Author events are a big part of what we do (see above the amazing Margaret Atwood in front of her window display created by the very clever Shaun & Phillippa), please below for information about forthcoming and past events. If you would like to be added to an email update list for information about events, please email your contact details to email@example.com.
"A kind of dream bookshop and small town cafe." Neil Gaiman
EVENTS PROGRAMME 2016
All our events are ticketed, click here to book online or call the shop on 01835 824087.
Fri 30th September, 6.30pm (doors open 6pm) - Cookery demo with River Cottage chef, Gill Meller
As the first brambles begin to ripen in our courtyard, it is with great pleasure that we announce our next cooking event. On Friday 30th Sept one of the masters of seasonal food, Gill Meller, will give a cooking demo from his first book, Gather, at Mainstreet.
‘Just stunning. There’s no one I’d rather cook for me than Gill — and there’s not a recipe here I wouldn’t eagerly devour.’ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Tickets: £10 (includes a glass of wine)
Fri 25th November, 2pm (doors open 1.30pm) - An Audience with JODI PICOULT
Rarely has a book felt more relevant. Jodi Picoult’s publisher sent out early review copies of her new book with the message #readwithoutprejudice, and nothing more. No mention that the book was by one of the highest selling authors writing today. The feedback has been phenomenal.
Great Small Things is a novel about prejudice, power and race, set in contemporary America; it is about what divides us, and that which unites us. It is about opening your eyes.
This will be an unmissable event with one of the greatest novelists of today.
'It's hard to exaggerate how well Picoult writes' Financial Times
Tickets: £14.99 (includes a copy of the new hardback)
Thurs 30th June - Shore to Shore with the Poet Laureate and Friends
What an evening we had with Carol Ann Duffy performing alongside the three fellow poets whom she most admires: Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker and Scottish Makar, Jackie Kay. We laughed, we cried, we loved them! The evening was accompanied by music from instrumentalist and composer John Sampson, plus special guest poet, former Scots Makar, Liz Lochhead - what more could we have asked for.
Wed 27th July - Elizabeth Luard held her audience rapt, entertaining her audience with stories from her wonderful new food memoir, Squirrel Pie
Sat 30th July, 3-4pm - Judith Miller talking about her new book, Miller's Collectables
If you are a fan of the Antiques Roadshow, you will be familiar with the charming and knowledgeable Judith Miller. Who better to guide us through the highs and lows of ‘good, better, best’ in the world of antiques?
Sat 4th June - Maggie O'Farrell in conversation with Stuart Kelly
It’s been three years since we last had the pleasure of hosting the wonderful Maggie O’Farrell at Mainstreet. Some things in life are worth the wait. As ever, listening to Maggie is so much like being in a room with a really great friend that you almost forget how brilliantly clever she is.
‘Completely engrossing, beautifully written, unforgettable characters. It’s her best yet’ Express
Maggie O’Farrell’s seventh novel is a dazzling, intimate epic about who we leave behind and who we become as we search for our place in the world. We can't recommend it highly enough.
Tues 3rd May - Cookery demo with Sabrina Ghayour, celebrating her new book, Sirocco.
Sabrina demonstrated that even the least confidant cooks among us can use her methods to create heaven on a plate. In Sirocco, she brings tastes of the East to Western-style dishes in a collection of 100 delicious and accessible recipes. With Bill's help, she demonstrated her delicious watercress, date and orange salad, plus lamb 'lollypops' - yum!
Thurs 21st April - We were treated to a masterclass of Shakespearian background and banter with the wonderfully entertaining Benet Brandreth. It was easy to understand why this eminent barrister has also been hailed as 'one of our nation's most accomplished raconteurs'.
Benet took us on a rollercoaster journey into the life, or possible life, of William Shakespeare around the time he disappeared off the documented radar - 1585 to 1592. This forms the basis for his debut novel, The Spy of Venice.
The evening concluded with Benet reading the prologue as the request of the audience - the crowd was silenced and entirely gripped...
All in all, a brilliant way to begin our celebration of 400 years since the death of Shakespeare!
Thurs 14th April - Janet Ellis charmed her audience as she talked with The Edinburgh Book Festival's Roland Gulliver about her debut novel, The Butcher's Hook.
It proved tricky to avoid plot spoilers, but suffice to say, those who hadn't already begun reading The Butcher's Hook, left the evening thoroughly intrigued to read more.
“Ellis has created something marvellous in the character of Anne Jaccob – her voice is strange, dark and utterly mesmeric. This is historical fiction as I’ve never encountered it before: full of viscera, snarling humour and obsessive desire. I loved it.” Hannah Kent, bestselling author of Burial Rites
Tues 15th March, 7pm - Books for Young Minds with publisher, David Fickling Books
As huge supporters of children's reading, we were delighted to host an evening with one of the most inspiring contemporary children’s publishers, David Fickling Books. A legend in the book world, David has edited many of the biggest names in the business, from Philip Pullman and Malorie Blackman, to Jacqueline Wilson and Mark Haddon. He was joined by colleague, Phil Earle who, as well as working tirelessly to promote DFB, is also an award-winning writer, and currently Booktrust’s Writer-in-residence.
