Writers are winners

The Skye & Raasay Schools’ Gaelic and English writing competition, organised by the Reading Room (Seòmar Leughaidh), as part of Book Week Scotland 2017, proved to be a resounding success. Over 60 entries on the theme of ‘Nourish’ were shortlisted and put before a panel of experienced judges, which included four retired Head teachers and three distinguished Gaelic speakers

The objective of the Writing Competition was to encourage children and young people of all abilities to write, and to reward both the best and those who had made great progress in their writing.

The quality of the winning entries was exceptional. The young authors explored the theme of Nourish in diverse ways: feeding the heart, the spirit and the mind, as well as the body. Some entries were humorous and others were descriptive or sensitive. The judges enjoyed a feast of good writing from all age groups.

The Reading Room is grateful for the substantial prizes donated by:

        • Alexander McCall Smith
        • Ian Rankin
        • Gilleasbuig Ferguson
        • Chris Watkiss
        • Alasdair Galbraith
        • the Isle of Skye Sea Salt Company
        • Cafesia
        • Sabhal Mor Ostaig
        • Urras an Eilein
        • Glasgow Skye Association
        • the Highland Council
        • the Highland Society of London

     

    Many thanks are due also to all the pupils who took part, their teachers, the panel of judges and last but certainly not least a huge thank you to Ann Galbraith for all the time and energy she devoted to this project – a great achievement indeed.

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looking forward to 2018

A quick preview of the next few events planned for the Reading Room – suggestions welcome for future dates/events etc

7pm Friday 19th January 2018 – an Open Mic evening at  An Crùbh, Duisdale – organised in conjunction with SEALL –  all welcome. More here

7.30pm Tuesday 27th February 2018 –  an evening with crime writer Alex Gray Edinbane Community Hall.

7.30 Tuesday 27th March 2018 –  another evening event at Edinbane Community Hall awaiting final confirmation – watch this space

Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay

Please join the Reading Room at 10-trig-pointEdinbane Community Hall for an illustrated talk by the authors of Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay, on Tuesday, September 27.

Ian Stewart and Alistair Christie have written what readers dub ‘a cracking little book’ and ‘simply the best’. The comprehensive walking guide is a wee, pocket-sized gem that includes 56 walks to the best viewpoints on the islands of Skye and Raasay; 26 are ‘family-friendly’.

Keen walkers love to tick off the walks as they follow the routes that have been described with passion by the authors. With the well-drawn writing and photos, Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay has become a classic for Skye and Raasay walkers and is delightful for arm-chair trekkers.

The authors will have plenty of island tales to tell and no doubt you’ll be able to share your favorite trig point stories with them. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Admission is free for members; £5 at the door for non-members.

Ian and Alistair will be signing books and be sure to check out our little cache of good reads. The Reading Room’s Volume 2 of our ‘Words from an Island’ Anthology Series, A Stillness of Mind, is also available for £8.5.

If you would like to make an evening of it, feel free to join some of us around 6:00 dinner at Edinbane Inn. Reservations are needed, unless you do first come, first served in the pub.

 

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

 

 

Zoë Strachan Cancelled.

MANY APOLOGIES. ZOE STRACHAN HAS HAD TO CANCEL, DUE TO EMERGENCY. PLEASE JOIN US ON SEPTEMBER 27 FOR Ian Stewart and Alistair Christie, authors of Trig Point Walks on the Isle of Skye and Raasay. 7.30 p.m. at Edinbane Hall..

The Reading Room presents writer Zoë Strachan on Tuesday, August 30, for an afternoonZoe workshop and evening reading.

In her evening appearance, she will talk about her work, including a sneak-peek at her work-in-progress, and read from her latest novel, Ever Fallen in Love (2011). The story plays with a frenzy of tension, interweaving the tone and pace of young, queer love with the mature hindsight of regret and envy. The novel was Shortlisted for the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Scottish Books Awards 2012 and the Green Carnation Prize 2011 and was nominated for the London Book Award 2012 

Her first novel, Negative Space (2002), lauded as a powerful portrayal of grief and healing, was the winner of a 2003 Betty Trask Award and shortlisted for the 2002 Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award. Her second novel, Spin Cycle (2004), is set in a launderette and tells the story of three of its workers; it is a “murky and dazzling” novel about women in emotional turmoil.

