Justin Cartwright : Up Against the Night

Ali Millar speaks to Justin Cartwright about his new book Up Against the Night, at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. Frank McAllister is a man who appears to have it all: wealth, happiness and a comfortable London life. The shattering of his family and his daughter’s illness force him to confront the reality of his family’s heritage; a family whose name he denied and whose past he thought he’d left behind in South Africa.


Etgar Keret : The Seven Good Years

Ali Millar in conversation with Etgar Keret an internationally acclaimed novelist who now turned his hand on memoir, at this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival. Etgar Keret was declared ‘a genius’ by the New Yorker: The Seven Good Years, translated into English by Sondra Silverston, Miriam Shlesinger, Jessica Cohen and Anthony Berris, is his account of raising a son in Tel Aviv, while also losing his father. Moving deftly between the personal and the political, the playful and the profound, The Seven Good Years takes a life-affirming look at the human need to find good in the least likely places, and the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of our capricious world.

Listen to our engaging and personal interview on his new memoir, family and writing.

Colin Macintyre : The Letters of Ivor Punch

Colin MacIntyre may be more familiar to some as the man behind Mull Historical Society. Under this pseudonym he has become one of the UK’s most respected songwriters and performers, releasing four albums to critical and chart success. Now Colin has proven his talents aren’t limited to songwriting with the release of his first novel.

‘The Letters of Ivor Punch’ is an original and enthralling novel that takes place on an island where a headless horseman is said to stalk the woods but where the kirk is always full. It’s a story about fathers and sons, secrets and lies and how, sometimes, you have to leave home to know what home is. Although unnamed, the island setting of his novel is perhaps inspired by Colin’s upbringing on the isle of Mull where he grew up with a family of writers and storytellers.

Tune in to hear Colin MacIntyre in conversation with Ali Millar on writing and music at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Matt Haig : Reasons To Stay Alive

Matt Haig spoke in front of a packed Book Festival audience about the importance of reading and writing in maintaining mental health and its role in helping him conquer depression, as part of the Festival’s Staying Well strand. Matt said he used the books he had read as a teenager to help rediscover his concentration and distract himself from his own distress, before leading him on to writing. He captured his experience of depression and recovery in his latest book Reasons To Stay Alive.

“Books can save your life,” he said. “I don’t mean that in a vague airy-fairy way, either, or just to enrich your life or help you impress your friends, though they can. I mean that books can actually help keep you alive.” He added: “People don’t just read books for escape. We read to find new paths for ourselves. We think we are in this one room house. Books help us realise we are in a mansion. Reading is a way to find the lost parts of us. To know what’s there. What you have. To work out how far you can dream.”

Watch our interview with Matt Haig by Catherine Simpson at the Edinburgh Book Festival to find out more about Matt’s memoir, his life, writing and learn more about Reasons To Stay Alive.

Ragnar Jonasson : Snowblind

Catriona O’Sullivan interviews Ragnar Jonasson at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Born in Reykjavik, Iceland Ragnar currently works as a lawyer having previously worked in TV and radio. He has translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic and set up the first overseas chapter of the Crime Writers Association. His debut novel, Snowblind, is a chilling crime novel that is testament to his passion for the genre.

James Meadway : Radical Independence Campaign 2014

James Meadway is the senior economist at the New Economics Foundation, where his work focuses largely on developing responses to the recession and austerity. He formerly worked as a policy advisor at HM Treasury, covering regional economic development, science and innovation policy.

Meadway was at the Radical Independence Conference, which was held in Glasgow, in November 2014, and saw an attendance of 3000 people. The conference included talks from a number of speakers such as politicians, writers, journalists and many others involved in the independence movement.

The Radical Independence Campaign is dedicated to working towards creating an alternative vision of independence for Scotland. The campaign has played a key part in supporting the independence referendum, boosting grassroots support from around the country and providing a platform for those wishing to discuss Scotland’s future.

This clip was first published on Bella Caledonia.

Scottish PEN : Are we still Charlie?

A month after the horrific shootings that took place in the offices of Parisian satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, Scottish PEN invited panelists Joyce McMillan (journalist and critic), Greg Moodie (cartoonist) and Alan Bissett (author and playwright) to the Red Lecture Theatre at Summerhall to discuss censorship, self-censorship and freedom of expression. Scottish PEN’s president Drew Campbell chaired the conversation.


Nick Barley : Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015

Director Nick Barley introduces this year’s festival programme, which features over 700 events for adults and children, and includes writers from over 55 countries. Particular highlights include a selection of authors from Mexico, picked by Mexican visual artist Gabriel Orozco, stories from the Innu tribes of Northern Canada, a series of big launches from major names, and a large international programme for children and young people.

