We're delighted to announce our keynote speakers.

Keynote speakers

Joanne Harris 

Joanne Harris, MBE has published seventeen novels including Chocolat, which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film. She has also written cookbooks and collections of short stories, and campaigns for public libraries and authors’ rights. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and has been a judge for several literary prizes including the Whitbread Prize, the Orange Prize, and the Desmond Elliott Prize and is on the Management Committee of the Society of Authors. In 2013 she was awarded an MBE.



Jane Johnson

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for over 30 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer. She was responsible for publishing the works of J. R. R. Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and worked on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, spending many months in New Zealand with cast and crew. In 2005 she was researching in Morocco for The Tenth Gift, the bestselling novel that went on to sell in 26 countries, when a near-fatal climbing incident caused her to rethink her future. She returned home, gave up her office job in London, sold her flat, shipped the contents to Morocco and six months later married a Berber chef, Abdellatif. The couple live in Cornwall and winter in a village in the Anti-Atlas Mountains, where Abdel runs a restaurant. Jane still works, remotely, as a publishing director for HarperCollins, where she is responsible for publishing George RR Martin, Robin Hobb, Dean Koontz, Jonathan Freedland, Michael Marshall Smith, Mark Lawrence, and SK Tremayne. Her own novels include The Tenth Gift, The Salt Road, The Sultan's Wife, Pillars of Light and Court of Lions. In 2012 Jane was made an honorary cultural ambassador between Morocco and the UK by HRH Princess Lalla Joumala of Morocco (currently Morocco’s ambassador to the US).



Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers under J. F. Penn. She also writes inspirational non-fiction for authors and is an award-winning creative entrepreneur and international professional speaker. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com is regularly voted one of the top 10 sites for writers and self-publishers.




Charlie Higson

Charlie Higson is a successful author, actor, comedian and writer for television and radio. 

He wrote the phenomenally successful Young Bond series, which has now sold over a million copies in the UK and has been translated into over 24 different languages.
The first novel in his bestselling zombie-adventure series for teenagers, The Enemy, was published by Puffin in September 2009, with the second The Dead, following in September 2010. Both books have been published to great critical acclaim.
After leaving university, Charlie formed a band, The Higsons. He then became a decorator before turning to the world of television and going into partnership Paul Whitehouse. His television successes have included Saturday Live, the Harry Enfield Television Programme, The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, Shooting Stars, Randall and Hopkirk Deceased, the film Suite 16, Swiss Toni and of course, the Fast Show.  Charlie is also a successful adult novelist and has written four thrillers, King of the Ants (1992), Happy Now(1993), Full Whack (1995) and Getting Rid of Mr Kitchen (1996).




Full Speaker Listings


Noel Chidwick is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Edinburgh based Shoreline of Infinity.  Shoreline of Infinity publishes a quarterly science fiction magazine, science fiction publications, and hosts Event Horizon - monthly live science fiction events held in Edinburgh and elsewhere. Shoreline of Infinity also runs projects such as ‘The Infinitesimals’  - short audio dramas and ‘SF Caledonia’ which explores early Scottish science fiction. Noel has written a collection of tales called ‘New Myths and Legends of Edinburgh’ and ‘Seeing Stars’ a play with songs and music, performed in the Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival. He is also singer-songwriter with Painted Ocean. @shoreinf


Mark Brown was creator and editor of One in Four magazine between 2007 and 2014. He writes regularly on mental health and has been nominated for Mind Charity’s mental health champion of the year and was listed for the Independent on Sunday’s Happy List 2014 of 100 people across the UK who made others happy. He works on a variety of mental health related projects. He also likes talking. @markoneinfour


Emily Dodd is the author of picture books featuring Scottish wildlife and non-fiction science books for HarperCollins and DK. Emily is a screenwriter for CBeebies science show Nina and the Neurons and has written for BBC Scotland Schools Radio.  She comes from a museum background and has written science shows, workshops and stories for the Scottish Seabird Centre, Edinburgh International Science Festival, the National Museums Scotland and Our Dynamic Emily was the 2012/2013 Scottish Book Trust Reader in Residence at Leith Library. @auntyemily


Celia Rees has written over 20 books for teenagers, and has become a leading writer for Young Adults with an international reputation. She has written in different genre, from gritty realism to historical fiction, ghost stories and horror. Her books have been translated into 28 languages and she has been shortlisted for the Guardian, Whitbread and WHSmith Children’s Book Awards. Her books have won awards in the UK, USA, France and Italy. Her latest book, This is Not Forgiveness, a dark, contemporary thriller, was nominated for several UK national awards and was one of Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of 2012 in the U.S. @CeliaRees


At school Caroline Dunford wanted to be a psychologist or a journalist. However both her parents and the school advised her to do a sensible English Lit Degree. Now, she is a qualified psychotherapist, counsellor, supervisor, tutor, lecturer, an ex-journalist, playwright and the author of over twenty books, including YA, Historical Crime, Thrillers and Gritty Crime. She has more qualifications than can easily fit on a business card, although she admits none of them is particularly exciting. She is the author of the bestselling Euphemia Martins Mysteries. @verdandiweaves


