Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Secret of Their Success…

Craig Levein, Eddie Turnbull and Craig Brown at Hampden Park


The Management: Scotland’s Great Football Bosses was launched at Hampden Park on Wednesday 3 November in a fanfare of press attention as authors Michael Grant and Rob Robertson were joined by Scotland boss Craig Levein, former Scotland and current Motherwell manager, Craig Brown, and Hibs, Aberdeen and Queen’s Park legend, Eddie Turnbull.

Sky TV. BBC. STV. The Press Association. Thirty-five journalists from every top Scottish newspaper and photographers galore. The media furore at Hampden wonderfully reflected the momentous nature of the book’s subject matter. Never before has a book tackled the subject of Scotland’s extraordinary football managerial success, questioned why and how Scotland has produced so many of the very finest managers ever to be associated with the game and so exhaustively researched and interviewed so many key characters in search of the answer. And the result? One of the finest sports books to appear this decade; indeed, The Management is one of the finest sports books to have emerged in British publishing in living memory. Hyperbole? Have a read and I challenge you to find me many better. The scope and breadth of the subject matter is vast, the skill with which it is relayed is exceptional, and the relentless fascination that it engenders has you turning page after page after page. It is a truly enthralling story, one that goes beyond football, beyond the confines of Scottish club and international management and delves into the very heart of Scottish life and society, into the very heart of the Scottish psyche; it is a story that seeks out answers from the depths of Lanarkshire mines and Clyde shipyards to the glamorous corridors of Old Trafford, Anfield, Highbury and Stamford Bridge. With interviews ranging from the great men themselves, to the players who served under them, the men who assisted them, and to the family members who knew them best of all, no stone has been left unturned as Grant and Robertson seek to answer a question that has burned on a thousand lips since the halcyon days of Busby, Shanks and Stein, and which continues today as Sir Alex Ferguson’s wonderful achievements forge a path that a new generation of Scottish managers hope to emulate.

At the Hampden press launch, Levein, Brown and Turnbull were each in turn asked for their own opinions on why Scotland has produced so many star managers – and whether we will continue to see their like again. As each man threw up their own analyses – based on traditions of hard-work, honesty, leadership, team ethic and hardness brought to bear by their backgrounds and upbringing – it was intriguing to realise that each of their individual insights are covered and examined in detail within the pages of The Management. It is a spellbinding read, one that is set to become a classic, and has already received a swathe of glowing reviews:


‘Scotland’s record as a producer of outstanding team mangers dwarfs that of any other country in the world. This excellent book provides vivid and fascinating insights into that remarkable distinction’ – Hugh McIlvanney

‘the scale of this book is vast… wonderful, memorable and moving… intoxicating reading’ – The Scotsman

‘a seminal tome… fascinating’ – Daily Record

‘Superb’ – Daily Mail

‘A great book – very entertaining and well researched’ – David Moyes



http://www.birlinn.co.uk/book/details/Management--The-9781841588193/

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Curtain Twitching in Edinburgh as 'Inside Edinburgh' arrives in the office

There was much excitement in Birlinn HQ this week as our Inside Edinburgh title by David Torrance finally arrived. Luxurious cover, eye-catching and interesting content and....above all else, I can verify.... a great smell. We do love the smell of new books here in Birlinn, all gathering around incoming deliveries for that first waft as the boxes are cut open to reveal their spoils.

Now I don't know about you Birlinn fans but I often find that I miss so much of what Edinburgh has to offer in the way of architectural beauty simply because I'm always rushing around. I never look up when out walking (obviously, always best to keep your eyes on the road in front) but subsequently I miss out on all the spectacular touches and finishes that lie only a few metres above. The same is true of Edinburgh's stately homes and  their interiors. Despite so many opportunities to visit public venues and buildings I just never seem to find the time. Well Birlinn fans, if like me, you are high on good intentions but low on will power and time, Inside Edinburgh is the perfect antedote. Offering a rare glimpse inside 75 of Edinburgh’s grandest, humblest, sociable and sometimes most private buildings this book is high on taste, colour, detail and quality. The interiors covered range in theme from notable shops, hotels, clubs/societies to public houses, banks, domestic interiors and schools/colleges. Each interior discussed is accompanied by a breath-taking, specially-commissioned colour photograph and also complemented by a brief description, many of which reveal charming nuggets of historical and architectural insight.

