BookMark Book Festival

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BookMark Book Festival

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Festival Overview by Local Lass

15th Oct 2014

This year we invited local lass, Aurora Woods, to join our team and report on some of the BOOKMARK events. Aurora, who comes from Blairgowrie, is currently studying journalism at Dundee University. Here is what she had to say. 

Ron Butlin in conversation with Linda Cracknell

Ron Butlin in conversation with Linda Cracknell

Friday Evening

As a first timer I was welcomed warmly as part of the festival volunteer team on my arrival on Friday afternoon. There was a great buzz as various authors started to arrive at the Royal Hotel and for a while there was a constant flurry of greetings and smiles. The afternoon kicked off with the arrival of Kenneth Cox who delighted his audience with his wide horticultural knowledge and by the collection of beautiful photography provided by his brother Ray Cox.

The aroma of freshly cooked fish announced dinner, after which the room was filled once more in anticipation of the next event – Poetry and Place. Our authors for the evening, Tom Pow and Ron Butlin, gave fantastic readings from various poetry collections old and new.  Their chosen poems were linked closely to the festival’s theme of Place and explored its relationship to memory, in what felt like a very personal manner that completely captivated the room.

The evening was brought to an end by the drinks’ reception that provided the opportunity to talk to both Tom and Ron in a more informal atmosphere. I had a chance to ask them both some questions of my own, and I found them to be not only friendly and approachable but also very interesting characters who have some fantastic stories to tell.

I went back to my bed tired but inspired by the many conversations had and people met. I was very much looking forward to what ‘day two’ would bring.


Linda Cracknell

The morning started bright and early with a wonderful trip into the fiction and non-fiction of Linda Cracknell. Ron Butlin seemed to thoroughly enjoy his opportunity to chair the event and to find out more about Linda’s writing and techniques.

It turns out Linda shares Tom Pow’s love for maps which created a continuity to the previous night’s event. It was great to hear Linda speak of her experience writing both fiction and non-fiction and on how both forms can easily overlap. I was surprised to hear that a piece she had written on one of her walks that involved a conversation with a wall, could not be included in her non-fiction book Doubling Back, as apparently it falls under the label of ‘Fiction’. As interesting as this insight was, I am sure the whole room at this point was wondering the same thing: what on earth did the wall have to say for itself?!

David MacPhail

Next I ventured forth to find St. Catharine’s Centre where David MacPhail was entertaining a young audience with a talk about his children’s book: Yeti On The Loose. There was a great deal of interaction and David knew just how to keep the kids engaged, yet enthusiastic, throughout the whole hour. I have to admit, I was just as intrigued as the younger listeners during the reading, and part of me was very tempted to buy the book just so I could find out what mischief the yeti would cause!

 Lesley Glaister

After a quick lunch I returned to the Royal ready for the next author, Lesley Glaister, and her discussion on her new novel: Little Egypt. This event was chaired by Fiona Armstrong and turned out to be yet another interesting insight into how an author embarks on the writing process.

If Linda Cracknell finds that walking gets her creative juices flowing, Lesley finds that setting herself deadlines gives her creativity no other choice but to flourish. It was very interesting hearing her describe the process of writing as moving through a dark forest holding a torch and only seeing one small part of the story at the time. Only rarely, she told us, does a flash of lightning allow her to see further ahead. Judging by the excitement shown by Fiona and the audience, Little Egypt promises to be a gripping read, and as a proud owner of a new copy of the book, I look forward to finding out for myself. 

Joan Lennon

Finally I joined Joan Lennon in the Conference Room as she invited the twenty selected writers, young and old, to come forward and read their pieces in front of an audience. These poems and short stories will later be published alongside artwork put together by the pupils of Blairgowrie High School, to form a fantastic anthology on the theme of Place.

I have now finished for the day and look forward to an evening reading my new purchases, as I decided not to attend the Whisky Tasting, but rather curl up in bed with a cup of tea and a good book.

I have really enjoyed all of the events this weekend and would like to thank the whole BOOKMARK team for allowing me to sit in and listen to the inspiring guests who took part in the festival. I already look forward to next year’s edition! 


The best event yet. It gets better every year and deserves every success. I hope it runs and runs.

Audience Member

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