Great Bloody Scotland, It’s Alex Gray!

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‘Brings Glasgow to life in the same way Ian Rankin evokes Edinburgh’        Daily Mail

It figures that a fresh graduate of English and Philosophy, who is dauntless enough to do time as a visiting officer for the (now defunct) Department of Social Security, would have the savvy to transform her encounters into riveting crime fiction later in her life. She also taught English to high schoolers, a profession with no small requirement for grit and wiliness.

Crime may hide in the shadows, but author Alex Gray will no longer keep to them with her reputation bounding alongside other high-ranking crime fiction novelists. The Reading Room is excited to announce her appearance for our February 27 meeting.

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‘Few have matched the sustained high quality of [Alex Gray’s] output …What she delivers is sound characterisation, convincing Glaswegian atmosphere and superior writing.’     The Times

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. She was briefly a folk singer as a student in Glasgow. She taught for ten years until diagnosis of an illness forced her to quit, in 1993; thus commenced the fulfillment of a dream to write professionally. This led to immediate success with short stories, articles and commissions for BBC radio programmes. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing. 

A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, her previous novels include Five Ways to Kill a ManGlasgow KissPitch BlackThe RivermanNever Somewhere ElseThe Swedish Girl and Keep the Midnight Out.

Alex Gray is the co-founder, along with Tartan Noir crime novelist Lin Anderson, of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012. These two writers, with Alanna Knight, are the Femmes Fatales crime writing trio–“intriguing, quirky and highly enjoyable”, according to Edinburgh Evening News.

 

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‘Wide-ranging and interwoven strands woven into an engrossing plot … she pulls them gleefully and artistically together . . . a writer ready to join the top rank of crime authors’            Daily Express

Gray’s forthcoming book, Only the Dead Can Tell,  will be published this March 22. It is the landmark 15th DSI William Lorimer novel.

We look forward to seeing all of you at Alex Gray’s reading on February 27, in Edinbane Community Hall. The programme begins at 7:30 p.m., with refreshments served at intermission. There will be plenty of time for Q & A, so along with a grand welcome for this acclaimed Scottish crime writer, bring your curiosity for how she done it.

Admission is £5 and free for members. Our reasonably priced memberships are always available at our meetings and online. Feel free to browse our Cheap-O Great Read selection or to add to the assortment. Also available are volumes of our anthology series, Words From An Island.

For information about our programmes, membership or for other questions, please contact us at  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

More coming up…

March 16: Open Mic at An Crùbh, Duisdale, organised in conjunction with SEALL.

March 27: Ross Sayers, reading from his debut novel, Mary’s the Name, which takes place in Stirling and on Skye.

April 27: AGM, with guest speaker. Everyone welcome. This is your chance to bicker and spit and hopefully offer some constructive goals for the Reading Room – refreshments served to make it sweeter, along with a special speaker.

The Reading Room (Seòmar Leughaidh) receives support from the Live Literature Fund, Scottish Book Trust.SBT logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CANCELLED: Open Mic to be Hosted at An Crùbh in Sleat