Linda Strachan lives in Scotland and is the Chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland (SoAiS). She is the author of over 60 books and writes for a wide range of ages from picture books to edgy Young Adult novels – including the bestselling Hamish McHaggis series and the award-winning YA novel, Spider. Her educational books are used in schools worldwide and she has also written a writing handbook, Writing for Children. An inspirational creative writing tutor and speaker, Linda travels widely, presenting in schools, libraries, universities, conferences and festivals at home and abroad, including a tour of schools with the New Zealand Book Council. @strachanlinda


Following ten years as a publicist, Sam Eades is now an editor building a list of commercial fiction at Trapeze Books, the newest imprint of Orion Publishing Group. Sam is looking for exciting debuts and repeating brands in the crime, reading group, women's fiction, SF crossover and psychological thriller areas. Her authors include Tilly Bagshawe, Sharon Bolton and new writers Luke Allnutt and Daniel Cole, whose debuts have been sold in over 30 countries around the world. @SamEades


Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator with some fifty books to his name. His work has won him the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award, among others, and been shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. He is a past chair of both the Translators Association and the Society of Authors. Recent books include the new Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature and a translation of a Brazilian novel. @danielhahn02


Ruth Martin translates fiction and non-fiction from German. Recent translations include Michael Köhlmeier’s novels Two Gentlemen on the Beach and The Girl with the Thimble, and Thinking Without Banisters, a volume of Hannah Arendt’s essays and interviews. Ruth also teaches at the University of Kent. She is a member of the UK Translators Association committee, and helps to run the Emerging Translators Network, a forum for early-career literary translators. @the_germanist


Francesca Main is Publishing Director at Picador, where her authors include Jessie Burton, Emma Flint, Naomi Wood, David Whitehouse and Cathy Rentzenbrink. She was named Editor of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2015. Francesca previously worked for Simon & Schuster and Penguin, and has also been a tutor for the Arvon Foundation and a guest speaker for Curtis Brown Creative and the Faber Academy. @francescamain


Kevin MacNeil is a Scottish novelist, poet, playwright, journalist and writing tutor born and raised in the Outer Hebrides, now living in London. His latest novel, The Brilliant & Forever, was published by Polygon in March 2016. Kevin’s previous novels, A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde (Polygon) and bestselling debut, The Stornoway Way (Penguin), were both published to widespread critical acclaim. His first book, Love and Zen in the Outer Hebrides (Canongate), won the Tivoli Europa Giovani International Poetry Prize for best poetry collection published in Europe by a writer under 35. MacNeil is shortlisted for 2017 Sunday Herald Culture Awards 2017 as Author of the Year. @Kevin_MacNeil


Denise Mina is the author of twelve-ish novels, six graphic novels, three plays and a two-gallon bucket of short stories. She made a film called 'Multum in Parvo'. Her most precious projects went nowhere. @DameDeniseMina


Elspeth Paget heads up the Private Client team at Gillespie Macandrew and specialises in Elderly Client law. She is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and holds the STEP Advanced Certificate in International Probate and Succession. She has tutored in the Diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Edinburgh and advises charities and their members on the importance of estate planning and putting in place powers of attorney.


Donald Winskill is an associate in Gillespie Macandrew’s Private Client team. He spends much of his time preparing custom-made wills that save tax, minimise the impact of nursing fees, and ensure that his clients' wealth passes to the right beneficiaries. Donald was the first Edinburgh-based solicitor to be accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a specialist in incapacity & mental disability law, of which there are only a handful in the country.


Ioa Petra’Ka authored the user manual for popular writing application Scrivener, and spends much of his time answering questions about it. He also works on the website and helps with software design. 


Sally Polson has been Senior Commissioning Editor at Floris Books for over eight years, working on children’s books from board books to teen, and on a wide range of non-fiction. She started her career editing children’s fiction for HarperCollins Children’s Books. Sally has worked with authors such as Ross Mackenzie, Lari Don, Louise Rennison and Helen Dunmore. She has two young children, and can’t wait until they’re old enough to enjoy Roald Dahl!


Caro Ramsay qualified as an osteopath over thirty years ago and now has one of the biggest multi disciplinary practices in Scotland.  Her patients include international athletes, professional dancers as well as office workers troubled by desk bound problems. She has also been known to treat a few bestselling authors! Her most valued qualification for her osteopathic approach is the fact she has a very bad back.


Duane Swierzcynski is an award-winning American crime novelist and comics writer of numerous titles for Marvel, DC Comics and others, including X-Men, Deadpool, Cable, The Immortal Iron Fist, Punisher, Godzilla and Judge Dredd. @swierczy



From 1988 to 2002John Jarrold ran three major genre imprints in London – Orbit, Legend at Random House and Earthlight at Simon & Schuster. Authors he published include Gerry Anderson, Iain M Banks, Greg Bear, Ray Bradbury, Terry Brooks, C J Cherryh and Arthur C Clarke. He commissioned the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction at Orbit.

Since 2004 he has run the John Jarrold Literary Agency, specialising in SF, Fantasy and Horror fiction. Clients have included Chris Beckett, Ramsey Campbell, Gary Gibson and John Gwynne. Awards won by clients include the Arthur C Clarke Award, the BSFA Award for Best Novel, the BSFA Award for Short Fiction, the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel and the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Debut. @johnjarrold