Scottish Beasties
Media Mentions

My Experience of the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Scottish Beasties at the Edinburgh International Book Festival'Yiphee!' … followed by … 'Oh, oh! What have I DONE?'

I had just been asked to talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival … but I get REALLY nervous when making speeches.

As Editor of the Field Guide, I knew the contents well but I still would have preferred the author, Lachie Dundurn, to be giving the talk as he knows EVERYTHING there is to know about Scottish Beasties.

Sadly, with Lachie kidnapped by the Faeries, I'd have to do it myself.

The big day arrived and I awoke early with butterflies in my stomach.

I have just lost at Wheech the keech!Would I forget my lines? Would the slide show work? Would anyone turn up? What if the audience did turn up and then stayed silent?


William McLean Kerr, the artist and I arrived early in Charlotte Square, having a picnic whilst watching people wander between tents. Occasionally, we'd spot a celebrity marching purposefully to or from book signings.

With 45 minutes to go, we were being looked after superbly by the book festival staff, 'backstage' in the authors’ Yurt (a very comfortable Mongolian tent) set aside for those presenting at the Festival. There, we met our Chairwoman, Margaret, whose job was to introduce us to the audience and make sure that we didn’t over-run our time slot. She also guided us to the venue.

Do you think anyone will notice that I’ve just been wheeched with keech?Worryingly, I realised that somewhere between squeezing through the crowds on the boardwalk and entering the ‘Imagination Lab’, my fluttering butterflies had turned into stampeding elephants. Panic … but there was no escape … the audience was filing in!

Like a rabbit caught in a car’s headlights, I stood, mesmerised, as they seated themselves. Margaret introduced us and then I watched as she turned (seemingly in slow motion) towards me. Silence. My brain did register that Margaret had stopped talking. Silence The audience waited expectantly. Silence. What was my first line again?

William gathers lots of suggestions for the Charlotte Square Beastie.I cleared my throat, blurted something out and then I was off … rattling through topics as varied as who had kidnapped Lachie, expedition preparations, hand signals, animal tracks, the best locations for spotting each species and showing actual photos of Scottish Beasties sent in by other trackers.

Finally, William asked the audience to help him create their own Charlotte Square Beastie which led to a riot of brilliantly inventive suggestions being shouted out as William did his best to jot them all down.

All too soon, Margaret was on her feet telling us that our time was up.


We’ve hardly started!

But she was right. The hour had flown by thanks to the wonderful responses of the boys and girls (and grown ups!) to our many varied questions.

Getting to meet all our fantastic Beastie Trackers and sign their books after the show. I STILL have cream on the side of my head !?*!Then it was off along to the book signing tent to meet our terrific trainee beastie hunters - and what a nice bunch they were too!

And after they were gone … we were left sitting there … our event over and now just two of the crowd of visitors to the Book Festival free to relax and enjoy the events that others were getting nervous at!

So, to sum it up, if I was asked to do it all again, would I?

Absolutely, definitely, 100%
…YES !!!!

Would I change anything?

Um … er … well maybe … just the one.

Next time, someone else can 'catch' the Faerie punishment of 'Wheech the Keech!'

My hair was sticky for hours after that !?*!

Press Cuttings

The Scottish Beasties Pocket Field Guide at the SECC


The 'Scottish Beasties Pocket Field Guide' at Scotland's Trade Fair, Glasgow. Even though these are only pictures on a banner, the beasties are still trying to keep hidden behind a post !