My First Edinburgh International Book Festival

Pinch me!

The day was finally here – seven books after the very first meeting with my publishers, Cranachan.

They asked me: ‘What’s the dream?’

‘Edinburgh International Book Festival is the dream.’ I didn’t even hesitate. As an annual visitor to the festival for nigh-on two decades, it seemed the height of author-dom to me. And this year, 2021, I had an invite and my very own event.

The best part was that I was going to speak about my latest children’s book, The Chessmen Thief, and share the stage with Dr Alice Blackwell of the National Museums of Scotland who looks after the actual Lewis Chessmen which inspired my book. Chaired by palaeontologist and author of dinosaur books Steve Brusatte, we were going to discuss Artifacts and Fiction, the title of our session.

How the event appeared on screen

I woke up in the budget hotel along the road, hurriedly washed and flung some make-up on. I had been told that for filmed events, a bit of eyeliner was helpful, and who was I to argue? A quick breakfast and I donned my bookshelf-patterned dress and sped off. On the way I remembered that I should probably do something on social media (helpful to publishers, especially small indie ones like mine!), so I recorded a wee video as I sprinted up the road. Once arrived the gates of the festival were still closed to the public, but I could already make out my fellow panel member, Alice, in the distance. We opted to sit at the picnic table just in front of the Edinburgh College of Art. The more concealed table along from us was already occupied by I’m-so-cool-look-at-me-smoking teens from a nearby secondary school.

As soon as the gates opened, we entered the grounds and made for the yurt (now only big enough to house the admin staff, but there are great benches and tables for writers, and there was free coffee and food too). I might have reached for my author lanyard a little too enthusiastically. Soon the Children’s and Schools Programme Director Rachel appeared with a ridiculously huge and much appreciated piece of Cranachan-flavoured cake (I was so impressed that she had noted the name of my publishers) – and it was time.

Children’s Programmer Rachel and our cheery chair for the event, Steve, in the studio

‘Let me show you to the recording studio,’ she smiled and marched ahead. I hobbled in her wake courtesy of a broken toe – don’t ask! If I had been a little sad that there wasn’t going to be a young live audience for my event, all misgivings were quickly dispelled. What a view! A huge picture window behind us revealed the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Altogether less welcome was the view of the monitor in front of us, with a pretty unflattering perspective of ourselves. ‘Is my face really this shiny?’ Alice whispered across the stage. She looked great to me, but the monitor view made me a little insecure too. My legs looked the size of Belgium.

‘Don’t worry, you’ll all look great out there,’ reassured one of the camera operators. I moved a small table of props in front of my legs anyway. And breathe! The countdown began. As soon as it ended, Steve launched into his enthusiastic introduction, only to be interrupted by the cameraman: ‘Not yet! It’s just the intro video now. I’ll give you a wave.’

We all laughed a little too loudly, but dispelling the pent-up tension in this way probably made for a more relaxed conversation in the forty-five minutes that followed. There were almost no awkward moments. I say ‘almost’ because I got my timing wrong and began subtly motioning to Alice to wrap up her presentation, when there were in fact 20 minutes to go. In my defence, any concept of time sort of evaporates in this sort of situation – or perhaps that’s just me. Thankfully, she was very forgiving and the lot of us grabbed lunch at the cafe afterwards.

Dr Alice Blackwell and me

The best part of the new venue at Edinburgh College of Art is the chilled-out courtyard where I wound down properly by watching another two festival events on the big screen. The staff could not have been friendlier or more accommodating, the sun shone – and my dream, first half-jokingly and self-consciously whispered in February 2016, had just come true.

Crazy days – I am appearing at EIBF!

You can watch the event on catch-up HERE , for free or by paying what you can.

The event in the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme

The Chessmen Thief by @scattyscribbler @cranachanbooks

The Quiet Knitter

  • Title: The Chessmen Thief
  • Author: Barbara Henderson
  • Publisher: Cranachan Publishing
  • Publication Date: 29 April 2021

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Win. Lose. Survive.

I was the boy with a plan. Now I am the boy with nothing.

From the moment 12-year-old Kylan hatches a plan to escape from his Norse captors, and return to Scotland to find his mother, his life becomes a dangerous game.

The precious Lewis Chessmen―which he helped carve―hold the key to his freedom, but he will need all his courage and wit to triumph against Sven Asleifsson, the cruellest Viking in the realm.

One false move could cost him his life.

