Book quiz at the Dalriada

After a busy day enjoying listening to the many authors taking part in the festival, why not round off Saturday 8th October by showing off your literary knowledge at a book quiz at the Dalriada on the prom? No tickets are required and it costs just £1 per person to enter. The quiz begins at 8pm and will run until approximately 10pm. It’s a good idea to get along early though as the quiz is very popular and once it’s full, it’s full!

Get to know the authors: Lesley Kelly @lkauthor and Alison Baillie @alisonbailliex

Lesley Kelly's profile photo     Alison Baillie


Saturday 8th October

Lesley Kelly, author of  A Fine House in Trinity, has worked in the public and voluntary sectors for the past twenty years, dabbling in poetry and stand-up comedy along the way. She has won a number of writing competitions, including the Scotsman’s Short Story award in 2008. She lives in Edinburgh with her husband and two sons.

Alison, author of Sewing the Shadows Togetherwas born in Yorkshire but has always felt Scottish. Her parents were both Scottish and she taught English at several High Schools in the Edinburgh area, including Portobello High School! She loves reading crime fiction, especially Scottish and Scandinavian, and going to crime writing festivals.

Lesley and Alison talk about the joys and pitfalls of setting crime stories in places they know really well. Come along to find out what inspired them and what the reaction has been to the places their crime novels are set: Portobello, Leith and Trinity!  

Chair: Caroline Dunford

A Fine House in Trinity by [Kelly, Lesley]

Joseph Staines, an unemployed chef, has left Edinburgh with the tallybook of the late debt collector, Isa Stoddart. Her son Lachie thinks Stainsie killed her, but Lachie has apparently committed suicide. To his surprise, Stainsie is the sole beneficiary of Lachie’s will and has inherited a dilapidated mansion. Isa’s debtors and the local priest who paid Stainsie to leave town want him gone. A certain young mum, Marianne (whose uncle, Wheezy, is Stainsie’s drinking buddy) does too, and his old school-friend, Detective Sergeant Jamieson, wants to interrogate him about the deaths. Why are the lawyers lying to him, and who’s the bruiser asking about him down the pub?

Click to read Portobello Book Blog’s review of A Fine House in Trinity


Sewing the Shadows Together by [Baillie, Alison]

Can you ever get over the death of your sister? Or of your best friend? More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah. “Shona had been gone for so long but the memories still came unexpectedly, sometimes like a video from the past, sometimes distorted dreams, but she was always there.” When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears. Dark secrets from the past are uncovered, and there is another death, before the identity of the real killer is finally revealed…

Click to read Portobello Book Blog’s review of Sewing the Shadows Together

Get to know the authors: Mary Paulson-Ellis @mspaulsonellis and Graeme Macrae Burnet @GMacraeBurnet

MESSING WITH THE MIND  Saturday 8th October 2.45-4.15pm     LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Mary Paulson-Ellis, debut author of The Other Mrs Walker,  joins Graeme Macrae Burnet, whose His Bloody Project has been short listed for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, to talk about what inspired them to write their novels. They’ll discuss how they got into the mysterious minds of their characters and the appeal of psychological thrillers and the exploration of secrets, lies and deception. 

Chair: Graeme Howard


Mary Paulson-Ellis            The Other Mrs Walker by [Paulson-Ellis, Mary]

Mary Paulson-Ellis is a writer living in Edinburgh, Scotland. She likes to write about what she call the ‘murderous’ side of family life – the dark, the quirky and the strange. Her debut novel, The Other Mrs Walker, about a woman who finds families for dead people, is published by Mantle/Pan Macmillan. You can read a review of The Other Mrs Walker on Portobello Book Blog by clicking here

Graeme Macrae Burnet        His Bloody Project: Documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae (Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2016) by [Burnet, Graeme Macrae]

Graeme Macrae Burnet was born and brought up in Kilmarnock and now lives in Glasgow, Scotland. His first novel, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau, was called ‘a captivating psychological thriller’ by The Herald. His second novel, His Bloody Project, concerns a triple murder a crofting village in 1860’s Wester Ross. ‘A gripping crime story, a deeply imagined historical novel, and gloriously written,’ said The Sunday Herald Books of the Year, 2015. ‘A fine achievement from an ambitious and accomplished writer,’ said The National.

