2023 programme

Kirkcudbright Book Week

Monday February 27 – Saturday March 4, 2023

Kirkcudbright Book Week is designed to showcase the developing literary scene in Kirkcudbright and the wider Dumfries and Galloway area and this is the second time it has been staged.

How to acquire your tickets

Tickets for both paid-for and a number of the free events during Kirkcudbright Book Week 2023 can be booked by visiting http://www.eventbrite.co.uk and searching for Kirkcudbright Book Week Collection where all the events are listed. Alternatively, a direct link can be accessed via the book week website’s Acquire Your Tickets section  at https://www.kirkcudbrightbookweek.org/buy-your-tickets/ – which can be found across the top of the home page

Monday February 27 Screening of ‘S.R.Crockett: The Kirkcudbright Connection’ (20 minutes) followed by virtual chat/ Q&A with Cally Phillips of Galloway Raiders.

The Kirkcudbright Galleries, St Mary Street 11am£5

S.R.Crockett (1859-1914) is the most famous and prolific novelist of Galloway. His stories range across the region, but his Kirkcudbright connection is little known. The short film explores Crockett’s relationship with the town and some of her more famous sons, including E.A.Hornel and William Mouncey. William Stewart MacGeorge was a boyhood friend and the central character in Crockett’s sole Kirkcudbright novel is based on him. Published in 1907, Little Esson features fictionalised romance and mystery among the Kirkcudbright Artists. Crockett’s Kirkcudbright connection is explored through rare Galloway Raiders archival material and other stories. Cally will be available ‘virtually’ after the screening to chat more and answer questions regarding Crockett’s Kirkcudbright Connections.

Monday February 27 Walk on the Dark Side – crime fiction event Broughton House, 12 High St. 7. 30pm £7

Spend an evening with crime writers Jackie Baldwin, Ian Robinson, Ann Bloxwich and John Dean as they explore the art of crime writing, illustrated through examples from their crime novels.

Having spent twenty-seven years in the Metropolitan Police, Ian is now a full-time writer. Six of his crime novels have been published and Rubicon is currently in development with the BBC for a six-part TV series.

Ann Bloxwich, who is appearing at Kirkcudbright Book Week, has announced that she has signed a deal with a new publisher.

Her contract with Red Dragon Publishing Ltd means that her debut novel What Goes Around will not be available until its relaunch with a new cover and ISBN number in March 2023, at the same time as her second book, Goodnight, God Bless.

What Goes Around is the first book in the DI Alex Peachey series and Ann drew on her own experiences, including that of being a parent to a disabled child. She said: “This is something I’ve not seen in fiction before, and I felt it brought an air of authenticity to Alex’s story and shows the unseen side of living with this situation. I set it in and around Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, as that was where I was living when I started the book. “

Jackie Baldwin sets much of her work in Dumfries and Galloway and was a solicitor in Dumfries for twenty years.  Her debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads, Harper Collins in 2016. The second in the series, Perfect Dead, was published in 2018 with the third, Avenge the Dead, having also been published.

John Dean is the creator of the DCI John Blizzard and Jack Harris series of novels published by The Book Folks of London

Tuesday February 28 A Meeting of Minds with The Gallery Writers, Stewartry Writers and Kirkcudbright Poetry Group The Kirkcudbright Galleries St Mary Street 11am Free event No need to book Members of the three Kirkcudbright-based writing groups perform together for the first time, presenting a mixture of prose and poetry.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Tuesday February 28 Free on-line event Talking Of Crime…2pm

Tuesday February 28 Free on-line event Talking Of Crime…2pm

A  Zoom event featuring crime writers from around Scotland, who will take readers on a tour of the country with each author explaining what effect the Scottish location of their books offers them as writers. Audience members  will then be able to ask questions. Writers taking part include members of the Crime Writers’ Association’s Scottish Chapter and those contributing include Allan Martin, Simpson Grears, Inga Vesper, Margaret Kirk, Gordon Brown, John Dean and Marsali Taylor. To register for the Zoom session, please contact John at deangriss@btinternet.com

Tuesday February 28 Where Rivers Meet Join Hugh McMillan, Stuart Paterson, Clare Phillips and Nicola Black in an evening of poetry and song from four of the finest writers in contemporary Dumfries and Galloway. Station House Cookery School 56-58, St. Mary Street 7pm Tickets £8

Wednesday March 1 Confessions of a Novice Motorcycle Guide Book Writer with J.G.Fergusson  Selkirk Arms High Street 2pm £5

J.G. Fergusson is a former BBC Scotland journalist/producer and author of several walking guides for the ‘Pocket Mountain’ series. Born in the Rhins of Galloway, and now living in Moffat, he has been riding motorbikes since the 1970s. A lifetime’s love of Scotland, her landscape, highways and history led to the publication of The Motorcyclist’s Guide to Scotland in 2018, a guide book aimed at bikers. In this illustrated talk, he shares some of his amusing and alarming adventures and also what he has learned about the publishing business.

