In which the author gives two talks at the Islay Book Festival…


The splendid Islay Book Festival takes place over two days on the 8th and 9th of September, and this humble author will be giving talks on both days. On the Saturday I’m rambling on about “Vampires – From Folklore to Fiction (and Fact…)”, which will range from 18th century Eastern European vampire hunts through Lord Byron, Varney the Vampyre and Dracula, ending up with two recent cases I’ve investigated, “The Vampire of Croglin Grange” (Cumbria) and “The Vampire with Iron Teeth” (Glasgow).



Then on the Sunday I’ll be picking episodes out of my book “101 Things To Do With A Stone Circle”. I’ll discuss the ways modern and medieval people have used stone circles and other ancient sites for a bizarre range of foibles and practices. They have been seen as sites of earth energies, ley-lines and Druidic mysteries. They have featured in movies, opera and Doctor Who. People have associated them with healing, curses, supernatural beings and visionary experiences. Featuring: the saint who lived in a burial chamber, the only stone circle condemned in Parliament by Margaret Thatcher, and how to use a stone circle to exorcise a Land-Rover.


Also on the bill at the venue (Port Ellen Primary School) are cookery writer Sue Lawrence, Catherine Czerkawska on the history of Gigha, yachting explorers Justin and Linda Ruthven-Tyers, and (woo!) Scotland’s Makar, poet and playwright Liz Lochhead – and there’s a full schedule of events for children and teenagers as well.


Tickets and info for this unique island festival from