Find out more about the programme here. Tickets go on sale on the 23rd June 2015.  The festival takes place in Charlotte Square Gardens from the 15th to the 31st August 2015.

Stephen Kelman : Man On Fire

Ali Millar interviews Stephen Kelman on Day-One of the 2015 Edinburgh International Book Festival. Kelman’s new novel ‘Man On Fire’ is based on the story of a real-life masochist who specialises in feats of extreme endurance.

Born in Luton in 1976, Kelman has worked in a warehouse, as a care-worker and in marketing and local government. His debut novel, ‘Pigeon English’ addresses young gang violence in London ‘with energy, humour and compassion’ (Guardian), and was shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Guardian First Book Award.

Julian Baggini : Freedom Regained

How much personal responsibility do we have for our actions? Does free will truly exist? Drawing on conclusions from his new book, ‘Freedom Regained’, writer Julian Baggini considers these questions with Ali Millar, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Julian Baggini is a writer and philosopher with small thoughts about big subjects and big thoughts about small subjects, all taking place in person or on his website, www.microphilosophy.net.


Dorthe Nors : Karate Chop/Minna Needs Rehearsal Space

Ali Millar in an illuminating interview with Danish novelist and short-story writer Dorthe Nors at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Nors has burst onto the UK literary scene with a heady cocktail of short stories, ‘Karate Chop’, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken, combined into one volume with a highly original, playful novella, ‘Minna Needs Rehearsal Space’, which was translated by Misha Hoekstra.

Nicholas Parsons : Tale of the Century

One of the most beloved figures in British comedy, Nicholas Parsons came to the nation’s attention with Sale of the Century, a 1970s teatime quiz show. He further endeared himself to audiences through his legendary work on Just a Minute where he’s bantered with the likes of Ross Noble and Graham Norton. His majestic career and dapper wardrobe will be among the talking points here.


Kate Mosse : The Languedoc trilogy and The Taxidermist’s Daughter

It’s a wonderful sunny day in Edinburgh and Olivia Vitazkova meets up with Kate Mosse at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It’s ten years since Mosse burst on the British literary scene with ‘Labyrinth’, the first of her Carcassonne-based Languedoc trilogy that would go on to become multi-million copy bestsellers. In a wide ranging conversation Mosse provides insights on her writing career, as valuable for writers as readers, exploring the themes of her trilogy as well as her haunting Sussex based novel The Taxidermist’s Daughter, just published in paperback.

Ann Luttrell and Liam Roynane : Cork World Book Fest 2017

Paul Howard, Eileen Battersby and Anne Sebba, William Wall, Billy O’Callaghan and Alan McMonagle are the first of the writers to be announced for the 13th outing of the Cork World Book Festival running 18-23 April 2017 at Cork City library, at Triskel Christchurch and on Cork’s Grand Parade.

Year on Year the festival has featured an eclectic mix of books of all types – poetry and prose, fiction and nonfiction, travel and memoirs, comedy and cookery. 2017 will not disappoint with tours, book clubs, a full day of teen events and readings by poets and writers both local and international.

18 – 23 April 2017
Cork City library, Triskel Christchurch and on Cork’s Grand Parade.

Derek Coyle, Thomas McGrath and Nicole Burke : Carlow College Literary Awards & Creative Writing Showcase

13th March 2017
Visual, Carlow

The Carlow College Literary Awards brings together the entire college community to recognise and celebrate the very best of Carlow College literary talent. The awards gather together the college literary community in a spirit of camaraderie and friendly competition to celebrate the best prose and poetry of the past year. First Year Creative Writing class will also present a showcase of their writing.

Ciaran Collins, author of The Gamal, winner of the Rooney Prize for Literature in 2013, and described by the New York Times as ‘remarkable’ and the Irish Times as ‘outstanding’, will present the awards as well as read from his work. Awards will be given for Poetry and the Short Story/Flash Fiction.

Margaret McCormack : Juno and the Paycock

20 February – 25 February 2017
The Source Arts Centre, County Tipperary

Thurles Drama Group presents the wonderful human drama by Seán O’Casey to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the group. The play is set in a tenement house in Dublin against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War in 1922 and is part of O’Casey’s great Dublin trilogy.
The ambitions, hopes and dreams of the Boyle family and their tenement neighbours are played out against the political and social events of this historical time. An epic tragicomedy, it is the funniest but most moving exploration of an ordinary family set against the poverty and politics of Civil War Ireland.