Strachan’s short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4. She has written many articles and reviews for newspapers, including The Herald, The Scotsman Magazine and The Sunday Times.

Her stage play, Old Girls, opened in Glasgow in 2009. She has also written a stage play, Panic Patterns, with Louise Welsh, performed in Glasgow in 2010. Her short opera, Sublimation, written with composer Nick Fells, was part of Scottish Opera’s Five:15 series in 2010, touring Scotland and also travelling to South Africa.

Zoë teaches on the Creative Writing Programme at the University of Glasgow and lives in Glasgow with her partner, writer Louise Welsh. She is on the Board of Directors of Glasgow Women’s Library; a Patron of the Imprint Festival in East Ayrshire; and a supporter of Scottish Pen.

Afternoon Workshop: Zoë is an established tutor, teaching courses for the Arvon Foundation and Moniack Mhor. A Scottish Book Trust scheme allows her to visit festivals, schools, prisons and community groups, to share her expertise. She is a writer who excels in digging deep into haunted searches and memories, exposing the raw layers of psychology. The detailed exploration in her writing should elicit profound discoveries in our own writing, as she leads this workshop, titled “Writing for a Reaction”. The workshop will be held at Aros in Portree, from 2:00 p.m., (Tuesday, 30 August). £5 members, £10 non-members. Meet in the foyer. Space is limited, so jump to it! Email the Reading Room at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook.

Patrons wishing to dine before the reading are welcome to join some of us at the Edinbane Inn, around 6 p.m. Our evening at Edinbane Community Hall begins at 7 p.m. for 7:30. Non-members, £5. Our very reasonable memberships are always available.  Be sure to check out our book table for interesting reads at bargain prices. Copies of our Anthology 2, A Stillness of Mind, may be purchased for £8.50.

Refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome. For more information, contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook (The Reading Room – Skye).

Bad Boy Nick Brooks Coming to the Reading Room

Nick_Brooks9lowThere may be some steam rising from Edinbane Community Hall on Tuesday, July 26, when our guest reader takes the floor.

Nick Brooks is a novelist and poet who lives and works in Glasgow. He has twice won a Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland) Writer’s Award and most recently, was awarded a grant by the Royal Literary Fund. His first two novels, My Name Is Denise Forrester (2005) and The Good Death (2007), were both published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

His third novel, Indecent Acts (Freight 2014), is reported entirely by the protagonist, Grace, a semi-illiterate 40-something mother from Drumchapel, one of Glasgow’s most notorious schemes. It is written in Grace’s inimitable misspelt patois, with hilarious and moving effect. 

Brooks’ latest works include a collection of erotic haiku, called Sexy Haiku (2016 Freight).  Dubbed ‘Zen porno’, there is reason we (hope!) to expect some rakish…voluptuous…oh!…that is to say, perhaps riggish material, if not behaviour, from our guest.

A first collection of poetry, The Dog in the Disco, through Dive Buki in Slovakia, is due ‘sometime’. Currently, he is writing a screenplay and more poems.

When not more gainfully employed, Nick is a full-time stalker with a pronounced limp. (Be still our beating…)

Our evening begins at 7 p.m. for 7:30. Non-members, £5. Memberships are always available.  Be sure to check out our book table for interesting reads at bargain prices. Copies of our Anthology 2, A Stillness of Mind, may be purchased for £8.50.

Refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome. For more information, contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook.

