Your correspondent attended this year’s festival – no longer being precluded by actually being employed elsewhere – and enjoyed it immensely, has already booked for next year! Details of 2016 events will be found at http://www.colonsaybookfestival.org.uk/festival/
Unfortunately there is no time to do justice to the event in this mini-edition of The Corncrake, and I do apologise. Basically the format consisted of one-hour slots in which each author gave a presentation (riveting in every case) followed by Q&A. These slots were interspersed by 30 minute breaks to take tea or soup, baking, filled rolls etc. (delicious, and organised by Hannah and her team), or indeed to purchase copies of the books, get them signed by the author etc.. Your correspondent found this to be an excellent format.
William Letford, the poet, gave an extraordinarily polished and gripping presentation – he was a true highlight, not to be missed, and he was amongst strong competition. Aline Templeton described her work, centred upon crime and detection set in Dumfriess & Galloway, and the ways in which she achieves verisimilitude; an interesting contrast with Sarah Maitland, who lives in that area and who treasures the benefits of solitude, unfazed by any fictional crimewave. Sarah read from Mosswitch, having described the background to a series of stories, all based upon the specific knowledge and background that had been vouchsafed to her by specialists in various arcane and academic fields. James Buchan gave an account of an extraordinary Scottish financial genius, and it was fascinating to see the breadth and depth of his knowledge of such varied interests (his study of Iran was on sale in the hall and caught my own attention). Proceedings finished with a presentation by Mary Contini, again of particular interest to yours truly, as it outlined the history Valvona and Crolla within the context of the emigrant phenomenon (obviously enough, Italian in this case) – Mary was assisted by Pru Irvine in the role of agent provocateur and they made a great double act.
Many congratulations to the splendid Book Festival committee and especial thanks to Dilly Emslie for her amazing organisational skills in the middle of a wonderful distraction – having just become a newly-fledged and full accredited grandmother. Well done and all best wishes from us all.