Listen now – John D Burns – mountaineer, writer and storyteller – talks to Portobello Book Festival – @JohnBurnswriter

Saturday 3rd October – 3pm
Click the link below to listen to John Burns’ podcast

John Burns talks to Portobello Book festival

John’s love of the outdoors, his passion for writing and over forty year’s experience in the mountains of the British Isles form the basis for his books and storytelling. Having walked and climbed the hills of Scotland for over 40 years he is an expert ice climber and was a member of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team. More recently he has rediscovered his love for remote bothies and regularly visits the wilder places of his Scottish home, which he writes about with humour and compassion.

He began writing almost 15 years ago with a collection of poetry, Wind Dancer.  He followed this with two one man plays performed around the UK; Aleister Crowley: A Passion for Evil and Mallory: Beyond Everest, and his books; The Last HillwalkerBothy Tales and his latest comic novel with a serious environmental message Sky Dance.

Watch now – Edward Ross – Gamish: A Graphic History of Gaming @edward_ross

Saturday 3rd October – 2pm
Click the YouTube Link below to watch this event

Local graphic novelist Edward Ross gives an illustrated reading from his forthcoming graphic novel Gamish: A Graphic History of Gaming. From Pac-Man to Minecraft, the book covers the fascinating history of this enormously popular pastime, and delves into what makes video games such a powerful artform. Edward has been making comics for over ten years. His first graphic novel, Filmish: A Graphic Journey Through Film won a YASLA award as a Great Graphic Novel for Teens.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from The Portobello Bookshop.
Click here to visit the PBF page

Watch now – Dark Humour – An interview with Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone

Saturday 3rd October – 1pm
Click Youtube link below to watch the interview

Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve novels. Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade, and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo EPs released, and he currently plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

The Big Chill is the second in a trilogy of books about the Skelfs, three generations of women who have to take over the running of a funeral directors and a private investigators when the patriarch of the family dies.

Doug’s website is

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from The Portobello Bookshop.
Click here to visit the PBF page

Watch now – A Sense of Place and Imagination with Janis Mackay – @janismackay

Saturday 3rd October – 12noon
Click the Youtube link to watch interview with Janis

Janis Mackay is an author, storyteller and creative writing tutor, living in her native Portobello. Janis had her first novel for children published by winning the Kelpies prize in 2009. Since then she has had nine novels published, and won the Scottish Children’s Book Awards in 2013 for her novel for children – The Accidental Time Traveller. As a storyteller Janis is often inspired by folk and fairy lore, drawing on themes and imagery in myth to create new stories. Janis has just brought out her first novel for adults, The Watchmaker’s Wife, which is based on the life of her grandmother. Often finding inspiration at intersections, with this novel she merges family story with fiction. Janis is currently doing a PhD, fusing life story, landscape and mythology. She teaches creative writing at Edinburgh University, and spends a lot of time gazing out the window to the sea!

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from The Portobello Bookshop.
Click here to visit the PBF page

Watch now – The Secret Life of Books with Professor Tom Mole @ProfTomMole

Saturday 3rd October – 11am
Click Youtube link below to watch the event

Join Tom Mole in conversation with Paul Hudson of Portobello Library as they discuss The Secret Life of Books.

We love books.  We take them to bed with us.  We display them on our bookshelves.  We write our names in them.  They weigh down our suitcases when we go on holiday.  We take them for granted.  But there’s much more to them than meets the eye.  From how books feel and smell, to burned books, banned books, and books that create nations, The Secret Life of Book is about everything beyond the words on the page.  It’s about how books – and readers – have evolved over time.  And it’s about how books still have the power to change our lives.

Tom Mole is Professor of English Literature and Book History at the University of Edinburgh, where he runs the Centre for the History of the Book.  He is the author of What the Victorians Made of Romanticism, which won the Saltire Prize for best research book in 2018.  He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and lives in Edinburgh with his wife and daughter.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from The Portobello Bookshop.
Click here to visit the PBF page

Links to PBF20 events – available to watch or listen again

All our events this year are available to watch or listen to again at your leisure. To make it easy for you to find them, we’ve posted all the links on this page. Just click to go to the event page and enjoy!

Archie Foley – More Footprints in the Sand

Anne Stormont – Finding Fulfilment

Tom Mole – The Secret Life of Books

Janis Mackay – A Sense of Place and Imagination

Doug Johnstone – Dark Humour

Edward Ross – Gamish: A graphic History of Gaming

John D Burns – Mountaineer, writer, storyteller, talks to Portobello Book Festival

Captivating Crime with Jackie Baldwin and Olga Wojtas

Gavin Francis – Island Dreams

Sheila Averbuch – Social and Anti-social Media

Peter Ross – A Tomb with a View

Leonie Charlton discusses Marram with Peter E Ross

Letters from Lockdown

“Resolving the climate emergency: Why societal and environmental sustainability are interdependent” with Dr Keith Skene 

Donald Bloxham – History: Why Bother?

Through Travellers’ Eyes

Watch now – Finding Fulfilment – meet author Anne Stormont – @writeanne

Friday 2nd October – 8pm
Click Youtube link below to watch event

Anne Stormont is the author of four contemporary romantic novels – one is a standalone and the other three make up the Skye series. The books are all second-chance romances where the main characters may be older but are certainly no wiser. She has also published one children’s novel. Anne’s books are set in Scotland – where she lives – and in some of the other places she’s visited.

She began making up stories as a child to entertain her four wee sisters. But as an adult with a busy life as a mother and teacher, it took her a long time and a wake-up call for her to get that first book written. When she’s not writing Anne enjoys yoga, walking and gardening. She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart. She also loves tea, penguins and being with her grandchildren.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from The Portobello Bookshop.
Click here to visit the PBF page

Watch now – More Footprints in the Sand with Archie Foley

Friday 2nd October – 7pm
Click the YouTube link below to watch this event

Forty years of publication for a community newspaper deserves to be celebrated, the more so if that paper has always been produced entirely by local volunteers and financed solely by advertisements placed by local businesses. That is why Archie Foley and Peter E Ross decided to draw attention to this achievement by compiling another selection of articles from the history pages of the Portobello Reporter. The articles chosen span the years from 1980 to 2020 and record “Portobello’s history and reminiscences” thus fulfilling one of the key aims of the paper’s founders.

Archie Foley will take you on a tour of Portobello to see some of the places featured in the book. You will be seeing them as they are today but Archie will be able to show how they feature in the Portobello story and that Portobello is not just Edinburgh’s seaside suburb.