A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Headline notes on Turning the Next Page – LAS Sector Away Day

We were delighted to welcome 65 people from all walks of literary life to our Sector Away Day in sunny Dundee on 1 October, including writers, publishers, literary agents, literature organisations, festival programmers – not to mention 10-week-old baby Sophia with mum Rachel Humphries currently on maternity leave from Moniack Mhor.

The day has been described as a fascinating, informal and welcoming and we’re very grateful to all the speakers and delegates for their contribution.

Below are the headline notes from the day, including Valentina’s excellent round-up of the key issues highlighted in the roundtable discussions.

We’d like to get input from delegates and LAS Members on which 3 priorities to focus on as outcomes to develop for 2020. Please respond to the email from Jenny listing your top 3 areas and we will confirm the majority consensus.

Headline Notes

Morning sessions

WELCOME

LAS Chair Peggy Hughes opened the event very positively, by showing LAS’ strengths: our openness and willingness to share our knowledge, as well as our concrete actions, which she returned to later in the AGM. Through our open meetings and our current initiatives, we encourage co-operation and collaborative working. Peggy mentioned the work of ROAR in promoting gender equality, as well as our willingness to listen to our sector, diversifying and amplifying our work through meetings and with our network of writers, including our Writers’ Advisory Group represented on the day by Maisie Chan and Heather Palmer.


Director of Scottish Poetry Library Asif Khan’s reading of ‘Mary Shelley on Broughty Ferry Beach’ by Robert Crawford from Whaleback City and his discussion on Shelley showed the way in which this city has inspired “the aery flights of imagination.”

 

Literature in Dundee – Dr Erin Farley, local historian, storyteller and library worker

Erin addressed these ‘aery flights of imagination’ with aplomb in her opening address, citing how literature is part of the landscape, is social and inventive – this city, where “landscape, memory and people are intimately connected”:

  • Dundee has a vibrant literary history
  • Literature is social – citing examples of the Green H, a sign of the Hopscotch literary group meeting; Scrieve, Dundee’s new monthly playwriting scratch night; and Dostoyevsky Wannabe Cities, a snapshot of a selection of writing from one city at one time as chosen by a guest-editor (Erin Farley).
  • Literature works example of Dundonian poet, songwriter, weaver and activist Mary Brooksbank
  • Stories will always be in fashion
  • Dundee’s literature belongs to everyone and is open to everyone to participate in.

 

Keynote speaker Laura Brown – writer, editor and former Editor-in-Chief of Comics at DC Thomson

Laura’s account of her nimble career in future-proofing, through keeping abreast with the things that keep people buying magazines was inspiring:

  • Stories are what matter, whether that’s the Beano or pricey hardback fiction
  • The future is so out of date so quickly
  • Focus on what we do best: telling stories; we peddle the exteriors so the interiors can be experienced
  • Future-proofing is more about keeping the best bits of what works while adapting to tech and social change, rather than chasing fads
  • In literature you’ve got bold thinkers, you’ve got innovation
  • In terms of future-proofing, literature is already embracing new technology and new formats. You make an event out of a book. We (in magazines) have a lot to learn from you.

‘NEXT’ PRACTICE

Breakout discussion – how do we tackle key sector issues on- and off-line? Facilitated by LAS Trustees with the 6 key topics highlighted in the ‘What’s Next?’ session below.

 

Literature Talks launch: ‘On A Lifetime of Ticking Boxes’ by Chitra Ramaswamy, award-winning journalist and author.

You could hear a pin drop as Chitra read out her deeply personal and incredibly powerful essay on diversity in literature and publishing. Read it here: http://bit.ly/ChitraRamaswamy

 

Afternoon sessions

LITERATURE ALLIANCE SCOTLAND AGM

Download the AGM papers.