Highlights include TL Walls Opticians’ glorious 1930s panelling, the restored Victorian splendour of Drumsheugh Baths Club – Edinburgh’s oldest private swimming club – and the elegant austerity of St Triduana’s Chapel within the precincts of Edinburgh Castle.

As Winter begins to draw in and the curtains are drawn that little bit earlier on these notable interiors, fear not, because Inside Edinburgh will reveal to you the best of what Edinburgh's fine buildings and homes have to offer. So don't let Winter spoil your fun and curiosity, grab a copy of Inside Edinburgh now from our wesite at http://www.birlinn.co.uk/ .

Until next time, keep those curtains twitching!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

It's Poetry but Not As We Know It

Poor William Topaz McGonagall. On 29th September 1902 he breathed his last, and many people in the world of poetry probably also breathed a sigh of relief. For the last 25 years of his life his prolific yet execrable rhymes and terrible scansion had commemorated terrible tragedies, heroic victories and great anniversaries alike.

But about the man himself little is really known. In fact, the first fifty years of McGonagall's life are, largely a mystery. Was he even Scottish? Now, award-winning author Norman Watson has taken up the challenge of unraveling the truth behind Scotland's other national bard in his brand new biography Poet McGonagall: The Biography of William McGonagall. It's an absorbing and revealing tale of how a one-time Dundee weaver became known by millions for his poetry, derided by most people but popularised by luminaries as diverse as the Goons, Monty Python, Peter Sellers, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Alexander McCall Smith is back online- Don't miss a moment!

Publishing phenomenon, Alexander McCall Smith, is back online, talking to readers around the world and following the lives of the inhabitants of the Pimlico mansion block, Corduroy Mansions. Follow him now, as he picks up the story and revisits old friends in a third volume of the global best-seller, Corduroy Mansions- A Conspiracy of Friends, a serial novel unlike any other. Meet up with Caroline and James, the egregiously charming Pimlico Terrier, Freddie de la Hay, the dreadful Oedipus Snark (the only truly nasty Lib Dem MP), William French and Marcia amongst others. Alexander is writing as you read and taking suggestions along the way.The serial novel grows online every weekday at www.telegraph.co.uk and will run until Christmas.

Missed the story so far? Get the last book, The Dog Who Came in from the Cold from www.birlinn.co.uk

Friday, 27 August 2010

Exciting Happenings at the Book Festival

Team Birlinn were out in force today at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to lend a helping hand to one of our resident authors, Alexander McCall Smith, in conversation with Jamie Jauncey.

The event, held in the main RBS Theatre, was packed to capacity with a most welcoming and auspicious audience. Among those in attendance was the UK Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media & Sport, the Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP.

The event was an untold success, with all present suitably charmed by the delightful McCall Smith, who enthralled us for 55mins with stories of Isobel Dalhousie, the down-trodden Bertie, Mma. Ramotswe and many of his other popular creations. We were all updated on his various series and there is much to look forward to in the coming installments, so keep your eyes peeled for new releases. In the meantime, if you can't wait, you can now purchase your very own copy of The Importance of Being Seven, the latest from the Scotland Street series, from our website and all good bookshops.

If we were not spoiled enough, the event also included beautiful musical interludes with an excerpt from McCall Smith's No.1 opera, Okavango Macbeth. From this we all learned that female baboons have much in common with the infamous Lady Macbeth and so should never be trifled with. Let it be a lesson to us all readers! We also heard a moving rendition of 'The Parting Glass' which left no heart untouched.

