book festivals

Glasgow’s Book Festival ‘Aye, Write!’: The Tannahill Lecture

April 5th, 2018 by Ewa Balcerzyk | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Glasgow’s Book Festival ‘Aye, Write!’: The Tannahill Lecture
Tags: , , ,

Almost everyone on our publishing course has heard of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which is due to take place in August. Not everyone, however, knows that Glasgow too has a very ambitious programme of literary celebrations. This year, Glasgow’s Book Festival ‘Aye, Write!’ is taking place between 15 and 25 March. From the impressive programme featuring over 200 authors, what caught my attention was the Tannahill Lecture that was to be delivered by Neil MacGregor, a Glasgow-born author of a forthcoming Penguin book entitled Living with the Gods. Having an academic background of cultural studies, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to listen to an art historian and philosopher give a talk about ‘how different societies have understood and articulated their place in the cosmic scheme’, as advertised in the festival programme.

On the night, I was amazed by the great turnout at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, where the lecture was taking place. One couldn’t help but notice, however, that the crowd was primarily one of pensioners. A very gallant elderly gentleman next to me dozed off for most of the talk (although, I must admit, it has happened to me on other occasions, despite the age difference). Nevertheless, I was happy to see that many people showing interest in a bookish and slightly academic event.

As soon as the talk started, I knew at once why so many people have turned up. Neil MacGregor is simply a brilliant speaker, genuinely enthusiastic about discovering as much as possible about human culture and sharing it with the general public. This sense of mission is perhaps not surprising for someone who has for many years run such important public institutions as the National Gallery and the British Museum.

In his lecture, MacGregor touched upon various themes related to the central question of how shared objects and narratives shape communities and help them establish a sense of a common identity. He skilfully presented a very brief, yet thoughtful, run through different emanations of such shared narratives, spanning the whole globe over thousands of years. MacGregor’s cultural references included, among others, the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, Putin’s orthodox Russia, the Swiss minaret referendum, beliefs of the ancient Romans and Persians, the eternal flame of the French Arc de Triomphe, the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Using those and many other examples, MacGregor demonstrated how shared religious beliefs have always been the foundation of communities and group solidarity. Common narratives provided people with a sense of cohesion and meaning in their lives.

The scholar ended his lecture on a surprising note. Unexpectedly, he moved on from discussing the images of floods in the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh to a cataclysm of our own times – the refugee crisis. MacGregor argued that our world has no global narrative, which would help us to respond better to the plight of refugees. His strong humanitarian message gave us all something to reflect upon long after the lecture.

MacGregor’s book, due in September 2018, explores all the above-mentioned themes in much greater detail. Listeners of BBC Radio 4 may already be familiar with the content, as the publication is based on a radio show of the same title, aired as an impressive 30-part series in 2017 (available as podcasts here).

The Tannahill Lecture marked the beginning of a great festival. The range of topics covered during the events is sure to satisfy all book lovers. From poetry, through Scottish interest, to art, politics, and sport, there is something for everyone. Avid readers can also turn themselves into aspiring writers, as there are nearly 20 different creative writing workshops running for the duration of the festival.

Browsing through the programme, I had only one regret – that I could not afford to attend more author meetings, as most are priced at ₤9, with no student concessions available. Other than that, ‘Aye, Write!’ is definitely doing a great job at developing the local literary scene. Can’t wait for next year!


Ewa Balcerzyk


Miriam V Owen, MRes in Publishing Studies 2014-15

October 23rd, 2014 by Miriam Owen | Posted in Student Profiles | Comments Off on Miriam V Owen, MRes in Publishing Studies 2014-15
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

profile pic 2The Masters in Research for me is a way to further explore and consolidate some work that I have been doing for the past couple of years on a project based around Nordic Noir fiction. You can read an article I have had published here.  I am currently undertaking a piece of research into crime writing festivals and fan behaviour and I am off to a brand new crime writing festival in Reykjavik called Iceland Noir soon.

