About

HighlandLIT meets regularly in Inverness at the Glen Mhor Hotel (Waterside building) and is managed by a voluntary committee, elected by the membership at the annual general meeting

The AGM for 2018 was held at the Glen Mhor Hotel on Tuesday, 15th January 2019 at 6.30pm. The meeting heard the annual report, delivered by Chair Paul Shanks. It then approved the new HighlandLIT constitution and  accepted the 2018 Financial Statement, re-elected the current committee members, and voted two new members on to the committee - Vee Walker and Conor O'Hara. See profiles of the committee members below.

Bringing together those with an interest in all things to do with the written word and the wider world of publishing, HighlandLIT provides a valuable opportunity to discuss projects, books, ideas and attend workshops

 

It also encourages members and guests to meet and ask questions of published writers and poets,

and hear them read from their work. Contact HighlandLIT here or on mailbox@highlandlit.com

Chair: Paul Shanks

My role as Chair in Highland Lit is very important to me; I enjoy that vital sense of a committed literary community in Inverness and the Highlands and am keen to perform an active role in promoting, supporting and creating opportunities for my fellow writers.

 

I currently work as Lecturer in English and Drama at Inverness College UHI. I also tutor in Creative Writing with High Life Highland (Adult Literacies) and run the Glints of Gold Writing Group in Inverness. Recently, I have been involved with a local theatre group (Bats In Action) as performer, occasional writer and (definitely amateur!) musician.

 

In 2017, I was very much involved as facilitator with HUG (Action for Mental Health) and helped produce the Reclaim anthology (in association with the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival). That year also saw the first anthology of works from the Glints of Gold group, entitled A Feast for All. The last of these was funded by the Scottish Book Trust and contains illustrations by Drew Hiller (our current Programme Co-ordinator).

 

My background is primarily in teaching and research and for a fair few years I was connected with the School of Language and Literature at Aberdeen University and the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies (also based at Aberdeen). I specialised in twentieth-century Irish and Scottish literature and was involved in the diaspora project at RIISS – a broad inter-disciplinary undertaking which sought to document and understand the impact of Irish and Scottish migration via historical, geographic and literary research.

 

After leaving Aberdeen University, I became involved within a rather different field of work with Turning Point Scotland (Aberdeen Social Enterprise) where I was responsible for helping people with a background of mental health problems and/or addiction gain work experience as a means of building up the confidence to return to employment. Both the academic experience and the work I did with Turning Point proved invaluable when I came to facilitate writing groups in Aberdeen and the Highlands.

 

I write poetry, fiction and drama. Some of my poems have been published in Causeway/Cabhsair and The Interpreter’s House.

Committee 2019

Treasurer: Trish Salt

After three decades of living in London, working as a manager within the health and voluntary sector, my partner and I decided to move to Inverness. We spent many a happy holiday in the Highlands, falling in love with its varied landscape and people. A fancy for a change of lifestyle came one sunny day whilst attending a friend’s wedding in Nairn. First off we rented a flat, found work, and then purchased an empty property that required much care and attention. Work on an old property is never really finished and this one will keep us occupied for some years to come, none-the-less it is our lovely home. 

It took a while to slow down from my hectic London life, and the feeling that I should always be doing something. Now, I’m happy to spend time standing still, staring at the view and feel healthier for it. I work as Receptionist for Inverness Therapy Clinic and frequently spend my leisure time walking, swimming or gardening. That said, my love of gardening is being challenged severely, previously never having had a garden overrun with ground elder. I am learning to work with nature, planting shrubs in the back garden whilst creating a rockery effect on the stony soil at the front.

In November 2016, I was elected Treasurer for HighlandLIT, bringing to the committee some of the skills acquired from working with charities, where managers are often jack-of-all trades. Committee work occupies a few hours each week, though the time invested is rewarded, such as, when a funding application is granted and an event successfully hosted. In a short time, I have gained much pleasure from the HighlandLIT author events, writing workshops, book reviews and conversations with members. I’m trying my hand at creative writing, having been inspired to believe that I too can write.

Secretary: Jayne Austin

My passion for reading began at an early age when it became a means of escapism from a fundamentalist upbringing.

 

This engendered a commitment to free speech, and I value the aims of HighlandLIT to bring together people and books in a safe and inclusive environment.

I grew up with friends from different continents which led to a natural curiosity about other cultures and a desire to travel far and wide. I’ve been privileged to see some beautiful places around the world; my adopted Highlands is where I found sanctuary amidst the Lochs and Mountains.

My favourite poet is: ‘Giacomo Leopardi’, an outsider who suffered for his Art and was an enviable Freethinker. I enjoy reading about inspiring people who overcome obstacles, whether personal or literal, large or small, on their journey through Life.