Wednesday March 1 Selkirk Arms Supper Club: with Chrys Salt Selkirk Arms High Street 6.30pm . Cost £25 You can book by ringing 01557 330402

Two course supper followed by  Home Front/Front Line. On the 20th Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq Chrys Salt records a dialogue in letters, images, music, film and poems between herself, a pacifist mother, and her younger son who, as a Territorial Army Paratrooper, was unexpectedly mobilised to Iraq in 2003 and spent five months in action.

What the critics said

It is a brave, beautiful and deeply unsettling way of making the reader look again at long-familiar events, as though the mother of Wilfred Owen or Edward Thomas had kept a verse diary during the First World War. Andy Croft (review The Morning Star)

 (It) seems that World War One wasn’t the only war to produce poetry of grandeur .Sam Smith (review in TheJournal.

Thursday March 2 A talk on Scotland’s future and the independence debate by Gerry Hassan The Garret Hotel & Restaurant 116 High Street Kirkcudbright 11am £6

The independence debate is the defining issue of our times in Scotland with huge implications not just for the people who live here, but the rest of the UK and internationally and in the recently-published Scotland Rising: The Case for Independence, academic and author Gerry Hassan explores where the debate is going. He explores both sides of the argument, examines the importance of culture, stories and collective voices in reshaping how people see Scotland and seeks out the thoughts of people who have historically haven’t voted or see themselves as don’t knows. Known through his work as Professor of Social Change at Glasgow Caledonian University and as a leading commentator on Scottish and Uolitics, Gerry is the author of a number of books, including The People’s Flag and the Union Jack and Caledonian Dreaming.

Thursday March 2 Talk by Stuart Campbell, author of the recently-published novel The Woman Clothed With The Sun Selkirk Arms High Street 2pm £5

Stuart Campbell has previously written for the BBC, the Guardian, The Big Issue and Scottish Book Collector. He is the editor of RLS in Love, an anthology of Robert Louis Stevenson’s love poetry, and author of John McPake and The Sea Beggars, a novel set in Leith and sixteenth-century Holland. He has also written a second novel, The Aeronaut’s Guide to Rapture, and two travelogues, Boswell’s Bus Pass and Daniel Defoe’s Railway Journey. His latest novel, The Woman Clothed With The Sun, tells the extraordinary true-life story of Elspeth Buchan and the Buchanites, an eighteenth-century Scottish apocalyptic sect based in Galloway at the time of Robert Burns. In this talk, he will discuss the research undertaken in Dumfries and Galloway in search of the Buchanities and the difficulties involved in fictionalising such an extraordinary tale. There will also be readings from the text.

Thursday March 2 All In a Day’s Work, readings from a book based on the creative response of a group of writers to artifacts held in the Devil’s Porridge Museum, which commemorates the lives and work of the many people who laboured at HM Gretna to provide munitions for World War One.

The Kirkcudbright Galleries, St Mary Street 2pm £5

Thursday March 2 World  Book Day – events for young readers

Talk by Ayrshire-based children’s writer Greta Yorke Kirkcudbright Library  Daar Road Free event 11am

Greta is the author of books including Witch Hitch, which won  the under 7s category in the Scottish Association of Writers’ Competition in 2010 and was published in 2015, featuring work by illustrator Maggie Bolton. This was followed by The Woo in the Wild Woods and Tartan Witch. Suitable for younger children.

Thursday March 2 World  Book Day – Talk by Alan McClure Kirkcudbright Library  Daar Road Free event 7pm This event is now fully booked

Alan is a writer, musician and primary school teacher based in Galloway. His first children’s novel, Callum and the Mountain, was shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize in 2016 and published by Beaten Track Press in 2019. The magical adventure for 8-12-year-olds draws on Celtic mythology and a love of the Scottish landscape and language. Alan will read extracts and discuss the inspiration behind the book, as well as encouraging the audience to share their own magical adventures.

