Scot Lit Fest: a virtual festival celebrating Scottish Literature
Kevin Williamson, Juno Dawson and Zoë Howe on the bill at a festival hosted across Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and SoundCloud
The world of the written word isn't always seen as the most tech savy of industries. Granted it seems some authors are never off twitter but the standard book festival format is a paying audience seated in a room, listening to people talk about books. Enter Scot Lit Fest, a virtual book festival debuting as part of The Saltire Society's eighth anniversary celebrations.
Why a virtual festival? Heather McDaid, one of the festival's coordinators says, 'We love book festivals, and Scotland isn’t short on top notch festivals, but we wanted to host an event that specifically celebrated Scottish literature which can be enjoyed world-wide, no matter where people are. For us, it's the idea that you can be on a commute, in your pyjamas or out and about, and still take part, whether it's asking authors questions, listening to podcasts, watching videos, or just keeping up with the hashtag #scotlitfest. The perk of an online festival is that it's free and inclusive. There’s no FOMO with a virtual festival!'
Scot Lit Fest have also given audiences the opportunity to pitch an event for inclusion in the programme. They'll look through all the suggestions and make one a reality for the festival, but why would a festival relinquish control of their programme? 'Scot Lit Fest is coordinated by two people who have enough ideas to fill several weekends' worth of events but we have quite similar interests. We’re aware that we might miss some really great ideas, topics or authors. As it's our first we want the readers and authors who make up today’s Scottish literary scene to have a hand in shaping at least one part of Scot Lit Fest and we hope that it marks the beginning of an annual celebration.'
All events at Scot List Fest are free and are hosted across a variety of platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and SoundCloud with authors paid for their participation. Below we take a look at a few highlights …
Michel Faber discusses Scotland on YouTube
In this pre-recorded opening to the festival author Michel Faber discusses Scotland's influence on his writing, his years with Canongate and how he has in turn influenced the country’s literary culture. He won the Saltire Society's first Book of the Year Award in 1999 with Some Rain Must Fall. In 2015, his Book of Strange New Things won Scottish Book of the Year.
There's been a murder, on Twitter
Fans of the rich tradition of tartan noir can witness a new Scottish crime story, created live, on twitter. The festival has invited authors to give up 15 minutes of their time to write a collaborative piece of crime fiction. Confirmed participants include Louise Welsh, Mason Cross, Douglas Skelton and Lesley Kelly with more to be announced. Louise Welsh kicks off the story, writes for 15 mins and then passes the baton to the next writer. To get them started the public are asked to name the protagonist, decide where in Scotland the story begins and what the crime will be. Follow the hashtag #SLFcrime.
Literary music podcast on SoundCloud
You know those people who aren't content be a good at one thing and show up us mere mortals with their genre hopping talents? Well, there's three of them here talking music that has influenced them and books they've written. Music writer Zoë Howe, author of Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams And Rumour, whose fiction debut is published in Sep 2016 is joined by musician James Yorkston (author of Three Craws) and broadcaster/presenter Vic Galloway (author of Songs in the Key of Fife). They'll also be answering your questions.
Kevin Williamson takes on Amazon in a live streamed video
One half of Neu! Reekie!, and founder of Rebel Inc, Kevin Williamson uses his experience of publishing pre and post Amazon to host a frank discussion about the retail giant and its place in the literary space.
The book club lives on, online
Just because the festival is virtual doesn't mean bookworms can't get together for a good old literary chit chat. The event is held on twitter and the text is Jackie Kay's Trumpet, recently re-released as a Picador classic. Juno Dawson, author of teen fiction Say Her Name and Under My Skin as well as non-fiction including This Book is Gay, hosts a discussion of the text and a wider debate about the importance of representing and exploring gender in fiction.
Writers Salon on Facebook
If the Google results for 'how to get published?' aren't getting you anywhere here's a chance for writers to ask questions and seek advice about writing and publishing. Agent Jenny Brown and author and creative writing tutor Zoë Strachan each spend an hour asking your questions.
Scot Lit Fest, Fri 24–Sun 26 Jun, online, free.