DUE TO HEAVY SNOWFALL ON SLEAT PENINSULA, OPEN MIC HAS BEEN CANCELLED, TO OUR REGRET. THANKS FOR BEING HERE–RE-SCHEDULED ASAP!!
(This month’s Reading Room meets on Friday, January 19, 7:00 p.m., at An Crùbh, Duisdale, organised in conjunction with SEALL.)
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  It’s dark outside the meagre, oval window next to my face. Below me, I’ve been watching North America switch on its evening lights, but now, as we near Greenland, no twinkles beckon in the darkness so I turn my mind to the Hebrides as the airline pilot heads toward the Continent. As Skye is denied to me for the present, those who live on the isle seem even more fortunate, and Reading Room gatherings appear with a misty golden aura around them.
   Our recent venture into open-mic-land satisfies my yearning for a platform that supports established writers and those whose writing voices have been silent but ferociously or tentatively scribbling…the latter compositions perhaps crafted on bleak days of winter, jotted down in spare moments between B&B duties, or conceived during walks on windy shores or drives for the monthly Inverness shopping spree. 
    Whence comes inspiration for the experienced and the neophyte, alike? And the passion that drives the need to write–why must we do this? Why, also, are we compelled to read what others write?
   Why would anyone miss the chance to share the essential stream of creativity that flows through our gifted people? The yield from one’s work is always a gift. Francis Mitchell is the perfect host for our Open Mic, because I believe he honors each artist who stands before our audience, and which one of us of us can’t use a champion at our back?
     As my aircraft nears the tip of Iceland, I envision my image of Skye as the rampant lion with its clawed peninsulas pawing and Trotternish roaring its lion head, and I think, “Roar, all of you wild folk down there, pick up that bright little poem you just worked out, that lovely musing verse that arose with the first spark in your morning stove, and get out there and read.”
   More to my point, read at this month’s joyful occasion when the Reading Room is connecting with SEALL (thanks to Francis and SEALL’s Duncan MacInnes) to bring us to An Crùbh’s spacious modern café, with its cozy inglenook (scrumptious dishes and desserts and beverages are available for purchase). SEALL organizers say, “Our ambition at the outset was to put Skye firmly on the map as an arts and cultural destination and to celebrate the wealth of home-grown talent in the area.” What a jolly plan to get the two organizations together and hopefully concoct more occasions.
   Local and visiting writers are encouraged to come and read. English and Gaelic are welcome and perhaps a song with lyrics you wrote. If you shy from expressing yourself in the spotlight or don’t even jot down those important but unappreciated stories and poems that pop out of the heather or kettle, come along to brighten the event and enjoy the good cheer and maybe weep a tear. Duncan has requested that readers book a slot  (via the Seall website and if possible): http://www.seall.co.uk/events/the-reading-room-19-jan/
   There is no entry fee for this event.
  Please direct questions for the Reading Room to skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

 

 

The Reading Room Joins Classical Celebration

Music art 3The Reading Room will once again participate in the holiday event, Classical Celebration. The audience will be treated to a sampling of gifted poets/writers who have shared their work in our Open Mic events.
 
According to Angus Ross, of Skye Chamber Music, last year’s December Classical Celebration had the biggest turnout that they have ever seen, for an evening of fantastic music and words performed by local musicians and writers. SCM are repeating the experience again this year on Monday, 11th December, in the Fingal Centre at the High School in Portree, at 7:00 p.m. There will be music to bring you into the hall; music, song and words for the main programme; and music while you dine. Supper is included – but please bring your own drink.
 
It is an evening for you to enjoy with your friends, FREE OF CHARGE, and while there is no need to bring anything, organizers will be happy for contributions to the supper table: Reading Room associates have been asked to bring cheese, biscuits, grapes, or savouries. Any monetary offerings are welcome to be dropped into the boxes to defray the costs for the evening. Angus says everyone was very generous last year and the surplus was split three ways, between Island Chorus, Reading Room and Skye Chamber Music. This allowed SCM to count the event as a fundraising event in the application for their grant this year, which helped tremendously.
 
There will be a table decoration competition again, so bring your own table decorations, but no real candles please (the School PFI clearly does not want the risk of becoming a big candle later in the 

Music artevening).

 
The programme goes something like this:
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Classical Celebration December 11, 2017

7.00 pm – Pre-concert introduction.

  • Violin (Wendy Riva)
  • O Sole Mio
    Shostakovich Waltz no. 2
    Kalinka, Can-Can and Paganini Caprice no. 24 

7.15 pm – Concert Start

  • Haydn Trio “Gypsy”: Bar Purser (cello), Alan Donald (violin) & Chris Watkiss (piano).
  • Island Chorus:  “Les Miserables” medley.
  • Reading Room:  Poetry/Prose
  • Schubert Trio: “Shepherd on the Rock” – Rhona Coogan (soprano), John Huckett (Clarinet) & Chris Watkiss (piano).
  • Debussy Petite Suite. Piano Duet – Elaine Ferguson & Chris Watkiss.