I chose the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication because they have respected academics who are active in their specialist areas and who demonstrate a use of all the tools available to them such as social media, digital publishing and the network around them.  I also found that the choice of modules on the programme provide a solid framework for my learning outcomes.

I grew up in Scotland  but come from a Scottish/Dutch background and have always travelled extensively and have lived in a few different countries, the longest being Japan for 5 years.  I have to admit that I have felt pretty much at home in all of the countries I have lived in, but have a particular fondness for landscapes with volcanoes,  long coastlines and an interesting traditional culture.  After my first degree, a Masters in History of Art, I worked in an art gallery and museum, before moving into teaching. Latterly I have worked in administration in higher education.  I love the arts and communication. I am interested in the transformative power of the arts and in the creative process.

As for a love of books, which everyone in the class has, I must admit to being a book sniffer! I love libraries, museums, bookstores, paper, words pictures, galleries and when combined in the right way the journeys that they take us on and the doors that they can open.  Without language, art and writing the human race would not have evolved and become what it is today.  I like to explore,  bring people together and make things happen! If you need me you can find me on Linked In or social media or better yet get in touch and we can meet face to face…



My Bloody Brilliant Weekend at Bloody Scotland. :)

September 20th, 2012 by Stefani Sloma | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on My Bloody Brilliant Weekend at Bloody Scotland. :)
Tags: , , , , ,

The first full weekend I was in Stirling saw me volunteering at Bloody Scotland, “Scotland’s First International Crime Writing Festival.” I’d heard about the event before arriving in Scotland and offered to volunteer during the weekend. I am SO glad that I did. I had the time of my life!

Due to my previous experience volunteering at the Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium at Mississippi University for Women, the Front of House Manager for Bloody Scotland, Dom Hastings, asked if I’d be willing to volunteer more than one four-hour shift. I wanted to say “Are you kidding me??!! DUH!” but I politely said, “I can be here whenever you need me.” I ended up being on the schedule all three days (Friday through Sunday) for pretty much the entire day; this was exactly what I wanted.

Friday was the first evening of Bloody Scotland, and I worked the Author Hospitality room, where I checked authors in to the festival and gave them their name badges and goodie bags. I also worked at and helped set up the reception for the authors, which was the kickoff for the festival. After the reception, it was back to Albert Halls for the opening session called, “Why Bloody Scotland?” featuring Alex Gray, Lin Anderson, and Ian Rankin. This session was followed by an author signing, which is where I started getting authors to sign my program (more on this later). I loved these duties because it meant that I was able to meet EVERY author who came into the Stirling Highland Hotel to check in. Friday Night Highlight: Ian Rankin remembered me! I’ve met him previously, as I interviewed him last year for my honors research project (“The City as Character: Edinburgh in the Works of Ian Rankin”), and I was hoping that he’d remember me when I saw him again. HE DID! It made my entire weekend. We had a short conversation about the future of publishing and editors at the reception before I left him alone so he could socialize with other authors.

Saturday began at 9 a.m. with the Author Hospitality room. I spent all of that day at the Stirling Highland Hotel. I worked FOUR signings that morning, meeting authors like Allan Guthrie, Sara Sheridan, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Caro Ramsay, and more. After that I worked inside front-of-house for two events, which meant I operated the roving microphone and made sure the authors got to their signings after. My shift on Saturday was supposed to end around 3:30 p.m., but I was still needed so I didn’t leave until 7:45 p.m. I worked about 8 hours that day alone! Saturday Highlight: “Meet My Alter Ego” session with Gillian Galbraith, Aline Templeton, Tony Black, and chair Lin Anderson. At the session, the authors spoke as if they were their characters. This was fantastic, because at one point Gillian Galbraith spoke as her character about her author, so it ended up sounding something like, “Sometimes Gillian writes about things that even I don’t know!” or “She explains what happens to me even better than I could!” It was great.

