Domestic Noir Crime Writer Helen Fitzgerald Coming to Reading Room

Helen Fitzgerald

“I am not as dark and scary as my books!”

Helen Fitzgerald can make you laugh. A naughty laugh; a deep-throated huh-huh; a sly grinning diaphragm-raising bark; and she can elicit varieties of smilies, gigglies and guffaws–all the better for the reader, who will have to endure the gristle of societal atrocities the author attacks in her stories.

It is her trademark black humour that twists the contemporary crime she writes about into palatable irony the reader can actually enjoy. Of her 2016 novel, Viral, Mark Billingham, author of the Tom Thorne novels, wrote, “A sobering fable of savagery in social media, it combines impressive storytelling with the courage to tackle the ugliness lurking beneath the shiny surface of the modern world.”

Fitzgerald has received flak and admiration for the book’s memorable first line and she states emphatically what makes it so powerful: “In just a few words, I’d nailed the inciting incident, the voice of the character and a problem hefty enough to drive the novel: Public shaming defines and destroys you…I am very proud of every line in

Helen F Viral

this book.  And I don’t apologise for the first one. I believe it’s the perfect way to start a story about social hypocrisy.”

The author’s writing is pacy, sharp, funny and disturbing: “…psychologically astute and well written at the level of the sentence….It is good to know that bestsellers don’t have to be stupid.” (Nicholas Lezard for The Guardian)

Australian-born Helen FitzGerald worked as a criminal justice social worker in Glasgow for over ten years, latterly with serious sex offenders in Barlinnie Prison. Her first novel, Dead Lovely, was written on maternity leave and published by Faber and Faber in June, 2008.

 

The best-selling author has written ten other adult and young adult thrillers, including My Last Confession (2009), The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the UK’s top crimefiction award, Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

Other projects Helen has produced are BBC Scotland television’s The Ancient Greeks and The Risk Races; feature film in development with Black Camel Films, The Devil’s Staircase; and a television series in development with BBC Scotland and Synchronicity Films, Dead Lovely.

We will welcome Helen Fitzgerald at our May 29 event, in Edinbane Community Hall, 7:30 p.m. Our events are open to the public. Admission is £5; members are free and our reasonable memberships are available at the door. Refreshments will be served. Please feel free to browse our Good Reads section, which includes the first two Reading Room anthologies – these are wonderful reading and include works from some local and Scottish writers you may know!

We welcome inquiries for memberships and information on our events. We can be contacted by e-mail at  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

 

 

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Pain and Pleasure: AGM followed by Paul Rees!

Admittedly, our April 24 meeting is about our Annual General Meeting, which, being a legal requirement, we are bound to hold. Click here for more info: AGM 2018.  We hope our members will be content to endure it along with us if we add some spice an’ pop to entice. The Reading Room loves an excuse to draw in members who can’t always show up at events but who might find allurement in the fact that they can come and have a say in what we’ve done the past year and where we will go the next year. It is also an opportunity to see neighbours and literary friends for an evening of business and pleasure. This year’s AGM offers something for everyone.

For those who revel in accounting, business entities, economics, marketing and organization, the first half of the night is your cookie! It must represent pain to many, as it’s like pulling the tooth to get them here. A bonus might be that you can nominate yourself to be on the hard-working committee and condemn yourself to a year of creative brain-storming to bring more fabulous writers to Skye. 

If the AGM is painful for you, the pleasure will be yours as well as ours, because we are delighted that writer and journalist Paul Rees has agreed to join us for the evening and give us, as he puts it, “a broad summation of 30 years’ acquired knowledge (or otherwise) writing about music”. 

Rees served as Editor-in-Chief of the music magazines Q and Kerrang! for a total of thirteen years up to 2012. During this period, he interviewed everybody from Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Iggy Pop to AC/DC, Noel Gallagher, Take That and Adele. His work has also been published in Sunday Times Culture, Sunday Times Magazine, the Telegraph, When Saturday Comes, Outdoor Fitness, Classic Rock, Lonely Planet and a host of other national and international magazines and periodicals. He also lectures in journalism and magazine craft at Lincoln University.