‘There is no greater joy than finding the right book for the right child, because once that door has been opened, there is no telling where the reader will end up.’ David Fickling Books
Wed 16th March, 7.30pm - Emma Bridgewater in conversation about her new book, Pattern.
A packed audience were charmed and inspired by Emma Bridgewater. From the children's bookshelf filled with Maurice Sendak, Beatrix Potter and Ladybird books, to family holidays on the North Norfolk coast or in the Scottish Isles, Emma shares the inspirational process of design that has taken her patterns into homes across the land. Including over twenty family recipes and a complete list of every Bridgewater design since 1984, Pattern is a visual and story-filled celebration of this uniquely British brand.
'No one understands pattern and design quite like Emma does. This gem of a book celebrates not just her beautiful designs but also the vision that channelled her craft into a global business. She is a remarkable woman and a national treasure.' Kirstie Allsopp
Thurs 11th Feb - Finding Your Detective - An evening with Sophie Hannah and David Mark in conversation with The Scotsman's Stuart Kelly.
How does a writer find their detective? Agatha Christie her Poirot, Rankin his Rebus?
We could not have hoped for two better writers to discuss their very different views on writing crime fiction, a cracking evening's entertainment.
Wed 27th January - Ella Woodward delighted her fans talking about her new book, Deliciously Ella Every Day. Her first, Deliciously Ella, took the food world by storm in early 2015 becoming the fastest-selling debut cookbook since records began. Her new book is designed to fit in with your existing lifestyle, and help you feel your best, both inside and out, offering quick weekday dinners, slow-cook comfort food, amazing colourful salads and incredible food to take with you when you're on the go.
“The 23-year-old who is converting the world to healthy eating... Ella is no Gwyneth Paltrow, proclaiming that we must drink dandelion juice because it today's detox fashion. She is just a normal girl who stumbled on a way to help herself recover from serious illness and wants to share her secrets” Daily Telegraph
Thurs 10th Dec, 2015 - The Music and the Land - an evening with legendary Scots musician and composer, Freeland Barbour
Barbour was brought up in Highland Perthshire and has been a very well-known figure on the Scottish music scene for many years. In this book he recalls his life in music, presenting a tour in words, photographs and musical notation through the lands that have inspired him – covering the whole of Scotland and beyond.
We were treated to a very special evening of music and chat about this remarkable musical journey.
Tues 24th Nov - Paula Hawkins was 'in coversation' with Alison Barrow of Random House Publishing, talking about her bestselling debut novel, The Girl on the Train. She gave us a wonderful insight into the evolution of her characters, in particular the challenge of working on the three different narrative voices. The exciting news is that Paula's next book is to be set in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders...
Thurs 19th Nov - The Ottolenghi Tour – Head chef & co-author of Nopi, Ramael Scully (known as Scully) gave us a delicious rattle through his 'food journey', including demonstrating two dishes from Nopi (assisted by our brilliant new chef, Phil White). This stunning book is a unique collaboration between Yotam’s Middle Eastern influences with Scully’s Asian background. It might look like a work of art, but Scully was keen to emphasise that all the recipes have been very thoroughly tested for the home cook.
Fri 6th Nov - Barney Campbell held his audience rapt talking about his first novel, Rain. First novelists are often advised to ‘write about what you know’, use personal experience. Not all have the background experience of life on the frontline in Afghanistan for source material.
'Rain is not merely good, it's remarkable. Powerful, at times unbearably harrowing, it captures both the fear and exhilaration of men pushed to breaking point' Jeremy Paxman
Tues 20th Oct - Michael Morpurgo held the room rapt as he entertained us with tales about where his amazing stories come from, from the heart-rending, Listen to the Moon, set around the Lusitania disaster, to a moment in history with An Eagle in the Snow, where a young man in the trenches of World War I does what he thinks is the right thing….
Plus he touched on a very special book for younger readers, My Father is a Polar Bear. Drawing on Michael Morpurgo's own childhood experience of first seeing his real father on television, My Father Is a Polar Bear tells the story of two young brothers rediscovering their birth father in the most unlikely of places - and in an entirely unexpected guise!
We have some signed books available if you're quick.
Sun 27th Sept - A packed village hall of cycling enthusiasts gave David Millar a rousing reception as he was interviewed on stage by Richard Moore about his new book, The Racer. The book is a unique and powerful insight into the mind of a professional cyclist in his last year before retirement, over the course of a season on the Pro Tour, Millar puts us in touch with the sights, smells and sounds of the sport.
Fri 2nd October - Ben Fogle charmed the large audience at Mainstreet as he joined us to discuss his new book, Labrador: Story of the World's Favourite Dog, with Niall Foley of Guide Dogs Scotland. The roomful of dog-lovers was given a further treat as Niall had arrange for two puppies in training and their 'walkers' to join us.