 

QUICK-FIRE KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE, chaired by Ali Bowden

Upcoming literary anniversaries – Daniel Cook, Head of English at University of Dundee

 

VisitScotland’s Year of Coast & Waters 2020 and Year of Scotland’s Stories 2022 – Marie Christie, Head of Development – Events Industry 

  • Opportunities for promotion, celebration, participation, collaboration and industry engagement
  • Chances to spotlight and celebrate Scotland, in all its particulars and diversity
  • See the slides here.

 

Scottish Books International – Sasha de Buyl, Manager

  • An outline of SBI’s strategic plan for activity for the next 14-month period, including aims to empower Scotland to connect with international literary ecologies
  • Core aim is to act as a connecting force for Scottish books and writing around the world
  • Three pillars of Informing, Connecting and Growth
  • The plan intends to raise awareness of Scottish books and writing overseas, connect our publishers, writers and organisations with international partners and to create an infrastructure for sustained development in the longer term.
  • Newsletter launched
  • Online opportunities page coming
  • News and blog section aimed at outward-looking writers/publishers
  • SBI website is a shop window for Scottish writing
  • The aim is to develop an international database
  • Germany is the focus for 2020 with plans for market insight seminars, inbound delegation to Germany and delegations of Scottish writers to German literary festivals with a tie-in to Scottish Book Festivals
  • Plan is to scope current knowledge via a survey with the aim of developing a road map for growth
  • See the slides here.

 

Open Book on outreach/ building networks – Marjorie Lotfi Gill, Co-Founder and Development Director 

  • Advantages of shared reading – without homework – through reading aloud together with a paired poem and then take participants to see authors at literary festivals
  • Objective and aspiration to allow lots of people to have access to a book who might not otherwise
  • Valuing of diversity in authors – allowing groups to own their own sessions from Stranraer to Eyemouth to Shetland
  • Building connections through reading workshops in prisons, healthcare, community, libraries and with people who have vision problems, who have English as a second language, with refugee women and children
  • Participants are more confident and connected at the end of the session

 

Lighthouse Bookshop on working with industry and beyond – Mairi Oliver, owner

  • The bookshop has a key role in the literary landscape
  • Sell books <–> build community
  • Bookshops are the interface between authors, publishers and readers – and performers too
  • Met young poets and people of colour through Intercultural Youth Scotland who use the space of the bookshop for their events
  • Book Fringe collaboration with Golden Hare Books
  • Link with Zines offering both artistic and literary collaborations and connections
  • Great advice: find local bookshops, meet passionate people and hold events.

 

The Scottish BAME Writers’ Network – Jeda Lewis 

  • Jeda offered to give an impromptu talk on the Network as co-founder Jay G Ying was ill
  • Advocacy role of writers of colour with a connection to Scotland
  • Creating a community and space where everything goes with no need to self-censor
  • promoting work, and making opportunities with literary events for
  • Launch of Ceremony on 15 Oct – a new pamphlet featuring 15 writers from the BAME Writers’ Group who met at Scottish Poetry Library
  • Panel at Golden Hare Books Festival on Fri 18 Oct
  • Network event on 23 November in Edinburgh

A Vision for Change – Creative Scotland

Mairi Kidd, Head of Literature, Languages & Publishing at Creative Scotland along with her team members Harriet MacMillan, Viccy Adam and Alan Bett.

  • Responsive talk on our ‘Literature Ecosystem’
  • Shared their thinking on Is literature in an ‘Equalities Emergency’ and welcome challenge on this topic
  • How do we understand and tackle barriers?
  • How do we move past diversity initiatives to sustained change?
  • Why do we (sometimes) find the discussion threatening and how can we change that?
  • Encouraging and inviting us to contribute to their work in progress
  • We need a fundamental change in the way we work together as a sector
  • What is the product of a not-for-profit sector?
  • How do we understand what value for money looks like?
  • We need to move beyond the well-intentioned outreach model, and the idea quality & diversity are separate, to make sure that benefit it given back to everyone who lives and works in Scotland.

