Tag Archives: Booked!

Mapping Stories

In our third blog post getting you thinking and writing about your hometown theatre maker Ishbel McFarlane leads you through a fun mapping activity, leading to some creative writing prompts.

Ishbel McFarlane

Although the focus here is on Cumbernauld you could replicate this activity for wherever you live.

Part One

Draw a map of Cumbernauld from memory. It doesn’t matter whether it is right or wrong. Where do you think the roads, motorways and train tracks are? Where are individual shops and shopping centres? Where are the schools, and doctors, and post offices? Where’s the station? Where do you live? Where do people you know live?

You can use as many colours or materials as you like. You can make it detailed and elaborate or you can just sketch an outline.

Part Two

Draw the town again, but this time you choose what things are and where they go. Maybe you have the same shape of town, but you move things around. Maybe you scrap the whole thing and start again with a new shape, and a new town. Create a new Cumbernauld on your paper.

You have two places now:

  • My Cumbernauld
  • My New Cumbernauld

If you were to move from one to the other, what would you miss? What does your real Cumbernauld have that no new place could ever have? What is worth losing and what is worth keeping?

Part Three

Once you have drawn your two towns, look at an official map of Cumbernauld. You might have a paper map, or maybe have a look online at Google Maps or similar. Where are the differences between how you see Cumbernauld as a place where you live, and how it looks on the map? Did you miss anything out? Why do you think that is? If you’re able to look at satellite images, for example on Google Earth, does the town look different in colour to how you imagined?

Cartographers are the people who draw and make maps. They work with the visible, physical sides of places, but they don’t know the stories of a place. What could you tell a cartographer about this place they have made a map of?

Now you have got three places:

  • My Cumbernauld
  • My New Cumbernauld
  • Cartographers Cumbernauld

Part Four

Imagine the world of each of these places. Who lives there? What is life like? What is the spirit of each place? Which would you rather live in?

What would happen if these three places existed together, only a few miles apart?

Write a short story imagining life in one of the towns. Who would your characters be? What would happen in the story? How do they feel about the other towns? What conflicts or problems might exist?

You can read more about our Cumbernauld Project on our Booked! blog, but these writing prompts can be used for any town, city or village!



A ‘Mind’s Eye Walk’ through your Town

In our second blog post getting you writing about your hometown, author (and now Booked! Cumbernauld residency author!) Mike Nicholson takes you on a mind’s eye walk through your hometown.


Mike Nicholson

“I find that I can think back clearly to where I grew up – a big old house on a busy road in Eskbank, half way between Dalkeith and Bonnyrigg. My immediate community were the houses along our road, particularly the ones between where we lived and Watson’s newspaper shop. Even in a short stretch of main road like that there were landmarks; the pine trees across the road, the distant chimney of the carpet factory,  the camper van at number 57, the postbox in the wall in Muirpark not to mention the people behind each of the front doors. All of these are still clear in my mind today even though only the postbox and the doors remain. It’s amazing how the places where you live become engraved in your memory.

What I really liked about where I lived was that a short walk took you past hedgerows and fields to a disused railway and onto Newbattle woods and the River Esk. Once again that area has completely changed now. In fact the railway has now re-opened so everything is fresh and new. But I can still picture in great detail each of the paths I explored.”

Whether you’re sitting in a café, on a bus or in your armchair at home, you too can open your “mind’s eye” and go on an imaginary walk around your home town.

Although the focus here is on Cumbernauld you could replicate this activity for wherever you live.

  • Where in Cumbernauld are you going to begin your “mind’s eye walk”? What’s your reason for choosing that starting point? Is it an important one for everyone or just somewhere that has particular meaning for you?
  • Where does the walk take you and what are the landmarks along the way, big or small? Do any of these have special significance or even your own made-up names for them? In the woodland I used to visit there was the ‘Bear Tree’. Only our family knew it as that.
  • As you go on your walk what else do you see? Strong memories that merit a plaque to let everyone know , or things that really need to change to make the place better?
  • If you sat for a moment on this imaginary walk and watched the world go by, who would go past? Are there conversations with neighbours or strangers? Are things fast paced or laid back? How does the atmosphere make you feel?

Quite often a walk like this can refresh your view of somewhere you have become used to and you can have a rich source of material for developing a story, whether that be the memory of an incident on a street corner, the strange mark on a wall you’ve always wondered about or the house with the garden full of gnomes.

So why not take a ‘mind’s eye walk’ at the start of 2017. Take a fresh look at what your town has carved into your memory and take a moment to write about where you live.

You can read more about our Cumbernauld Project on our Booked! blog, but these writing prompts can be used for any town, city or village!


My Life in Cumbernauld: The Movie

Writing about your hometown.

As part of our upcoming Booked! Project in Cumbernauld we’re inviting pupils, community groups and members of the public to use the place that they live as the inspiration for creative writing. You can read more about our Cumbernauld Project on our Booked! blog, but the writing prompts can also be transferred to any town, city or village!

