Visiting authors: Martin Stewart and Alan Bissett

We were delighted to host two author visits on Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th December in the Library with authors Alan Bissett and Martin Stewart.


Almost 100 S3 pupils were treated to readings, question and answer sessions and Alan’s take on everything from favourite books to films to River City, which he writes for, and how he used memories of his childhood friends to create characters for his first novel. Martin, speaking to S2, explained his writing process, the difficulties of getting published, how to write with a bored dog and his inspiration from photographs. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visits and learned a lot about writing for a living – perhaps we will see some more published authors from Our Lady’s in the future!


Thanks to both authors for giving up their valuable time, to Scottish Book Trust for co-funding the event and to Mrs Macfadyen for organising the visits.


Kirkland Ciccone

Kirkland Ciccone with Angus and Brian.

Kirkland Ciccone with Angus and Brian.

Author, Kirkland Ciccone, visited Our Lady’s on Friday 22nd November, to discuss his life, his love of books, and his novel, Conjuring the Infinite with 3rd year pupils from the English Department.

Kirkland, a North Lanarkshire lad himself, kept the class giggling at the more surreal elements of his existence, before explaining how he became a published author, and why  the class should vote for Conjuring the Infinite to win the Catalyst Book Awards.

Before leaving, he staked his claim to becoming one of their favourite authors by signing everything put in front of him, and even allowing each pupil choose their own colour!

Thanks to School Librarian, Mrs Macfadyen, for arranging the visit, and to Miss McGhee for the loan of 3rd year for the afternoon.

Cathy MacPhail

OLHS pupils in 3rd and 4th year won a competition back in October at the North Lanarkshire Catalyst Book Awards 2011 for the best use of the Catalyst blog. Their prize was a visit from award winning author, Cathy MacPhail.

The classes were enthralled by Cathy’s stories of moving statues, haunted hotels and creepy libraries. The Creative Writing Club also discussed lots of ideas with Cathy and sought advice for their own writing. Cathy was kind enough to answer all their questions and even set them a writing challenge at the end of the afternoon.

Catalyst Award 2011

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3rd and 4th year pupils from secondary schools across North Lanarkshire attended the Catalyst Book Awards at Our Lady’s High School this week, to see authors, Gillian Cross, Keren David, Cathy MacPhail and Alex Scarrow discuss their shortlisted books.

The Awards were introduced by OLHS Headteacher, Mrs Kathleen Sinclair, and hosted by pupils from Mrs Millar’s 4th year English class. Pupils from other North Lanarkshire schools introduced each author and read short sections from each of the books.

At the interval, pupils could fill in questions, visit the tuck shop and buy copies of the books.

After Alex Scarrow lifted the trophy for his book, Time Riders, pupils wandered over to meet the authors, have their books signed and have photos taken, before being bussed back to their own schools.

Meanwhile in the background, OLHS staff and pupils were ensuring the event ran as smoothly as possible. The Duke of Edinburgh Group organised refreshments for the invited guests, a tuck shop for pupils, assisted with directions, interviewed the audience, took photos, filmed the event and were generally as helpful as it is possible to be.

Mrs Stemplis’ Intermediate Hospitality class was busy preparing a feast of pizza, pasta, soup, sandwiches, cakes and fruit salad for lunch.

Members of the Photography Club took as many photos as the cameras could hold, and the Creative Writers left messages for the authors.

Staff from across Our Lady’s popped in to see if they could help, ran messages, entertained guests and were their usual delightful selves.

An extended list of thanks is available on the OLHS LRC blog.

A full report of the ceremony is available on the Catalyst blog.

David Almond event

Twenty 1st and 2nd year pupils looked after Miss McGhee and Mrs Macfadyen when they went along to BBC Scotland on Thursday 29th September to meet author, David Almond.

Thanks to the Scottish Book Trust for giving us the opportunity to be part of the audience.

Thanks also to David Almond for being such a gentleman, and signing all of our books and letting us take photos.

You can read more about the event on the LRC blog or view it live here.

Catalyst Awards 2010

Pupils from Mrs Millar’s 3rd year English class attended the Catalyst Book Awards at St Aidan’s last week, and enjoyed listening to shortlisted authors talking about their books: Linda Strachan with Spider; Paul Dowswell with Auslander; and Tim Bowler with Bloodchild.

The awards also showcased the film, Missing You, by North Lanarkshire film school, Lensheads.

OLHS pupils, Nina Mullen and Debbie Lennox, introduced Ms Strachan and read an excerpt from Spider, and subsequently lunched with all of the authors and the Catalyst committee.

A full report is available on the Catalyst blog.

