A thank you from the Portobello Book Festival organising team

The 13th Portobello Book Festival was a great success and we hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did. It was great to be able to be back in the library again and to have in-person events, as well as a couple of events online. 

The organising team would like to thank:

Cal MacAninch for excellent readings and the talented musicians who took part in the opening event celebrating the launch of our publication Pandemic Portobello. Also thanks and congratulations to all the local writers whose work was included. Pick up your free copy from the library if you don’t have one already.

All our participating writers for inspiring us

Our fantastic chairs for keeping everything running smoothly

Our soundman Jock and his assistants Jill and Riley for making sure that everyone could be heard

The security and cleaning staff for being so cheery as they worked – they really helped create a lovely atmosphere. 

The folk from the Chest Heart and Stroke shop who lent us their step at a moment’s notice when we realised the stage needed something to make it more accessible. It felt like a real community effort to see them so pleased to help when we were in need. 

Ally Heather for organising the online event with Peter Geoghagen and Peter McColl

Emma Christie for organising and hosting the online crime fiction event with the Caledonia Crime Collective

The Portobello Bookshop for making sure all our authors’ books were available for sale both in the shop and on their website’s book festival page: https://theportobellobookshop.com/porty-book-festival/

Evelyn Kilmurry (Locality Manager for North East Locality) and Andrew McTaggart (Service Manager for North East Locality) for their help and advice on Covid protocols to make sure we were able to use the library safely.

A huge thanks to Paul, Lesley and the staff of Portobello Library, a fantastic resource on our doorstep, without whose help and time we would not be able to run our festival. Special mention to Ian for spending his whole day off making sure our last minute tech requirements for the unexpected zoom event could be met.

And of course, thanks to everyone who came along to the events and created such a vibrant atmosphere.

The 2022 programme will be launched early September with tickets available shortly afterwards. The organising team will be starting to plan for this very soon. Any ideas and suggestions will be warmly welcomed.

Watch now: Democracy for Sale? with Peter Geoghegan

Sunday 3rd October – 3.30pm
Click the YouTube link below to watch this event

Peter Geoghegan, the well-known writer, journalist and broadcaster, talks about his recent, highly acclaimed book Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics.  According to the Observer, ‘This should be the most discussed political book of the year.  The subject could not be more urgent.’ 

Chair: Peter McColl

Change to this evening’s Val McDermid event

Unfortunately, Val McDermid is now unable to join us in person this evening. However, through the wonders of technology, she will be joining the live audience and chair via Zoom. The event will still take place in the library at 5pm, chaired by Louise Fairbairn, and will not be streamed online. Those attending will still have the opportunity to put questions to Val.

The queen of crime talks about her latest thriller, the first in her new series.  In the winter of discontent, Allie Burns and her fellow journalist Danny Sullivan, at the risk of making powerful enemies, are exposing the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland.

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

Watch now: The Caledonia Crime Collective

Saturday 2nd October – 12.00 noon
Click the YouTube link below to watch the event

Join the Caledonia Crime Collective (CCC) as they discuss the thrills, spills and sometimes chills of everything Tartan Noir and all its facets. From gritty police procedurals to psychological thrillers – and even a splash of the supernatural – the panel will discuss and debate the diversity of modern Scottish crime fiction. 

Hosted by Portobello author and CCC founder Emma Christie (The Silent Daughter).

Attending events this weekend? Here’s some useful information!

There’s just one day to go before the 2021 Portobello Book Festival begins and we thought it would be useful to give you some information about attending events. Some things are different from previous years so please do make yourself familiar with what is going to happen this year.

Entry to each event will be five minutes before it is due to start.

If your event is in the library upstairs, you will enter and leave by the fire exit door to the left of the main entrance. If you require to use the ramp, that will still be possible of course.

If your event is in the library downstairs, you will enter and leave by the usual main library doors.

As rooms will be cleaned between events, even if you have a ticket for the following event you will need to leave the building.

You must have your ticket with you. Regretfully, we cannot admit anyone without a ticket, no matter the reason. The only exceptions are guests of the contributors whose names are on the guest list.

There are no tickets available on the door before events this year. If you have a ticket you now can’t use, please return it to the library as soon as possible. Many events have no tickets left so this will give others a chance to attend.

You must register attendance by either checking in with the QR code, or via the Check In Scotland website or by giving your contact details to the staff.

