Home   News   Article

Top romantic comedy author is part of line-up at John O’Groats Book Festival's closing weekend


By Alan Hendry

Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.



Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Jenny Colgan is a major force in the world of romantic comedy.
Jenny Colgan is a major force in the world of romantic comedy.

Bestselling romantic comedy author Jenny Colgan will be part of the line-up at the concluding weekend of the fourth John O’Groats Book Festival.

Other prominent writers taking part in a series of activities from October 28-30 include Barbara Henderson, Margaret Bennett and Jennifer Morag Henderson.

The festival has seen a change of format this year, with a programme that began in March. It has featured guest writers, music, storytelling, workshops and school visits as well as the John O’Groats Story Walk.

Events over the closing weekend will be held at a number of venues within Groats along with one session at Lyth.

Organiser Ian Leith said: "The John O’Groats Book Festival is now in its fourth year. After being forced by the pandemic to go digital last time, we have returned to a physical festival and tried to put together a diverse group of writers that we hope will appeal to many tastes.

"They, the writers, are all experts in their fields and passionate about books and writing – so I urge the people of Caithness to support the festival, so that these writers can feel both welcomed and appreciated.

"I hope everyone has a great book festival weekend."

Barbara Henderson is the author of six historical novels for children.
Barbara Henderson is the author of six historical novels for children.

The weekend will begin in Lyth Arts Centre on Friday 28th with a film featuring two of Scotland’s most respected storytellers, Tom Muir and Bob Pegg. Earlier this year they recorded a session in which they shared traditional stories while also discussing the art of storytelling.

Saturday morning (October 29) will see readings and activities at the Inn at John O'Groats based on the recently published children’s book Finn and Friends, featuring Finn the Orca, Peter Puffin and Black Cat.

The Saturday afternoon brings together three diverse writers – Jenny Colgan, Jennifer Morag Henderson and Barbara Henderson – who will talk about their work before joining together in a discussion. The venue is the Together Travel corporate lodge.

Ayrshire-born Jenny Colgan is a major force in the world of romantic comedy.

She is the author of numerous Sunday Times bestselling novels and has won various awards for her writing, including the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance, the Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year and the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year.

Her books have sold more than five million copies worldwide and in 2015 she was inducted into the Love Stories Hall of Fame.

Jennifer Morag Henderson will take the audience back to the times of the Caithness earls.
Jennifer Morag Henderson will take the audience back to the times of the Caithness earls.

Jennifer Morag Henderson will take the audience back to the times of the Caithness earls and their frequent disputes with the House of Sutherland.

Jennifer, from Inverness, writes about history and biography. Her latest book is Daughters of the North: Jean Gordon and Mary, Queen of Scots.

A historical biography of Jean Gordon, and a re-examination of the 16th-century north of Scotland, it has been acclaimed by reviewers as “deeply researched and detailed”, “involving and satisfying” and “captivating”.

Barbara Henderson is an award-winning children's author, interactive storyteller and drama teacher, although in the past she has earned her living as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist among other roles.

Barbara is the author of six historical novels for children as well as the children's eco-thriller Wilderness Wars. In addition to winning two Young Quills Awards from the Historical Association for The Chessmen Thief (2022) and The Siege of Caerlaverock (2021), she has topped several national and international short story competitions and was shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013.

She is a member of the Time Tunnellers and is passionate about connecting young people with their heritage through stories.

Barbara is German by birth but, as she says, "Scottish by inclination". Her adult non-fiction book of the same name investigates a number of others who feel the same way.

She lives in Inverness where she also writes a fortnightly book column for a range of newspapers in the north.

Margaret Bennett is a folklorist, singer, storyteller and award-winning author.
Margaret Bennett is a folklorist, singer, storyteller and award-winning author.

The Saturday evening will feature Margaret Bennett "Waulking the Tweed" (Seaview Hotel). She will demonstrate the traditional process of rhythmically beating newly woven tweed while singing waulking songs.

A former lecturer at the University of Edinburgh School of Scottish Studies, Margaret is a folklorist, singer, storyteller and award-winning author. She is professor of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow), honorary teaching fellow at the University of St Andrews and honorary professor of antiquities and folklore at the Royal Scottish Academy (Edinburgh).

She has been recording and documenting oral histories for nearly 50 years and her books include Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave (third edition, 2019), Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec (1999) and We are the Engineers! A History of Scottish Working People (2015).

The Sunday morning will see Jennifer Morag Henderson talking about Inverness-born crime writer Josephine Tey. This event in the 8 Doors Distillery will be chaired by the area's own local crime writer, Keith Muir.

From left: Gail Anthea Brown, Charlotte Platt, Andrea Wotherspoon and Ian Leith at the launch of Finn and Friends at John O'Groats in June. Picture: DGS
From left: Gail Anthea Brown, Charlotte Platt, Andrea Wotherspoon and Ian Leith at the launch of Finn and Friends at John O'Groats in June. Picture: DGS

Jennifer’s biography Josephine Tey: A Life was listed as a Book of the Year by the Observer, the Independent and the Telegraph, and praised by critics in the Wall Street Journal, The Times Literary Supplement, the Literary Review and elsewhere.

The festival will close on Sunday afternoon with an interactive workshop on oral history (Together Travel corporate lodge). Margaret Bennett, along with Wick Voices, will be using a range of oral recordings with a focus on the history of mills and milling.

The festival has had funding from Foundation Scotland, the SSE Community Fund and the Caithness and North Sutherland Fund as well as support from Lyth Arts Centre, Together Travel, Seaview Hotel, John O'Groats Book Shop and 8 Doors Distillery.

A weekend ticket, allowing entry to all events, costs £20 and can be purchased in advance from Lyth Arts Centre. Buying a weekend ticket will also allow access to buy a first-edition whisky from 8 Doors Distillery.

Caithness author James Miller will be on hand to chair events.

Caithness author James Miller will be on hand to chair events.
Caithness author James Miller will be on hand to chair events.

Originally from Keiss, James studied zoology in Aberdeen and marine biology in Montreal. After working for the British Council, he became a full-time freelance writer.

He has written a number of acclaimed books, including Scapa, The Dam Builders, The North Atlantic Front, The Foresters, A Wild and Open Sea, The Gathering Stream, Swords for Hire and The Finest Road in the World.

In his latest book, based on the papers of the Dunbar family, James provides a detailed picture of the social and economic life in Caithness over the past 300 years.

Entry to individual events will be charged at £5 (at the door). More details are on the John O'Groats Book Festival Facebook page.

Jenny Colgan's acclaimed novel An Island Wedding.
Jenny Colgan's acclaimed novel An Island Wedding.
Jennifer Morag Henderson's new book, Daughters of the North.
Jennifer Morag Henderson's new book, Daughters of the North.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More