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Scottish Writers Creative Conversations Showcase 3

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Writing the Ground Beneath Our Feet: Gavin Francis, Mandy Haggith , Kathleen Jamie and Sue Reid Sexton chaired by Elizabeth Reeder

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The third in a three event celebration of the best in new Scottish writing, co-organised by Publishing Scotland and University of Glasgow's Creative Writing Programme.

Writing the Ground Beneath Our Feet: Gavin Francis (Island Dreams), Mandy Haggith (The Stone Stories series), Kathleen Jamie (Surfacing), and Sue Reid Sexton (Writing on the Road), chaired by Elizabeth Reeder

Gavin Francis qualified in medicine from Edinburgh in 1999, then spent ten years travelling, visiting all seven continents; from 2006 to 2008 he drove between Scotland and New Zealand by motorcycle. He is the author of four books: True North, Travels in Arctic Europe (2008); Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins (2012) which was SMIT Scottish Book of the Year 2013 and shortlisted for the Costa, Ondaatje, Banff, & Saltire Prizes; Adventures in Human Being(2015), which won Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2015, was the Observer’s Science Book of the Year, and was a winner in the BMA Book Awards; and Shapeshifters: On Medicine & Human Change (2018), which was a book of the year in the Sunday Times and the Scotsman. His fifth book, Island Dreams, is published in October 2020. His books have been translated into 18 languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners. He lives and practises medicine in Edinburgh.

Mandy Haggith lives in Assynt in the northwest Highlands of Scotland, where she combines writing with sailing, environmental activism and teaching – she is a lecturer in literature and creative writing at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Her first novel, The Last Bear, won the Robin Jenkins Literary Award for environmental writing in 2009. The Lyre Dancers is her fifth novel and the third in the Stone Stories trilogy, which began with The Walrus Mutterer (2018), longlisted for the Highland Book Prize, and continued with The Amber Seeker (2019). Mandy is also the author of three poetry collections, a non-fiction book and numerous essays, and the editor of a poetry anthology.

Kathleen Jamie is a poet and essayist. Raised in Currie, near Edinburgh, she studied philosophy at Edinburgh University, publishing her first poems as an undergraduate. Her 1995 collection The Queen of Sheba won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize; The Tree House (2002) also won the Forward Poetry Prize and the Scottish Book of the Year Award; The Overhaul, brought out in 2012, won the Costa Poetry Award. In 2016 Kathleen won both the Saltire Poetry Book of the Year and the overall Saltire Book of the Year for her collection The Bonniest Companie. In recent years she has turned her pen to essays to much acclaim, with her collection Sightlines winning the John Burroughs Medal and the Orion Book Award in the USA. Her third collection Surfacing was a joint winner of the Highland Book Prize, long-listed for the Wainwright Prize and was a Waterstones Scottish Book of the Month. She is editor of Antlers of Water, an anthology bringing together 20 Scottish writers on nature and the environment (Canongate, 2020). Kathleen is currently Professor of Poetry at Stirling University. One of her poems is inscribed in on the national monument at Bannockburn.

Sue Reid Sexton has three books published by Waverley Books: Mavis’s Shoe (novel), Rue End Street (novel) and Writing on The Road (non-fiction). Sue's books have been translated into two foreign languages, and Mavis’s Shoe was a Waterstone’s Top 20 of the Year, Scotland. It was also chosen by Scottish Book Trust for promotion, who commissioned a teachers’ resource pack to help teachers explain the book's themes of war, bombing, refugees, and the problems young children face when coping with grief and loss. The teacher’s pack is still available. In 'Writing on the Road' Sue Reid Sexton describes how she travels solo in a tiny campervan which she uses as a creative space and general escape hatch. For a single day or weeks at a time, she disappears up glens and over mountains to write. Writing on the Road is about these flights, but is also a travel journal, a guide to living in the moment, to coping when your marriage unravels and how, as a single woman with children, she stays creative against the odds. The book has many facets and campervan don'ts and do's, and, importantly, how to face fears - especially how not to be scared in the dark. "Sue Reid Sexton speaks with a courage and humour that shine through this inspirational, honest and moving story." The Sunday Post. Sue speaks regularly at events on helping women to find the time and space to write and the joys of the wilderness. She is a graduate of Glasgow’s Creative Writing MLitt course. She runs daily meditation sessions, and works as a counsellor specialising in trauma. Sue has run events at Glasgow’s Aye Write Festival, Edinburgh Book Festival, Dundee Women’s Festival, and made frequent radio and TV appearances in connection with her continuing work on the Clydebank Blitz.

‘Our partnership with Glasgow University’s Creative Conversations have been invaluable in introducing a range of writing and publishing through expertly chaired events in the grand setting of the University Chapel. Moving the events online will lend our publishers and writers a new audience and we look forward to the opportunity to present our fresh new voices to them.’

- Marion Sinclair, Chief Executive of Publishing Scotland

You can find titles by all featured authors for a 20% discount at John Smiths: https://www.johnsmith.co.uk/gla/offers/9501/creative-writing-august-online-event

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