Wed 23rd Sept - What an evening we had with the remarkable MARGARET ATWOOD. As one customer put it on an email to us sent post-event, 'it was like sitting near a tiger - she was amazing!'. For those who missed her, we have some signed copies of her wickedly funny and deeply disturbing new novel, The Heart Goes Last, but you'll need to be quick!
“Margaret Atwood is the quiet Mata Hari, the mysterious, violent figure… who pits herself against the ordered, too clean world like an arsonist” MICHAEL ONDAATJE
Wed 26th August The Scotsman’s literary editor, Stuart Kelly was in conversation with two of the brightest new talents writing today, Emily St John Mandel and David Whitehouse. Both their books, Station Eleven and Mobile Library have that rare power of making you look at the world as if for the first time.
Sun 30th August - Cressida Cowell, author of the How to Train Your Dragon series, was with us to launch the last in the series. A packed audience hung on her every word! If you haven't yet discovered this amazing series (where have you been?), then we'd recommend taking the audio version (read by David Tennant) on any long car journey with children aged anything from 5 to 15yrs.
Sat 11th July - Honey & Co: The Baking Book Continuing our foodie theme, we enjoyed a serious treat when ‘the Honeys’ came to Mainstreet. They were cooking from and talking about, their gorgeous new book on baking. Their first book, Honey & Co, won The Sunday Times Food Book of the Year 2014 and was recently announced as Fortnum & Mason’s Cookbook of the Year. Don’t miss the chance to taste their amazing food and hear their story. There were very happy noises coming from the audience throughout especially when it came to tasting the Honeys' delicious food!
Wed 10th June - We were so lucky to have hosted Olia Hercules's first ever book event. She has been tipped as The Observer's Rising Star of 2015 and we could all see why. We could have eaten her food all day, luckily lots of her recipes will be featuring on the café menu in June as we celebrate her gorgeous book, Mamushka. See Olia pictured above outside the Deli.
Thurs 21st May - Historian and novelist, Iain Gale was with us to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo with a talk about his book, Scotland Forever: The Scots Greys at Waterloo.
We had a very engaged audience who were particularly impressed to have the chance to hold an actual sword from the battlefield of Waterloo - soon to be auctioned at Lyle & Turnbull in Edinburgh.
Wed 6th May - Andrew Duff gave a fascinating illustrated talk about Sikkim: Requiem for a Himalayan Kingdom. He charts the story of this tiny country which, in the 20th Century, became a pawn in the huge geo-political intrigues between China and India. A very engaged audience included the son of the British Empire's last attaché to Sikkim to Andrew's delight.
Wed 11th March 2015 - John Lister-Kaye had the audience in his spell as he talked about his new book, Gods of the Morning. I think we were all holding our breath as he read from this remarkable book. Much praise too for his friend, Helen MacDonald and her genre-busting book, H is for Hawk.
Tues 24th March 2015 - Charles Wemyss gave us a masterclass in the evolution of Scotland's 'Great Houses', as illustrated in his beautiful new book, The Noble Houses of Scotland.
Thurs 19th Feb - S J Watson, author of bestselling novel and Hollywood movie, Before I go to Sleep, was in conversation with Random House publicist, Ben Willis. He charmed our audience giving us the inside track on doing just enough research for his books, and managing to be taken by surprise with the plot line when watching the movie of Before I Go to Sleep! Don't miss his new book, Second Life - we have signed copies in store now.
Tues 20th Jan - Victoria Hislop gave us a fascinating insight into the background of her new novel, The Sunrise, set in the city of Famagusta, which has been deserted for the past 40 years. We can all now picture her dual personality - one part Greek (relaxed and fun-loving), the other Swiss (at her writing desk 9.30am to 6pm every day for 8 months).
Wed 17th Dec - Whisky Tasting & Talk with Charles MacLean - Why does Scotch whisky taste as it does? Where do the flavours come from? How might they have changed over the years? Award-winning whisky guru, Charles MacLean had all the answers when he charmed his way through an hour's whisky chat at Mainstreet. We still have copies of his new book, MacLean's Whiskypedia at the shop for anyone who missed him.
Mon 29th Sept - Clare Balding, was with us as part of a breakneck schedule fresh from The Ryder Cup, via Wigtown Book Festival earlier in the day. She was a smash hit with her audience, talking about her new book, Walking Home, which is partly about her walking tales, but also covers her incredible professional career.
The event was held in the newly refurbished St Boswells Village Hall (just down the road from Mainstreet), and everyone agreed it was an excellent venue. We will be back.
Tues 19th Aug - Jessie Burton delighted her packed audience (the biggest she's experienced so far) at Mainstreet talking about her stunning first novel, The Miniaturist. She spoke with great passion about her writing and gave a fascinating insight into her method of creating The Miniaturist - editing it 17 times before even sending it to a publisher. This is a very special writer at the beginning of her career - we have a few signed copies left.