Catalyst Award 2009

Every year, the Catalyst Teen Book Award is voted for by pupils in 3rd and 4th year in North Lanarkshire. The shortlist was announced at New Stevenson Library as follows:

Garry Kilworth – The Hundred-Towered City
Garry Kilworth says –
I´m very excited and more than pleased to be on such a prestigious shortlist and in such excellent company. I shall look forward to my visit to Scotland with great enthusiasm. Although I’ve visited Scotland on many occasions, and love it, I don´t remember spending a lot of time in Lanarkshire. My childhood holidays were spent on a farm in Perthshire and those early experiences form several passages in my books. Looking forward to some new ones.

Helena Pielichaty – Accidental Friends
Helena Pielichaty says –
I am absolutely delighted to be on this wonderful shortlist. It shows what fine taste the people of North Lanarkshire have. Accidental Friends is a very important book for me and it’s an enormous boost to know it’s been singled out in this way. I think this award is very special as it is the teenagers themselves who will be voting.

Simon Morden – The Lost Art
Simon Morden says –
I am, of course, delighted and surprised to be shortlisted for the Catalyst award. To find myself in such exalted company is an honour. To know I got there by being chosen by readers is humbling. Being on the Catalyst shortlist is both a huge encouragement and a stern challenge – since writers never stop writing, I realise I have to try and make the next book better than the last one.

Theresa Breslin – Nostradamus Prophecy
Theresa Breslin says –
I’m absolutely thrilled to be selected for the shortlist for this terrific award voted for by the pupils of North Lanarkshire. It’s amazing feeling for your book to be chosen as a contender from among the many thousands of titles published each year. I’m looking forward to visiting the schools, chatting to the pupils, librarians and teachers, and all the excitement of the award ceremony.

All of the books are available from Mrs Macfadyen in the LRC.

The main awards ceremony will take place October 8th in the Motherwell Concert Hall.

Catalyst Awards 2008

6th year and authors at Catalyst Awards 2008

6th year and authors at Catalyst Awards 2008

Mrs Mitchell took her 3rd year class to Motherwell Civic Centre on 9th October to see  Julie Bertagna winning the finals of the Catalyst Book Awards, with her novel, Zenith, as voted for by pupils across North Lanarkshire. The other finalists were:

Tabitha Suzuma – From where I stand
Berlie Doherty – Abela: the girl who saw lions
Catherine MacPhail – Nemesis: the beast within

North Lanarkshire pupils introduced each author and gave a short insight into the author’s nominated book, then each author spoke to the audience themselves.

Also in attendance were pupils from the Advanced Higher English class, who were there to act as microphone bearers for Question Time at the end, hobnob with authors, make friends and influence people. They also took lots of photos, especially of new best friend Anthony McGowan (Tony to his friends), last year’s winner and this year’s compere.

Pupils have noticed an uncanny similarity between Mrs Mitchell and shortlisted author, Catherine MacPhail (in black and red at the front of the photo) – twins separated at birth?

Copies of all the novels will be available in the LRC after the holidays.

Anthony McGowan

Anthony McGowan spoke to our Advanced Higher English class on Tuesday, providing both laughter and food for thought.

After the truly revolting tale of the dog and the crossbow (ask a 6th year), he explained how important his own life had been for providing story ideas, just through normal day to day events, which he could then develop into something weird and surreal.

He also provided some useful ideas for writer’s block (just keep writing – write ANYTHING) and ideas for places to start. He also left Mrs Millar incredibly chuffed by explaining how stories grow from previous stories – a point she had made to the class just half an hour earlier (of course it’s different when a published author says it though).

Mrs Macfadyen was also pleased because she taught him the word “sook”.

Authors visit OLHS

We are incredibly excited to welcome two award winning authors to Our Lady’s next week.

On Tuesday, we host Anthony McGowan, the award winning author of Hellbent and Henry’s Tumour (which won the North Lanarkshire Catalyst Award last year). Anthony is coming to charm the Advanced Higher English class and discuss the process of creative writing. You can read a short story by Anthony McGowan here.

On Wednesday, Berlie Doherty will be coming to talk to some 3rd year pupils. Most pupils will remember reading sections from Berlie’s novel, Granny was a Buffer Girl, in English classes. Her latest novel, Abela: the Girl who Saw Lions, is a finalist in this year’s Catalyst Awards.

Catalyst Awards 2007

A group of 3rd year pupils went along to the Catalyst Teenage Book Award today. We were also very lucky to have some plucky 6th years, prepared to plunge into the audience with microphones, regardless of their personal safety.

The eventual winner was Anthony MacGowan, with his book “Henry Tumour” (which is fab!), and so far I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about the event.

You can leave comments about Catalyst here.

The 6th year pupils. from the Advanced Higher English class, were especially enthralled with Melvin Burgess, who they now refer to as Unkie Melvis (!)