 

WHAT’S NEXT?

Priorities from breakout discussion with Valentina Bold, LAS Co-Vice Chair

The following priorities came out of the breakout discussion in the morning session. We’d like to get input from delegates and LAS Members on which 3 priorities to focus on as outcomes to develop for 2020. Please respond to the email from Jenny listing your top 3 areas (from the headings in bold below) and we will confirm the majority consensus.

Diversity, Equality & Accessibility (events)

  • Respect the author
  • Ensure quality of experience
  • Deploy sensitivity readers (more than once)
  • Embrace diversity but be critical
  • Need for Scottish data
  • Ensure equality in income
  • Listen and be open to those affected
  • Possibility of Citizens’ Assembly model
  • Travel grants needed
  • Sign language
  • Share resources
  • Break down hierarchies
  • Give writers time/space – a longer vision

Suggested actions:

Diversity – advocacy, support, sensitivity.

Equality –  advocacy, practice.

Accessibility –  survey LAS members, members to include accessibility info on websites, invite speaker on accessibility to next LAS meeting.

Payment

  • Reduce expectation of work for free (anthology / events)
  • Use Scottish Book Trust Live Literature rates as a starting point

Suggested actions – advocacy, show good practice, payment as the norm.

Festivals

  • Be green (keep control if poss, not always poss [venues])
  • Adopt carbon reduction plans
  • Avoid branded merchandise (often not sustainable)
  • Reduce meat/dairy
  • Support local writers
  • Involve Creative Carbon Scotland
  • Carbon off-set flights
  • Ensure diversity in programming

Suggested actions – advocacy, build knowledge

Climate emergency

Action: Consider the following

  • Travel in Scotland / international
  • Technological issues – potential for access.

Data sharing

To include:

  • Insights
  • Trends
  • Book sales
  • Tourism
  • And reservations – social media: take care with pronouns

Suggested actions: Consider how we do this already; how can we be innovative; offer social media training sessions through LAS.

Resilience

  • Need for flexibility
  • Amplifying Scottish voices
  • Open Book model – support writers in getting voices heard
  • Developing community
  • Exploring what is ‘Scottish literature’ for diverse voices & experiences (language, ethnicity)
  • Avoid no-platforming and censorship
  • Stop ideological divides

Suggested actions – next steps, future-proofing.

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 18, 2019

Once Upon a Time… Scotland’s Storybook Trail

  • Scotland’s Storybook Trail includes a collection of characters and stories with connections to Scotland either by author, by location or by experience.
  • The self-led trail will comprise of a map which will be available online and in print from select VisitScotland iCentres and literary outlets.
  • Book lovers of all ages can embark on a literary adventure inspired by their favourite storybook characters and discover new stories to enjoy.
  • Characters include Harry Potter, Peter Pan, The Gruffalo, Thumble Tumble, Peter Rabbit, The Howlat and Greyfriars Bobby. 

‘Scotland’s Storybook Trail’ by Visit Scotland alights at The Beatrix Potter Exhibition & Garden at Birnam Arts, Perthshire.

From Peter Rabbit to Peter Pan, Harry Potter to The Howlat, Scotland has inspired some of the world’s best-loved literary creations.

Whether it’s history, landscapes, wildlife or even architecture, for decades authors have used some of the country’s greatest assets to create characters that continue to delight readers of all ages.

In recognition of this, VisitScotland has launched, Scotland’s Storybook Traila collection of places with links to some of the most celebrated characters in children’s literature.

The trail, which comprises  of a colourful map hosted on visitscotland.com and will be available at selected VisitScotland iCentres , as well as bookshops and libraries across Scotland, will help bookworms embark on their own adventures across the country, learning more about their favourite stories and discovering new tales inspired by or written in Scotland.