‘A fabulously gripping read that will appeal to fans of Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Goldfinch, but Burton is a genuinely new voice with her visceral take on sex, race and class’ Observer
‘The Miniaturist is that rarest of things – beautifully written, yet also a compelling page-turner. It’s haunting, magical, and full of surprises, the kind of book that reminds you why you fell in love with reading’ S J Watson, author of Before I Go To Sleep
Thurs 7th August - Oliver Horowitz charmed his audience at Mainstreet with tales from his book, An American Caddie in St Andrews. Golfers beware, you'll never think of your caddie in the same way again - and you will leave the right tip!
“From my first summer caddying on the Old Course, I knew that I was in a special world. I’d been allowed into a place normally closed to outsiders…. I was amongst old Scottish guys, and since I was an American, teenage, student, trainee caddie, I was the scum of the caddie yard.” Oliver Horovitz
“A funny, charming, coming-of age tale about golf and life … Horovitz is a gifted writer, and an engaging storyteller … and he can read putts!” Huey Lewis
“In this breezy memoir, the younger brother of a Beastie Boy spills insider tales about looping and living in St. Andrews…the characters—bitter old caddies, the author’s university pals and his 83–year–old uncle—are lovable. So, too, are Horovitz’s yarns, which feature late–night antics in the Old Toon and a round caddying for Seinfeld creator Larry David.” Golf Magazine
Wed 2nd July - Laurie Campbell gave us a fascinating talk about hisl new book, Otters: Return to the River. His talk was stunningly illustrated with photographs from the book which is a celebration of the return of the otter to our rivers and freshwater wetlands after a drastic decline in the last century.
The event was followed by a river walk in search of otters - or signs of otter activity as it turned out. Very much enjoyed by all despite the soft Scottish misty rain.
Fri 6th June - The Bookshop Band - Beth, Poppy and Ben returned to Mainstreet bringing with them their own particular brand of sunshine and sheer talent. We still have some stock of their beautiful CDs along with the books that inspired the music.
“Really fabulous new music… I think this is the most wonderful project…...just delightful” Bob Harris – BBC Radio 2
Wed 21st May - A packed crowd thoroughly enjoyed Andy McNab's particular brand of straight talking. He was fascinating about his life, his writing and also his passion for getting young people into reading. Fantastic night.
Thurs 8th May - Nicholas Shakespeare held us all fascinated through his talk about his Aunt Priscilla, as told in his recent biography of her - Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France.
Priscilla emerges as a biographer's dream, even were she not your aunt. The Priscilla Nicholas remembered was very different from the glamorous, morally ambiguous young woman who emerged from the many love letters and journals he uncovered, surrounded by suitors and living the dangerous existence of a British woman in a country controlled by the enemy. He had heard rumours that Priscilla had fought in the Resistance, but the truth turned out to be far more complicated.
Thurs 20th March – Kirsty Wark was on sparkling for talking about her first novel, The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, a multi-generational story of love and belonging set on the Island of Arran.
Tues 11th March – Rachel Joyce who shot of fame with The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, was in conversation with her publicist, Alison Barrow, talking about her new novel, Perfect. She charmed the audience with her dry, self-depreciating humour - watch out for Harold Fry on the big screen sometime soon'ish.
Tues 25th Feb - Broadcaster and journalist, Sally Magnusson gave us a spellbinding talk about her new book, Where Memories Go. It is an inspiring, heart-rending, and ultimately uplifting depiction of her mother's slide into dementia, with plenty of 'laugh or you will cry' moments.
Thurs 6th March WORLD BOOK DAY
Back by popular demand, Tamara MacFarlane creator of the Amazing Esme series, along with her comedic sidekick, Gilbert Giggles took Denholm Primary by storm as they raced through the art of storytelling complete with children as props and grown men wearing tutus!
Elizabeth Wein author of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire gave us a fascinating talk about her experience of the publishing world - much of it outwith the UK until her hit with Code Name Verity. She revealed herself as a keen pilot which explains much about her storyline for these WWII novels.
Wed 20th Nov - A evening celebrating the Great Tapestry of Scotland with artist Andrew Crummy who charmed a packed audience with his modesty. He began the evening with a round of applause for the stitchers in the room and emphasised the unique community nature of this epic public artwork.
Like the Bayeux tapestry, the Great Tapestry of Scotland has been created on embroidered cloth, and is annotated in English, Gaelic, Scots and Latin. The book tells the story of this unique undertaking and reproduces in full colour a selection of the panels from the completed tapestry, together with descriptive and explanatory material.
Tues 26th Nov - Simon Winder brought an infectious enthusiasm to his very entertaining talk about Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe. We definately needed more time to hear about Charles V et al.
Sat 30th Nov - What a treat to have been carried away into a world of Scottish folk tales by captivating storyteller, Lari Don along with hugely talented illustrator, Cate James. You could have heard a pin drop as Lari read from Breaking the Spell, and Cate cleverly drew the story in realtime, complete with help from the audience. The book is a classic in the making and a wonderful Christmas present. Hurry while signed stock lasts.
Thurs 17th Oct - Cheryl Strayed kept her Mainstreet audience in stitches talking about her blazingly honest memoir, Wild. The story of an eleven-hundred mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail that she undertook at the age of twenty-six. Watch out for the film starring Renee Zellweger due out next year...