Get to know the editor: Sean Bradley

KNOW YOUR PLACE Saturday 8th October 2.45-3.45pm  


Sean Bradley is Chair of the Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust, publisher and editor of The Evergreen: A New Season in the North, a journal in four volumes based on polymath and urban planner Patrick Geddes’s 19th century Evergreens. He will discuss the continuing relevance of Geddes’s work in urban renewal.

Chair: Bill Jameson

Get to know the authors: Catherine Simpson @cath_simpson13 and Isla Dewar @IslaDewar1

Saturday 8th October: 1.30-2.30pm, Library Upstairs


Novelists Isla Dewar, Women Talking Dirtyand Catherine Simpson, Truestory, discuss their adventures while writing, the catharsis they’ve experienced and problems they’ve encountered. They exchange views on favourite books, favourite bits of books, books they’d wish they’d written and books they’d like to write. Find out about their heroines, both living and on the page, and about the characters they admire, fear, love and hate.

Isla Dewar             

Isla Dewar was born in Edinburgh but now lives in the East Neuk of Fife with her husband. Prior to writing and publishing her novels Isla wrote articles for newspapers and magazines. Her first novel, Keeping Up with Magda, published in 1995, has been followed by a string of bestsellers: Giving Up on Ordinary, It Could Happen to You, Women Talking Dirty, Two Kinds of Wonderful, The Woman Who Painted Her Dreams and Dancing in a Distant Place. Her most recent novel, A Winter Bride, is set in 1950s Edinburgh.

Catherine Simpson         Truestory

Catherine Simpson was raised on a dairy farm in Lancashire. She won a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award for her debut novel, Truestory, which was inspired by her experience of raising a child with autism.  You can read a review of Truestory on Portobello Book Blog by clicking here.

Get to know the authors – Catherine Hokin @cathokin and Ajay Close @ajayclose


Saturday 8th October – 1-2.30pm – Portobello Baptist Church Cafe

Dangerous Women

Catherine Hokin is a Glasgow-based author with a degree in History from Manchester University. She started writing seriously about 3 years ago and her debut novel, Blood and Roses, was published in January 2016. Ajay Close is a Scottish-based dramatist and writer of literary fiction. Her novels explore the emotional flashpoints of place, politics and family.

They join us to talk about what inspired them to write about women who shaped history. Catherine explores the fascinating story of medieval Queen Margaret of Anjou in her debut novel Blood and Roses.  Ajay’s A Petrol Scented Spring follows the extraordinary exploits of Edinburgh suffragette Arabella Scott.

Chair: Viv Cree

Blood and Roses by [Hokin, Catherine]

Blood and Roses tells the story of Margaret of Anjou (1430-82), wife of Henry VI and a key protagonist in the Wars of the Roses. This is a feminist revision of a woman frequently imagined only as the shadowy figure demonised by Shakespeare – Blood and Roses examines Margaret as a Queen unable to wield the power and authority she is capable of, as a wife trapped in marriage to a man born to be a saint and as a mother whose son meets a terrible fate she has set in motion. It is the story of a woman caught up in the pursuit of power, playing a game ultimately no one can control…

Petrol Scented Spring by [Close, Ajay]

‘When Donella Atkins meets ambitious doctor Hugh Ferguson Watson it is love at first sight, but the marriage is not happy. Donella thinks she knows why. Before she met him, Hugh force-fed several hunger-striking suffragettes. The redoubtable Arabella Scott he kept in isolation for five weeks, meeting her every day, talking together, touching… What really happened between Hugh and his prisoner patient? Did he fall for her idealism, or her looks? Was the battle of wills intoxicating and did she return his love? Cupid”s itch takes many forms. The one thing Donella knows for certain is it cannot be ignored. Based on real people and events, Cupid”s Itch is a riveting portrait of the women who dared to claim equality with men, and a fascinating exploration of passion, repression, jealousy and love.’


Get to know the author – Edward Ross @edward_ross

Saturday 8th October – 12.15-1.15pm – Library Upstairs

Filmish – Edward Ross

Edward Ross is a Portobello based comic artist and illustrator. A movie fan from a young age, he was always fascinated by the inner workings of his favourite movies. Pursuing this passion, Edward took his love of film and transformed it into comic form. He is recently back from success at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2016 and joins us to discuss his debut graphic novel Filmish: A Graphic Journey Through Film, an engaging look at the history of cinema and the fascinating stories behind our favourite films.