Paul Rees Three DegreesOur guest is also the author of five books. Among them are Robert Plant: A Life, the first major biography of the ex-Led Zeppelin singer, and The Three Degrees: The Men Who Changed British Football Forever, which was long-listed for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award in 2014. He has co-authored ace session guitarist Steve Lukather’s memoir, The Gospel According to Luke, which will be published June of this year and he is currently at work on his next book – the authorised biography of the Who’s legendary bassist John Entwistle.

Please join us and let us know what we are doing that turns you on and what you would like to see us do in the coming year and if/how you would like to be involved. Everyone is welcome. There is no admission fee.

The meeting will be held in Edinbane Community Hall, from 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served. There is some parking at the hall and plenty on the street.

For information on Reading Room events, our reasonable membership, or for suggestions, please contact us at  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

 

Ross Sayers Brings ‘Wee Mary’ Back to Skye

Our evening reading on Tuesday, March 27, promises to tutor us on how to get successfully inside the head of a young girl, which author Ross Sayers does with gusto in his novel, ‘Mary’s the Name’, released by Cranachan Publishing, in January 2017.

8-year-old Mary Sutherland is a funny and profound lass who tells her story that appears to charm everyone who reads it. Wee Mary is an orphan who lives with her Granpa in Stirling. When her Granpa gets mixed up in a robbery at his work, the pair flee to the Isle of Skye, but trouble soon follows. The book’s main themes are family, friendship and the loss of innocence.

‘Mary’s the Name’ is all the more interesting to us Skye folk because Mary’s tale involves many of our favorite (but perhaps stuck in our scrap books?) local spots and landmarks. Her favorite building is on Quay Street…can you guess which one?

Ross Sayers grew up and attended university in Stirling, where he found his passion for writing Scottish fiction about ‘real, honest and (most of the time) swear-y characters’. He says he enjoys reading his work to a crowd, ‘especially if I get to do silly voices’.

Please join the Reading Room for an evening with Ross Sayers, at Edinbane Community Hall. We want to hear those silly voices along with the backstory of Mary and the inspirational Portree muses.

There is no charge for members; £5 for non-members, but our very reasonable membership may be purchased at the door. Refreshments are served at break, when we can schmooze with our guest and browse the Good Reads.

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…

April 24: AGM, with guest speaker. Everyone welcome. This is your chance to bicker and spit and hopefully offer some constructive goals for the Reading Room. –

 

Open Mic at SEALL’s An Crùbh

   My weather report for Friday, March 16, promises sunny skies in your eyes and balmy warmth in your heart for the coming spring. With clear roads to literary expression, all you need to do is get yourself ready with a bit of poetry or verse to read and head to the Sleat Peninsula for the Reading Room’s Open Mic, starting at 7:00 p.m.
   Our own Francis Mitchell has connected with SEALL’s Duncan MacInnes, to bring us to An Crùbh’s spacious modern café, with its cozy inglenook and selection of beguiling dishes, desserts and beverages for purchase. Bring your appetites and enthusiasm.

    Local and visiting writers are encouraged to come and read. English and Gaelic are welcome and perhaps a song with lyrics you wrote. Duncan has requested that readers book their 5-minute slot if possible, via the Seall website The Reading Room 16th March.

   If your inclination runs to sitting on the sidelines, we have that too. Please join us for some wonderful entertainment from our talented participants. There is no entry fee for this event.

  An Crùbh, Duisdale, is on the A851, on the right, about half a mile after passing the Isleornsay turn-off.
   Please direct questions for the Reading Room to skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.

 

 

 

Great Bloody Scotland, It’s Alex Gray!

Alex-as-Miss-Marple-at-Bloody-Scotland-2015-e1464098228289-150x150 (1)

‘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.

GrayAlex

‘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.

 

AlexGrayOnlyTheDead

‘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 24: 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.)
~
  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.