You must wear a face covering at all times in the library, unless you are exempt.

We will be filling up the events from the front and after each event, we will ask those at the back to leave first.

As windows will be open for ventilation throughout all events, please wrap up warmly!

We will, as always, be delighted to receive any donations. Buckets will be available on the way out after each event. If you do intend to donate, it would be helpful if you could have your money ready as you leave to avoid queueing.

With all these precautions in place, we hope that you will feel safe and enjoy the events over the weekend. We are looking forward to seeing everyone and listening to all our fabulous participants.

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

Checking in for Portobello Book Festival events

As you’ll be aware, we are required to take contact details for everyone attending book festival events at the library for Test & Protect contact tracing purposes. To make this as quick as possible, and to minimise queuing, we’d really appreciate if people could scan the Check in Scotland QR code while waiting to get in to each event. There will be posters up at the library you can scan with your smartphone or you can use the website as mentioned on the poster below.

If you don’t have a smartphone, staff will take a note of details on a paper record. Details will be stored in accordance with data protection rules and kept for 21 days. Details will only be used to get in touch with you to advise if you may be a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

Please remember that you must wear a face covering at all time during events, unless you are exempt.

Books by participating authors available to buy from The Portobello Bookshop @portybooks

Books by all our participating authors are available to buy or order from our local independent bookshop, The Portobello Bookshop.

You will find the bookshop at 46 Portobello High Street. Opening hours are 10am – 6pm, seven days a week. You can order books in person or by phone or online, either to Click and Collect or for delivery. The phone number is 0131 629 6756.

The lovely people at the bookshop have created a page especially for Portobello Book Festival. Just click on the link below and you’ll find details of all our events, with books by the authors listed after each one.

Portobello Bookshop – PBF page

Listen to this week’s Porty Podcast which features Portobello Book Festival – @portypodcast

Thanks to Hazel Darwin-Clements who has put together a brilliant podcast about this year’s festival. You’ll hear from Joanne, who is on the organising committee, as well as three of the authors taking part: Emma Christie, Grahame Howard and Lesley Kelly.

One thing to note though is that there is mention of the possibility of events being available to watch online, but, with a couple of exceptions, this will not be happening. We know a lot of people enjoyed the online events last year and we did consider trying to do some more online this year. However, as a small free volunteer run festival, regrettably we simply don’t have enough people to be able to comply with the Covid regulations while also trying to stream or film for later. The only events online are ones we have planned well in advance and which will be pre-recorded.

Grab yourself a coffee and settle down to listen and find out more about the festival, taking place over the weekend of 1st-3rd October.

234: Hearts Talking – HeartTalkPorty on the High Street Porty Podcast

Over the last couple of weekends if you’ve been wandering along Portobello High Street you may have been stopped and asked for your input into the conversations happening as part of Heart Talk Porty. Mia McGregor and Sam Green brought Portobello ‘ The Cube’  a giant box accompanied by graffiti pens which tours all over the place and gives the public an opportunity to write or draw on it what they’d like to see in their community. www.cubeproject.co.ukwww.facebook.com/Thecubecreative@ThecubecreativeAlso as part of Heart Talk Porty there was a conversation about how Porty see the future of Transport. I spoke with Ellen Grunewald and Brenda Park from Porty Community Energy about how they were getting on.www.portycommunityenergy.wordpress.comwww.facebook.com/PortyCommunityEnergy@EnergyPorty James Lewis from Spokes Porty tells us how this conversation sits in the lobbying that their organisation has been doing for Active Travel. www.facebook.com/Spokes-Porty-314380299211576Stephen Hawkins led a discussion about the possibility of pedestrianizing the high street in Portobello. And finally, I spoke with Lynn Darke who brought Heart Talk a conversation called Building Resilience: How Do we take Care of Ourselves and Each other During Times of Transition and Grief?  
  1. 234: Hearts Talking – HeartTalkPorty on the High Street
  2. 233: Charity begins… in Porty
  3. 232: Heart Talk & What's the future of work in Porty?
  4. 231: Have you got a spare room? The Rock Trust Nightstop Service
  5. 230: Support the Makers – How to MAKE IT in Portobello

Portobello Book Festival 2021 – Full Programme Details

Portobello Book Festival1st – 3rd October 2021

All events are free, but ticketed.
Tickets in person, in advance from Portobello Library
No tickets available at the door this year.

www.portobellobookfestival.com

Twitter @portybookfest

FRIDAY 1st OCTOBER

WRITING WORKSHOP WITH JIM HURFORD

10.30-11.30am                                                   LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

This year’s writing event is on the fun of writing limericks. Jim has recently found pleasure in expressing and reflecting life in limericks. He hopes to show how versatile they can be with topics including balancing rhyme with content, beauty with sadness, politics with humour, local scenes with global issues and so on. This will be a hands-on fun workshop for writers of all experience and inclination. Bring paper, pen and ideas.

