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All is not perfect, but let's celebrate booky wonders!


By Barbara Henderson

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Nothing is going quite to plan, is it?

My morning so far: I was supposed to do an online author visit to a school in Dumfries-shire. Alas, my screen declared, you are not part of this organisation. You can’t join the meeting you were invited to. I ended up recording them a video with my answers to their questions instead. Sigh.

Yesterday's schedule included a recorded interview for a publicist, to do with a forthcoming book. Five minutes before the Zoom recording I realised that my appearance in this would probably matter. I decided to run a brush through my hair and throw some make-up on.

Alas, in my rush, I poked myself heartily in the eye with the mascara brush. In the actual interview, I probably looked much worse than I had to start with (I briefly considered emailing that American lawyer for advice about cat filters!). Double-sigh.

The point is, all of us in the book industry is having to adapt to a degree no-one could have foreseen. Book festivals are hedging their bets about whether or how to run their events, publishing schedules long set in stone are rejigged and revised and rights fairs have been kicked into the long grass.

Aoife Lyall.
Aoife Lyall.

Authors, like all performers, have to find alternatives to their live events. In short, all of us must settle for the ‘less than perfect’ and I thought it was high time that we celebrated the positive things which ARE happening in the book world.

Here are three to get you started!

Number one: I can’t wait for the release of local poet Aoife Lyall’s debut collection Mother, Nature this week.

Aoife may hail from Ireland but as a teacher, poet, editor, writer and reviewer has really made her mark in the literary landscape of the Highlands and beyond. She may be best known for inspiring her pupils at Culloden Academy or running workshops for HighlandLIT and NessBookFest, but this is a creative mind who will shape her homeland with her words for years to come. Well worth looking out for.

Number two: Local favourite Leakey’s Bookshop was in the headlines once more for the discovery of something a little bit special: a 12-volume set of books by Jane Austen, published by Edinburgh-based John Grant in 1911.

It’s hard to believe that there are as many as 30,000 volumes in storage at the popular bookshop. I am so reassured to hear that online sales have been going well.

Number 3: Authors Live on the BBC! Oh my goodness, we are in for a treat. I have always thought that the book industry was struggling to keep a foot in the door of broadcasting. However, as a result of another spell of home learning, 37 authors can be accessed on demand, including some fantastic Scottish favourites like Matthew Fitt, James Robertson, Lari Don, Ross Mackenzie, Chris Hoy, Pamela Butchart, Chae Strathie as well as superstars like Malorie Blackman and David Almond. Well worth a look!

And there is more!

I could fill 50 columns with snippets of booky joy. Keep your eyes open, connect with book lovers online – and see where this year takes us all, eh?


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