Guest Speakers & Adjudicators 2020/21

Over the course of the year, 8 invited Guest Speakers will visit Ayr Writers’ Club to talk about their writing routines, their working methods, and their publications.

There will be an open Question & Answer session in the latter half of the evening, an opportunity to delve a little deeper into a professional writer’s thoughts and working practices.

Many of our Guest Speakers will also adjudicate, and feedback, on every individual entry submitted for each of the club’s ten writing competitions, to their specialist field.

4th November – Donald Reid, Guest Speaker & Adjudicator 

Donald is a Scottish author specialising in local and social history.

Born in Dalmellington, and now living in Beith, he has written books on the history of the Garnock Valley and Doon Valley. His focus is for the individuals that make up our local communities, the social context of their lives.

A former police officer, he retired from the force in 1999 with the rank of Police Superintendent. He is currently a local councillor.

In 1994 he was accorded the honour of being selected as Beith Citizen of the Year, for his extensive voluntary work.



Cumnock Chronicle

18 November – Graeme Macrae Burnet, Guest Speaker


Graeme Macrae Burnet is one of Scotland’s brightest literary talents, winner in the Author of the Year category for the 2017 Sunday Herald Culture Awards (aka Scotland’s Oscars).

Born and brought up in Kilmarnock, he spent some years working as an English teacher in Prague, Bordeaux, Porto and London, before returning to Glasgow and working for eight years for various independent television companies. He has degrees in English Literature and International Security Studies from Glasgow and St Andrews universities respectively.

His first novel, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau (Contraband, 2014), received a New Writer’s Award from the Scottish Book Trust, was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award and was a cult hit. Set in small-town France, it is a compelling psychological portrayal of a peculiar outsider pushed to the limit by his own feverish imagination.

His second novel, His Bloody Project, concerns a brutal triple murder in a remote Scottish Highland community during the 1860s. Lauded by critics and hugely popular with readers, His Bloody Project won the Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the LA Times Book Awards. It has been published around the world.

Graeme’s third novel, The Accident on the A35, is a literary mystery that takes place in Saint-Louis, the sleepy French backwater that was also the setting for The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau. It features the diffident Inspector Georges Gorski investigating a seemingly unremarkable fatal car crash – but where has the victim, an outwardly austere lawyer, been on the night of his death? Darkly humorous, subtle and sophisticated, The Accident on the A35, was published in October 2017.



Books of My Life

2nd December – Jenny Lindsay, Guest Speaker & Adjudicator


Jenny Lindsay uses spoken word poetry performance to explore key questions in sexual politics, gender, feminism and the culture wars.

As an acclaimed performer, joint winner of the 2020 John Byrne award for Critical Thinking, Jenny has appeared across the UK and internationally at a variety of festivals and events, including Latitude and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The Scotsman described her work as ‘Defiant. Eloquent. Inspiring.’



The John Byrne Award for Critical Thinking, 2020

13th January – Henry Bell, Guest Speaker & Adjudicator



Henry Bell is a writer and editor living on the Southside of Glasgow. He is the managing editor of Gutter Magazine, a biannual literary magazine which was the bestselling book at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2018.

His poetry has appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, and in 2014 Henry was part of the Mungo’s Mirrorball Clydebuilt programme under the mentorship of Gerry Cambridge.

Henry has edited books including A Bird is Not a Stone, a collection of contemporary Palestinian poetry in translation. He has collaborated on work for the stage with Sara Shaarawi and their plays have been performed in Edinburgh and Cairo. He has also had monologues performed at the Oran Mor in Glasgow.

Henry’s biography, John Maclean: Hero of Red Clydeside, was published in 2018.


Gutter Magazine

13th January – Tim Clare, Guest Adjudicator


Tim Clare is a writer and performer. He has has appeared on Radio 1, 2, and 3, written for the Guardian and The Times, and presented the Channel 4 series, How To Get A Book Deal. As a stand-up poet he performs at clubs and festivals across the UK, including Glastonbury, Latitude, Leeds and Reading.

He is the author of The HonoursThe Ice House, and We Can’t All Be Astronauts (winner of Best Biography/Memoir – 2009 East Anglian Book Awards).

He presents the creative writing podcast, Death Of 1000 Cuts, for anyone who wants to know how to write a novel, write great fiction, and get published. His Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp is a free 8-week writing course by podcast.

Tim is also a stand-up poet with several award-winning 5 star shows under his belt.




20th January – Linda Strachan, Guest Speaker & Adjudicator


Linda is an award winning author of over 70 books with over 20 years experience. She writes for all ages; from gritty crime novels for young adults to picture books, including the bestselling Hamish McHaggis series. She has written for educational publishers and her books are used in schools all over the world and have been translated into several languages.

An inspirational speaker, Linda is passionate about speaking to adults and children about writing, and running workshops on all aspects of creative writing at conferences, libraries, universities and schools all over the UK and as far afield as Cairo, and in New Zealand where she toured schools with the New Zealand Book Council. She is currently Patron of Reading to Liberton High School in Edinburgh and former Chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland. 

Her latest books pub. 2019 are a fact/fiction middle grade: The Dangerous Lives of the Jacobites, and the Writers & Artists Guide to Writing for Children and YA.




3rd February – Karen Jones, Guest Speaker


Karen Jones is addicted to flash and short fiction writing competitions, and is a perennial long/short-lister – Commonwealth Short Story Competition, Bath Flash Fiction, Bath Short Story, To Hull and Back, TSS 400, HISSAC – though she has reached the prize-winning stage with Mslexia, Flash 500, Words With Jam, Ink Tears and Ad Hoc Fiction.

Her work is published in numerous ezines, magazines and anthologies. Her story Small Mercies was nominated for Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize and is included in Best Small Fictions 2019 and the BIFFY50 2019.


Small Mercies – Best British & Irish Flash Fiction 50, 2019

17th March – Isi Nimmo, Guest Speaker & Adjudicator



Isi Nimmo is a local stage director who has worked extensively throughout the theatres of the UK.

With a successful professional career born out of RADA Stage Management training, she has close affiliations within the theatre world and has worked intensively alongside the Olivier and Tony Award winning playwright, Alan Ayckbourne.

As a production and company stage manager, Isi was a key member of the 2011 Steven Schwartz musical, Godspell, Grenwich Theatre, London.

Isi is currently developing and directing the comedy-drama stage play, The Steamie – bringing this classic 1950’s-set show to the Ayrshire stage.

31 March – Scarlet Wilson, Guest Speaker & Adjudicator



Scarlet Wilson writes for Harlequin/Mills and Boon medical and romance lines, Entangled Publishing and Tule Publishing. She’s worked in the health service for over 27 years, training as a nurse and a health visitor, and now currently works within public health. Six of her books have been nominated for the RNA RoNA Rose Award, with Christmas in the Boss’s Castle winning in 2017.

She also writes young adult fiction under the name S M Wilson. She has written YA books for Usborne Publishing, The Extinction Trials, Exile and Rebel all published in 2018/19.

Scarlet has had over 45 books published and over a million copies sold.


Daily Record