I have read my slam poetry at Open Mic nights. I Blog about the books I read, and I’m currently editing my first novel. I occasionally lead the monthly Book Club at Waterstones. When I’m not writing, researching or planning my next trip; I work part-time in Marketing and curate a small Gallery.

Programme and Publicity Co-ordinator: Drew Hillier

Drew is a Reuters-trained journalist with over twenty-five years experience working in London across the press, broadcast and publishing sectors, Drew has variously launched, published and edited numerous magazines, periodicals and journals. He has also written extensively for BBC Light Entertainment.

As well as the written word, Drew is renowned as a front cover illustrator, with a tally in excess of 400 individual pieces.

 

These days, having relocated to Inverness in the heart of beautiful Scottish Highlands, Drew is enjoying the fresh air and slower pace whilst continuing to tap his diverse range of interests, though with politics and current affairs never out of arm’s reach, his extensive cartoon and caricature portfolio covers a plethora of national publications, including Private Eye, the Sunday Times, The Oldie, The European, Viz, and Punch, plus several regional press titles and a variety of sporting publications.

Over the years, Drew has also enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Faber Music, for whom he has developed over a dozen books. This, principally, involved illustrating a large selection of best-selling music instrument tutor and repertoire works for young people.

As a Reuters-trained journalist with over twenty-five years experience working in London across the press, broadcast and publishing sectors, Drew has variously launched, published and edited numerous magazines, periodicals and journals. He has also written extensively for BBC Light Entertainment.

As well as the written word, Drew is renowned as a front cover illustrator, with a tally in excess of 400 individual pieces.

 

These days, having relocated to Inverness in the heart of beautiful Scottish Highlands, Drew is enjoying the fresh air and slower pace whilst continuing to tap his diverse range of interests, though with politics and current affairs never out of arm’s reach, his extensive cartoon and caricature portfolio covers a plethora of national publications, including Private Eye, the Sunday Times, The Oldie, The European, Viz, and Punch, plus several regional press titles and a variety of sporting publications.

Over the years, Drew has also enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Faber Music, for whom he has developed over a dozen books. This, principally, involved illustrating a large selection of best-selling music instrument tutor and repertoire works for young people.

Black Isle-based writer Vee Walker specialises in the unusual genre of family archive- based historical fiction. Her first novel, Major Tom’s War, was published by Kashi House in September 2018. An avid attendee of literary workshops, she looks forward to meeting members in the future and planning some innovative and unusual retreats with HighlandLIT.

Residential Retreats Co-ordinator: Vee Walker

Communications Co-ordinator: John Dempster

I was brought up in Lanarkshire, and moved to Inverness in 1992 when my Invernessian wife Lorna and I were married.  I worked in public and educational libraries. From 1992 until 1998 I was Educational Services Librarian with The Highland Council. I then became system manager for automated library systems, and ultimately, until my retirement in May 2017, was a member the High Life Highland ICT Team.

I’ve always been interested in books and in writing, from the days when Enid Blyton, Anthony Buckeridge, Stephen Mogridge and Malcolm Saville conjured an engulfing world. For a time, I managed a Christian bookshop in Glasgow, and completed two research degrees in the 1980s exploring the profitability and motivation of 19th century Scottish religious and theological book publishers. I published The T. & T. Clark Story: a Victorian Publisher and the New Theology in 1992.

Currently, I am the main writer on the Hilton Parish Church web site, and contribute the weekly Christian Viewpoint column to the Highland News.  A selection of these columns, Singing God’s Song was published by For the Right Reasons in 2011.

One of my retirement projects is to finish a book, a memoir charting my Christian faith journey from a fairly fundamentalist background to the broader, and more inclusive, place where I now find myself. The early chapters, driven by powerful memories, were easy to write, but I’m struggling with the more recent period, and I’m not sure if it’s ‘working’ probably because the story keeps changing shape in my mind. 

A second retirement project which I hope to move on to when the book is finished or abandoned, is to research and write a ‘spiritual history’ of Inverness - not the same as a church history – if a suitable range of sources exist.  I guess both projects are rather self-indulgent, and what really matters is living each day to the full, and seeking to be an encourager, a ‘blessing’ to those I meet.

I also volunteer at Highland Foodbank - Lorna is the local co-ordinator.

We were on holiday in Orkney in 2016, and I was exploring the life and writings of Orkney poets including George MacKay Brown.  I realised the extent to which writers benefit from support, understanding, and encouragement, and noticed that this is not always forthcoming. I wondered what I could do to help.  In September that year, I was asked if I would join the HighlandLIT committee, and this seemed to be the answer to my question.

I love working with the committee, and sharing in HighlandLIT events – meeting people, and encountering different ideas and perspectives help to shape my journey.

© 2019  Highland LIT

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