About

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

The AGM for 2019 was held at the Glen Mhor Hotel on Tuesday, 21st January 2020 at 6.00pm. The meeting heard the annual report, delivered by Chair Paul Shanks. It then accepted the Financial Statement  for 2019, and elected the following committee members: Chair: Paul Shanks; Treasurer: Trish Salt; Secretary: Jayne Austin (Job-share); Secretary: Cathy Fuga-Carr (Job-share); Programme Co-ordinator: Malcolm Timperley; Publicity Co-ordinator: Drew Hillier; Website and Newsletter Co-ordinator: John Dempster

​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 2020

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 (Job-share): Jayne Austin

Picking up a pen meant crossing a psychological line for me as I’d grown up in an atmosphere of silence. It wasn’t until in later life that I acknowledged letting go of the darkness allows for new light to flow in.

I’ve written a novel which has been professionally edited and I’m in a hiatus until I get back in the zone to refine it. You can listen to some poems on the HighlandLIT Vimeo channel where you’ll sense the Cult upbringing. I’ve always been an avid reader; it’s a perfect means of escapism. I enjoy taking turns leading the monthly book club at Waterstones.

Travel and photography are two passions. I’ve recently self-published a book called: ‘SIMPLY ABSTRACT’ where I showcase my macro images and seek to push the boundaries within the field. I would class them as ‘genre defying’.

Photo: Jayne on Old Route 66,

Arizona, America

Informed by the COVID lock-down, in June 2020 I found myself drawing nearly a hundred charcoal sketches and I’m mulling over how to translate these to a larger scale, if a charcoal stick big enough exists do so! I love its feel and texture and messiness.

I have been a member of HighlandLIT for several years because I value its commitment to bringing books and people together. I am four years into the post of Secretary. I’m not really a committee person but have made treasured friends whose wealth of experience I value for its support and encouragement.

In addition to HighlandLIT, I curate the UPSTAIRS Gallery and am involved with Dogstar Theatre. My secular background is a series of reinventions which includes working in international marketing.

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.

Programme Co-ordinator:

Malcolm Timperley

Dear Dr Timperley,

 

As requested, here is your Build Your Own Author’s Bio. Invoice to follow.

 

Regards,

The Write Stuff plc.

 

(Detach Here)

******************************************

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

I'’m [insert name or alias], born on [insert approximate date of birth] in [a Transylvanian castle / an Indian ashram / a Croydon bus shelter – delete as applicable for intended audience]. Over the years I’ve done various jobs including [amateur psychiatrist / mortuary stunt double / inflatable dartboard salesman – delete as applicable] but am now a part-time [man of mystery / carbon-based lifeform / invisible friend – probably best to leave all these in]. I turned to writing fiction having been motivated by [my cellmate / Jeffrey Archer – delete one unless both apply] and time in [detox / denial / Broadmoor Hospital – only leave all of these in for amateur psychiatrist, above].

 

[Copy and paste pretentious guff from the internet about writing here].

 

My fiction has been published by [insert plausible-sounding publishing company name]  and has won [insert fiction(al) writing competitions]. I am currently writing [my next trilogy / ransom notes / “Mein Kampf, The Musical” – delete as applicable].

Website and Newsletter 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.

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.

© 2020  Highland LIT

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