Writer and People’s Historian, Daniel Gray, who will be working with members of Cumbernauld Action Care for the Elderly (CACE) as part of the project, explains

“People and place. That is at the core of what I write and why I write. People and place now, people and place then; fables in pubs that make me chuckle, and social history that makes me gasp in awe. The very greatest thing about living in Scotland (apologies, obscenely beautiful landscape and tattie scones), is that here, all of that thrives.”


Daniel Gray

We asked Daniel how he would go about using place as an inspiration for writing:

When I have an idea for a new book, but don’t know where to start, I distill my idea into a 500-word pitch. Just take the name, then add a colon and the words ‘The Movie’.  So here I’d have the working title:

My Life in Cumbernauld: The Movie

Then write a 500-word pitch for your movie, pretending you’re going to send it to producers, under the following headings:


Time and Place

Choose a year, or an era. Perhaps a time when living here was the very sweetest. It was almost golden, and when you think of it, your memories are coloured like a movie.

What were the surroundings, the buildings, shops, parks, paths, trees, traffic, air like? Close your eyes, take yourself there again, describe them.

How did being here, in Cumbernauld, make it so good? Did the way people lived here help, or could it have happened anywhere? Perhaps these halcyon days were early on, filled with the excitement of leaving choked city life for Cumbernauld.


Place is, of course, vital. But was that golden time possible without those around you? Talk about them, the names, the nicknames, the sweethearts and the mishaps.

And, where there’s people, there’s laughter. This film needs those one-liners and those stories.

What about the visitors to your life in Cumbernauld – what did your family and friends still living in Glasgow and elsewhere make of it all? Did they say you ‘talked different’ now?!


We probably need a plot. It could focus on those people and places above, and they should certainly feature. But what is this overall story? From the outside, it seems like one of hope and optimism, in the early days, anyhow; people moving to a new life, people moving to the future, or even utopia. That’s a story in itself, but what happened when they, you, got there? What about working, and laughing and falling in love? What part did Cumbernauld play in that?

And then what? Happily ever after for person and place? And what of the future, in this place that was once just that? Find your inner sci-fi and imagine what you’d change. Let us dream again…

You can read more about our Cumbernauld Project on our Booked! blog, but these writing prompts can be used for any town, city or village!



Booked! Edinburgh International Book Festival on the Road.

In August 2016, while the Edinburgh International Book Festival bubbled away in Charlotte Square Gardens we also took the buzz of the Festival around the country to three new locations – Galashiels in the Borders, Greenock in Inverclyde, and Aberdeen.

Working with local libraries, councils and arts venues in each area, we were able to bring books to life for thousands of school children, community groups and members of the public through events with both local and international authors and artists.

If you’d like to get a feel for these Booked! Festivals then watch our highlights video below.


For more information on Booked! visit www.edbookfest.co.uk/about-us/booked

Thank you very much to all of our Booked! partners in 2016, as well as to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who support the year-round Booked! programme.

A Film, A Festival, and a Fond Farewell to Landwords

In this final post in the LandWords series, we’ll be looking back at the project and festivals through a special short film, and looking ahead to LandWords-inspired events at the book festival in August. Continue reading A Film, A Festival, and a Fond Farewell to Landwords

Writing from Memory: Storytelling Activities from our Landwords Project

In the second post of our series on the LandWords project at Falkirk’s Callendar House, video and performance artist Donna Rutherford gives a taste of three exercises she used to encourage the pupils in her group to engage with their own memories and stories inspired by the environment around them. Continue reading Writing from Memory: Storytelling Activities from our Landwords Project

Fiction, in a Flash: A Creative Writing Activity from our LandWords Project

LandWords was a special collaboration between Edinburgh International Book Festival and Falkirk Community Trust, in which Falkirk’s wonderful Callendar House provided space and inspiration to explore questions of place, identity, history and story. How do we relate to Scotland’s stories, old and new? Are we telling our own tales of the places we love? Continue reading Fiction, in a Flash: A Creative Writing Activity from our LandWords Project

Making Stuff Rhyme: Rap in the Classroom

This is a guest post written by Dave Hook, front man of Scottish hip hop group Stanley Odd and one of the lead artists on our recent Graphic Lyrics Booked! project. Dave gives his thoughts on the project, and then shows how you can replicate some of the activities in your own school. Continue reading Making Stuff Rhyme: Rap in the Classroom

Booked! at The Biggest Book Show on Earth 2016

We celebrated World Book Day 2016 with 2000 school pupils from across Scotland at The Biggest Book Show On Earth! Continue reading Booked! at The Biggest Book Show on Earth 2016

Make your own Newspaper Cityscape with Debi Gliori

One of the amazing art activities which Primary 6 of Sandaig Primary School, Glasgow, took part in as part of the Crocodiamond project, with author and illustrator Debi Gliori, was to create this amazing city scene for the exciting car chase at the end of the performance. Continue reading Make your own Newspaper Cityscape with Debi Gliori