The beauty of the music complemented the charming tete-a-tete between Alexander and Jamie and we were all in agreement that 55mins just wasn't enough. Afterwards, Alexander met fans and signed copies of his current and past editions. From the line of fans snaking out of, and around, the signing tent, it was clear that Alexander, like his beloved characters, has an equally large and devoted following.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Scott-land by Stuart Kelly is BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week

Exciting times at Birlinn Ltd. Scott-land by Stuart Kelly is BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week from 16 August 2010! This is a gem of a book, thoroughly enjoyed by readers – whether they are an expert on Walter Scott, have a passing interest in the man and his work, or just want to know more about Scotland and its relationship with England – none more so than MSP, Michael Russell... ‘The book is (in my view and I use the term very rarely)  a contemporary  masterpiece -  absorbing , clever,  intuitive, scholarly and enlightening. I feel I know more about both the author and the country, or perhaps to be accurate I have more questions ( and perhaps more worries)  than I had before, though I have also had a great measure of entertainment in getting to that state... a magnificently intelligent book which will help and engage many others too.’
NOT TO BE MISSED, find it on BBC Radio 4, Monday 16th – Friday 20 August 2010, 09.45–10.00 (or on BBC i-player)

Signet Library Bookshop

If you are in Edinburgh over the festival, do come and see us in our beautiful new festival shop at the Signet Library, home to the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet, just off the Royal Mile at Parliament Square. Right in the heart of the old-town and festival-land, opposite the entrance to St Giles Cathedral, this is a wee festival gem. Books from great Scottish writers, contemporary and classic, children’s books, poetry, gift books and stationery (and even umbrellas should you be caught in an Edinburgh shower!). Open seven days a week, 10.00am to 6.00pm – see you there.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Ebooks

It's a brave new world for Birlinn books as we plan ahead for our exciting new Ebooks programme. Last week, I was in London attending an Ebook strategy course, and I'm thrilled to say that the work we've done so far (Rights! Conversion! Distribution! Retail Partners!) has us on track to get our Ebooks out in the very near future. I must admit, a lot of the technical information had me scratching my head (a lot of acronyms!), but luckily we will have great conversion partners on board to see us through. Everyone there was excited about the possibilities the digital world presents to publishers, it was hard not to get carried away with imagining where all this will take us! We'll keep you posted as we get nearer to the launch date.

VIKKI

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Up River Limited Edition

Darren Woodhead popped in today to discuss his new limited edition of Up River.
We are producing 50 bespoke, boxed editions with individual endpapers. Each book has an original painting by Darren on the Watercolour Endpapers - a nerve-wracking experience for the artist!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Ready, Set, Action! Filming Allan Burnett at Stirling Castle

I had the pleasure of taking a day out of the office on Friday to film Allan Burnett, author of the 'And All That' books, performing at Stirling Castle. A new venture for Birlinn, we hired some very fancy camera equipment and, along with film students Michael Kidd and Ross Hill, we headed to Stirling to catch Alan in action.

Appearing in purple tights and a doublet Alan certainly looked the part as he regaled crowds with his stories of James VI and the worst teacher in history, George Buchanan. His descriptions of Buchanan's giant skull and drew many laughs from the admiring visitors, and some of the kids were scandalised that the king drank ale as a child (little did they know the consequences of drinking water in the 16th century!).

Over the course of the day we gathered lots of footage of Allan in his element. It was fascinating watching the cameramen at work as they ensured that we had a range of angles, lighting, audio and establishing shots. As I write the footage is being edited into a short clip to promote Allan's great 'And All That' history books. So watch this space!

ANNA

Monday, 21 June 2010

Borders Book Festival

Sunday morning was spent back at the Borders Book Festival. Glorious sunshine and very good ice-cream. Alistair Moffat was talking with co-author Dr Jim Wilson about their work in progress, a book to be published by us here at Birlinn on Census day 2011 (1 April). The subject is the DNA history of Scotland and Alistair and Jim kept the audience (another packed tent-theatre) absolutely gripped as they talked about the Viking ancestry of the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the similarities between the DNA of the Scots and the English – and the differences, the journey of the first Africans who left that continent and populated the world. And all uncovered from generous members of the population offering their spit into tiny pots for the purposes of research.
JAN

Planning ahead for the summer?

. . . Or looking for somewhere to enjoy words and sunshine this weekend? Read on . . .