HANNAH McCOOKE: CAPABLE HANDS                                      

12.00noon-1.00pm                                                  LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Portobello poet Hannah McCooke has been published in

Dear Damsels, The Selkie, Bloodbath Literary Zine, The Last Anthology and Umbrellas of Edinburgh. She recently released her debut pamphlet, Mortal Magic, and will be discussing her love of DIY publishing, collaboration and the role of queer community in her creativity, as well as her current project – Capable Hands – a collection of love poems for her LGBT+ heroes. Hannah will read from both collections.

Chair: Paul Hudson

READING HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LOCKDOWN

2.00-3.00pm                                                           LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Local readers including Ian Pryde, children’s literature specialist at Portobello Library and Joanne Baird, Portobello Book Blog, talk about their most memorable reading from the time when reading was one of the few things we were actually allowed to do. 

Chair: Bill Jameson

PANDEMIC PORTOBELLO: BOOK LAUNCH

8.00-9.30pm – LIBRARY DOWNSTAIRS

Due to covid restrictions, this event is for contributors to the publication only.

This evening of words and music celebrates local writing and launches the Festival’s publication Pandemic Portobello. Portobello actor Cal MacAninch will read a selection of stories from this unique collection and the event will be hosted by David Francis.

Free copies of the book will be available from Portobello Library.

This event will be online: details will be available via the library and website nearer the time.

SATURDAY 2nd OCTOBER

ANNE PIA: KEEPING AWAY THE SPIDERS

11.00am-12.00 noon                                              LIBRARY UPSTAIRS                                                 

Author, poet and essayist Anne Pia has published two poetry collections, Transitory and The Sweetness of Demons, and is perhaps best known for her stunning creative memoir Language of My Choosing which was shortlisted for the Saltire Award. Here, Anne speaks about her work, specifically her recently published book Keeping Away The Spiders: Essays on Breaching Barriers, a series of illuminating reflections on life as a writer and a woman.

Chair: Paul Hudson

CALEDONIA CRIME COLLECTIVE

12.00 noon                                                                      ONLINE EVENT

Join the Caledonia Crime Collective (CCC) as they discuss the thrills, spills and sometimes chills of everything Tartan Noir and all its facets. From gritty police procedurals to psychological thrillers – and even a splash of the supernatural – the panel will discuss and debate the diversity of modern Scottish crime fiction. 

Hosted by Portobello author and CCC founder Emma Christie (The Silent Daughter).

This event will be online: details will be available via the library and website nearer the time.

WOMEN IN HISTORICAL FICTION

12.45-1.45pm                                                          LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Flora Johnston is the author of What You Call Free. Set in 17th Century Edinburgh, it follows the story of two women who don’t conform to society’s expectations.  Caroline Dunford’s novels include historical mysteries featuring Euphemia Martins at the time of The Great War and her daughter Hope Stapleford in WW2. Join them as they discuss researching and writing historical fiction set in very different eras and giving voice to women from those times.

Chair: Janis Mackay

CRIME THRILLERS

2.30-3.30pm                                                                  LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Join Lesley Kelly and William McIntyre in conversation, as they discuss their entertaining and often humorous crime thriller series. Lesley Kelly’s The Health of Strangers books are set in the aftermath of a global pandemic, though the series began well before recent events. William McIntyre is a criminal defence solicitor who draws on his own courtroom experiences to turn fact into fiction with a string of legal thrillers all featuring Linlithgow-based lawyer, Robbie Munro. 

GRAHAME HOWARD: LOVE AND HUMOUR

4.00-5.00pm                                                             LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Love and humour are often present in the work of Portobello author Grahame Howard.  Here he talks about his two books published during lockdown.  Coda, Fantaisie and an Intermezzo, three love stories with a musical theme and The Norris Sanction, a light hearted humorous tale featuring a terminal loser.