Featured locations include the birthplace of Peter Pan creator, JM Barrie in Kirriemuir, Angus; the Isle of Coll, the inspiration of Katie Morag’s fictional home on the Isle of Struay; the Scottish Owl Centre in West Lothianwhere readers can meet some feathered friends, similar to those that feature in the Harry Potter series; and Birnam Artsin Perthshire, the region that inspired Beatrix Potter’s famous creations. And it’s not just the book locations themselves that will appeal to young readers – the trail includes some great bookshops and festivals to discover around Scotland.

Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “In this, Scotland’s Year of Young People, the Storybook Trail not only celebrates Scotland’s rich literary heritage and incredible landscapes, but it also provides an opportunity to encourage children to read for pleasure and develop a life-long love of books. 

“With so many locations across the country linked to characters in children’s literature, I am sure the trail will act as a magnet for visitors from home and abroad who will experience our beautiful, vibrant country.”

Jenni Steele, Film and Creative Industries Manager at VisitScotland, said:“Scotland has world-class literary links. Our landscapes, history and people have inspired writers for centuries, helping to bring to life enduring characters that capture the imaginations of not just youngsters but grown-ups too.

“A great story has to have great characters and that’s what inspired Scotland’s Storybook Trail. We wanted to create something, as we celebrate Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, that encourages booklovers of all ages to discover the places and people behind these famous fictional friends. “

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, the national charity changing lives through reading and writing, said: “Scotland has a rich history of iconic literary characters, created or inspired by its places and people. Visiting locations with a special connection to favourite stories or figures is a real thrill for fans of any age, and Scotland’s Storybook Trail is packed with superb suggestions.

“Now is the perfect time to take a trip round our beautiful country and enjoy again, or for the first time, some of the greatest Scottish stories ever told and the places where the creative spark started – just don’t forget to pack a book.”

 

So take a magical adventure from page to place and discover just some of the Scottish locations with literary links to best-loved stories;

Harry Potter – JK Rowling

Grab your wands and prepare for a magic adventure! Visit Tom Riddle’s grave at Greyfriars Kirkyard, meet some of Hedwig’s feathered friends at the Scottish Owl Centreor join a tour of the Capital to find out how Edinburgh’s buildings and people inspired JK Rowling’s smash-hit series about a boy wizard. Film fans  -make sure to hop aboard the ‘Hogwarts Express’ across the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling adventure was written during a stay inBraemar. It’s thought Stevenson based some of the characters on people he met in the village. Treasure Island is also rumoured to have been inspired by Fidra Islandin East Lothian which the writer used to watch from the area known now as Yellowcraig. Today, rather than pirates you are more likely to find puffins as the island is an RSPB Scotland reserve.

Peter Pan – JM Barrie 

Make sure to pack your pixie dust as you head off on an awfully big adventure in search of Peter Pan. A statue of ‘The Boy Who Never Grew Up’ can be found at JM Barrie’s Birthplacein Kirriemuir, Angus but it was Moat Braein Dumfries, where Barrie lived as a boy, that inspired Neverland, the enchantedfaraway place where Peter Pan and the Lost Boys outwit Captain Hook.

Beano, The Dandy and Oor Wullie

The antics of Dennis and his pals in Beano, and A’body’s favourite wee laddie, Oor Wullie have been published every week for decades by DC Thomson who are based in Dundee with Beano recently celebrating its 80thbirthday. Look out for statues of fellow DC Thomson legends, Desperate Dan, Minnie the Minxas well asOor Wullie, in Dundee city centre. And don’t miss the chance to grab a selfie on Bash Street.

Katie Morag – Mairi Hedderwick 

The Isle of Collin the Inner Hebrides was the real-life inspiration for Katie Morag’s home on the Isle of Struay.  Take a picnic to the beach, explore the island’sonly real village, Arinagour, and keep an eye out for the whitewashed cottages that look just like the illustrations in Mairi Hedderwick’s books.

