News and Events
Let’s Talk History, 11.00 am, Saturday 21st May, 2022.
Kilwinning Heritage has named its first ever book festival Let’s Talk History and I will speak for about an hour at 11 am that day. The venue is the Abbey Hall, Vaults Lane, Kilwinning. All of the author events are free to attend and places can be reserved via Eventbrite (search for ‘KH Talks’). My talk will highlight some of the challenges encountered by writers when trying to separate ‘fact’ from ‘fiction’, as well as examining the moral dilemma that can arise when uncovering previously secret, sensitive information from the past.
Tain Library, 10 – 11 am, Monday 9th May, 2022.
I’ve been asked to give a talk about domestic abuse as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (9th – 15th May) because of the research I carried out in order to write Men Cry Alone. The novel follows three separate storylines of domestic abuse where men are the victims of abuse from their wives, including one man whose wife has dementia. Researching for Men Cry Alone, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this summer, was one of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve ever had.
The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘loneliness’ and I’ll be exploring the links between the recent lockdowns, domestic abuse, isolation, loneliness and wellbeing. There is no need to book and the event will be quite informal. I’ll speak for about 45 – 50 minutes before taking questions or comments from the audience.
Kilwinning Book Festival, Saturday 21st May, 2022.
It’s always exciting to be invited to speak at a book festival and this is particularly so when this is a new event; you feel you’re at the start of something that will grow as the years go by. Kilwinning Heritage is a thriving local history society and it has decided to hold a mini book festival, taking place over one day with authors talking about books with a historical theme, fiction and non-fiction. I’ll be speaking about the differences in researching and writing The Italian Chapel and Effie’s War – both historical fiction inspired by real events in WW2, but with the former based on real people and the latter on fictitious characters. More information to come on this event, so watch this space!
St Duthac Book & Arts Festival, September 2021.
In September 2021 the Royal Burgh of Tain held its first book festival – St Duthac Book & Arts Festival – and I was delighted to be asked to speak. My talk ‘Where do writers get ideas from?’ took place in a pop-up bookshop in Tain high street, which provided an excellent base for visitors throughout the event. The festival was a great success and will be held again this year from September 22nd – 26th, 2022.
Preparing for my talk at the St Duthac Book & Arts Festival. Despite my many funny stories, the biggest laugh came from a fly which landed (unknown to me) on the brim of my hat and remained, one assumes enthralled, until quite near the end!
Watch Aberdeen Italian Circle Interview
The full interview with the Aberdeen Italian Circle about Orkney’s Italian chapel and the men who built it is available to watch on YouTube.
*Obtaining Copies of Books*
I hold a small stock of all my paperback titles so if anyone has a problem obtaining a copy please get in touch via the form on the website and I should be able to help.
Listen to Italian Chapel Discussion
Following my online discussion about Orkney’s Italian chapel with the president and secretary of the Aberdeen Italian Circle, I have been able to add a sound recording of the debate thanks to Alan Dennis, one of the many folk who logged on to the Zoom event.
Aberdeen Italian Circle
The Italian Chapel – an online discussion
Thursday 24th September, 2020, 7.30 – 8.30 pm
The Aberdeen Italian Circle has invited me to give an online presentation about Orkney’s Italian chapel. The free event is open to everyone. The 45-minute presentation will take the form of a question and answer session between the secretary, president and myself. This will be followed by the opportunity for people to send written questions via the Zoom ‘chat’ facility.
Join Aberdeen Italian Circle Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 821 8062 8438
Access will be available from 19.25 until 19.40. Video cameras will be set to off and microphones to mute by default.
Dornoch Library, Wednesday 20th November, 2 – 3 pm
As part of Book Week Scotland, which this year has a theme of ‘blether’ I will be joining Liz Treacher and Helen Sedgwick to discuss some of the issues and myths surrounding the world of writing and publishing books. Everyone is welcome to attend the free event, regardless of whether they are a writer, and there will be the chance to ask questions during the discussion as well as speaking to us individually afterwards.
The Old School Beauly, Saturday 10th August, 11 am – noon.
I’m joining forces in August with two other Highland-based authors – Helen Sedgwick and Liz Treacher – in a rather unusual book event. We’re going to be offering an insight into the world of books, from writing them to how they get on the shelves of the bookshop. People can simply walk in off the street and speak to one of us, whether they’re a reader with an interest in knowing more about how books are made or they’re writing a book and have specific questions about the writing/publishing process. They may just want some pointers on how to get started!
The idea is to have an extremely relaxed, informal atmosphere, where people can speak to an author without feeling awkward in any way. The ‘meet the author’ event will take place at The Old School Beauly, which is on Beauly high street in Inverness-shire. It’s an award-winning gift shop with an enchanting book department that includes some very comfy chairs – it seems the ideal place to be!
In the image (l-r) Liz Treacher, Helen Sedgwick and me.
Men Cry Alone wins Barbara Hammond Trophy
In March 2019, I had my first ever trip to the Scottish Association of Writers annual weekend in Cumbernauld. Delegates had the option to enter several different writing competitions and I entered my novel about domestic abuse into the self-published book category. Men Cry Alone won first place and I came home with the Barbara Hammond trophy.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings I will be signing copies of Effie’s War, which uses the backdrop of real-life preparations for D-Day, at two venues:
- Brodie Countryfare 12 am – 1 pm
- Waterstones, Inverness 3 pm – 4 pm
Effie’s War out in large print
The paperback version of Effie’s War now has a few new friends following the release of the publication in audio and large print.