Friday March 3 Feast Cafe 32 St Cuthbert Street 2pm

Southlight 32 is the latest edition of the region’s illustrated literary magazine and this free event is a chance to meet the editors, listen to some brief readings and connect with other writers. The magazine will be on sale at £5.

How to acquire your tickets

Tickets for both paid-for and a number of the free events during Kirkcudbright Book Week 2023 can be booked by visiting http://www.eventbrite.co.uk and searching for Kirkcudbright Book Week Collection where all the events are listed. Alternatively, a direct link can be accessed via the book week website’s Acquire Your Tickets section  at https://www.kirkcudbrightbookweek.org/buy-your-tickets/

Friday March 3 Talk by John Nelson, author of On the Trail of a Broken Shoe

Selkirk Arms High Street 2pm £3

The book is based on the true story of the last man hanged in Scotland for horse-stealing.  As part of John’s research, he rode a Clydesdale into the Highlands in 2011 following in the footsteps of an ancestor whose horse had been stolen in 1811. The book also includes tales of Kirkcudbrightshire. John Nelson lives in Crossmichael.

Friday March 3 The Leaves of the Years with Hugh McMillan and Stuart  Paterson and invited guest readers Kirkcudbright Dark Space Planetarium The Johnston, St Mary Street 7pm £5

Join Hugh McMillan and Stuart Paterson and invited guest readers in an evening celebrating the life and work of Galloway’s greatest modern poet, William Neill. A short film about the poet will be shown then contributors will read from the newly published anthology The Leaves of the Years, celebrating the centenary of Neill’s birth. He wrote in all three languages of Scotland, English, Scots and Gaelic and his work celebrates the landscape and history of Scotland while addressing issues of language, politics and culture that are equally relevant today.

The Leaves of the Years (Ed Hugh McMillan and Stuart Paterson) is a book that is both worthy and entertaining and contains essays and poems from some of the nation’s finest writers, like Gerda Stevenson, Tom Pow, Christine De Luca, Derrick McClure, Magi Gibson, Bill Herbert, Donald S Murray, Ian Stephen, Rab Wilson, Willie Hershaw, Marcas Mac an Tuairneir.  Anne Frater, Dolina Maclennan, Joy Hendry, Tom Hubbard and James McGonigal. Published by Drunk Muse Press. 

Saturday March 4 An Evening With Laurence Bristow-Smith with musical illustrations by Gordon Mursell and David Preston Broughton House, 12 High St  7pm £6  

Laurence Bristow-Smith spent twenty-six years as a diplomat serving in Taiwan, China, eastern Europe, the Balkans, Norway and Italy but one of the most important events in his life was when a peripatetic music teacher came to his school to give a demonstration how to play brass instruments. He was seized with the desire to play the trombone and though his performing career did not last long, his passion for music has lasted ever since, eventually resulting in his two-volume History of Music in the British Isles. His other books include Landscapes for the Turning Earth, a study of the life and work of the artist Alan Rankle, and Half-an-Eye on History, a biography of the diplomat, writer and politician Harold Nicolson.

Laurence’s latest book, published in November 2022, is Tribes into Nations, which takes a fresh look at the ethnic and cultural evolution of the British Isles and challenges the long tradition of Anglocentric history which saw the past through the prism of Empire. It views the British Archipelago as inescapably caught up in the movements of peoples and cultures that have swept across the European Continent over the millennia. It shows the importance of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, and of lost polities such as the Kingdom of the Isles and the Kingdom of Strathclyde, in shaping the political and cultural identity of the British Isles. Tribes into Nations is available online through Amazon and the Book Depository; it can be ordered from any bookshop; or it can be ordered directly from Letterworth Press.

Sponsored by Stewartry Literary Society: It is with great pleasure The Stewartry Literary Society (TSLS) is partnering with Kirkcudbright Book Week by sponsoring “An Evening with Laurence Bristow Smith” celebrating books and music. Working collaboratively, we believe we can offer a high quality,diverse and entertaining literary offer through the winter months and for communities within and without the town.

Thank you to the Scottish Book Trust for their assistance in funding the events involving Hugh McMillan, Stuart Paterson and Alan McClure


Due to the ongoing Covid situation, protective measures will be observed where appropriate during Kirkcudbright Book Week.

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