Social and Anti-Social Media with Sheila M Averbuch @sheilamaverbuch

Sunday 4th October – 11am – online

Social and Anti-Social Media

Sheila M. Averbuch is a former journalist who’s interviewed billionaires, hackers and would-be Mars colonists. She holds a 2019 New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust and lives with her family near Edinburgh. Her first novel, Friend Me, is a middle-grade thriller about cyberbullying, revenge, and social media: Roisin, an Irish transplant to America, is mercilessly bullied at school and pours her heart out to her online BFF Haley. But when the bully suffers a gruesome accident, Roisin begins to wonder if Haley is responsible…or hiding even darker secrets.  Find out more at www.sheilamaverbuch.com 

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Island Dreams with Gavin Francis @gavinfranc

Saturday 3rd October – 5pm – online

Gavin Francis is an Edinburgh GP and the author of five books: True North, Travels in Arctic Europe (2008); Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins (2012) which was SMIT Scottish Book of the Year 2013, shortlisted for the Costa, Ondaatje, & Saltire Prizes; Adventures in Human Being (2015), which was Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year & the Observer’s Science Book of the Year; and Shapeshifters: On Medicine & Human Change (2018), which was a book of the year in the Sunday Times and the Scotsman.  His fifth book, Island Dreams, journeys into our collective fascination with islands through words and maps. It blends stories of Francis’s own travels with great voyages from literature and philosophical exploration, and examines the place of islands and of isolation in our collective consciousness.

Website www.gavinfrancis.com

Chair: David Francis is Director of Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland. He is also a songwriter, dance-caller, and storyteller, and a resident of Portobello for 20 years.

Thanks to Alistair Heather, writer and presenter from Angus, for filming this event.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Captivating Crime: a conversation with Jackie Baldwin and Olga Wojtas @JackieMBaldwin1 @olgawojtas

Saturday 3rd October – 4pm – online

Jackie Baldwin practiced criminal and family law for twenty years before retraining as a hypnotherapist. She has recently moved to East Lothian from Dumfries where her first three books are set.

Her latest novel, Avenge the Dead, was published on 28th February 2020 and features former RC priest, DI Frank Farrell, who is tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a defence solicitor’s wife. It’s been over a year since he left the town after an investigation robbed him of a dear friend and he has struggled to move on. When the son of another solicitor is murdered, a strange tattoo etched on his body, the case takes them into darker, more disturbing territory. It leads them back into the past to a horrific fire that took a young woman’s life, to four friends harbouring dark secrets, and to a killer waiting patiently for revenge.

Olga Wojtas was born and bred in Edinburgh, where she attended James Gillespie’s, the school that inspired Muriel Spark’s best-known work, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” Spark renamed Gillespie’s as the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, and her book in turn inspired Olga to write her first novel, “Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar.” Olga’s heroine is Shona McMonagle, a former Marcia Blaine pupil, now a fifty-something time-travelling librarian from Morningside Library. Olga’s second book in the series, “Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace,” was published this year by Contraband.  Olga also writes a series of cosy crime e-novellas under the name Helena Marchmont. The series is set in the idyllic Cotswolds village of Bunburry which, just like Midsomer, has an alarming murder rate. 

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

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

Saturday 3rd October – 2pm – online

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 our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Dark Humour – An interview with Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone

Saturday 3rd October – 1pm online

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  www.dougjohnstone.com

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

A Sense of Place and Imagination with Janis Mackay @JanisMackay

Saturday 3rd October – 12noon – online

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 our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

The Secret Life of Books with Professor Tom Mole @ProfTomMole

Saturday 3rd October – 11am – online

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 our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Creative Writing Workshop with J L Hall @jlhallwriter

Saturday 3rd October 2-4pm on Zoom Meetings

The workshop is now fully booked. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, please contact us as detailed below.


Join our creative writing workshop led by local writer J L Hall. In a year where we have all spent more time at home than away or abroad, this workshop will transport us to our favourite place for a couple of hours. Drawing on techniques from life-writing to fiction to poetry, this is an informal and practical session which is suitable for new or experienced writers.

Please come equipped with a memory of a favourite place – somewhere you can vividly and happily recall, somewhere you can conjure up easily as you write.

Please note that as this event will have limited space, priority will be given to writers who have NOT been working with J L Hall in the monthly Portobello Community Writers Workshop. 

To book your place, please email portobellobookfestival@gmail.com There are only TEN spaces available which we expect will fill up quickly so we will keep a waiting list if necessary, Please advise at the time of booking if you have any special requirements for the Zoom session such as large-print of handout sheets, or if you are hard of hearing, or may need to take breaks, etc

J L Hall is a Scottish writer of essays, life-writing, travel writing, short stories, and poetry. She is published across print, online, and podcasts, and has been winner and finalist in international and national writing awards. J L Hall lives in Edinburgh by the sea teaching, coaching, and editing creative writing.

To find out more about J L Hall, please visit: www.jlhallwriter.com and www.thewritinglab.co.uk

More Footprints in the Sand with Archie Foley

Friday 2nd October – 7pm – online

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.

Books by all our participating authors are available to order from our local bookshop. Click the link to visit the page.
The Portobello Bookshop

Watch the launch of the 2020 Portobello Book Festival Programme online

Usually by now, we would have held the launch event for the Portobello Book Festival at the Dalriada and have handed out copies of the programme at the Village Show. Sadly, as we know, neither of these events have been able to take place this year.

But the 2020 Portobello Book Festival is still going ahead and today you can watch Mae Shaw talk about how we have adapted the book festival this very unusual year.


Keep an eye on the website tomorrow where full details of all events you can watch over the course of the weekend of 2nd to 4th October will be revealed.

All the events will be on line and to watch, all you need to do is come to the website during the weekend and click on the post to watch each event. All will be available to watch afterwards too so if you are busy, you don’t need to miss out!