8.30 Supper – Incidental Music.

  • Clarinet (Lynne Armistace-Brown)
  •  Marie-Louise MacDonald (Clarsach) – not confirmed.
  •  Duo no. 3 for Flute and Viola – Meg Rosher (Flute), Alan Donald (Viola)
  •  Dvorak Slavonic dances. Piano Duet (Kevin & Chris Watkiss) – not confirmed!

For information about our programmes, membership or for other questions, please contact us at  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

We hope to see many of our friends there. The Reading Room would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season.

Marcello Tully to Share Snapshot of His Life

The Reading Room is fortunate that the Scottish Book Trust helps us put on a good party once a year for Book Week Scotland. We could only wish that our special guest for our November celebration were providing the refreshments.

Brazilian-born Marcello Tully represents the literal interpretation of the 2017 Book Week Scotland theme, “Nourish”. It is what he does, it is what he loves.

He will be reading from the first book he has written, The Key Ingredient, which he says is more than just a collection of recipes, it’s about the making of Marcello. A reflective snapshot of the life experiences that have defined him.

His passion for food developed while in his teens, when he worked part-time in London as a commis-chef in a local French restaurant. While reflecting his cooking style, The Key Ingredient recipes also weave in Marcello’s Brazilian heritage, his classical Roux- brothers training and his passion for the Highlands of Scotland, with their great bounty of local produce.

After Marcello relocated his family to the north-western isles in 2007 to take his place as Chef Director of Skye’s Kinloch Lodge, he was awarded a Michelin star for seven consecutive years.

Marcello represents Kinloch and Scotland around the world, as an ambassador and spokesman for the industry, and he has appeared frequently on TV, radio and in the press. He provides food demonstrations throughout the year to hotel guests, across the Uk and beyond. He recently has launched a series of workshops and classes at Kinloch Lodge, where he teaches a range of chef skills; he also shows how a professional kitchen operates and inspires guests with new ideas for entertaining at home.

Also on the menu for the evening is a Cookbook Frenzy – swap, buy, auction and browse a range of cookbooks. Bring your own, bring your friends’, bring your grandmothers’ or any other cookbooks you would like to share or show and tell to others.

Please join us for Marcello Tully and Scottish Book Week on Tuesday, November 28, 7:30 p.m., at Edinbane Community Hall. Everyone is welcome and there is no admission fee. Parking at the hall is limited, but there is street parking.  Refreshments will be served.

For more information about this event or about the Reading Room, contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

~ Book Week Scotland is aBook Week Scotland week-long celebration of books and reading that takes place every November.

During Book Week, people of all ages and walks of life will come together in libraries, schools, community venues and workplaces to share and enjoy books and reading. They will be joined in this celebration by Scotland’s authors, poets, playwrights, storytellers and illustrators to bring a packed programme of events and projects to life.

Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook for the latest updates.

Wait for Me Cynthia Rogerson!

Our October guest reader has me hollering like the late-bloomer that I am. I will never catch up with her writing accomplishments. In my defense, I am sure she has more hours in the day than I do…

Prizewinning author Cynthia Rogerson writes mainstream literary fiction, set in Scotland and in California—two places she knows well, as she lives in one and hails from the other. Her latest of five novels is Wait for Me, Jack (Sandstone 2016) under pen name Addison Jones.  It inspired a lovely review from Tim Pears: “…this is a proper love story – that is the miracle Jones has wrought. This novel is a lesson, not in how to find love, but how to make love last.

A Dangerous Place (winner of the V.S. Pritchett Prize 2009) was lauded by AL Kennedy, Jackie Kay and Bernard MacLaverty, among many others. In fact, I could accuse her of contriving to enkindle warm fuzzies within the hearts of those inclined to write enthusiastic reviews, but can I do that to someone who is wielding weapons like “wisdom” and “brilliance” and “startling authenticity” ? Laura Marney, one of the Glasgow G7, accuses Rogerson of being a North American writer with Scottish sensibilities: “Her humour is sly, her characterisation superb, she winkles out and makes heroic the average nerd in all of us. She is a courteous rebel and currently one of Scotland’s best writers.