Edinburgh’s Signet Library was the venue for yesterday’s launch of the programme for the 2010 Edinburgh International Book Festival. A ten o’clock start saw very welcome bacon rolls served to members of the media, publishers, writers, agents and booksellers as they gathered to hear news of writers visiting the festival this year. Among the Birlinn writers appearing at the tented festival this August are Shirley McKay talking about her latest historical crime novel set in St Andrews, Fate & Fortune; Alexander McCall Smith talking about The Dog Who Came in From the Cold  - with well-known and well-loved actor Andrew Sachs as a guest on stage (Alexander is doing a further three adult events at the festival); Stuart Brown exploring the world of food that surrounds Alexander’s leading lady in The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agencywith  Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook; Andrew Orr and Angus Whitson discussing the success of their bestselling book on Bamse; Mairi Hedderwick giving a masterclass on the art of illustrating; Allan Brown on stage with two of the actors who appeared in the cult film The Wicker Man discussing his book, Inside the Wicker Man; another very great actor, David Rintoul on stage reading from Dr Finlay’s Casebook; Gillian Galbraith taking to the festival platform with Tony Black, two fine crime writers with new books set in Edinburgh; Kevin Macneil, appearing just a month before the publication of his new novel A Method Actor’s Guide to Jeckyll and Hyde (already hailed by Scotland on Sunday’s Stuart Kelly as ‘
the last, and funniest, word on Scotland's national schizophrenia’); Alistair Moffat introducing his latest book, The Faded Map; Robert Crawford giving the Saltire Society lecture;  and Stuart Kelly appearing on Walter Scott’s birthday to talk about his new book Scott-land. Tickets on sale from 26 June – www.edbookfest.co.uk

The second appointment of the day involved a drive down the A68 to Melrose and Abbotsford, the home of Walter Scott. Joined by Serena Fields from BBC Radio Scotland and author Stuart Kelly, we were visiting Abbotsford to allow Serena to interview Stuart about his new book Scott-land, in the wonderful setting that was his family home.  The interview will be broadcast on 12 July, just a few days after publication, on BBC Radio Scotland’s Book CafĂ©. Wandering around Abbotsford, you can see Walter Scott’s study where he wrote many of his books. His desk and chair are still in position, just as if the great man had left the room a few moments before. On such a summery day, the views out over the gardens to the Tweed from the library are exceptional.

Then a flying visit to Mainstreet Trading in the beautiful Borders village of  St Boswells – a destination bookshop that not only sells the finest books in the area but certainly serves the best coffee and hosts great literary events in a converted barn just a few steps away through the carpark. Michael Morpurgo is appearing there today. This stunning shop recently won the Children’s Independent Bookseller of the Year award (but they do sell books for adults as well as children).

And then to Harmony House in Melrose for the opening of the Borders Book Festival, a festival created by Birlinn author Alistair Moffat which attracts leading writers, politicians and broadcasters to participate -  and capacity audiences hungry to hear them speak and read. Highlights of this year’s festival which lasts over this weekend include... James Naughtie talking about the new Political Landscape; Kate Adie; William Fiennes, that remarkable children’s author Michael Morpurgo; our own John Aberdein;  Anne Lorne Gillies and many more. Two of the biggest annual literary awards are presented at the festival this weekend, The Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards and in its inaugural year,  The Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction. www.bordersbookfestival.org

JAN

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

At the end of last month, I found myself in the glorious setting of the University of St Andrews, overlooking the ruins of a castle and beyond that the sea. The sky was black and lightening lit up the scene as we launched Shirley Mckay’s latest book – Fate and Fortune, the second Hue Cullan mystery, set in St Andrews in the year 1581. Shirley was on fine form as she read from the book and the packed hall was absolutely still. As reading turned to party, family and friends were treated to a delicious feast of canapes, kindly prepared by the wife of Shirley’s agent, John Beaton.
The novel itself takes the young lawyer from the streets of St Andrew to the bustle of Edinburgh but returns him firmly to the Fife town, the setting for subsequent books featuring Hue Cullan, the next of which will be published in 2011. Those familiar with the town will recognise the locations – the castle, the cathedral, St Leonard’s College and many more. Those new to St Andrews will find a fine historical novel, set in a very real environment. In Shirley, Polygon have been fortunate enough to discover a writer of enormous talent. Waterstone’s and our key independent booksellers are all firmly behind her.
The drive home from the launch was one accompanied by rain, very large hailstones, thunder and several expensive looking warning lights lighting up the dashboard. Only one stop, at what has to be the finest fish and chip shop in that corner of the world... Dali’s Traditional Fish & Chips at Guardbridge.