Sunday was the last day, and I can’t even explain how sad I was about this. It was spent at Albert Halls, where I worked inside front-of-house and signing for “The Next Big Thing” with Jade Chandler, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Val McDermid, and Barry Forshaw. While they didn’t stay on topic much, it was a laugh and very interesting. I also worked inside FOH and the signing for “A Formidable Duo” with Quintin Jardine, Anne Perry, and chair Peter Guttridge. Sunday Highlight: I was able to attend the dramatized performance of “The Red-Headed League.” Stuart MacBride as Holmes was amazing.

Every author I met this weekend was fantastic. Alex Gray remembered my name ALL weekend and called me “wonderful” and “a star.” I thought this was amazing. Also, Gordon Brown (not the ex-prime minister, but the red-headed crime fiction author, as everyone joked at Bloody Scotland) was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. I got him, Craig Robertson, Gillian Philip, and Gordon Ferris to sign books I’d bought by them. I also had TWENTY-FOUR authors to sign my program, which is something I will always treasure; I plan to have it framed! I am so glad that I decided to do this; I couldn’t afford to buy one book by every author I wanted to read and have signed, so I used my program. I think it was a great idea!

I learned a lot about publishing, and I came to realize that I’d one day like to work festivals. It has also fueled my love for crime fiction, and I think I would like to work with it in the future. I think Bloody Scotland is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been involved in.

I’ve since had a few of the authors follow me on twitter, which is an honor. I hope to keep in contact with them and see them again next year!

-Stefani Sloma

Stirling Book Festival in its Sixth Year

September 7th, 2011 by Frances_Sessford | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Stirling Book Festival in its Sixth Year
Tags: , , ,

Stirling’s own book festival, Off The Page runs from 10–17 September (see full listings and venues here). Now in its sixth year, Off The Page boasts a fantastic track record of showcasing the rich writing talents of authors and poets from the Stirling area and beyond. The week-long festival is run in partnership with Creative Scotland, the country’s arts investment engine and provides an eclectic mix of speakers, readings, music and exhibitions. And for the first time ever, the festival this year hosts an evening of Gaelic music and storytelling.

Top names coming to show and tell include contemporary novelist Christopher Brookmyre, crime fiction writer Caro Ramsay and travel writer Gavin Francis. One particular highlight (for me anyway) will be The Mental Feast of Pure Delight, an hour in the company of the wonderfully weird Robert Ritchie, Stirling poet and chair of Stirling Writers Group (meets at 7.30pm every Tuesday at The Tolbooth). The event is on at the very silly time of 12 noon but seeing as it’s the day before the course begins (Tuesday September 13), you’ll be free to go along. Another event worth mentioning is the launch of a book in aid of Stirling Mental Health Charity, AiM. Presented by Dunblane’s first lady of poetry, Helen Lamb, accompanied by Alex Nye and Trisha Smith, ‘these gripping tales aim to break down barriers and challenge some of the stigma still associated with mental health.’ So there. And it’s free: Wednesday September 14 at 7.30pm. You can go to the pub to chew over the first day of the course afterwards.

The City Crime Evening features Dumbarton-born and multi-award winning author Stuart MacBride plus Scots journalist Craig Robertson, who has been just about everywhere and done just about everything. Including writing a bestseller. Sheegh.

And last but not least, if you want some early insights into what keeps authors motivated (or if you are harbouring your own dreams of bypassing the slush pile), get along to How To Get Published (Sunday September 11, 1pm)where lots of people who know a thing or two about it will keep you right. Hachette Scotland publisher, Stirling alumni and course visiting speaker Bob McDevitt is chairing the event and would be delighted to meet members of our new cohort. And really, really last, don’t forget the Literary Quiz at The Tolbooth on Friday September 16 at 6pm. Stun your new-found friends with your literary knowledge! Or just sit quietly.

You might bump into some Centre staff at some of the events, and it’s a great chance for new Publishing students to get in a bit of local culture and a few light ales.