Hebridean authors at Faclan book festival

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Book launches, signings and author talks will be the focus of Faclan, the Hebridean Book Festival at an Lanntair next week, from October 29th.

This is a correction; this week’s paper wrongly stated that Faclan started on December 29th.

Faclan this year features a stellar cast of writers, thinkers, historians and commentators.

The theme is not just ‘the past’ but how we view, relate to and engage with the past and how it affects us.

It encompasses the Great War, Empire, elegy, memoir and new writing.

Two local writers will feature this year with their works of memory and memoir; Ian Stephen’s debut novel A Book of Death and Fish and An Island Girl’s Journey by Dolina Maclennan.

Ian Stephen is a writer, artist and sailor from the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. After 15 years in the coastguard service, he resigned in 1995 to work full-time in the arts. Since the late 70s his wide-ranging work has been published in numerous UK journals, as well as internationally. The Book of Death and Fish is a portrait of the islands through Peter’s diverse remembrances. Hebridean dialect and fishermen’s argot texture his tales.

Author Robert Macfarlane will host the book’s launch.

Robert said: “I was up on the islands, I can’t remember when now, it must have been 2010, and Ian Stephen and I sailed together. We took a small open boat to the Shiants. You get to know a person pretty well on journeys like that and he was the most amazing skipper and story teller that I wasn’t surprised to find that he was writing a novel. When I read it in draft form I wanted to get behind it as much as I could.”

Robert is also hosting a talk about his critically acclaimed book The Old Ways.

Robert said: “It’s a book about journeys and how we experience the world through walking and route finding. I begin on my own doorstep and then I walk on for 1000 miles.”

A third of the book commentates Robert’s walks in the Western Isles. The routes are based on psalms, and also see Robert visit Palestine and the West Bank. It was while writing this book that Robert met Ian Stephen aboard his boat.

Born in Marvig, Isle of Lewis, Dolina Maclennan is a singer, actress, and storyteller of international renown. As the preface of her book states: ‘This is not an autobiography, so you can all relax,’ it is a reflection on some of the forces which moulded her, from her childhood in South Lochs, to her beginning in entertainment in Edinburgh.

She said: “It was never meant to be a book. It all happened at the launch of another book by Ann Gilchrist. It was after that book launch that I was sitting in her house and telling stories about when I first came to Edinburgh in 1958 and so on, and somebody said, ‘this should be written down.’

“We spent three years on it. It was an emotional rollercoaster.”

Visit www.faclan.org for more information.

Pictured is the cover of Dolina MacLennan’s ‘An Island Girl’s Journey’.