JAN
FRI 4th JUNE, GARDENING SCOTLAND
Friday emerged as a bright and sunny day, perfect weather for the crowds of keen gardeners who flocked to Gardening Scotland at Ingliston. Birlinn were delighted to be involved in this fabulous event for the second year running. Last year we launched Ken Cox’s fascinating guide to Scottish gardens, ‘Gardening Scotland’. This year, as we had been invited to participate by the Italian Chamber of Commerce, we decided to continue the Italian theme by promoting Alistair Moffat’s ‘Tuscany: A History’. This is the only complete history of the region available in English; more of a story of the area than a guidebook. Alistair is a total Tuscan fanatic, and you cannot help but be infected by his enthusiasm as you read this beautiful and entertaining book.

It was fantastic fun to meet readers face-to-face, and numerous people took the time to let us know how much they like our books. One of the best comments of the day was “It’s nice to see a Scottish publisher being so active”. Although book sales weren’t quite as high as we were expecting, there was a lot of interest in ‘Tuscany’ and lots of people wanting to pass on good wishes to Alistair. So, all in all, a fun-filled sunny day with lots of lovely positive comments. Thank you to everyone who popped past the stall.

ANNA RENZ

Monday, 7 June 2010

Two early starts in a row and the long journey from Edinburgh to Hay Festival to promote The Dog Who Came in From the Cold (Alexander McCall Smith’s latest novel) proved well worth while this weekend. A 4.30am start on Friday to pick up Alexander and head to the airport, a hugely long security line but an event-free Easy-Jet flight down to Bristol. And then a delightful drive over to Hay, arriving in the picturesque village which straddles the English/Welsh border at 9.30am. Book-tourists, authors, the famous and the infamous were in town, enjoying the early summer sunshine and relaxed atmosphere that accompanies this festival. Alexander’s events both went well. The first was a recording of the Sky Arts Book Show presented by Mariella Frostrup. Alexander’s fellow guests on the sofa were the actress Virginia McKenna (remember Born Free?) and rock legend, Queen guitarist Brian May. You can only imagine the thrill for a mere publicist to find herself in the greenroom sitting with these three greats. Thank you to Brian for patiently listening to me witter on about We Will Rock You and the delightful experience I had in Edinburgh last year as a mother taking her fourteen year old son to this show and getting the opportunity to introduce him to the music of one of the world’s greatest bands. (And then having to fork out for another ticket the following night because he’d loved it so much!)


The second event of the day was Alexander McCall Smith in conversation with his dear friend, Paul Blezard. Both were in fine form and entertained the capacity crowd for just over an hour in the biggest Hay tented theatre. I’m not sure of the exact capacity but it is certainly over 1000. Those walking by outside must have wondered what on earth was going on as the audience was reduced to tears of laughter as Alexander read to the audience about Oedipus Snark, the only nasty LibDem MP and the exploits of Freddie de la Hay, a Pimlico terrier, enlisted by MI6 to spy upon suspect Russian businessmen. A signing queue that lasted over and hour followed before we retired to the main green room for a well-earned glass of chilled white wine.
4.15 on Saturday morning for the return journey home but the driver was very late and we made it to Bristol airport at 6.30am for a 7.10 flight. But the queue for security! Snaking right around the airport. We ran for fast-track, paid £10 for the privilege of getting to a shorter queue and made it to the flight.
Remember – add more time to the schedule for security queues at British airports this summer!
And don’t miss Alexander talking about The Dog Who Came in From the Cold on BBC Radio 5 today. Find it on iplayer.

