Posted by: gillarbuthnott | September 20, 2017

Who stole September?

Image result for exhausted victorian womanI swear the book festival only finished about 10 minutes ago, and suddenly it’s the 20th of September.. Who stole 1-19??? Admittedly, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get to grips with the garden (running out of ideas for what to do with apples now…) and generally catching up with myself. And getting Student Son back to Dundee. And I have been arranging a number of author visits for the autumn, which you can find on the Events page. And talking to a publisher about a new book, which has then involved a lot of reading about World War One. So, actually, I suppose that’s where it’s gone, now I come to think of it.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to a fun and informative weekend at the Scotswrite conference, catching up with various writer chums and listening to words of wisdom from lots of people in the publishing industry. And there’s a gin tasting. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Posted by: gillarbuthnott | September 1, 2017

Fangs for the memories…

drac book festOkay, sorry about that. I can seldom resist a pun even this bad. Here I am with the rest of the vampire-hunting crew, just about to entertain 70 primary school children for an hour during Schools’ Gala Day at the EIBF! Prof MacHelsing and I were a bit nervous, since we’d never previously delivered this workshop for more than 30 pupils at once, and never at all with pupils as young as most of them were. However, ably assisted by Jonathan and Mina Harker and the lunatic Renfield, all went according to plan and Countess Dracula was unveiled. We’d forgotten the garlic and the stake, so we just had to send her off home with everyone else, but she promised not to bite anyone…

Posted by: gillarbuthnott | August 30, 2017

Book fest highlights #1

Image result for book festival edinburgh 2017I meant to blog regularly about the Book Festival, but I was so involved attending and taking part in events that it didn’t work out quite as I had hoped. However, the dust is beginning to settle now, so it’s time for me to look back at some more high points. Simon Callow talking about Wagner, Bettany Hughes on Istanbul, Joanne Harris on Norse mythology… Trying to listen to the Unthanks against a background of torrential rain, rock music from another venue and the Tattoo fireworks… Seeing every one of the Book Festival staff dressed up for the Where’s Wally theme on Schools’ Gala Day… A L Kennedy reading from her latest book; I completely agree with the audience member who was trying to convince her to voice the audio version… Talking to author Marcus Sedgewick (a bit of a hero) in the yurt… Staring in awe at the vision that is Sarah MacIntyre in full performance rig…

Posted by: gillarbuthnott | August 14, 2017

It’s Raining Festivals…

Image result for rain in edinburgh

The biblical rain is still falling here in Edinburgh from time to time, but the city is full of compensations for occasional – actually, frequent, if I’m honest – soakings now that the multiplicity of festivals are well underway.

As usual, a major problem is how on earth to decide what to see/hear. The Fringe programme is now so large and heavy that reading it qualifies as aerobic exercise, but the Book Festival programme is more manageable but still stuffed with goodies.

So far, I’ve been to Wagner in the main festival (wonderful, even on the unpadded wooden seats of the Usher Hall organ gallery) and Manual Cinema in the Fringe. Manual Cinema produce enormously atmospheric performances using puppets, silhouettes, and live music to tell stories, in the complete absence of dialogue. That somehow makes it sound ghastly… but it is extraordinary in an entirely positive way. Go and see this year’s production, ‘Lula del Ray’ and find out for yourself.

I was lucky enough to hear Sebastian Barry talking about my favourite book of 2017 – Days Without End – today at the Book Festival. He was lyrical and funny and fierce and passionate, and the book is breath-catchingly good.   Read. It. Now.


Posted by: gillarbuthnott | August 1, 2017


Image result for aberdour festivalI had a great day yesterday visiting the Aberdour Festival, to talk about A Beginner’s Guide to Life on Earth, and my Fife novels, Winterbringers and Dark Spell. What a lovely and welcoming place! I’m not sure I’ve ever been in Aberdour in my life (and how stupid is that, given how close it is?), but I’ll certainly be back. And the festival programme is terrific – I’m only sorry I can’t get back for the Bohemian Rhapsody singalong and Strictly Aberdour… I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the programme next year.

