5 Questions with Sandra McDowall

28 June 2014

Tell us about your connection to Wigtown and the Book Festival

I've lived here since 1969; brought my family up here and now have pleasure in watching two of my grandchildren grow up here. Wigtown is a special place with a strong community spirit and I got drawn into that and was Secretary of the Community Council for a long time. I've also been fortunate to have been involved with the Book Town project since the beginning. I've watched the Festival grow, getting bigger, better and more confident with every year that passes and simply can't believe that the town has changed so much or so little over the years! Yes, the Festival has changed the town but the people are the same and the community spirit has survived unchanged. I was the elected member for Wigtown on Dumfries and Galloway Council for 13 years, which was a real privilege and have Chaired the Festival Company since my retirement.

Sum up your festival experience in 5 words

Inspiring, exciting, enjoyable and fun.


What's your favourite festival memory?

When Wigtown hosted the International Organisation of Booktowns' Festival, our slogan was Wigtown Welcomes the World.  The Festival ended with Wigtown hosting a ceilidh attended by the representative from other Book Towns including Norway, Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland and Germany. The fun and laughter generated by the different nationalities misunderstanding the directions of the caller was something I'll never forget!

Who would be your dream author to appear at the Festival?

I'm a big fan of crime fiction and, like many others, love Rebus. Ian Rankin has already been to the festival but it would be lovely to welcome him back. Another big favourite is Wallander and it would be amazing if we could have Henning Mankell. I have recently read and enjoyed three Inspector McLean novels and would love to listen to James Oswald. I know that makes three but ....


Give us one recommendation or top tip for Wigtown, the Festival or D&G

My advice to all festival goers would be to take time to soak in the atmosphere of the place and appreciate the peace of the landscape. Dumfries and Galloway has been described as Scotland in miniature. Hills, rivers, lochs, forests and coastline are all within easy reach and are all breathtakingly beautiful.