JAN RUTHERFORD (Publicity and Marketing Director)

Last Wednesday, Daunts Book shop in Marylebone saw the launch of Michael Holman’s new novel, Dizzy Worms, the third title in the Last Orders at Harrods trilogy set in Africa. Michael’s unique knowledge of the continent stems from his many years as Africa editor for the Financial Times and many travels throughout Africa. We were treated to readings of the novel, which sounded as good read out loud as it does on the page. Daunts Marylebone, a travel book, is very atmospheric and was the perfect setting for Holman’s exotic Dizzy Worms. Some people had come from as far as Berlin, as well as Birlinn. The turn out was excellent and the cliental reflected Michael’s fine literary reputation among the great and the good. In fact, among those reading were Sir Edward Clay (British High Commissioner to Kenya) and his wife Ann. I am pleased to report that 64 copies of Dizzy Worms were bought, and then signed by Michael, who was delighted with the evening, as was the highly appreciative audience. We also learned that the title of the book comes from the African joke, “What do you call worms that have been put into a tin can that is then shaken around. Answer - Dizzy Worms.” The title is suggestive of Holman’s observations of a continent he knows and understands as only someone who knows Africa as well as he does could.
BOB SMITH (Sales Manager)

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Witness to Rebellion; John Maclean’s Journal of the ’Forty-Five and the Penicuik Drawings.

Today, I am finishing off the design and layout of the new edition of 'Witness to Rebellion; John Maclean’s Journal of the ’Forty-Five and the Penicuik Drawings.

It has been a fairly arduous process, for although I designed the first edition back in 1996, recovering and assembling the old digital files has proven difficult (the first printer having gone out of business). It would indeed have been easier to start again from scratch. Still, it is almost done now and is looking very handsome (if I do say so myself).

The Journal of John Maclean is the first-hand account of the experiences of an officer of Prince Charles Edward’s army from August 1745, through Prestonpans and the taking of Edinburgh, the march into England to Derby, the withdrawal to Scotland and the final retreat to Drummossie Moor near Inverness, where Maclean was killed in the Battle of Culloden. It is the most poignant telling of the events of the '45 rebellion that I have come across.

I addition, a remarkable series of drawings from the Clerk Collection at Penicuik House offers a unique view of the participants on both sides of the ’Forty-Five: a Rising for some, for others a Rebellion. No other comparable collection of images is known. These sketches were made in part as a factual record, but more so as an exercise in caricature, perhaps as a diversion from the very real dangers and disasters of the time. The result is an insight on the ’Forty-Five that is both telling and humorous.

JIM

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Putting on the glad rags. . .

A chance to pull out the old frock, give it dust down and hit the town with the very cream of Edinburgh society. The occasion? The UK premiere of Okavango Macbeth, an opera written by one of the world’s most popular authors, Alexander McCall Smith and the Edinburgh composer, Tom Cunningham. The hour-long performance of the opera was part of a glittering fund-raiser for Save the Children, held in the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh. And raise funds it certainly did. The evening was a magnificent occasion from the early evening champagne reception, sponsored by Moet & Chandon, through the opera and dinner, to a charity auction finishing off the night.

The opera, The Okavango Macbeth, is set in Botswana. Alexander was keen to write an opera set in that beautiful country and wanted to create opportunities for local singers there. He created the Okavango Macbeth after reading a book entitled Baboon Metaphysics and  a chance meeting with its author, a primatologist in the Okavango Delta. He observed that Baboon society has strong female figures and it occurred to him that this was the perfect  setting for the plot of the famous Shakespearean  tragedy.



So last night, soloists from Glasgow’s Royal Academy of Music and Drama and a chorus from Edinburgh Studio Opera, took to the floor and entertained the audience of 250 with a moving  performance. The energy of individual members of the cast was quite astonishing and the entire performance a celebration of nature. Nicholas Ellengbogen, one of the world’s most distinguished theatre producers, had transformed the Dovecot Studios (an old victorian swimming pool, now refurbished as a beautiful gallery and performance space – well worth a visit) with minimal staging and the performers took on the roles of animals with a great deal of grace and good humour.

