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Artyness columnist Barbara Henderson picks out some Book Week Scotland events


By Barbara Henderson


Book Week Scotland begins on Monday! I am a huge fan of the initiative – what’s not to love?

Barbara Henderson.
Barbara Henderson.

It’s a nationwide focus on books, reading and storytelling, and plenty of the community events which have been in pitiful supply over the pandemic years. Bring it on! Here’s a round-up of my favourites:

Philip Paris at the 'witch's stone' in Dornoch.
Philip Paris at the 'witch's stone' in Dornoch.

An award-winning Highland-based author aims to shine a light onto one of Scotland’s darkest periods, with talks about the Scottish witchcraft trials during Book Week Scotland. Philip Paris, best known for his books about Orkney’s famous Italian chapel, will be speaking at libraries in Tain, Dornoch, Dingwall and Inverness.

He says: “The Scottish witchcraft trials in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were the result of one of the most extraordinary and fascinating eras of social history. Around 2500 people were believed to have been executed for witchcraft in Scotland during this time. I’ll also be examining a few common misconceptions that are often regarded as fact, and whether we can learn from the trials as regards attitudes we hold today.”

The one-hour talks – free to attend, no need to book – are: Monday, November 14 – Tain library 3pm; Tuesday, November 15 – Dornoch library 3pm, Wednesday, November 16 – Dingwall library 2pm, Thursday, November 17– Inverness library 2.30pm.

Highland Writers event – from left – Helen Sedgwick, Liz Treacher, Ceitidh Hutton and Philip Paris.
Highland Writers event – from left – Helen Sedgwick, Liz Treacher, Ceitidh Hutton and Philip Paris.

Philip is also part of a group, Highland Writers, offering an informal ‘writers’ surgery’ to anyone who wants to learn more about the book publishing industry.

Between them they have experience in writing contemporary and historical fiction, non-fiction, crime, sci-fi, women’s fiction plus Gaelic and children’s books, as well as having knowledge of self-publishing and traditional publishing, editing, using a literary agent or working directly with a publisher.

“People can be at any stage of their writing career and may not even have put pen to paper but want to gain a better idea of how to begin. There is no charge and no need to book.

Writers love to blether with like-minded folk, so we’re looking forward to meeting new faces and hopefully helping others along their own journey. I suspect we may also be enjoying lots of coffee and cake!”

The ‘writers’ surgery’ will be held on Friday, November 18 from 10am to 12pm, upstairs in the Pipers Coffee House, which is on Tain High Street.

Book Week Scotland starts on Monday.
Book Week Scotland starts on Monday.

I am personally excited to take part in Books For A Better Life: a fun battle of the books as I square up to Scot Squad actor Karen Bartke (pictured) to recommend my favourite life-enhancing books at Waterstones Inverness at 6pm on Tuesday, November 15. It is also being recorded as a special edition of the Ways To Wellbeing podcast.

Holding the book jackets will be local radio star Grace Nicoll.

Jeff Zycinski and Karen Bartke. Picture: Mark Janes
Jeff Zycinski and Karen Bartke. Picture: Mark Janes

The whole thing is organised by author and former head of BBC Radio Scotland, Jeff Zycinski (pictured above), who now manages the Partnerships for Wellbeing charity.

Other events range from Mandy Haggith in Fort William to Jenny Grant in Bettyhill, and lots for young and old in between.

Go to www.scottishbooktrust.com/book-week-scotland/events/2022/ to find out more!


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