Best book festivals in Scotland this autumn
Including Bloody Scotland, Wigtown and Dundee
Thought book festival season was over? Think again. The huge Edinburgh International Book Festival’s just finished, but there’s a veritable feast of literary celebrations in a town near you this autumn.
First up, Bloody Scotland (Fri 11–Sun 13 Sep) returns to Stirling for its fourth year. Set up by novelists Alex Gray and Lin Anderson, it’s Scotland’s only festival dedicated solely to crime writing. After a record breaking year in 2014, the festival this year welcomes a broad range of local and international names, including crime writing superstars and debut authors.
Opening the festival this year will be Val McDermid and Peter May in conversation (Fri 11, 6.30pm). May’s event was one of last year’s most popular; renowned as the writer of the Lewis trilogy, this year he released a standalone book called Runaway, which is very loosely based on his own experience of running away from Glasgow to London in the 1960s. McDermid, fresh from her hit EIBF event with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, has just come out with Splinter the Silence, a new book in her Tony Hill series.
On the Saturday, there are some big events from feted Swedish author Arne Dahl (1.30pm) and worldwide bestseller Martina Cole (6.45pm), who’s in Stirling to talk about new novel The Good Life. And that evening, the winner of the Bloody Scotland Crime Book of the Year award will be announced too. This year’s six nominees include Louise Welsh’s Death is a Welcome Guest, Christopher Brookmyre’s Dead Girl Walking and Ann Cleeves’ Thin Air.
On the Sunday, Bloody Scotland wraps up with events from Sophie Hannah (1.30pm), Ian Rankin (3.15pm) and finally Linwood Barclay (5pm), who’s here to talk about his latest release, Broken Promise. Throughout the weekend, look out for appearances from first-time authors too, including Lucy Ribchester, SJI Holliday (both Sat 12, 11.45am) and Simon Sylvester (Sun 13, 1.30pm).
Over in Dumfries and Galloway, Wigtown – officially Scotland’s National Book Town – hosts the annual Wigtown Book Festival from Fri 25 Sep–Sun 4 Oct. Among this year’s highlights are author and feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez (Sat 26, 4.30pm), 2014 Booker nominee Neel Mukherjee (Sun 27, 1.30pm), Glasgow’s cop-turned-crime writer Karen Campbell (Sun 27, 3pm), The Gracekeepers author Kirsty Logan (Fri 2, noon), Fishnet writer Kirstin Innes (Sat 3, 10am), Janice Galloway (Sun 4, 1.30pm), who’s just released new collection Jellyfish, and Matt Haig (Sun 4, 3pm), who’ll discuss his non-fiction book on mental health, Reasons to Stay Alive.
Away from its author events, there’s a variety of nightly bookish activities to keep you entertained while you’re in Wigtown. Stuart Kelly’s Literary Pub Quiz returns to the Ploughman Hotel (Tue 29, 8pm), while literary cabaret night Rally and Broad takes over the Festival’s McNellie tent (Fri 2, 8.45pm) and is free to under-25s. And for the first time, the festival will host The Midge (Thu 1, 7.30pm), a storytelling event inspired by New York’s legendary night, The Moth, in which people – including, throughout the years, several celebrities – appear on stage to tell real stories from their lives.
Up in Tayside, the Dundee Literary Festival kicks off in October too, though Jeanette Winterson pops up in town for a Literary Dundee event before the festival, on Wed 7 Oct. And in Edinburgh, Word Power Books once again hosts the Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair (Wed 28–Sat 1 Nov) at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall on Dalmeny Street.
Fancy an island getaway this autumn? There’s two particular treats in store if you’re a book lover. First, there’s Faclan: the Hebridean Book Festival (Wed 28–Sat 1 Nov) in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis; one of the highlights of their programme this year is an appearance by H is for Hawk author Helen MacDonald (Fri 30, 5pm). And much further north, there’s Shetland Noir (Fri 13–Sat 15 Nov). Held in association with Iceland Noir, confirmed authors so far include Denise Mina, Arne Dahl and Alex Gray, but look out for full programme details closer to the festival.
Visit list.co.uk/books for the latest book festival news, events and reviews.