Chair: Stephen Goodall

Edinburgh-based cartoonist Edward Ross uses comics to illuminate the ideas behind our favourite films. In Filmish, Ross’s cartoon alter-ego guides readers through the annals of cinematic history, introducing us to some of the strange and fascinating concepts at work in the movies. Each chapter focuses on a particular theme – the body, architecture, language – and explores an eclectic mix of cinematic triumphs, from A Trip to the Moon to Aliens. Sitting within the tradition of bestselling non-fiction graphic novels like Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and the Introducing…series, Filmish tackles serious issues – sexuality, race, censorship, propaganda – with authority and wit, throwing new light on some of the greatest films ever made.

Get to know the author – Michael Meighan

Michael Meighan

Saturday 8th October – 11am-12noon – Library Upstairs

Michael Meighan has written widely about the local and industrial history of Scotland. From his book The Forth Bridges Through Time he talks about the history and heritage of the iconic bridges and other crossings that have spanned the river.

Chair:  Peter Ross

The Forth Bridges Through Time by [Meighan, Michael]

The River Forth is one of Scotland’s great waterways. It has a majestic history and heritage, part of which is the Forth bridges. Of these, the most iconic is the Forth Rail Bridge, which opened in 1890. But there is also the Kincardine Bridge, opened in 1936 and once the longest swing bridge in Europe, the Forth Road Bridge, opened in 1964, and the new Queensferry Crossing, due to be completed in 2016. In this book, Michael Meighan looks at all these bridges as well as the Clackmannanshire Bridge and the fords, ferries and smaller bridges which preceded these great crossings. The Forth crossings have a special place in the history and culture of Scotland, and in the hearts of all Scots, and Michael Meighan pays tribute to them in a wonderful mix of both old and new images.

Get to know the author – Rebecca McKinney @bexmckinney


Saturday 8th October 10.30-12.30pm – Portobello Baptist Church Cafe

Writing workshop – Crosscurrents: writing inspired by the sea

What does the sea mean to you? Sunny holidays, storm surges, separation, connection? In this two-hour workshop, Rebecca, author of Blast Radius, will use the sights, sounds and smells of the sea to inspire creativity, awaken the senses and capture vibrant images. We will visit the Promenade so dress for all weathers and bring pen, paper and imagination. Writers of all levels welcome.

Rebecca McKinney is a Scottish writer who came from America or an American writer who lives in Scotland, depending on your point of view. She lives near Edinburgh with her husband and two children. Her novel, Blast Radius, was published by Sandstone Press in February 2015.

Blast Radius by [McKinney, R.L.]

Sean McNicol’s best friend Mitch saved his life in Afghanistan, in an act of impulsive heroism. Now Mitch is dead and Sean has left the Royal Marines with a head full of ghosts and guilt. Mitch talks to Sean from beyond the grave, by turns encouraging him, cursing, singing and leading him to question his own sanity on a daily basis.Turning his back on his life as a soldier, Sean grudgingly returns to the downcast Scottish town of his childhood and takes a job moving second-hand furniture for the Once Loved Furniture Company. He is hired by a former schoolmate to clear her late father’s house at Cauldhill Farm, and gradually discovers that his own life is intertwined in the most unexpected way with the farm and its former occupants. In order to find the thing he wants most- a bit of peace- Sean must confront the unquiet spirits of his past: his alcoholic mother, his absent father, his old (almost) girlfriend Paula, his own fatal mistakes in Afghanistan and, of course, Mitch.

Get to know the author – Prof John Curtice

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be telling you more about some of the authors taking part in our festival. We begin today with Prof John Curtice. 

Friday 7th October – 6-7pm – upstairs in the library

Professor John Curtice will be a familiar figure to anyone with a keen interest in politics. He is a political scientist who is currently Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde and President of the British Polling Council. He is particularly interested in electoral behaviour and researching political and social attitudes. He is well known for his expert analysis on tv and radio. In this event, chaired by Jane Meagher, he will discuss the significance of polls and the recent upheaval in our political landscape.