We are keen to promote authors at all stages in their writing careers and in support of debut novelists, we will be hosting "MeetCutes" before each panel event - a platform for emerging and newly published writers to read their work in front of our audience.
Sam Canning is a Northern Irish born writer based in Edinburgh. Virtual Strangers is her debut novel. In her spare time, she can be found roaming the city to find the weirdest things she can and desperately trying to keep her one and only plant Stanley alive.
"I'm so excited about the first ever Edinburgh Women's Fiction Festival! Women's fiction - and romcoms in general, for me - is an area that is so close to my (and so many other people's) hearts, but that is often woefully neglected on the literary scene. To see and get to be part of a festival celebrating this wonderful genre is a bit of a dream come true and I can't wait to see more of it."
Sam's Book Recommendation:
One of my all time favourite books is Persuasion. Of course, I adore all of Jane Austen's work but Persuasion has a special place in my heart because it manages to be as achingly romantic as the likes of Pride and Prejudice, but somehow also deeply sad and ultimately entirely hopeful. I defy anyone to produce a more air-punching ending than the moment Anne finds Captain Wentworth's letter. Pierced my soul too, Frederick, pierced my soul too!
Sam will appear before our Rom-Com panel event
with Niamh Hargan, Nina Kaye and Lily Lindon.
Claire Daverley was born in 1991 and has been writing stories ever since she was six years old, inspired by art and film and her many trips to the library. After graduating with a degree in Fine Art from The University of Oxford, she began a career in publishing, writing about books by day but penning her own by night, on trains, and in the light of the early mornings. She has spent most of her life in Hertfordshire, but currently lives in Scotland with her husband and spaniel. Her debut novel, Talking at Night, was snapped up by Penguin Michael Joseph in the UK and Pamela Dorman Books in the US, as well as twenty one languages to date.
"It’s such a joy to be a part of the inaugural Women’s Fiction Festival in Edinburgh. That term has always been an interesting one, to me - because women can, and do, read widely, and whatever they want - but it’s vital that we celebrate the books that are often overlooked, or dismissed as 'mere entertainment' because they are stories about women, by women. Women write about love, death, fun, sex, grief. heartache, psychology, illness, friendship, identity, race, gender, class and more besides: nothing is off limits. To have a literary festival that cheerleads all of that is so exciting and above all, necessary. So let’s do this!"
Claire's Book Recommendation:
Yrsa Daley-Ward moved me to tears with her poetry in Bone, so I had high hopes for her memoir, The Terrible, hoping it would stir emotion and cut deeper into the story of her childhood and mental health. Frankly, I wasn’t disappointed: her writing is so beautiful, so raw, so staggering that it leaves you gulping for air. She is the kind of writer that makes me want to be better, not only as a writer myself, but as a human, an observer, a feeler. The Terrible blurs truth and heart and storytelling, and breaks rules that are there to be broken. It taught me about life, but also about language: two things I crave, above all else, in a book.
Claire will appear before our final event with Jenny Colgan and Mike Gayle.
Danielle Devlin is a writer from Durham and a senior editor for Virtual Zine Mag, which specialises in the voices of underrepresented writers. In 2021, Danielle won the Future Bookshlef mentorship - The home for Hachette UK’s creative writing programmes. Burnt Offerings is her first novel. Based on historical records, this is an unflinching retelling of the North Berwick Witch Trials that took place in the 16th Century. Burnt Offerings is a celebration of strong women. A visceral and unique aspect told from the point of view of the accused.
How far would you go to save yourself when the truth can’t set you free?
Besse Craw is a young mother whose husband has mysteriously vanished. And in a time when women were powerless, she is accused of witchcraft, abused by her employer, and destined to lose her daughter, her freedom and her life.
Set during the infamous North Berwick Witch Trials, that saw many persecuted, tortured and killed, Besse uncovers long-held secrets as she fights for justice and truth in a world of suspicion and lies.
Danielle's Book Recommendation:
Danielle will appear before our 'Witcherature' event
with Anya Bergman and Stacey Thomas.
Flora Johnston spent many years researching and telling Scotland’s stories through museums, exhibitions and non-fiction publications, but was always drawn to the question best answered through historical fiction - what did that feel like? Her first novel, What You Call Free, was published by Glasgow-based indie publisher Ringwood in 2021. Her latest novel The Paris Peacemakers is set against the backdrop of negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles, and tells the stories of three Scots trying to rebuild their lives after the trauma of the First World War.
"As an Edinburgh resident, and with Edinburgh one of the main locations in my debut novel, I'm very excited about the first Edinburgh Women's Fiction Festival. This is a city of stories, of ideas, of writers and of course of women - how wonderful to have a festival which draws all these together."
Flora's Book Recommendation:
I've just finished reading Sally Magnusson's Music in the Dark and I couldn't recommend it more highly. It's a beautiful piece of writing, structured in such an interesting way, and it draws the reader right in to the human consequences which continue to unfold long after the historical drama is over. Jamesina Ross is compelling character, long since damaged and disappointed, yet with a kind of dry Scots resilience which echoes down through our generations.
Flora will appear before our Secrets and Settings in Historical Fiction event
with Catherine Hokin and Sally Hinchcliffe.
Emma Steele was born and raised on the rain-swept west coast of Scotland before heading up to The University of Aberdeen to study law. Working as a solicitor in Edinburgh, she continued to dabble in her childhood passions of art and creative writing for several years. It was after the birth of her first child that she began writing in earnest.
Emma now writes big love stories with a twist, and with a particular focus on phenomena: near-death, shared-death, lucid dreams, she loves it all. The stunning city of Edinburgh is generally her setting of choice, but she likes to weave in elements of the wider world too.
Still living close to the centre with her husband, two children and dog, Sunshine, Emma spends her weeks juggling writing and looking after her kids. On the weekends she can generally be found in one of Edinburgh’s finest playparks, or hunting for great coffee. The Echoes of Us is her first novel.
"I cannot wait for the first Edinburgh Women's Fiction Festival, and I was delighted when I first heard it was starting (and that I would be a part of it!). I adore women's fiction in all its forms, and there is something so wonderful about people coming together and celebrating that work. Writing can be quite a lonely process at times, so it will be great to feel that support and interest from like-minded people."
Emma's Book Recommendation:
It's very tough to pick just one, but if I had to, it would be After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell. It showed me how raw, unfiltered passion can make a story brilliant, and I was left sobbing at the end (but in a hopeful way too!). I felt every beautifully constructed line of this book, but there was also a carefully crafted mystery there, which kept me going right to the end. I enjoyed how she played with structure, and demonstrated how the life stories of others close to us form who we become in the end. This book massively inspired me to write, so I will never forget it.
Emma will appear before our Feel-Good Fiction event with Jackie Fraser, Milly Johnson and Eva Verde.