Wed 23rd Oct - Kari Herbert gave a fascinating illustrated talk about her new book, Heart of the Hero.
"As the daughter of [explorer], Sir Wally Herbert, Kari understands the inner workings of polar exploration better than most. She explores these stories [of 'polar wives'] with empathy, insight and skill. In doing so, she manages to reveal the qualities of the men and women who live life at the extreme. Kari's writing shows an extraordinary depth of thinking as she explores the lives of these largely forgotten women ... A fascinating and hugely enjoyable book which makes a valuable contribution to polar literature." Sir Ranulph Fiennes
Thurs 5th Sept - Historian, George Goodwin, gave a fascinating illustrated talk about his new book, FATAL RIVALRY - Flodden 1513: Henry VIII, James IV and the Battle for Renaissance Britain.
“Readable and authoritative...well-researched and comprehensive.” Glasgow Hearld
Tues 10th Sept - 500 years and a day since that fatal battle, Rosemary Goring was at Mainstreet talking about the inspiration behind her novel, AFTER FLODDEN. It might surprise some readers to know that she credits a bout of illness, during which she read The Three Mustketeers (for the rollicking storytelling) and listened to Test Match Special (for that inate sense of English humour!), with showing her the way forward with After Flodden.
It's a cracking story of guilt, political intrigue and passion set in the heart of the Borders.
Tues 27th Aug - Television’s quintessential roving reporter, Ned Boulting enjoyed a very warm welcome from cyclists around the Borders (and beyond) at his talk about his new book, ON THE ROAD BIKE.
In the book Ned asks how Britain became so obsessed with cycling. He encounters many of the wonderfully idiosyncratic people who have contributed to this nation’s two-wheeled history. It's a journey that takes him from the Velodrome at Herne Hill to the Tour of Britain at Stoke-on-Trent via Bradley Wiggins, Chris Boardman, Ken Livingstone, both Tommy Godwins, Gary Kemp (yes, him from Spandau Ballet) and many, many more.
Not simply an engaging sports commentator, Ned is also a very talented writer.
Thurs 15th August - Publishing lengend, Christopher MacLehose of MacLehose Press, entertained us over tea and cake talking about his life in books. As well as being far too modest about his role in transforming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo into a global phenomenon, he also inspired the audience about literature in translation. As Christopher pointed out, given the additional costs, only the very best of international fiction will be picked up by an English language publisher, so it's a pretty strong bet for a good read!
Tues 16th July - Michael Morpurgo delighted his packed audience talking about his new book, JoJo the Melon Donkey, among others. We were lucky enough to have not only the illustrator of JoJo, Helen Stephens, but also that of Where my Wellies Take Me, Olivia Lomenech Gill, and co-author, Clare Morpurgo.
Wed 26th June - What a treat to have Kate Humble, star of Springwatch and Lambing Live, with us at Mainstreet to talk about her memoir of a journey from noisy street to muddy hillside... Humble by Nature.
“I’ve spent a large part of my working life being upstaged by animals and although this book is ostensibly about the joys – and perils – of rescuing a farm, it is also a warning to anyone who loses their heart to a mongrel. You will never be the centre of attention again.” Kate Humble
For anyone who missed Kate Humble, we have a few signed copies left.
Sat 22nd June - The Bookshop Band - an evening of music inspired by books, with 'Paella and a Pint'!
Formed in late September 2010, The Bookshop Band write songs inspired by books, and play them in bookshops.
“Oh, and that MUSIC! … It was just beyond any experience I have ever had in all my years of doing book tours and events.” Alexandra Fuller (author of Don't Let's go to the Dogs Tonight)
We can only echo Alexandra Fuller - they were quite simply magical. Anyone who missed this super-talented trio either make your way to Glastonbury (immediately) or book in for Tues 20th August at the Edinburgh Book Festival. We very much hope they will be back at Mainstreet next year!
We have a few of their beautiful CDs still available in the shop - viewing/listening highly recommended.
Independent Booksellers Week - Sat 29th June to Sat 6th July
To celebrate, we will be joined by bestselling children's author, Debi Gliori, when she becomes our 'illustrator-in-residence' for the day on Sat 29th June (from 10.30am). Bring your children to meet a real life writer/illustrator at work.
Tues 16th July, 6.30pm - We are incredibly lucky to be welcoming Michael Morpurgo back to Mainstreet. Former Children's Laureate and author of War Horse among so many others, Michael will be talking about his new book for younger readers, Jojo the Donkey. More information to follow.
Wed 17th April - PATRICK NESS - It was quite a thrill for all of us to meet one of our literary heroes. We weren't expecting quite how witty he'd be - a very special event from one of the most talented writers out there.
Sun 17th March - KATE ATKINSON delighted her many fans with a reading from her novel, Life After Life, followed by a lively Q&A session with her publicist of 20 years, Alison Barrow.