Peter Rabbit and Friends – Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter created her most famous fluffy friend, Peter Rabbit, following childhood summer holidays in Dunkeld, watching and drawing wildlife.Birnam Artsis a great place to learn about the region that inspired her, you may also meet some of her other characters in the Beatrix Potter Exhibition Garden.

The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson  and Axel Scheffler

Take a stroll through the deep dark wood on Ardkinglas Estatein search of the Gruffalo. Look out for the Mouse who’ll help guide you along the trail which tells the story, translated into Scots, of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s famous, loveable beast.

Thumble Tumble – AH Proctor

The Isle of Arranis the extraordinary little home of this extraordinary little witch. Visit Brodick Castleand Lochranza Castlewhere Thumble Tumble’s first two magical adventures were set. Keep your eyes peeled for Night Witches, Sea Dragons and Flower Nymphs – you never know what magic you might encounter on this spectacular island.

 Why not continue your literary adventure with a visit to one of Scotland’s book festivals?

 

Edinburgh International Book Festival

11-27 August

As the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, the Edinburgh International Book Festival is an unmissable event for book-lovers. The Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme is perfect for young readers from tots to teens, with hundreds of events including interactive sessions, fun performances, storytelling and workshops with authors and illustrators.

 

Killearn Children’s Festival

2 September

A fun-filled day packed with events and activities aimed a little bookworms. Learn how to draw a dragon, get tips on writing your own stories or listen to a host of tales from authors of some of the most exciting new books.

 

Wigtown Book Festival

21-30 September

Celebrating its 20thanniversary, the annual award-winning festival takes place in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town. For ten days in September, the town buzzes with book events as well as theatre, music and a dedicated Children’s Garden offers activities to appeal to younger readers.

 

Borders Book Festival

13-16 June 2019

The hugely popular Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival, which in 2018 attracted record audiences, is always a highlight of the literary calendar and regularly welcomes some of the most well-known writers in the country.   The Family Book Festival offers a wonderful selection of events with sessions from some of the best-loved authors for children, as well as free activities.

To find more book festivals across Scotland visit https://literaturealliancescotland.co.uk/events/find-a-book-festival/

For more inspiration to entertain little book fans visit:www.visitscotland.com/blog/family-2/storybook-trail/

ENDS

IMAGE CAPTION: Credit Julie Howden

6 year old Charlotte Brady from Invergowrie and Carter (aged 6), Angus (aged 4) and Finn McKay (aged 2) from Dundee take inspiration from Scotland’s Storybook Trail to learn more about Peter Rabbit at the Beatrix Potter Exhibition & Garden at Birnam Arts, Perthshire.

For further information and images please contact:

Louise Purves, Senior PR Officer, VisitScotland – louise.purves@visitscotland.com/0131 472 2052

Notes to editors

About VisitScotland

  • VisitScotland had launched a brand new global campaign, Scotland is Now.  To find out more go to www.scotlandisnow.com or join the conversation by using #ScotlandIsNow
  • VisitScotland’s Community site was set up for the Scottish public to help, engage and enthuse potential visitors about the country.  To get involved go to:www.visitscotland.com/community
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
  • To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx,
  • For tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to www.visitscotland.org

PLEASE NOTE

This copy was correct at the time of going to press. VisitScotland cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information and accepts no responsibility for any error or misrepresentation.  All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or other damage caused by the reliance on the information contained herewith, or in the event of any company, individual or firm ceasing to trade, is hereby excluded

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 10, 2018

2022: Year of Scotland’s Stories

As part of Scottish Tourism Week, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, announced today that 2022 will be the Year of Scotland’s Stories.

Scotland’s Stories will be a showcase of the country’s rich literature, film, oral traditions and myths and legends.

It will be the first themed year on literature, which our members have been asking for for a long time and we’re delighted that today’s announcement comes with good time to plan for a stand-out year.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped make this happen.

The full announcement from the Cabinet Secretary is here. VisitScotland’s press release is here.

March 15, 2017