Special-effects superstar Ray Harryhausen elevated stop-motion animation to an art during the 1950s to 1980s. With material drawn from his incredible archive, his daughter, Vanessa, selects 100 creatures and objects, in chronological order, that meant the most to her as she watched her father make world-famous films that changed the course of cinema. Ray Harryhausen's work included the Sinbad films of the 50s and 70s, One Million Years B.C. and Mighty Joe Young, as well as a wider portfolio including children’s fairy tales and commercials. He inspired a generation of filmmakers such as Peter Jackson, Aardman Animation, Tim Burton, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and his influence on blockbuster cinema can be felt to this day. Some of the objects featured in the book, such as Talos from Jason and the Argonauts, are world famous, while others are less well known but hold special personal significance to Vanessa. Many newly restored works that have never previously been seen are included. This book is published in collaboration with the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation and celebrates the legacy of a filmmaker who changed the face of modern cinema and it is certain to delight and fascinate those who appreciate film, art, science fiction and fantasy. 

Ray Harryhausen’s name is synonymous with some of the most innovative special effects in film history, creating an astonishing body of work that has inspired luminaries such as Peter Jackson and George Lucas. In this handsome book Vanessa, his daughter, delves into her father’s archive, using precious family memories, photos, drawings, and storyboards, to provide a fascinating and intimate profile of one of cinema’s true greats. 


Publishing such a major, highly illustrated first book from our isolated kitchen tables – unable to collaborate in our usual easy way – was a unique challenge posed to publisher and author alike by lockdown. But working with Vanessa Harryhausen on this very personal deep insight into the life and work of the cinematic giant, Ray Harryhausen, was a great distraction from the pandemic and it gave us all a lot of joy. We’re delighted to think that the book is now spreading that same joy to readers, worldwide, and that Scotland’s National Book Awards are recognising this in shortlisting Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema for the First Book Award. " Ann Crawford, NGS Publishing  

The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong is sweaty, spiky, candid, and alive, wrapped in the immediacy of youth. Its subject matter and use of Scots to tell the narrator's story - based on Armstrong's own experience - set this book apart and made it stand out to us.  


I am absolutely thrilled to be considered for the Saltire First Book awards. My novel’s setting and language have an unusual cultural epicentre, North Lanarkshire. This is a part of Scotland often overlooked from the outside and still affected by poverty, drugs and violence. To represent my community among the National Book Awards is a privilege young men from my area are seldom afforded and a responsibility I don’t take for granted. " Graeme Armstrong 

A Kind of Spark tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie knows there's more to the story of these 'witches', just like there is more to hers. Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and make her voice heard? A story about friendship, courage and self-belief, Addie’s story was born from Elle’s own experiences of neurodiversity and her commitment to seeing greater representation in children’s books. 


As a Scottish author, it means the world to see my debut nominated on this shortlist. I wrote a book about Scotland's past, present and hopefully its future and I am extremely proud to see Addie's story honoured in this way. "  Elle McNicoll 

Here’s to Roddy Murray’s Bleak. A fantastic debut ready to speak up for the bleak, wonderful spirit of life. Travelling from the Outer Hebrides to Scotland’s West Coast, from childhood to Glasgow’s Art School, from ceilidhs to rock-band ambitions, and beyond. Packed with stories and observations, let it regale you.  

What a wonderful surprise to brighten a bleak, rainy day in Stornoway. I’m so pleased and honoured to have this recognition and to be in the mix. Thank you! " Roddy Murray 

Aoife Lyall’s debut collection Mother, Nature explores the tragic and tender experiences of pregnancy and early motherhood, from ante-natal complications and the devastating pain of miscarriage to the overwhelming joy of healthy delivery and healthy infancy. 

I am honoured and delighted that Mother, Nature has been shortlisted for Scotland's National Book Awards 2021 in the First Book category. It is a recognition that reflects the deep love I have for Scotland, for the people and places that have made it somewhere I can call home. "  Aoife Lyall 

With its lyrical descriptions of the River Devon in the Ochil Hills, Broomfield’s debut takes us on a journey of discovery. It has delightful illustrations of the fauna he encounters as he follows the path of the river, from otters playing to Ospreys soaring above. His observations of the flora surrounding the river are no less poetic, revealing Scotland’s breath-taking natural beauty.  


If Rivers Could Sing is all about getting close to nature and connecting with our precious environment. I am thrilled it has been shortlisted for such a prestigious award, which I hope will provide encouragement to other first-time book writers to pick up a pen and get writing." Keith Broomfield

 Special Mentions