'As ever, Atkinson's prose is diamond-cut to twinkle and slice by turns. Her playful sense of humour dances round the darkness of her themes. She skips through the difficult steps required to balance the reader's need for satisfying (and surprising) resolution with a realist's view of human nature and the messiness of real-life criminality.’ Daily Telegraph
Thurs 14th March - The lovely MAGGIE O'FARRELL was in conversation with literary agent, Jenny Brown, talking about her new novel, Instructions for a Heatwave. The stunning new novel from this Costa-Novel-Award-winning novelist is a portrait of an Irish family in crisis in the legendary heatwave of 1976. Maggie has that rare ability to write books that are at once accessible and erudite - highly recommended.
Tues 19th Feb - Queen of crime, ANN CLEEVES drew us a vivid picture of Shetland, inspiration for Dead Water, her fifth book set on the islands. Helpfully, she had a beautiful map to hand to show where many of the scenes are set - we still have some copies left at the shop, free for anyone buying a signed copy of her books.
Tues 15th Jan - PETER MAY began our 2013 events programme with a masterclass of crime writing. Judging by the great feedback, he's just gained lots of new fans.
Sun 25th Nov - Chef Tom Kitchin joined over 200 people at Mainstreet to officially launch our new DELI & HOME shop. He launded the importance of local, seasonal shopping and cooking, and in particular, praising the strength and depth of food producers in the borders (Hardiesmill and Peelham Farm were on hand tempting guests with their delicious samples). He then went on to solve everyone’s Christmas lists by signing lots of copies of his beautiful new book, Kitchin Suppers.”
Sat 10th Nov - ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH was in conversation about his new book, Trains and Lovers, with Stuart Kelly of the Scotsman. Easily one of the nicest men in Scotland, Sandy had his packed audience roaring with laughter.
Fri 2nd Nov - JAMES KNOX gave a wonderful illustrated talk about his new book, The Scottish Country House. The book is packed with architectural gems, but also masses of excellent stories about the houses and their owners.
Wed 26th Sept - CLARE BALDING fought through torrential rain to join us for a hilarious session talking about her new autobiography, My Animals and Other Family. What a lovely author! We have signed copies if you're quick....
Thurs 13th Sept - MAX HASTINGS gave an excellent talk about his WWII history, ALL HELL LET LOOSE. The event was held at the beautiful new visitors centre for ABBOTSFORD HOUSE.
TUES 4th Sept - BEN FOGLE charmed a packed audience at St Boswells Village Hall with tales of swimming with crocodiles and riding elephants. We have lots of signed copies for anyone who didn't manage to get tickets.
SAT 18th & SUN 19th Aug - BOOKS, BORDERS & BIKES at Traquair House. We are proud to be the official bookshop at this unique literary festival held in the beautiful grounds of Traquair House. This year we were also running the cafe, the cakes fairly flew off the tables.
THURS 12th July - We were very lucky to host an evening with renowned historia, ANTONY BEEVOR talking about his masterful history of THE SECOND WORLD WAR, at the start of his 21 country tour. A limited number of signed copies are available in-store.
WED 30th May - SARAH FRASER gave a fascinating talk about her first book, THE LAST HIGHLANDER, the remarkable story of Simon, Lord Lovat, the last aristocrat to be hanged for treason.
SAT 21st APRIL - WILLIAM SITWELL gave a very entertaining talk about his new book, A HISTORY OF FOOD IN 100 RECIPES. Looking forward to Radio 4 picking up on this excellent book and commissioning William to do a 'Neil MacGregor' (100 Objects) in the Autumn.
THURS 8th MARCH - LEAVING ALEXANDRIA by RICHARD HOLLOWAY - this event was a complete sell out so apologies to those unable to make it - we do have lots of signed copies at the shop. It really was a very special evening with Richard Holloway seeming almost to conduct his audience, from shouts of laughter to 'you could hear a pin drop' moments of emotional tension. What a speaker and what a big heart.
THURSDAY 1st March - WORLD BOOK DAY - TAMARA MACFARLANE, author of AMAZING ESME, and her infamous sidekick, leading children’s comedian, Gilbert Giggles, blew the socks off 130 children. A high energy show, with lots of audience participation and plenty of inspiration for the children to go back to school and create their very own 'Bad-mannered tea party'! The latter inspired by Tamara's childhood - for full details see Amazing Esme (some signed copies still available in-store).
SATURDAY 26th Nov - HOW TO COOK by ISABELLA BEETON and GERARD BAKER - Gerard Baker proved very convincingly that some men can multi-task. He gave a wonderful, informed talk about Mrs Beeton and food history, all the while cooking up a some delicious food. The goodie bags of chocolate cake were also well worth waiting for.
Tues 15th Nov - JANICE GALLOWAY blew us away reading from the second volume of her memoirs, ALL MADE UP. When she threatened to read more (and about sex no less!) if no further questions were asked, the room fell silent - I think we could have listened to her all night.
Sun 30th October – JEREMY PAXMAN entertained a packed house with a fascinating talk about his new book, EMPIRE: WHAT RULING THE WORLD DID TO THE BRITISH. Anyone posing a question certainly had to be ready to have one asked in reply. When asked by his friend in the audience, writer Tom Fort, what type of colonial he might have been, some were surprised to hear 'missionary' as Jeremy's response.
