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

Portobello Book Festival 2021 – Sunday 3rd October – afternoon events

Below are the details for events in the afternoon of Sunday 3rd October.
Please remember that all events are ticketed apart from those online.
Tickets available from the library.

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

Portobello Book Festival – Sunday 3rd October – morning events

Below are the details for events in the morning of Sunday 3rd October.
Please remember that all events are ticketed apart from those online.
Tickets available from the library.

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.

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

Portobello Book Festival 2021 – Saturday 2nd October – afternoon events

Below are the details for events in the afternoon of Saturday 2nd October.
Please remember that all events are ticketed apart from those online.
Tickets available from the library.

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.

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

Portobello Book Festival 2021 – Saturday 2nd October – morning events

Below are the details for events in the morning of Saturday 2nd October.
Please remember that all events are ticketed apart from those online.
Tickets available from the library.

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.

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

Portobello Book Festival 2021 – Friday 1st October event details

Below are the details for events on Friday 1st October.
Please remember that all events are ticketed apart from those online.
Tickets available from the library.

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.

Portobello Book Festival 2021 – important information about this year’s festival

We are delighted that the first weekend of October will see the return of Portobello Book Festival to our wonderful Portobello Library in Rosefield Avenue. Events will be on Friday 1st October, Saturday 2nd October and Sunday 3rd October. We are grateful to Edinburgh Council and Portobello Library staff for their guidance and support which has made it possible for the festival to take place.

As you would expect, things will look a little different this year. Entry in and out of the building will be carefully managed, numbers attending events will be more restricted than normal, face coverings must be worn (unless exempt) and contact details will be required for NHS Test and Protect. Following on from the successful online festival last year, some of our events will be online. Details of how to watch them will be on the website nearer the time.

Tickets can only be collected from Portobello Library in person in advance and you will be able to collect a printed programme from there soon. Tickets will be available from Monday 13th September. Due to restrictions, unlike in previous years, tickets will not be available on the door on the day. When collecting tickets, you are restricted to two per event per person. Library opening hours are Monday and Wednesday 1-5pm, Tuesday and Thursday 10-5pm, Friday and Saturday 10am-2pm.

Look out over the course of today for full details of all the events, featuring local writers and readers and internationally renowned authors. As always, we feel there is a great mix of books featured and that there is something for everyone.

Entry to events is free to all, although we are always very grateful for donations to cover expenses. We are also very grateful to all our participants who give their time freely.

If there are any updates to Covid regulations which mean we need to change or cancel any events, details will be posted on the website and our social media. We’re on Facebook (Portobello Book Festival) and Twitter (@portybookfest).

Unfortunately this year, we are unable to host book signings after the events in the library. However, books by all our participating authors will be 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.

We hope you enjoy the 2021 Portobello Book Festival!

Pandemic Portobello – shout out for local writers

The Portobello Book Festival organising team have been busy over the last few months putting together what is shaping up to be an exciting programme for the next Festival over the first weekend in October. We are crossing our fingers that it will be able to go ahead in Portobello Library this year which, as you may know, is reopening on Monday 21st June.

Portobello Book Festival is planning a new publication – Pandemic Portobello – to mark our 13th Festival.  Unlucky for some!  This past year has been like no other, and we want to invite local people to submit a response to it.  These will be included in either a digital or paper publication.  

Contributors are encouraged to interpret the title as freely as they wish: fact or fiction; imagined or real; gothic or mythic; funny or sad; past, present or future; poetry or prose.  Anything goes!

The word length for contributions is 500 words, and the deadline for entries is 15 July 2021.  Please contact us at portobellobookfestival@gmail.com including ‘Pandemic Portobello’ in the subject line.

Thank you from the organising team!

The organising team would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in our online festival this year – the authors, the chairs, those who filmed for us and Portobello Library for their online support. It was a challenge to change to a completely online festival but we are very pleased that this is something we managed to do, meaning our Festival was still able to take place. We hope that we have had our usual eclectic mix of events and that there is something for everyone to enjoy.

We are grateful too to The Portobello Bookshop who have supported us by having a dedicated page on their website featuring our authors and a display of books in the shop. There’s a link below to the PBF page on the bookshop website.

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

Being online has brought some advantages. Many more people have watched or listened to events than we would usually have been able to accommodate in our venues. We have had visitors from all over the world from including America, Canada, China, Russia, all over Europe, India, Thailand, New Zealand, Ecuador and Australia. Portobello Book Festival has gone international! And perhaps best of all, you are able to catch up with any events you may have missed. You’ll find details of all the events on the link below.

Click here for links to watch/listen again

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has watched or listened to our events, shared on social media, commented on the website or YouTube. We hope you have enjoyed the 2020 festival and are always pleased to hear your comments about the events. We do hope to be back in the library next year but we know that we are able to provide events online and may consider a blended approach if needed. See you next year, first weekend in October, put it in your diaries now!