Chair:  Paul Hudson

ANDREW O’HAGAN

5.30-6.30pm                                                    LIBRARY DOWNSTAIRS

Andrew’s latest novel Mayflies is an elegy to a teenage friend.  Set in Scotland, it is a poignant story of lost youth, music, and male friendship. Andrew has been nominated for the Booker Prize three times, is Visiting Professor of Writing at King’s College London and Editor-at-Large of The London Review of Books. Andrew will be joined in this special event by Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland, who also hails from Ayrshire.

SUNDAY 3rd OCTOBER

GAVIN FRANCIS

11.00am-12.00 noon                                        LIBRARY DOWNSTAIRS

Award-winning author Dr Gavin Francis’s latest book Intensive Care is written from the perspective of a GP working in both urban and rural communities during the Pandemic. Gavin will be in conversation with Dr John Budd, GP at the Edinburgh Access Practice, which provides care for patients who are homeless. They will discuss how Covid has changed lives, the amazing work of Edinburgh’s Inclusion Health outreach teams and the city’s response in terms of housing people who would otherwise have been rough sleeping.

ANGELA JACKSON

11.15am-12.15pm                                                   LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Angela’s latest novel The Darlings is a compelling exploration of the power of unconditional love. Set in Edinburgh, it is a fast-paced, funny and unflinching story of infidelity. Angela, a former psychology lecturer, won Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award with her debut novel The Emergence of Judy Taylor. She is a Tutor in Creative Writing for Open College of the Arts. She will be joined in this special event by Louise Kelly.

WILDERNESS WAYS

12.45-1.45pm                                                          LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

A conversation between Rona Gray and Patrick Baker, author of The Unremembered Places: Exploring Scotland’s Wild Histories.  ‘There are wild landscapes which transcend our modern notions of utility and purpose whose importance may never be fully understood yet which continue to resound with mystery and meaning.’

AMBROSE PARRY

2.00-3.00pm                                                         LIBRARY DOWNSTAIRS

Chris Brookmyre, one of Britain’s most acclaimed authors and winner of the UK’s top crime awards, is joined by his wife Marisa Haetzman, a consultant anaesthetist, to discuss their co-authored crime series, set in the medical world of 1840s Edinburgh, under the pseudonym Ambrose Parry.

Chair: Doug Johnstone

NATURE PRESCRIPTIONS

2.15-3.15pm                                                                LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

Photographer Anna Deacon and journalist and author Vicky Allan’s books For the Love of Trees and Taking the Plunge: The Healing Power of Wild Swimming for Mind, Body and Soul show how time spent outdoors can help physical and mental wellbeing. They are in conversation with local GP, allotment enthusiast and wild swimmer Dr Rachel Harrison who is an advocate of the RSPB’s and Edinburgh GPs’ joint pilot scheme Nature Prescriptions. This initiative is giving GPs in five Edinburgh practices the opportunity to prescribe nature, where appropriate, as part of a patient’s treatment plan, connecting them with nature in ways that are personal, emotional and meaningful.

DEMOCRACY FOR SALE?

3.30-4.30pm                                                                     ONLINE EVENT

Peter Geoghegan, the well-known writer, journalist and broadcaster, talks about his recent, highly acclaimed book Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics.  According to the Observer, ‘This should be the most discussed political book of the year.  The subject could not be more urgent.’ 

Chair: Peter McColl

This event will be online: details will be available via the library and website nearer the time.

LIVING WITH AN ‘INVISIBLE DISABILITY’

4.00-5.00pm                                                         LIBRARY UPSTAIRS

In 2002, still in her teens, Gemma Bromley was in a serious car accident in which she suffered a traumatic brain injury. Half a Head recounts her long journey of recovery. Gemma is in conversation with Edwin Jesudson, Consultant Rehabilitation Physician at Astley Ainslie Hospital, Edinburgh.

VAL MCDERMID: 1979

5.00-6.00pm                                                       LIBRARY DOWNSTAIRS

The queen of crime talks about her latest thriller, the first in her new series.  In the winter of discontent, Allie Burns and her fellow journalist Danny Sullivan, at the risk of making powerful enemies, are exposing the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland.

Chair: Louise Fairbairn

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