August is upon us, so no more reading simply for pleasure for me, as I get prepared for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. You can see what I’m doing on the Events page.

Posted by: gillarbuthnott | July 26, 2017

Harry Potter and the 20th Anniversary

Image result for philosopher's stone book coverAbout 20 years ago, I was reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the first time… I have loved all the books (and the films) and read them to my children until they were old enough to read the next instalment by themselves.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised they both claim to be part of the ‘Harry Potter Generation’.

There are, of course, many things going on to mark the anniversary, and I’m very pleased to be playing a part in one of them. The British Library is hosting an exhibition – Harry Potter: A History of Magic – from October, and  Bloomsbury and the British Library are publishing a children’s book to accompany it – Harry Potter: A Journey Through A History Of MagicI was delighted to be asked to write some of the text and suggest activities connected with the subjects Harry studies at Hogwarts.

Amazing books, objects and original illustrations will be on display, and it was great fun finding out about some of them. My favourite challenge was to come with a colour-changing potion you can make at home and drink. I’m very much hoping to see the exhibition for myself, knowing what’s going to be on show…

Posted by: gillarbuthnott | July 19, 2017

Creeping back

Image result for gothic typewriterI’m ashamed to start writing this again, it’s been such a long time. And the longer it’s gone on, the harder and harder it’s become to actually face doing it. Thank goodness that hasn’t been the case with the actual, real writing, which has been chuntering along nicely. I’ve eventually been shamed into returning here by the need to get my events page up to date to advertise my forthcoming visits to the Aberdour Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I’m really looking forward to attending lots of events as well, especially Simon Callow, A L Kennedy and Sebastian Barry. And Evelyn Glennie. And the Unthanks. Etc. Ready meals for the family during August, I think.

I’m nearing the end of one big writing project, and ideas are already swirling in my brain about what to do next. But which one do I choose?? Or do I have some time off?

Don’t be silly. I was only joking.

Posted by: gillarbuthnott | May 11, 2017

Back to work…

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Garelochhead; a lovely place for a school visit…

Just getting back into the swing of things after an extended break, holidaying in Costa Rica with the husband to celebrate our escape from the world of work in the classroom/office. I’ve been straight back into events: thankyou to all the small but enthusiastic scientists who came along to Borders Science Festival at Duns library on Saturday for my Human Body event, and thanks to everyone at Garelochhead Primary for the warm welcome you gave me yesterday. That was a lovely day out for me, to a new part of the country as far as author events go. I could still be talking now, I was having such a good time with the pupils. Hope the story-writing is going well… Let me know!

Have had the luxury today of almost a whole day spent with the Naples novel, doing bits of rewriting and generally tidying things up. With any luck, I might get another one tomorrow, though I can hear the garden weeds growing behind my back…

Posted by: gillarbuthnott | April 13, 2017

Easter Editing

Image result for writer writingI am busy editing a novel draft at the moment, and in particular, making sure the timelines work. You know the sort of thing: have I put two Tuesdays in one week; have I made a character give birth three months after the pregnancy started; has it been summer for nine months? All very embarrassing if you get them wrong – and someone will always notice. Then there’s the matter of names. Some of my main characters don’t have surnames yet… No one will care what their surnames are, I can hear you saying. But they still have to be right, because they won’t seem real to me, otherwise, and if they’re not real, I can’t write about them. And did I mention they’re Italian, so it’s harder for me to know if I’ve got them right for the place (Naples) and period (1620ish)?

None of this is very enthralling, but it is vital. Get it wrong, and you basically make your reader run into a wall if they spot one of your mistakes. And then what happens to the all-important suspension of disbelief??

Posted by: gillarbuthnott | April 4, 2017


I opened a parcel from my publishers yesterday to find this little beauty…


I’ve never been in Portugese before – perhaps this is my chance to teach myself some. Not perhaps for general conversation or useful-on-holiday purposes…

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