Who’s Coming to TBF in 2018?

We don’t quite have the timings finalised but we’re bursting with excitement about the fantastic line-up for 2018 and can’t wait to share it with you. Roughly speaking, we have Saturday with the Stevensons, with Sunday being devoted to Muriel Spark.  In addition we have Anne Hamilton for the Writers’ Workshop on Saturday morning and Denise Mina on Saturday evening for the Stonefield Session.

As usual we begin with the writers’ workshop run by Anne Hamilton. The theme this year will be Constructing Your Short Story. It has often been said that it is harder to write a short story than a novel. Maybe Anne has some answers!

Saturday with the Stevensons

Included in this category is Bella Bathurst, whose history The Lighthouse Stevensons won the 1999 Somerset Maugham Award. We all know that Robert Louis Stevenson came from a family of lighthouse engineers but perhaps we don’t realise the incredible catalogue of their work. Over four generations, they built every lighthouse round Scotland, developing, as they went, inventions in both construction and optics in the most dangerous conditions.
Bella will also be talking about her recent book ‘Sound’ which provides an emotional but intelligent insight into her own experiences of hearing loss – and remarkably, recovery.

Professor Joseph Farrell is Emeritus Professor at Strathclyde University. His book, Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa, is an account of Stevenson’s last four years on the Samoan island of Upola. The Samoans and their culture were to have an enormous influence on the writer, his life and his last works. Joseph Farrell has written a book, part history, part biography which shines new light on one of Scotland’s most celebrated story tellers.

Liz Shaw’s evocative and fast-moving tale set in Skye and the West Highlands, No Safe Anchorage, invokes the spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson whose childhood it portrays. She says, “I’m interested in this period of history because it was a time of rapid change that caused disruption and heartache to so many people and provides a rich source for the imagination.”

Les Wilson is a writer, and an award-winning documentary maker who specialises in Scottish historical subjects. The Drowned and The Saved tells what happened when the loss of two British ships crammed with American soldiers bound for the trenches of the First World War brought the devastation of war directly to the shores of Islay. Les Wilson outlines these terrible events, painting a vivid picture which also pays tribute to the astonishing bravery of the islanders, who risked their lives pulling men from the sea, caring for survivors and burying the dead.

The Stonefield Session with preceding whisky tasting, sponsored by Springbank, welcomes back award winning Glasgow crime writer Denise Mina. Author of over 12 crime novels and 4 graphic novel adaptations, The Long Drop is her first foray into true crime. This is the story of Peter Manuel, a serial killer operating in the 1950s in Glasgow. His intriguing story baffled police until the wrongly imprisoned widower was set free and undertook his own investigation. The Long Drop is a re-imagining of the trial and of one drunken night the two men spent carousing in Glasgow.


Sunday at Starfish

On Sunday our theme is more lighthearted as we move to the Starfish restaurant and open with a double bill of Muriel Spark. Ms Spark would have been 100 this year so we are more than happy to be joining the celebrations.

The first event here is a double bill with Alan Taylor and Olga Wojtas – refreshments will be available to purchase, while the second is an exciting experiment for us – a meal with a purpose.

Alan Taylor was fortunate to have been allowed to interview Muriel Spark at her home in Italy in 1990. A genuine friendship ensued, which lasted until her death in 2006. Taylor’s familiarity with his subject gave him privileged access and insight into the many controversies of Spark’s colourful life. His memoir, Appointment in Arezzo is a valuable adjunct to Martin Stannard’s biography and he appears in conversation with Brian Morton.

Olga Wojtas’ award winning debut novel is entitled Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar. Fifty-something Shona is a proud former pupil of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, but has a deep loathing for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which she thinks gives her alma mater a bad name.
Impeccably educated and an accomplished martial artist, linguist and musician,
Shona is thrilled when selected by Marcia Blaine herself to travel back in time for a one-week mission in 19th-century Russia: to pair up the beautiful, shy, orphaned heiress Lidia Ivanovna with Sasha, a gorgeous young man of unexplained
origins. But, despite all her accomplishments and good intentions, Shona might well have got the wrong end of the stick about her mission. As the body count rises, will she discover in time just who the real villain is?

Struan Stevenson MEP represented Scotland in the European Parliament since 1999. He is an author and international lecturer on the Middle East and Human Rights and was a former MEP for Fisheries. His 5th book, THE COURSE OF HISTORY – Ten Meals That Changed The World, reflects on the many decisions, with their historical consequences, which have been made over the dinner table, and have been accompanied (and perhaps influenced) by copious amounts of food and wine. In The Course of History Struan Stevenson brings to life ten such moments, exploring the personalities, the issues and of course the food which helped shape the course of history. Starfish’s wonderful chef (name) will recreate one of these menus and your ticket includes a 5 course taster (i.e. small portions) menu.

Books, Books, Books

Well smack my gob but I was truly amazed by the local talent that was uncovered on local author’s day!

I had imagined sitting round listening to someone presenting for the first time ever a wee poem or a short “I’d just be interested to know what you think of it” story. Instead we had a series of highly professional readers, most of whom had actually published books. So I thought it would be nice to summarise those books and let you know where they can be found.

In order of presentation:

Shemaron: A Beautiful Endeavour by Fiona Malkin is beautifully produced and available in the Loch Fyne Gallery.

Catherine Wilson of Ailsa Press on Islay presented her own children’s stories and those of Joan Porter. These can be obtained from the Loch Fyne Gallery or from www.MyBookSource.com

Sound of Gigha came hot off the press by Ed Tyler, beautifully illustrated by artists Julia Love-Griffiths and Anne Thomas. For details of how to obtain a copy, contact Ed on edtyler@bioregioning.com

When Viv Dobbie wrote her book The Harlequin Triangle, the agent she sent it to suggested she make it into a trilogy. The first two books are available on Amazon and the third will be out by Christmas both as paperbacks or e-books.
Colouring In and More Colouring In

Lindsay Campbell’s historical story Ane Compact of Villany: The History of Argyll’s Outlawed Gang is also available as a paperback from Amazon here.

Malcolm Trott from Carradale has written a story within a story called a Sense of the Past, which is available as an e-book on Amazon

Evelyn Smithies from Bute treated us to a synopsis of her planned novel The Saliera. Watch this space!

Marian Pallister spoke about her history of the Crinan Canal which, along with others such as Cruachan,can be found in the Loch Fyne Gallery.

And Roddy Regan entertained us by using the story of the Lady on the Rock to demonstrate how fickle historical reports can be.

Some books from other authors at the Festival can still be found in the Loch Fyne gallery, including some by Chris Brookmyre which would make a great Christmas present for someone.


We are delighted to be able to announce the shortlist for our first Writing Competition. The shortlisted entrants have already won a weekend pass to the Festival and a critique of their work from judge Anne Hamilton. Now six talented writers are biting their nails as they wait to discover who has won the fantastic main prize of a week’s course at Moniack Mhor.

Continue reading “Congratulations!”