Talk by Alastair Scott

Travel writer shares secrets of success and humiliation

The National Library of Scotland is hosting 'Crossing Boundaries — Travel writing and fiction' a talk to be given by travel writer and novelist Alastair Scott on Tuesday 5 April, 7pm, at the Library's George IV Bridge Building, Edinburgh.

Alastair Scott has hitchhiked the world in a kilt, cycled behind the Iron Curtain, driven a dogsled across Alaska and sailed solo around Ireland. Author of five books Scott will analyse the changing face of travel writing and the challenges in crossing the divide to fiction in his first novel, 'Stuffed lives'.

In a talk which promises to be entertaining, informative and down to earth, Scott will illustrate his views on how travel writing has changed over time by reading short, amusing extracts from writers over the centuries from Marco Polo to his current favourites, Raban, Thubron, Chatwin and Dalrymple.

He will also discuss the process of how travel writers collect and formulate their material, before moving on to highlight the differences and difficulties faced when repositioning from this genre to fiction writing.

Scott says; 'It was one of my more challenging journeys. In many ways the disciplines of the craft are the same but the material and the methods of working it are different. 'Stuffed lives' demanded a new approach, the need to establish credibility, a plot that for once wasn't handed to me as a journey, a message to convey other than an interpretation of a country and its people, and the urgent requisite of pace. I'll talk about my struggle to find a publisher and my experiences in a market, which does not like its worst-selling authors to change genre. There will be humorous references to James Joyce and Garrison Keillor amongst others.'

Scott will end his talk with various anecdotes about the worst public humiliations some authors have experienced.

Tickets for the event are free of charge, but will be in great demand so please book in advance on the National Library of Scotland Events Line — 0131 622 4807, or email

30 March 2005

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