Sat 1st Oct – CRESSIDA COWELL taught a crowd of 150 children the basics of Dragonese while explaining the inspiration behind her bestselling (and huge in-store favourite) HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON series.
Thurs 29th Sept – Australian PAUL CARTER played a blinder and turned the air blue talking about his third book, IS THAT BIKE DIESEL MATE? “The Andy McNab of the Oilfields rides again.” The Telegraph
Wed 14th Sept - Lunch with an Author - MADELINE MILLER - We were very lucky to host Madeline Miller's first ever reading of THE SONG OF ACHILLES. What a delightful author, she wears her erudition lightly both on the page and in person. We're all just hoping that she emulates Donna Tartt's success, but not the ten year wait in writing a second novel.
‘To rewrite Homer’s Iliad as a modern novel was a bold move, but it has paid off superbly. ... If I were to give a prize for the best work of fiction this year, this would be the runaway winner. As a first novel it heralds the arrival of a major new talent.’ A. N. Wilson
Sat 3rd Sept - Bestselling crime writer, JOHN CONNOLLY gave us a masterclass in crime fiction, talking about his writing heroes, keeping the audience laughing throughout, meanwhile his Charlie Parker novels deprived some of us from sleep.
Books, Bordes & Bikes 20-21st Aug - we had a wonderful weekend running our pop-up bookshop in the magical setting of Traquair House at their second Books, Borders & Bikes festival of literature and thought. A stellar cast of authors included David Starkey, Mark Thomas, Mariella Frostrup and Jonathan Powell, but the show was really stolen by an impassioned talk by Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish. His book, I Shall Not Hate is `A moving and powerful book about his experiences with a central message of hope and reconciliation...[it] has had an extraordinary impact..."we have to offer a message of hope to those who believe in hate and revenge".' The Guardian
Thursday 21st July - Local author and seasoned jounalist, Mark Douglas Home gave us an excellent insight into the rigours of writing his first novel, THE SEA DETECTIVE - the secret was writing 1,000 words per day and being able to hear his characters voices. Good advise for any aspiring writer. The good news is that he's working on his next novel so we will meet sea detective Cal McGill once more.
Saturday 18th June - BOOK GROUP AUTHOR LUNCH with Maggie O’Farrell and Bella Bathurst
Maggie O’Farrell and Bella Bathurst charmed over 90 people at our first Mass Book Group Lunch. The sell out event was held as part of our celebrations for Independent Bookseller’s Week and National Reading Group Day.
Talking about her book THE LIGHTHOUSE STEVENSONS, Bella admitted her lack of skill with maths hadn’t put her off approaching the subject of lighthouse engineering, it just meant she had to be quick on her toes with well-informed audiences. Maggie, meanwhile touched a familiar nerve with some of the audience when she recalled delaying delivery of the manuscript of THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE until her vocabulary returned after the birth of her daughter.
A very enjoyable afternoon was had by all.
Thursday 2nd June - AND THE BAND PLAYED ON by Christopher Ward
Everyone knows the story of the Titanic, but what happened afterwards? Christopher Ward is the grandson of Jock Hume, the band’s 21-year-old violinist, who died leaving an unborn child – the author’s mother. On a beautiful sunny evening at Mainstreet, Christopher entertained a well informed audience with his personal journey to discover the full impact of his grandfather's death. As a very special touch, we were treated to a haunting rendition of Nearer my God to Thee played on one of Jock's own violin's by Catriona Price.
THURSDAY 19th May - ESTHER FREUD, HELENA MCEWEN and ALISON GANGEL in conversation with literary agent, Jenny Brown. This made for a fascinating evening looking at the different ways of writing using personal history. Like many writers, Esther Freud and Helena McEwen have creative lives beyond the pages of their books, this is reflected in both their new novels set in the worlds of drama and art school respectively. Alison Gangel is the author of a powerful memoir of her Glasgow childhood where music talent provided her means of escape.
THURSDAY 24th March - ALISTAIR MOFFAT gave a flawless talk about his new book, The Scots: A Genetic Journey, recently serialised in The Scotsman. Luckily Alistair is an author in command of his subject - the audience wasn't taking any prisoners with a lively Q&A session.
THURSDAY 3rd March - we were very lucky to have author, JASPER FFORDE speaking at the shop in the week his new novel, One of Our Thursdays is Missing, hit No.1 on the bestseller charts. He kept the audience highly amused with a wry journey through his road to publication, ten years of rejection leading to sales of over 2 million books worldwide (and now a No. 1 bestseller).
TUESDAY 23rd November - local author, SYLVIA LOCH gave a fascinating talk about her first novel, An Algarve Affair. The story takes it's inspiration from actual events, and Sylvia made it clear that some people had to die before she could publish!
THURSDAY 11th November - IAN RANKIN and RICHARD HAVERS - Rock and Writing. We had an excellent evening with Richard taking Ian through a quasi music/lit desert island disks. It was hard to call a halt to the chat with an audience keen to ask many more questions.