After the performance, the standing ovation and a lavish dinner, I have to confess that I sat on my hands as I watched thousands of pounds being raised through bids at the charity auction. Lots which included a silver sculpture inspired by the opera and created by the renowned artist Patrick Mavros, a childhood friend of Alexander’s; a week behind the scenes with Bonhams in London or Edinburgh; a week in a chalet in Verbier and many other top notch gems – raised almost £40k. All just a little beyond my credit card but fascinating to watch.



What an opportunity, to be at the first UK performance of such a piece. An opportunity for which I will always be grateful.

Jan

Monday, 26 April 2010

Alexander McCall Smith grounded

A strange week with many travel plans disrupted including those for publishers heading to the London Book Fair. Colleagues report a much quieter fair than anticipated and now they have the struggle of getting home to Scotland.
Volcanic ash has brought preparations for Alexander McCall Smith’s planned speaking tour in the USA to a shuddering halt. Sadly, the decision had to be taken to abandon what would have been a sell-out tour taking in New York, Cincinnati, Greenville, Washington DC, Raleigh, Minneapolis, Houston,  South Hadley, and Boston before travelling on to Toronto in Canada. Alexander now plans to use the time to do transcontinental interviews by phone and on the internet and to concentrate on his writing. He is hoping that his American reader’s will understand that the situation is out of his hands. He was looking forward to his conversations with them but both sides will have to wait a little longer.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Animated Corduroy

I wonder how many folk have seen the animated sequence on our website, promoting the two books from the author Alexander McCall Smith? The first was 'Corduroy Mansions', and the second, due to launch shortly, is 'The Dog Who Came In From The Cold' which follows on. Click the Flying Battery on the right to view!

After the huge success of the 44 Scotland Street series, Alexander McCall Smith ‘moved house’ to a crumbling four-storey mansion in Pimlico – Corduroy Mansions. It is inhabited by a glorious assortment of characters: among them, Oedipus Snark, the first ever nasty Lib Dem MP, who is so detestable his own mother, Berthea, is writing an unauthorised biography about him; and one small vegetarian dog, Freddie de la Hay, who has the ability to fasten his own seatbelt. (Although Corduroy Mansions is a fictional name, the address is now registered by the Post Office.)

We would love to have some feedback from you about the animation and hear what you think of the site overall -
www.birlinn.co.uk

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Out and About


Out and about over the last two weeks with Alexander McCall Smith. Events took place in Edinburgh with Fidra books with a delightful group of children from Bruntsfield Primary school reading from his latest book; London and a packed-out annual event with Daunt books in Marylebone High Street – the 11th event we’ve done with Alexander in this supportive and truly wonderful shop; Wivenhoe where he met and took tea and scones with the ‘ladies who knit’ at the Wivenhoe bookshop; Felsted School in Essex for an event within the Essex book festival (Alexander in conversation with the headmaster and one of the pupils to a packed hall with an audience from all areas of Essex and well beyond) and then back to Scotland for a second event in Edinburgh with Fidra at St Cuthberts Church; and two events with Main Street Trading (who serve the best coffee in Scotland) in a converted barn behind their shop in St Boswells near Melrose in the Scottish Borders. The weeks also included a live interview on BBC Radio 4 Start the Week, a recorded interview for BBC 3 Requests with Fiona Talkington and press interviews around the country. Coverage in the fortnight included a very moving article in The Observer magazine on a year spent in Belfast at the height of the troubles.
While on the road I had the opportunity to meet up with former actor and now writer, Max Benitz. A delightful young man with a very promising future as an author.
(Jan Rutherford, Marketing Director)

Trip North


Yesterday, Tom Johnstone and Jim Hutcheson drove up north to Loch Tay to visit Keith Brockie, the wildlife artist. He lives near the old village of Fortingall (where legend has it, Pontius Pilate was born)
Keith is returning to the Isle of May on the east coast to follow up the famous work he did there back in the early eighties. It looks set to be an exciting project.