Barbara Henderson has woven a thrilling origin story around the enduring mystery of the Lewis Chessmen, their creation in Norway, and how they ended up buried in the Hebrides before being discovered on Lewis in 1831

My Thoughts:

I have been a…

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Tour & Author Feature: The Chessmen Thief by Barbara Henderson — Lily and the Fae

I am so delighted to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for The Chessmen Thief by Barbara Henderson and even more so to be hosting content from the writer herself!  Barbara Henderson is a champion of both children’s historical fiction and Scottish history and heritage. Whilst my own close heritage is largely from […]

Tour & Author Feature: The Chessmen Thief by Barbara Henderson — Lily and the Fae

Putting the Story back into History

Making the case for stories set in Scotland: A wee guest post on a US blog. Thanks for hosting me, Simply Scottish!

The Simply Scottish Blog

A guest post by Barbara Henderson

We like our stories atmospheric in Scotland, and who can blame us? Brooding hills, crumbling castles, poetry and song are the very fabric of our nation – and we have a history to match!

In 2016, a small independent publishing house was founded on the Isle of Lewis, about as north-westerly as you can get and still belong to Scotland. Anne and Iain Glennie’s office overlooks the Atlantic and is minutes away from the Callanish Standing stones, but they had a different vision for their business: publish quality Scottish children’s fiction, particularly historical books for their yesteryear series.

I was their very first author signing.

Fast forward four years and Scottish publishing is bursting at the seams with creativity and innovation. Granted – the Covid-19 crisis is taking its toll with dips in both sales and literary events, but there is a reason Scotland…

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Book Review: Black Water — Chrikaru Reads

Book Review: Black Water Black Water Written by Barbara Henderson 88 pages Published by Cranachan Publishing Publication date: 31st October 2019 Summary (from Goodreads): Sink or swim to survive Solway’s black water… Down by the coast, black water swirls and hides its secrets. Dumfries, 1792. Henry may only be twelve, but he has already […]

via Book Review: Black Water — Chrikaru Reads

Guest Post: How Barbara Henderson researched Scotland’s Smuggling Story

A little bit about what floats my boat about smuggling stories… 😊🌜⚓⛵

Roaring Reads

Barbara with book 150Being a children’s author isn’t always about making up stories in your head. Sometimes, it’s about researching a subject so that you know it inside out, then sharing that knowledge in a way that excites and inspires young readers.

Barbara Henderson is a maestro at this particular skill, and we’re delighted that the author of the (brilliantly researched) novels Wilderness Wars and Punch, joins Roaring Reads for this guest post, sharing her experience finding the facts behind her new novella Black Water (out now – read our review here).

“The Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott famously observed that ‘few people take more enthusiastically to the free trade than the men of the Solway Coast’.

“I have long been fascinated with smuggling, piracy and all things sinister by the water. What’s not to love? A night-time sea is just about the most menacing backdrop you could possibly choose for a…

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Review: Black Water

Today’s review from the fantastic Roaring Reads!

Roaring Reads

Black Water 150There is a lot to be said for a powerful title, and Barbara Henderson’s new novella has that and much more. The words “Black Water” capture the essence of the dark, dangerous Solway Firth smuggling scene, and captured this reader’s curiosity from the outset.

The story follows Henry, a 13-year-old apprentice exciseman, who is trying to learn the family trade, while struggling to balance the weight of his father’s expectation with his own love of the written word – and some stirrings of empathy for the smugglers they seek to detain.

When the Rosamund, a large smuggling schooner, is stranded nearby, it’s up to Henry’s father, along with Riding Officer Walter Crawford (a real-life exciseman, whose journal inspired much of this story) and later, the poet Robert Burns, to capture the crew and seize the loot. It’s a hazardous mission, which does not go to plan.

Over two-day course of…

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Black Water by @scattyscribbler @cranachanbooks

Today’s stop on the blog tour, the fabulous Quiet Knitter. I am so delighted and grateful for this review, thank you very, very much!

The Quiet Knitter

I am so utterly thrilled to be able to share my thoughts on Barbara Henderson’s latest book today. I first discovered Barbara’s books back in 2017 when I fell in love with her writing in Fir for Luck, absolutely entranced, she managed to transport me to the mind of a twelve-year-old girl at the time of the Highland Clearances in Sutherland, and since then I have eagerly awaited news of each new book that Barbara writes. Today is publication day for Black Water, the latest bookish wonder that Barbara has crafted, and I think audiences of all ages are in for a treat!

  • Title: Black Water
  • Author: Barbara Henderson
  • Illustration : Sandra McGowan
  • Publisher: Pokey Hat (an imprint of Cranachan Publishing)
  • Publication Date: 31st October 2019

Copy received from author for review purposes.

Description:

Down by the coast, black water swirls and hides its secrets…

Dumfries, 1792. Henry may only…

View original post 899 more words