Once a month I send out a newsletter – you’re probably being asked to sign up to it right now! Subscribing lets you win freebies. But if you’re allergic to email newsletters, no matter, here are some extracts from my September newsletter. 

Edinburgh International Book Festival had some amazing live events, and I have to say it was actually quite nice to lie on the bed or couch and watch the big names; the chairs in Charlotte Square are not the comfiest and I could get used to the comfort, but… I do hope we can go back to live events, in person, next year. My blog this month is a list of the top Scottish book festivals, so maybe you can plan your 2021 holiday around one or more of these?
Literary Scotland definitely punches above its weight. I was thrilled to see the Guardian actually devote a whole article to Scottish crime. Normally they ignore everything north of Hadrian’s wall. But disappointing to see that – with the exception of Stuart MacBride (Aberdeen) – all of the books/authors chosen were central belt ones. What about some more norhern or rural settings? To balance things out, here are just a few fantastic crime novels set elsewhere in Scotland.
Helen Forbes –In The Shadow of the Hill and the sequel Madness Lies, are both set on the Outer Hebridean Isle of Lewis. Get reading these if you haven’t come across them before. And of course there is also Peter May’s brilliant Lewis trilogy to consider, as well as Anne Cleves’ Shetland novels, popularised by the BBC adaptations. Talking of BBC adaptations, anyone remember Hamish MacBeth? Starring Robert Carlyle and filmed in Plockton, they were written by MC Beaton, who envisaged her fictional town of Lochdubh as being somewhere in Sutherland (where she lives). And finally there’s His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. This was set on tiny remote Applecross Peninsula and was shortlisted for the Booker prize. It’s pure genius.
And if you love crime, why not take this quiz to find out which detective you are? I was Sherlock Holmes….
(here is a shot of Edinburgh book festival from my couch; Nicola Sturgeon interviewing Bernadine Evaristo. 2,500 people tuned in to watch this live)

September was holiday time for me, visiting Yorkshire and then walking a long distance trail in Perthshire, Scotland. Lots of reading but not so much writing being done. But I chatted to Paul Morton, illustrator, about his creative process. And if you’re hoping to go on holiday soon, here is a blog about travelogues which might be useful in deciding where to go. If you’re already booked, then here is an old blog about what I managed to get through in a week’s skiing. I expect you to be impressed, I certainly impressed myself!  And finally, if you end up being stuck in quarantine on the way back, here is my blog about my desert island books; the books I’d liked to be marooned with. You’ll beg to have your quarantine extended.
(photo below – Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire, where I spent my hols – and incidentally is also principle setting for Dracula)

Sticking with Scotland, this month’s how to write book is by Sara Maitland, and it’s a cracker. Sara lives in Galloway and her Book of Silence, about living along on Skye, is really worth reading. This how to write book is full of practical help for someone starting out on the writing journey.

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