Claire Macdonald Loves What She Does

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There’s no doubt about it – if you want a party, invite (famous cook, hospitality wizard and author) Lady Claire Macdonald. We had a ball at Edinbane Hall last night and if you want to hear Claire’s (tellable) cache of stories about running Kinloch House Lodge with her husband, Macdonald clan chief Godfrey Macdonald, and her family, you’ll have to buy her autobio, Lifting the Lid. We can’t wait for the sequel so we can have her entertain us again. (Big smiley face :))

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Authors Richard Neath and Liz Shaw meet up.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAGodfrey (far R)  takes a back seat to his wife  and checks the dogs in the car.

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GE DIGITAL CAMERAIs writer Francis Mitchell telling dog jokes to Godfrey Macdonald?

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Kitchen crew and everything else: Irene, Ann and Debbie.

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She did sit down for five minutes!

Author Michael F. Russell to Appear at Reading Room

At last, a writer who isn’t up with the Willow Warblers – or at least, admits he isn’t. Great news for us slackers who always have been given the impression that 6 a.m. coffee was the prerequisite to successful production.MichaelFRussellPhoto

Michael F. Russell, author of Lie of the Land, has given us a novel that questions how far the state will go to preserve an orderly society and examines an Armageddon in which human technology plays a central role. The Reading Room is happy to welcome him as our guest reader on Tuesday, April 19.

It’s always useful to go to the person on the street to see how a product really performs, so I went to Amazon reviewers, all of whom were happy with their book purchase. One wrote, ‘The backdrop of a controlling state, universal lack of privacy and technological advances being used against the population all add to the sense of dread, which contrasted well with some of the richly descriptive passages about the Highland landscape. There are a couple of story strands in particular which were very effective and left me feeling uneasy. We might all like to think we’d behave honourably in difficult times, but would we?’

Michael Russell Lie of the LandAnother person said he bought this book on something of a whim from a bookshop in Portree, whilst holidaying on the West coast of Scotland, and hasn’t regretted it. ‘It’s something more than your standard post-apocalyptic fayre, largely because the author concentrates more on characterisation (particularly the lead, Carl) than on technicalities (though there’s enough of that for the plot to be believable). Altogether, a well-constructed book that I would recommend to anyone with an interest in sci-fi.’

Other readers expressed similar positive reactions:

‘I would not call it anything like ‘terrifying’ as other commentators have, but more an imaginative exploration about what happens when society breaks down.’

‘Loved the atmosphere, great story. What a great book, you can hear the silence as you read, the tension is heavy, like a storm building, slowly.’ 

‘What I liked about this, was the descriptive writing, you get pulled into the book, as if you are walking with the characters. It would make one hell of a TV show.’

The Scotsman’s reviewer, Stuart Kelly, observed that one of the most persistent complaints visitors (and residents) make about contemporary Scotland is the patchy mobile phone coverage. He wrote, ‘This serves as the novel’s clever, twisted conceit…Russell’s premise is similar to Stephen King’s in Under the Dome, but, I have to say, he does a better job with the conceit. While King, as usual, fluffs the ending (childish aliens did it!), Russell manages to give a coherent reason for the predicament, build to a closure without it becoming a black and white shoot-out, and suggest that the story of (the main characters) may not be over.’

Kelly added, ‘Despite the horrors that slowly, slyly emerge, there are also passages of genuine beauty.’ Russell impressed the reviewer by avoiding the ‘cosy catastrophe’ trap, and Kelly finishes with the comment, ‘It is as cosy as a handful of gorse raked across your back. It announces a talent to be followed closely.’

Michael F. Russell is deputy editor at the West Highland Free Press and writes occasionally for the Sunday Herald. His writing has appeared in Gutter, Northwords Now and Fractured West.  Lie of the Land was shortlisted for the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award in November 2015. He lives on Skye with his partner and two children.

The evening will begin at 7:30 p.m., with the 2016 AGM, at Tigh na Sgire, in Portree, next to the Community Hall.

Mr. Russell will appear from 8:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome to join us for the evening. Entry for Michael F. Russell is £3, non-members; members are free.

Refreshments will be available. We also have some good reads for sale in our book corner and copies of our second anthology, A Stillness of Mind, are available for £8.50. See you there.