Line-up of great authors to create a buzz at Word Festival
The cast give their all in a performance of the Jackson classic Billie Jean in Thriller Live.
THE marquee on the lawn, crowds of all ages and a buzz around the campus ... it can only mean that Word is back. This weekend sees the 11th year of the University of Aberdeen’s literary festival. And the line-up is the most diverse yet, with writers ranging from the head of daytime TV for Channel Four Helen Warner to renowned Canadian author Margaret Atwood. One of this year’s headliners is a familiar face to the festival, Scottish author, Iain Banks. It’s his first time back at Word in three years. Iain remembers the festival fondly and is looking forward to returning. “The setting for the Word Festival, in the university’s King’s College, is a very nice space,” said the 57-year-old, who lives in North Queensferry. “It’s a great event in a city that I love coming to – and that’s not only because of the stunning train journey up the east coast. “The last time I was at the Word Festival I was in this lovely hall where people could look down on me from the gallery and I was worried people were going to start throwing things at me.” Over the last three years, Iain’s clearly won a few more fans as he’s taking a step up to the festival’s biggest venue this year – the 600-person capacity Arts Lecture Theatre – alongside Margaret Atwood, John Suchet and Alisdair Gray. “I’ll be up to the usual nonsense – reading a bit and then speaking to the crowd,” said Iain. “I try not to take myself too seriously at reading events so it should be good fun.” Festival director Alan Spence described the event with Iain as a two for the price of one deal for the audience. The author has two separate names depending on what genre he’s writing – for straight fiction it’s Iain Banks and for his science fiction it’s Iain M Banks. But Iain won’t be carrying a change of clothes for when he switches to sci-fi mode. “I don’t even have two hats to change between – I really should make more of the switch. “I’ll be doing a reading about Surface Detail, my latest culture sci-fi novel, but I’ll also be speaking about Stonemouth, which I’m on my second draft of.” The Evening Express previously revealed that Iain’s latest novel Stonemouth is set in the North-east. Based on a fictional town between Aberdeen and Peterhead, Iain had fun creating the fictional town. “It’s about love and gangsters and I set it in a fictitious town so that nobody can sue me. “It’s a part of Scotland I’ve never written about before and I had to shift Aberdeen south a bit so that Stonemouth could be on an estuary. “I’ve not done too much research about the North-east as making things up is part of the fun but I do mention rowies and ‘fit like yerself’.” Along with Iain, another author that will be speaking about the North-east is star of hit TV show Trawlermen Jimmy Buchan. In his first ever book event, he’ll be reading and talking about his new memoir Trawlerman. Joining Jimmy and Iain in the Friday line-up is Green MSP Robin Harper reading from his memoir Dear Mr Harper. Saturday is a mixed bag with everything from British news institution John Suchet speaking about his work My Bonnie: How Dementia Stole The Love Of My Life, to a Polish writing session and an Amnesty International event. Not to mention a whiskey dinner at the Malmaison Hotel with host and whiskey expert Ian Buxton. And Sunday offers a chance to hear local voices like Sheena Blackhall and the Lemon Tree Writers, along with former BBC World Affairs correspondent David Shukman’s tales of war and peace around the globe. The event will draw to a close on Sunday night at the Lemon Tree with a tribute to Norman Maccaig by poet Andrew Greig, director Douglas Eadie and fiddler Aly Bain. To find out more log on to www.abdn.ac.uk/word
WRITING TALENT: Margaret Atwood and John Suchet.