HE may be one of Scotland's most celebrated and respected authors – but William McIlvanney cannot get his new book published.

Yesterday the award-winning author, creator of classic Scottish novels such as The Kiln, The Big Man, Docherty and Laidlaw, revealed to a surprised audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival that publishers have declined to publish his new book.

Speaking to a packed main theatre at the festival on its first Monday, he said the book, Personal Dispatches, had been turned down by publishers who “wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole”.

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He said that he suspected one of the reasons that publishers were shy of publishing the book, which he describes as a “dictionary of personal experience”, was that he is Scottish. He went on to explain by saying although he is known in Scotland, he may not be known so well south of the Border.

McIlvanney admitted he thought the book may be a “dicey” proposition to publishers but that he is determined to have it completed. “The book has been summarily dismissed, and I think maybe it is because I am Scottish,” he said. “I have never appeared in the London papers, just the Scottish papers. I think I will hang on to it, and when I am dead -- by God they’ll be sorry.”

McIlvanney, whose last novel was Weekend in 2006, added: “I think they think I am just not well known enough in the culture [in London] for it to be interesting. But I’d like to complete the book, and to hell with them.”

He said the book was inspired by a lifetime of note taking, and the desire to understand the life he was living. The book, a kind of philosophical memoir going by the extracts he read to the audience yesterday, takes a series of subject matters and discusses or examines them at length.

“We offered the book to publishers, but they would not touch it with a barge pole.”

McIlvanney, born in 1936 in Kilmarnock, is also working on a collection of poetry, from which he read, as well as a book on one of Scotland’s most famous artistic talents: Sir Sean Connery.

McIlvanney said he has been working on the non-fiction work for “as long as I can recall”. He said he was inspired to write about Connery because he is a Scot who has “take on Hollywood and won”.

“Connery interests me not because he is a big macho man, but because of the Scot’s American success he has done an amazing thing. He has terrific chutzpah and he has had an astonishing career,” he said.

Asked by an audience member about his opinions on the riots in England, he said he found them depressing and described them as an “anti-social tantrum”.

“You get people like Ken Living- stone saying they are a protest -- that bothers me,” he said. “It’s not a protest, it shows how disenfranchised from politics people are.”

Later in the day, another sold- out audience saw an unusual session from Pamela Stephenson-Connolly, the former TV comedian and now sex therapist, as well as contestant on Strictly Come Dancing.

She spoke frankly about her new book, Sex Life, and her experiences on Strictly, as well as breaking out of the conventional book festival routine and engaging in two improvised Tango dances on stage with the dancer Leroy Tango Cat. “That’s what makes Argentinian Tango and sexuality so edgy,” she said, “you never know what is going to happen.”

Of her husband, the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, she said: “My husband does sometimes say why I cannot bring my work home more often.”