XpoNorth 2021 Conference | Spotlight On: Writing & Publishing

We're thrilled to share the sessions curated as part of XpoNorth 2021's writing and publishing strand.

The writing and publishing strand of XpoNorth’s Conference 2021 featured a focus on aspects of fiction and non-fiction writing which are experiencing mainstream, global commercial success, and which have a distinctive if not in some regards definitive input from Scottish publishers and writers.

This focus brought to XpoNorth’s programme some of the finest writers in contemporary Scotland, and a fascinating session held in association with Publishing Scotland, also brought historian Professor Kate Williams to XpoNorth.

In true cross-cutting genre form, XpoNorth’s 2021 conference also featured a unique session with international tour manager, Kim Hawes whose insightful and revealing memoirs and insights are now set to be published in the Highlands and Islands.

Recent years have seen a renaissance of writing about the natural world, and during the pandemic nature writing offered us vicarious enchantment. This session explored writing about nature and landscape through fiction and non-fiction. Merryn Glover’s novel Of Stone and Sky, is set in the upper Spey valley where she lives. Her next project is The Hidden Fires: A Cairngorms Journey with Nan Shepherd. Kathleen Jamie is an award-winning poet and essayist, and is Scotland’s new Makar. Her writing is rooted in Scottish landscape and culture, as shown in her acclaimed essay collections Findings, Sightlines, and Surfacing. In 2020 she edited the first collection of contemporary Scottish writing on nature and landscape, Antlers of Water. Chaired by literary agent Jenny Brown.

Science and serious non-fiction books have never been so popular: engaging and informative books on subjects from evolution to immunology have captured the public imagination, resulting in an enthusiastic audience for science fact. In this lively session, award-winning medical writer Gavin Francis, geographer Fraser MacDonald, author of Escape From Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket, and Ed Lake, joint publishing director of Profile Books, talked about the current trends in popular science writing and serious non-fiction, and how to make complex ideas accessible to the general reader.

This session explored how writers can shape recollections and choose facts when writing memoir, and featured two acclaimed writers as they talked about how best to frame a personal story in an original way. Amy Liptrot’s powerful and inspirational memoir The Outrun was awarded the 2016 Wainwright Prize and was shortlisted for the 2016 Wellcome Prize.

Cathy Rentzenbrink is the author of The Last Act of Love, A Manual for Heartache and Dear Reader: The Comfort and Joy of Books, and a novel Everyone Is Still Alive. She speaks and writes regularly on life, death, love, literature, literacy and mental health. Chaired by literary agent Jenny Brown.

In Conversation with Marion Sinclair, Publishing Scotland - In this session, Marion Sinclair was joined by leading author, historian and broadcaster, Kate Williams, for an insightful discussion on the joys and challenges of writing historical fact and fiction. One of the most respected voices in her field, Williams also lends her expert knowledge across numerous TV and radio shows and offered her unique perspective on the dynamics of bringing history to life for readers, viewers and listeners.

XpoNorth was delighted to be joined by a genuine trailblazer, Kim Hawes in this session, as she discussed her career as a tour manager, challenging the largely male dominated structures of the time to break new ground for females in the music industry. Watch as she sits down with tour manager Olly Long for a gripping journey through some of rock 'n' roll’s true champions of debauchery.

Peter Urpeth is XpoNorth's Writing & Publishing Sector Specialist.

Our free 'Sector Support Programme' is for creative and cultural businesses based in the Highlands and Islands. It provides direct access to the Highlands and Islands network and works to support and connect practitioners across the creative industry in the region.

Find out more and apply here.


* indicates required

XpoNorth will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at info@xponorth.co.uk. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.