Janet Paisley chose Rogerson’s Love Letters from my Death Bed as her favorite book of 2007 for Sunday Herald, calling it “…zany, wise and deliciously funny…”  Laura Hird also gave the book her fave rave for Scotland on Sunday.

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Rogerson has also published a collection of short stories. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, been broadcast on BBC radio and has been translated into five languages.

She holds a Royal Literary Fellowship at Dundee University and supervises on the Creative Writing Program at Edinburgh University. Originally from the San Francisco area, she has been based in the Scottish Highlands since 1985 and lives with her husband and hens near Inverness.

On Tuesday, October 31, at 7:30 p.m., everyone is invited to join the Reading Room at Edinbane Community Hall, to welcome this gifted writer, enjoy the readings of her work and learn some of her secrets about the art of writing.

Admittance is £5 for non-members; our reasonable memberships are available at the door, so please ask. Our good reads table is always there for the browsing and refreshments are served.

For more information about this event or about the Reading Room, contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

*Cynthia Rogerson’s appearance is part-funded by the Live Literature Fund via the Scottish Book Trust.

 

Open Mic in Struan

On Tuesday, October 3, bring something to read while everyone enjoys the view – we make no promises but our emcee Francis Mitchell is optimistic that the weather is looking fine for the Reading Room’s earlier-than-usual event time of 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. – just so you can catch the sunset. Everyone is welcome to participate or hang back and be entertained.

There is no entrance fee but plan on some coffee or tea and scrumptious home-baked to support Renee and Shaun, who have enthusiastically jumped at hosting our Open Mic at Bog Myrtle.

The Bog Myrtle in Struan is next to Bracadale Free Church, on the A863, halfway between Talisker and Dunvegan, IV56 8FB. If you are looking for Bog Myrtle, you can reach Renee and Shaun at 01470 572 782.

For information, contact the Reading Room at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us at The Reading Room – Skye – Facebook Group.

 

Mark Douglas-Home Coming to Edinbane

Calling all beachcombers, maritime curiosity seekers and amateur detective-cum-sea watchers who might get a thrill from finding a severed foot on a Scottish shore–the three-novel series of our September guest reader is for you.
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Mark Douglas-Home is the creator of Cal McGill, a compelling oceanographer who is an expert on using shipping records, ocean currents and prevailing winds to track the movements of mysterious items that show up on the coastline of Western Scotland.
In tracking the movement of his 2011 novel The Sea Detective, and sequels, The Woman Who Walked into the Sea and The Malice of Waves (2016), I’ve found a cache of readers who find his protagonist’s forensic adventures fascinating, and who are further enamoured of the books because of the author’s use of oceanography and the landscape and culture of the Scots.
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The Literary Review  named The Sea Detective one of the Top Five Crime Novels of the Year, and it was the Sunday Times’  “Crime Book of the Month”  in the UK. The review of the book in the Scotsman said,There comes a time when a novel raises the bar for a particular genre, and Mark Douglas-Home’s debut The Sea Detective does just that for Scottish crime fiction. Elegantly written and compelling, it introduces a new, thoroughly modern hero into the crime-fighting canon.”

Douglas-Home has a rich history of fine journalism. Senior roles with The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and Sunday Times Scotland culminated in editorship of Scotland’s leading daily newspaper, The Herald, from 2000-2005.
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Something quite jolly has come out of Douglas-Home’s earliest career experience. As a student newspaper editor in Johannesburg, South Africa, a number of his editions were banned and he was deported from the country. The heart of his first protagonist may just have been conceived in the spirit of that young man so many years ago at the University of the Witwatersrand.
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The Reading Room presents Mark Douglas-Home on Tuesday, 26 September, at 7:30 p.m., in Edinbane Community Hall. Everyone is welcome. Entry fee for members is free, £5 for guests. Extra parking is on the street.
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For additional information on the Reading Room, please get in touch with us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Face Book at the Reading Room – Skye.

*This event is part-funded by the Live Literature Fund via the Scottish Book Trust.