with Graeme Macrae Burnet opened the festival.
A talk with Graeme Macrae Burnet opened the festival.

The first session was with Graeme Macrae Burnet, who spoke about his latest novel Case Study, followed by an engaging conversation on poetry with Hannah Lavery, George Gunn, Canadian author Ian Williams and Estonian poet Triin Soomets. In the afternoon war reporter and photographer David Pratt presented his new documentary project, Pictures from Ukraine, followed by a more humor-based session with crime writers Mark Billingham, Chris Bookmyre and Luca Veste.

MSP Maree Todd was in charge of the microphone Pictures by: Federica Stefani
MSP Maree Todd was in charge of the microphone Pictures by: Federica Stefani

The evening saw writer James Robertson talk about his latest work, News From the Dead, and to finish the author sessions was a compelling talk with Northern Irish author Jan Carson about the issues people in the country are going through at the moment, which are contained in her latest novel, The Raptures.

George Gunn reads one of his poems during the poetry talk with Triin Soomset, Ian Williams and Hannah Lavery, chaired by y Jim Carruth.
George Gunn reads one of his poems during the poetry talk with Triin Soomset, Ian Williams and Hannah Lavery, chaired by y Jim Carruth.

To close the evening, a concert by the Fun Lovin' Crime Writers band, formed by a group of friends and crime writers. Despite a technical problem forcing a temporary acoustic alternative, the village hall lit up with people jumping and dancing.

More information and stories from the festival to follow in the coming days.

The first session with the Fun Lovin' Crime Writers' members, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Luca Veste.
The first session with the Fun Lovin' Crime Writers' members, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Luca Veste.
Rocking the night away with the Fun Lovin' Crime Writers.
Rocking the night away with the Fun Lovin' Crime Writers.

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