THURSDAY 21st October: JUDY STEEL was 'in conversation' with Nicholas Watson to discuss her new autobiography, charting her life in politics (through husband, David) and the Borders as told in her new autobiography, Tales from the Tap End.
WEDNESDAY 27th October: JONATHAN STROUD kept over 90 local school children entertained talking about his writing, in particular his sardonic creation, Bartimaeus the irascible djini. His new novel charting Bartimaeus' adventures, The Ring of Solomon, is out now.
“Not since Gulliver's Travels has a children's writer managed to combine a thrilling tale of magic and adventure with such deliciously pointed comedy.” Sunday Times
THURSDAY 7th October - ALLAN BURNETT, author of Invented in Scotland, wowed local school children as he revealed just how much we owe to Scottish inventors.
TUESDAY 28th Sept - bestselling and prize-winning children's author, ANNE FINE, gave an excellent talk to 150 children in advance of Children's Book Week. She also gave a highly entertaining and very un-PC talk about her adult novels at the shop in the evening, letting the audience into many of her trade secrets - not least the inspiration she takes from her own family and friends (all well disguised of course).
BOOKS, BORDERS & BIKES at Traquair House 14-15th August - We were delighted to be the official bookseller at the first Books, Borders & Bikes. The weekend was a huge success, full of wonderfully surreal literary moments - it doesn't get much better than sitting in the sunshine in front of Traquair House, listening to Magnus Linklater chair an event with Henry Ologna (first black man on the Zimbabwe cricket team, now exiled for his opposition to Mugabe) and David Coultart (first white man on the new Zimbabwe cabinet). For more information, go to www.traquair.co.uk
FRIDAY 18th June - MICHAEL MORPURGO gave the most wonderful event to launch his new book, Not Bad for a Bad Lad, at The Mainstreet Trading Company. He had a packed house of adults and children listening with rapt attention as he talked about his writing and in particular some of the true stories that had inspired his work.
WEDNESDAY 2nd June - TOM CARVER gave a fascinating and moving talk about his father, Richard Carver. "In November 1942, two nights after the Battle of El Alamein, a young British army officer was captured by German forces. As the Nazis deliberated about what to do with him and his peers, Richard Carver had particular reason to be afraid: unknown to anyone else, he was the stepson of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who had just inflicted the first serious land defeat on the Third Reich..."
Tom's book is called Where the Hell Have You Been - it's highly recommended for a good read.
THURSDAY 8th APRIL - In Shooting Leave, renowned historian JOHN URE tells the thrilling stories behind the phantom worlds of Kipling’s Kim, of John Buchan heroes and of Flashman villains. The officers who volunteered for these adventures were an elite band who needed ingenuity as well as courage, robust physique as well as intelligence, patience and daring. Some, however, were also arrogant imperialists; some were almost missionary-like in their Christian zeal. But one factor remained common: they were expendable.
‘Extremely entertaining ... but behind all the Indiana Jones excitements of what deserves to be a surprise bestseller there lurk some serious lessons.’
ROBERT HARRIS, The Sunday Times
THURSDAY 4th March - WORLD BOOK DAY with Alexander McCall Smith. Over 130 children joined bestselling author, Alexander McCall Smith to celebrate the publication of his new novel for children, Precious and the Puggies. The book has been translated into Scots by James Robertson who was reading at the event – and had the audience on their feet practising their accents.
Launching his new No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency title, The Double Comfort Safari Club, in the evening, McCall Smith gave a very entertaining talk to a packed room, much of the audience was having as much trouble as the author in keeping a straight face, it was helpless giggles all round. We were treated to updates on the movements of his many and varied characters including one well known Pimlico terrier called Freddie de la Hay. The inspiration for this name came from a fan letter to the author written by Wilfred de la Hey.
WEDNESDAY 2nd DECEMBER - MARY CONTINI gave a charming talk about her family and the history of Valvona and Crolla, while tempting her audience with mouth-watering discussions about the relative merits of particular olive oils. Her new cookery book, VALVONA AND CROLLA, A Year at an Italian Table is out now and it comes highly recommended. The event was a joint venture with our friends at The Borders Book Festival. As he interviewed Mary, Alistair Moffatt managed to work out his menu for dinner on Saturday!
THURSDAY 12th NOVEMBER - Clarissa Dickson Wright gave a hilarious talk about her new memoir, RIFLING THROUGH MY DRAWERS. Not a PC word to be heard all evening, it was a treat for all who made it to our first event in The Sugarhouse Gallery (the barn behind the shop). Bill and Thomas spent most of the day making it look beautiful and to our huge relief we managed to fit everyone into the space
FRIDAY 2nd OCTOBER - Launch of DEATH OF AN OCEAN - a Geological Borders Ballad by Euan Clarkson and Brian Upton
6th to 9th OCTOBER - CHILDREN'S BOOK WEEK
Tuesday/Wednesday 6/7th October – Johnny O’Brien
Thursday 8th October – Charlie James
See Event Archive for more information about these events.