Book Week Scotland Write Up – Thanks!

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Well, that was a blast! Spent last week travelling around the country doing events for Book Week Scotland. Had an amazing time. Thanks to EVERYONE who came along, all the fantastic library staff who made me very welcome, and the Scottish Book Trust for the whole idea. Here’s some chat about the gigs below:

24th November, Penicuik Library
A lovely way to start the week. A healthy sized audience came along and asked loads of questions. Someone spilt wine all over the carpet before we even started – rowdy! I read from The Dead Beat, talked about mental health issues, and played a couple of songs. A feisty old dear in the front row asked if I wasn’t gigging so much because I couldn’t get the bookings. Cheeky. Someone who had read all the books said I put my characters through too much to ever write a series, they’d be basket cases. He could be right.

25th November, Portobello Library, Edinburgh
This is five minutes walk down the road from my house. Did some geographically specific readings from Gone Again and a short story called There Are Easier Ways to Kill Yourself, both set in Porty. Also played I Did It Deliberately, a song based on the short story. I talked about being obsessed with missing persons statistics while writing Gone Again. Cheery stuff!

26th November, Rothesay Library
A bus, two trains and a ferry and I was in Rothesay. Lovely place, though I only really saw it in darkness, stupid Scottish wintertime. Great event in the library – the staff were amazingly welcoming, the place was packed, and there were seemingly gallons of wine. I read from Smokeheads because it’s island-related, then my short story The Funeral Crasher. I loved the woman who said ‘I didn’t understand that story’. I played Keep it Afloat and the Bjork song. We hung around for a long time afterwards drinking and chatting, and Print Point Books sold a good few books. Would love to come back to Rothesay again, mibbes in daylight next time! Also, I picked up a couple of classic Chandler novels for 50p a pop in the wee shop in Weymss Bay train station on the way home. Bargain.

27th November, Bonnybridge Library
Libraries in the Falkirk area always do me proud, and this was no exception. The local reading group were along and had some great questions about Gone Again. I read from The Dead Beat, as well as part of my own obituary. I talked about being obsessed with death and funerals, and a psychiatrist in the audience said she was worried about me. Turned out the library was built on a cemetery. Spooky. And head librarian Naomi tried to stab me with a knife on the way to cutting a Book Week Scotland cake. Good times!

28th November, Arbroath Library
I grew up in Arbroath. My first book, Tombstoning, is set there. For the first time in years, everyone at an event had read Tombstoning (which is now out of print). Really nice audience, very friendly. One lady asked ‘Do you ever worry about giving your readers heart attacks, because when I read your books I can hardly breathe’. Awesome! I played a couple of tunes, and someone bought both my EPs afterwards. At the book signing bit I got a lot of this: ‘See the guy behind the bar in The Lochlands in Tombstoning, is that XXX?’ and ‘See the drunk teacher in Tombstoning, is that XXX?’ My lips are sealed. But yes, it is. Kind of.

29th November, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
What a way to finish the week! This was amazing. For a start, it was totally rammed with people, great atmosphere, cans of Red Stripe helping, natch. We had jazz from a live band, Hannah McGill read a brilliant ‘split-screen’ short story, there was noirish art from Stan Douglas and then me, reading from The Dead Beat, my obit, then The Funeral Crasher (the audience decided which story I’d read). Then I did a terrible cover of a Lemonheads song, then better versions of two of my own. Hollywood dude Ewen Bremner was in the audience, a crowd best described as ‘feisty’, I think i.e. half-cut.

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About doug johnstone

I like whisky
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