A well-known news presenter, one of the world’s leading forensic experts, a ‘big beast’ of the political world and the usual smattering of leading authors, biographers, poets and performers are all on the menu for this year’s Borderlines book festival.

The Carlisle event - now six years old - includes a clutch of debut appearances from the likes of Joanne Harris and Ann Cleeves and well-known faces such as Hunter Davies and Alexander McCall Smith.

Helen Towers, reading development officer for Cumbria County Library Service and Gwenda Matthews, joint owner of Bookends of Carlisle and Keswick, are the programmers for the festival.

Gwenda said: “As well as talks and discussions, we do like to try different means of introducing literature. This year, we have a one-woman show about the real-life disappearance for 11 days of Agatha Christie performed by Liz Grand of the Worcester Repertory Theatre.

“We also have an evening of readings from literature – all inspired by chocolate – some rather risqué – performed by Scary Little Girls Company.”

BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin will be talking about taking up competitive sport after a 30-year gap and representing Great Britain at the World Triathlon Championships while former Liberal Democrat Leader and Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron will recount episodes from from his political career and the prospects for the Liberal Party.

Artist and author Razwan Ul-Haqwill focuses on one of the most high-profile political and social issues of our times in Phobiastan, his response to Islamaphobia and belonging in the north of England.

Gwenda added: “Our workshops are always popular and this year we have a couple of unusual ones with song writing and Arabic calligraphy mixing in with the traditional writing fiction and poetry.

“We’re very fortunate that one of Britain’s bestselling novelists, Adele Parks , is leading a masterclass on how to write fiction.

“Adele’s sold almost four million copies of her books, so her tips on writing might be useful!”

“For the first time this year, we also have free events, including an Any Questions style panel event with London journalist Lauren Sharkey who has interviewed 52 young women about their aspirations for the future.”

Event sponsor Brampton restaurant Truffles will be giving festival-goers a sample of their truffles when Joanne Harris gives her talk on her best-sellers Chocolat and The Strawberry Thief.

The festival runs from September 26-October8. Printed programmes are available county-wide and details are online. For tickets click on www.borderlinescarlisle.co.uk or go to Bookends in Carlisle.