2017 Festival Programme

All events take place in the Village Hall unless noted.

Light lunches & refreshments will be served on Saturday and Sunday in the hall.

Saturday 29th April 2017
1.30pm Sue Lawrence
3pm Jim Carruth
4.30pm Karen Campbell
 8.30pm  Book Launch: ‘The Potter’s Tale’ by Dion Alexander (Church of Scotland)
Sunday 30th April 2017
10.30am Talk: Hugh Andrew (Berlinn): Publishing in Scotland (Hotel)
1.30pm James Hunter
3pm Christine de Luca
4.30pm Alexander McCall Smith
5.30pm Conversations @ The End –  a chance to meet informally
with the authors, and enjoy a glass of wine.


Authors attending the 2017 Colonsay Book Festival:

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall SmithSandy is the hugely popular, million-selling author of at least three successful series – The Ladies’ Number One Detective Agency, 44 Scotland Street and the Isabel Dalhousie books – not to mention Corduroy Mansions, the von Igelfeld tales, several stand-alone novels and numerous children’s books such as The Perfect Hamburger, School Ship Tobermory and the Akimbo stories.

This one-man publishing phenomenon helped to launch the first-ever Colonsay Book Festival in 2012, and he now makes a welcome return to talk about Mma Ramotswe, Bertie, philosophy, dinner parties, tractors and who knows what else?

Karen CampbellKaren Campbell

Karen’s early career as a policewoman helped inform her first four novels, police procedurals set in her home town of Glasgow. Her more recent novels are also set in the West of Scotland. This Is Where I Am describes the initially awkward friendship between Deborah, a newly widowed volunteer with the Scottish Refugee Council, and Somali refugee Abdi Hassan and his young daughter. Rise is set in Argyll, where three lives are accidentally thrown together: Justine running for her life from a brutal city and partner, and Michael and Hannah trying to patch together the tatters of their marriage. All are seeking escape and new starts. A dramatic and increasingly tense novel about ‘faith, freedom and finding your place in the world.’

James HunterJames Hunter

Emeritus professor at the University of the Highlands and Islands, and also journalist and broadcaster, Jim Hunter is one of the country’s foremost historians of the Highlands and Islands. His first book, The Making of the Crofting Community, described as the one of the most significant books of its generation, is still in print some forty years after its publication, and his most recent book on the Sutherland Clearances, Set Adrift Upon the World, has just won the 2016 Saltire Society History Book of the Year Award.

Other notable titles include A Dance Called America, On The Other Side Of Sorrow, and From the Low Tide of the Sea to the Highest Mountain Tops (2012), an account of the development of community ownership in the Highlands and Islands.

Jim was the first director of the Scottish Crofters’ Union, and was also chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise between 1998 and 2004.

Christine de LucaChristine de Luca

Christine is a Scottish poet and novelist who writes in English and her native Shetland dialect. She is the current Edinburgh Makar. Her many collections include Parallel Worlds (2005), North End of Eden (2010) and Da Trickster Sun (2014);  two of her early works, Voes and Wast wi da Valkyries won the Shetland Literary Prize.

She has taken part in various artistic collaborations, most recently with jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith, who set to music six of her poems on Shetland’s history, and she contributed several narrative poems to Havera, a book and DVD on Shetland’s St Kilda.

Her work has been translated into 16 languages, and she has featured in many BBC radio programmes, and appeared at numerous literary festivals and conferences, both at home and abroad.

Jim CarruthJim Carruth

Glasgow Makar Jim Carruth has been described as Scotland’s leading rural poet. An activist and farmer whose poems bear witness to a fragile, declining way of life, he grew up on the family farm near Kilbarchan.

Since his first publication, Bovine Pastoral, he has brought out five more collections, including Rider at the Crossing and Working the Hill, and he was one of the poets featured in Oxford Poets 2010. His most recent work, the moving verse novella, Killochries, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Saltire Society Prize for Poetry, describes the relationship between two very different men working a remote sheep farm over the course of a bleak year. Bernard MacLaverty called it ‘storytelling and poetry cut to the bone.’

His latest collection, Black Cart, will be published next April.

Sue LawrenceSue Lawrence

Sue first came to fame when she won Masterchef in 1991. As well as her regular cookery journalism and TV work, she has written over 14 books on food, such as Eating In, Scottish Baking and A Cook’s Tour of Scotland, celebrating traditional Scottish recipes and regional produce.

More recently she has turned her hand to historical fiction. Fields of Blue Flax tells how two cousins’ research into their family history in the 19th century unearths a shocking scandal which has unexpected consequences for the cousins,as it mirrors their own dysfunctional family lives. 

The Night He Left (2016) is a well-crafted historical mystery which draws parallels between the  disappearances of two men, one present-day and one during the Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879.

Dion Alexander: The Potter’s Tale

Dion Alexander moved to Colonsay from Carsaig in Mull in the 1970s, and ran his pottery near the pier for several years. Later involved in housing associations in the West Highlands, he now reports and advises on housing and fuel poverty across the Highlands.

Both Colonsay residents and regular visitors will be fascinated to read his memories of the island forty years ago, and its many notable characters.


Authors from Previous Years: