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Guest Speakers & Adjudicators 2023/24

Over the course of the year, 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 entries submitted for the club’s writing competitions related to their specialist field.

20th Sep 2023 – Alan Bissett – Guest Speaker and Adjudicator (Humorous Dramatic Monologues) 

Alan Bissett is a novelist, playwright and performer from Falkirk , who now lives in Renfrewshire. He is the author of the novels BoyracersThe Incredible Adam SparkDeath of a Ladies’ Man, and Pack Men.  His most well-known works for the stage include his award-winning trilogy of plays The Moira Monologues, about ‘Falkirk’s hardest woman’.  He has also written for television and radio, as well as presenting the BBC documentary Inside the Mind of Robert Burns.  His most recent fiction is the Choose Your Own Adventure book for adults, Lazy Susan, and he is currently working on a new novel.  His first non-fiction book Lads: A Guide to Consent and Respect, a guide for teenage boys about relationships with girls, was published in August 2023.

11th Oct 2023 – Mary W Craig – Guest Speaker and Adjudicator (Non-Fiction)

I am a writer and historian living and working in Scotland.  I am a former Carnegie scholar and a graduate of the University of Glasgow.  I research and write extensively about various aspects of the history of northern Europe; most notably how political changes affect people’s lives and how individuals and communities react to those changes. I have a particular interest in the women and men accused as witches in 17th century Scotland. Some historians are known as hedgehogs, happily snuffling about rooting out the minutest of historical details. Others are known as eagles, soaring on high they see the great vistas of historical events. A few are known as magpies: if something shiny and interesting catches their eye they will try to capture it where possible. I am a magpie.  

8th Nov 2023 – Gail Anderson – Guest Speaker and Adjudicator (Poetry)

Gail Anderson has been a stop-motion animator, a musical instrument repair technician, a delivery van driver, a librarian and a graphic designer… that’s the short list. I’ve worked at just about every sort of job there is (ice cream scooper, computer network administrator, camera seller, documents runner, dishwasher) and have lived on three continents. All this has given a lot of material for writing. A writer of short fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry, my work explores the element of place, and themes of ‘lost and found’. I teach short online courses in flash fiction at the University of Oxford: a two-afternoon introduction to flash, and a 10-week flash fiction workshop. I also teach a 5-week intro to flash (online and in-person) at the University of Glasgow. For 2023-24 I have been awarded an Ignite Fellowship by the Scottish Book Trust, to work on a collection of interwoven short fictions based in SW Scotland. I’m also a sailor, bookbinder, typesetter, a relentless forager and haunter of charity shops.

29th Nov 2023 – Michael Malone – Guest Speaker and Adjudicator (Creating Characters in Novels)

Michael J Malone is a past-president of Ayr Writers’ Club and former vice-President of the Scottish Association of Writers. A prolific writer, he has published 13 novels, over 200 hundred poems, one non-fiction work, and has had articles published in The Herald, Guardian, Telegraph, and the Independent. His most recent novel, The Murmurs, is due published in September this year. Michael was a bookseller, and was the regional sales manager for Faber and Faber. Over the years, he has adjudicated a number of writing competitions, worked as an editor, lectured in creative writing, and appeared at book festivals throughout the UK. Michael has lived most of his life in Ayr. 

3rd Apr 2024 – James Oswald – Guest Speaker (Writing Fantasy Fiction)

James Oswald is the author of twelve novels in the Edinburgh-based Inspector McLean series. The most recent, All That Lives, was published in February 2022. He is also author of three Constance Fairchild books, No Time To Cry, Nothing To Hide and the latest, Nowhere To Run. As J D Oswald he has written the five book fantasy epic, The Ballad of Sir Benfro, published by Penguin. In his spare time, James runs a 350 acre livestock farm in Fife, where he raises pedigree Highland cattle.

24th Jan 2024 – Maisie Chan – Guest Speaker (Writing for Children)

Maisie Chan is children’s author whose debut novel DANNY CHUNG DOES NOT DO MATHS won the Jhalak Prize and the Branford Boase Award in 2022. Her latest novel KEEP DANCING, LIZZIE CHU is out now with Piccadilly Press. She also writes the series TIGER WARRIOR. She has written early readers for Hachette and Big Cat Collins, and has a collection of myths and legends out with Scholastic. She runs the Bubble Tea Writers Network to support and encourage writers of East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) descent in the U.K. She has a dog called Miko who has big eyes. She lives in Glasgow with her family.


6th Mar 2024 – Douglas Skelton- Guest Speaker (Crime Fiction Writing)   

Douglas Skelton is a crime writer who specialises in fiction and non-fiction from the darker side of our world. His non-fiction charts the true life exploits of murderers, criminals and cause celebres. The settings for his crime fiction range from the tough streets of his home town of Glasgow to the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands.  His titles include : The Dead Don’t Boogie, A Rattle of Bones and Children of the Mist. Douglas has recently published his latest historical crime novel A Grave for a Thief , the 3rd book in his series A Company of Rogues featuring his character Jonas Flynt – thief, gambler and killer. 

10th Apr 2024 – Grahame Anderson – Guest Speaker (The Road from Indie Publishing to a Traditional Publisher)

Grahame Anderson is an indie author. In 2018 he published his heartwarming and  motivational book, The Lighthouse Keepers,  following this in 2021 with his very successful, story based, self-help guide, The Best Seat in the Universe.  He has also published a book of his short stories and poems. 

Grahame is currently President of The Scottish Association of Writers. 

Guest Adjudicators:

Nigel Ward – Book Review

Anne Stenhouse  – Women’s Magazine Story

Gill Sherry – Non-fiction Article

Elizabeth McKay – Children’s Fiction

Linda Brown & Carrie Watts – Flash Fiction

Jonathan Whitelaw – Crime Novel 

Matt Richardson & Kirsty McClymont – Drabble Competition