Instead of a visit to Pitlochry, book readers can ‘meet’ a whole range of authors without reaching for their masks and car keys thanks to Winter Words being online this next fortnight.
The annual festival hosted by PFT for talked-about books and their authors has a first 60-minute talk on Monday, February 14 with Craig Russell, author of Hyde.
The PA spoke to three speakers who have online sessions which look set to be popular.
On Sunday, February 20 Pitlochry Theatre’s Winter Words Festival will provide a link for people at home to hear from the author of the exciting fiction thriller, How To Survive Everything.
This is by Ewan Morrison, whose previous novels have won the Saltire Fiction Prize, the Glenfiddich Scottish Writer of the Year Prize, and the Creative Scotland/SMIT Fiction Book of the Year Prize.
How To Survive Everything is a story about a teenage girl who is kidnapped by her survivalist dad.
It has won high praise from established writer Irvine Welsh who called Morrison’s book “provocative, intelligent and original.” The tale is being developed into a TV series.
How To Survive Everything is set out as a guide, seemingly written by 16-year-old Hayley, who is trying to give herself courage in very testing circumstances, having been abducted by her dad who thinks civilization is crumbling.
“It is a manual for herself,” Wick-born Ewan explained.
“She’s being kept under armed guard in a remote place – Sutherland in my imagination though I never say as much – and this is her way of talking herself through the situation.
“I’m an individualist and I hope this book set out through Hayley’s various social media apps has some tips for the reader. I think we need stories to live by.
“Fiction can help us to survive in the uncertain modern, materialist age.”
Catch Ewan’s talk next Sunday at 3pm.
Tickets cost £10 (plus a fee of £1.75) from www.PitlochryFestivalTheatre.com and a link will be given on the day.
Another man writing fiction from a female’s point of view is Kenny Boyle.
The TV and film actor from the Isle of Lewis takes the virtual stage just before Ewan Morrison on Sunday 20, at 2pm.
Kenny’s book The Tick and the Tock of the Crocodile Clock is about what happens when Wendy meets wild child Cat, who quickly leads her astray. The pair end up stealing a piece of art.
It’s a story about friendship and loss, of how in your early twenties, it can be a time to find where you fit into the world.
Kenny set the novel in Glasgow’s South side, where he went to school and university.
He got the desire to write a debut novel during lockdown when he took long walks and had private moments to let his mind “go to new places”.
Kenny told the PA that he looked forward to connecting with a live audience online at Winter Words.
“I’m hoping the audience will lead what takes place when it’s time for my talk.
“The book is not out until May, so nobody except the publisher has read it yet, so I will read exerts and then rely on people to put questions to me.
“I’m excited that you come up with something, then it’s over to the audience to tell you what it has become.
“I’d rather change one person’s life than influence a thousand people, just for an afternoon.”
The history of the unique place that has continued to develop as Pitlochry Festival Theater is being told on Sunday 20, the final day of Winter Words, by retired solicitor, local historian, Pitlochry resident and PFT chair of the trustees for nine years, Colin Liddell OBE.
Colin compiled a fond round-up of Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s first 70 years, from its founding in 1951, as part of what should have been a magnificent 70th anniversary season.
However, because of COVID, Colin’s talk on the history of this wonderful Highland Perthshire theater has had to wait until now.
With a new 172-seater second performance space just weeks away from opening, Colin is in a very positive place to recount the past, present and future of PFT.
The building opened in 1981 and a project to enlarge and update it has been around since 2014. The Tay Cities Deal has pledged £10million and other funders are in place to see an exciting advancement of the original concept.
“PFT owes its existence to one person – John Stewart – whose persistence in the face of post-War adversity and whose fortune – created a theater in a tent in 1951, during the Festival of Britain,” explained Colin. “Catastrophically, the tent ripped from top to bottom in an autumn gale in 1953. By then John Stewart had insufficient money to rebuild and so, showing great presence and altruism, he gave the theater and all its belongings to a new charity. It is that same charity which still runs the theater to this day.
“We have become the ‘people’s theatre’. We clearly serve a local audience, but a much wider national one too.
“Now we dust down after another time of adversity, but the COVID period saw us become immensely successful.
“PFT’s 2020 Adventures of the Painted People was heard on BBC Radio 3.
“We reached three million people, we put out 437 days of PFT content online.
“It led to UK Theater awarding us a highly commended award for being ‘artistically confident and prolific’ when theaters everywhere had to retreat. I’m so proud PFT was the model of what a local theater should be.”
Colin’s talk is on Sunday, February 20 at 12.30pm. Buy tickets for Winter Words talks from the PFT website www.PitlchryFestivalTheatre.com