• Published on: 17th October 2017
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One of Britain’s most remotely-situated book festivals begins next week in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis with the aim of taking its audiences beyond the borders of the known world.

Headline writers at this year’s Faclan, which takes place at arts centre, An Lanntair, Stornoway, from Wednesday 25th – Saturday 28th October, include bestselling novelist, Michelle Paver, and mountaineering legend, Doug Scott. Both share a fascination with places beyond the known world.

The central theme of Faclan is Ultima Thule; a place in medieval geographies ‘beyond the borders of the known world.’ In the popular imagination, this is assumed to be the northern islands and territories. For writers it’s an endless territory to explore, revisit and reinvent.

Michelle, who will deliver the festival’s keynote Royal Literary Fund address said: “I read about Doug’s feats as part of my research for my latest novel, Thin Air, especially his 1979 climb of Kangchenjunga; the Himalayan mountain on which the book is set. I freely admit I didn’t go to quite those lengths when I was researching Thin Air so I can’t wait to hear Doug’s talk!

“It’s a huge honour to be giving the Royal Literary Fund lecture. I love the fact that my ghost stories fit perfectly with the theme of Faclan. My novel Dark Matter is set in the High Arctic, while Thin Air takes place on a Himalayan mountain. The icing on the Faclan cake is the fact the talk just before mine on the last night of Faclan is by Doug Scott.”

An Lanntair’s Head of Visual Arts and Literature, Roddy Murray said: “Faclan is tightly curated round a central theme to create a composite, holistic picture. It relies, not on the most topical but the most apposite, relevant and informed writers on a given subject.  It’s intense, focused, mind-expanding and – not least – hugely convivial and entertaining.

The Faclan line-up also includes Peter Mackay and Christopher Fleet, who have both recently been shortlisted in Saltire Society Literary Awards. Peter, for The Light Blue Book: 500 Years of Gaelic Love and Transgressive Verse and Christopher for Scotland: Mapping the Islands.

The full programme of events, talks and discussions will run from Wednesday 25th – Saturday 28th October 2017.

Leading writers, thinkers and commentators will be appearing, including a host of high-profile authors based in the Outer Hebrides. A variety of featured authors have offered insights into their writing and their thoughts on the theme of Ultima Thule

Supplementing the literary extravaganza, along with workshops and book launches, is a mini film festival with 10 short and feature-length films. This includes a rare opportunity to see Winter is Coming, Episode 1 of Sky Atlantic’s Game of Thrones, as a cinematic experience.

Faclan is distinct in its curated, orchestrated format.  Within this year’s wider programme there are 5 themed chapters to engage audiences.  They are: –

Absolute North featuring internationally acclaimed Icelandic photographer Ragnar ‘Rax’ Axelsson and one of our greatest nature writers Adam Nicolson.

Lands of Ice and Fire where Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough and Carolyne Larrington respectively, reference the Viking and the medieval worlds that have informed Game of Thrones.

The Language of Eden – which as everyone knows is Gaelic – features Peter Mackay on the hitherto under-exposed subject of the erotic in Gaelic verse. While John Murray is our tour guide on the Literature of the Gaelic Landscape from Sorley Maclean’s Hallaig to Neil Gunn’s Sutherland.

Over Land is literally just that:  An overview of the geographical and cultural landscape through the historic Mapping of Scotland’s Islands with the NLS’s Christopher Fleet and the contemporary forensic ‘aerographics’ of Patricia and Angus Macdonald.

High Altitude High Latitude juxtaposes mountaineering legend Doug Scott’s account of the brutal reality of extreme climbing, with the imaginative netherworld of Michelle Paver and her bone freezing ghost stories Thin Air and Dark Matter.

Faclan was founded in 2006 and takes place during the Celtic festival of Samhain.

The full line-up and tickets are now available at www.lanntair.com/faclan  Festival passes are available for £65/ £60 Concession, and tickets to individual events start from £4/£3