One of the delights of spending Christmas in Bergen was walking into a bookshop and finding copies of Perler på en snor displayed prominently on the centre table! A note on the front of one copy by 83-year-old Roald translates as ‘The funniest book I have read in a long time’. A paperback version will be published in the spring of 2019.
The year is drawing to a close with the release of an unabridged audio/CD of Effie’s War by Whole Story Audio Books. There is a tremendous reading by David Monteath and you can hear an extract here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07KRGKRFZ/ref=dp_bookdesc_audio
Effie has kept me busy during the summer and autumn with book launch events, readings and signings and it’s great to finish 2018 with the publication of this audio version.
A hardback copy of Casting Off in Norwegian arrived in the post during the autumn following the publication of the title by Cappelen Damm under the title Perler på en snor, which translates as A String of Pearls. There is also an ebook version. The book has already generated some good reviews in Norway and I particularly like this reader’s analysis:
“I have laughed out loud. I have cried. I have shaken my head. I have pondered and philosophised about life. I have admired the optimism and creativity of the residents. I have simply fallen in love with them. This is a hilarious book with a serious undertone. I recommend it wholeheartedly!”
Below is the link to the book on the publisher’s website.
In October German publisher Piper Verlag brought out a German edition of Casting Off in paperback and ebook, while an audio/CD version was released on the same day by Audio Media Verlag. The title has been changed to Wer früher geht, verpasst den Schluss, which means ‘Those who leave too soon will miss the ending’. Clever stuff … and I love the cover.
Below is the link to the book on Amazon.
As a writer there’s always a thrill in being asked to take part in an established literary event and I’m really pleased to have been invited to participate in this year’s ‘Word On The Street’. The festival runs over the Thursday, Friday and Saturday and will include a wide range of different events so it’s worth keeping an eye out for the programme.
The Pillar Box used to be the old Post Office, so sounds like an interesting building and I’ll be talking about being a writer, where ideas come from and how both can be affected by time. I’ll also discuss how my various books came into existence, with an emphasis on my new novel, Effie’s War.
It’s really exciting to be involved in the first book fair to be held at Nigg hall. I’m not giving a talk, which may be a relief to those attending, but I will be there with a table where my books will be available to purchase. There’ll be other authors with their own titles, plus stalls selling second-hand books, so a real ‘book’ morning and a great opportunity to chat informally to local writers.
The Tarbat Discovery Centre lies at the edge of the military evacuation zone that was put in place towards the end 1943, a major local event that forms the basis for the WW2 novel Effie’s War. The museum has become a popular place for me to do book signings, and during the autumn these will take place on the following dates:
- Friday 10th August, 10 – 11 am
- Tuesday 14th August, 2 – 3 pm
- Wednesday 15th August, 2 – 3 pm
- Tuesday 4th September, 11 am – noon
A slightly different venue for this talk is the beautiful garden of the cheese shop, which is based in the old police station in Bank Street. Owners Emmy and Jon stock some great cheeses and have kindly offered to host this event, which will move indoors if the weather is not good enough. Tea and cake will be available to purchase, as well as books and cheese. That morning will be the annual Nigg to Cromarty swim, so lots to see and hear that day.
The cheese shop’s beautiful garden in Cromarty.
I’m delighted to have been asked to be the guest speaker at the July meeting of HighlandLIT, a wide ranging group of very friendly folk interested in every aspect of writing who meet once a month in Inverness. This talk will be longer than usual, taking the form of an interview with HighlandLIT chairman Paul Shanks.
I will return to the social club, this time as part of the annual Dornoch Book Fair, which runs over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A large number of second-hand books will be available to purchase in the main hall during the fair. My event will be held in the adjoining Struie room, with copies of all my titles available to buy afterwards.
Although there is no longer a café at the premises, tea and coffee will be available to purchase during the morning. The Old School offers a huge selection of high-quality gifts and craft products, as well as housing a growing book section. The event will be indoors, but if the weather is fine it will be held in the courtyard at the back of the building so that people can enjoy the sunshine, as well as the talk of course!
The Old School gift shop in Beauly.
It was a visit to the Tarbat Discovery Centre in 2017 and hearing again the story about the evacuation in 1943 that set the writing boulder rolling down the hill. The museum, in Portmahomack, will provide the venue for several book related events for Effie’s War. During June, this will include:
Book signings between 10.00 – 11.00 am on Friday 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th.
Speaking at the Tarbat Discovery Centre.
The Nairn bookshop moved to its current premises only a few years ago and is a fantastic place for a book launch. It hosts regular author events and I’m really delighted to be invited to return, this time to speak about Effie’s War.
The social club in Dornoch is another favourite venue of mine and in the autumn of 2015 was the starting place for the tour of the stage play, Casting Off. My talk about Effie’s War is at 10 am but I will have shut up by 11 (that’s am, not pm!) and people can then enjoy tea/coffee and excellent home baking until around 12.30. All proceeds from the sale of refreshments will go to the charity Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.
Residents in the village of Inver gathered in their local hall on 11th November 1943 to hear more about the enforced evacuation. It seemed only right that one of the book launch events for Effie’s War should take place in the current Inver hall. I’ll discuss how I turned these extraordinary events in the Highlands into a full length novel, as well as giving readings from Effie’s War and answering questions. Copies of the new book will be for sale and I’ll be happy to sign them.
Beach near Portmahomack
Waterstones in the Eastgate Centre will be the venue for the worldwide launch of Effie’s War, only one day after the book’s official publication date. The latter was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, 1944. Waterstones has provided the launch venue for several of my books and I’m looking forward to returning there again with Effie!