Line-up of great au­thors to cre­ate a buzz at Word Fes­ti­val

Evening Express (City Final) - The Guide - - ARTS AND STAGE - By Lau­rna Robert­son

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


WRIT­ING TAL­ENT: Mar­garet At­wood and John Suchet.

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