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Janet Smyth is Deputy Head of Learning & Engagement at the National Galleries of Scotland with responsibility for programmes seeking to overcome barriers (social, health and access) to active participation in the Galleries. Previous to this, Janet was a Programme Director at the Edinburgh International Book Festival responsible for children, school and community programmes, establishing projects across Scotland, in prisons as well as leading two arts and health Wellcome Trust funded projects. She is also a programme consultant with Bath Festivals and recently led on the creation of the Reading is Magic digital book festival that included TIFA as a partner.

Val McDermid is an award-winning Scottish crime writer and recipient of the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year (The Mermaids Singing). Her bestselling Tony Hill and Carol Jordan crime series was adapted for six seasons of popular British TV drama Wire in the Blood. 

Michael Pedersen is a prize-winning Scottish poet, writer, animateur. He has published two highly acclaimed collections of poetry with a prose debut forthcoming in 2021. Pedersen was awarded the John Mather Trust Rising Star of Literature 2014, and won a 2015 Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship. He’s had work anthologised by the likes of Pan MacMillan and Canongate Books, and was a finalist for the 2018 Writer of the Year at The Scottish Culture Awards. His poetry has attracted plaudits/endorsements from voices as diverse as: Irvine Welsh, Jackie Kay, Stephen Fry and Charlotte Church. Pedersen also co-runs and co-founded the literary collective Neu! Reekie! 

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 and spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working toward a PhD in Scottish Literature. His Rebus books have been translated into 36 languages and are bestsellers worldwide. Rankin received the Order of the British Empire for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons.

Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, he moved to New York City, where he began a career in fashion design. Shuggie Bain, his first novel, has been shortlisted for the The Booker Prize and longlisted for the National Book Award.