ACCLAIMED poet Jackie Kay and leading crime writers Ian Rankin and Denise Mina will be among those passing on their advice to aspiring authors at the Highland Literary Salon's regular nights in Inverness this year.
"The salon brings people together to discuss books, ideas, writing, and all things literary," salon committee member Tony Ross explained.
"Our events feature authors, publishers, agents, and others in the publishing realm who come along to discuss their work and answer your questions. Everyone is welcome and can simply turn up to one of our salon evenings — no need to let us know ahead of time or book anything."
The events, which usually run on the third Tuesday of every month, are free of charge. However, a salon guest speaker will often run a workshop on a particular subject before the main salon event and these must be booked and paid for in advance.
"They cost in the region of between £5 and £10 and generally last for an hour, which is great value," Ross added.
The 2014 season begins on Tuesday 21st January with locally raised poet and novelist Anne MacLeod.
The elder sister of acclaimed Inverness writer Ali Smith, MacLeod combined a medical career as a dermatologist in Inverness and Aberdeen with her writing. Both her first poetry collection, Standing by Thistles, and her debut novel, The Dark Ship, were shortlisted in the Saltire Society Award.
Prior to her main salon appearance at 7.30pm, she will lead a poetry workshop at 6pm.
Fellow Black Isle resident Ian Rankin, creator of Inspector Rebus, leads a strong selection of crime writers visiting the Highland Literary Salon this year.
As Britain’s most successful crime writer, with editions of his book published in 22 languages, there is no-one better suited to giving a talk on the subject of making crime pay, as he will on Tuesday 17th June.
Before that, the Salon will have a double bill of crime when Glasgow writers Denise Mina and Alex Gray lead a panel discussion on Tuesday 25th February.
Mina is the only author to have won the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year Award two years running and the first two books in her series about Glasgow reporter Paddy Meehan, The Field of Blood and The Dead Hour, have been filmed by BBC Scotland. Alex Gray is the author of 11 novels featuring Detective Chief Inspector Lorimer and psychological profiler Solomon Brightman.
There will be more crime on Tuesday 20th May with David Hewson, author of the novelisation of hit Danish television series The Killing, talking about location and leading a workshop on how to research, plan and write a novel.
Poetry rather than police will be subject when Jackie Kay is the guest on Tuesday 15th July.
Winner of Saltire Society and Somerset Maugham awards for her poetry, as well as a Guardian First Book Award for her novel Trumpet, Kay was appointed MBE in 2006 and is currently professor of creative writing at Newcastle University and a Cultural Fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Other guests this season will be Anne Fine, who writes for both adults and children, on Tuesday 12th August, radio dramatist and producer Sara Davies on Tuesday 15th April, and New York poet Eva Salzman on Tuesday 9th September, while Peter Urpeth will talk about the work of north creative arts agency Emergents in supporting writing talent on Tuesday 25th March.
Salon events are open to all and only workshops need to be booked in advance.
For more information, go to the Highland Literary Salon website at http://highlandlitsalon.com/upcomingsalons.asp
• The Moniack Mhor creative writing centre near Kiltarlity is also welcoming some big names from the writing world as tutors on its week long courses this year.
They include novelists Zoe Strachan, Louise Welsh, Isla Dewar and Peter Robinson, creator of ITV’s DCI Banks and songwriters Boo Hewardine and Edwina Hayes.
For more information see www.moniackmhor.org.uk