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.

 

 

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.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.

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.

 

What’s the Story? Folklorist Margaret Bennett to discuss a lifetime fascination with local tradition


A meeting with Margaret Bennett requires no enticement unless you are not aware of who she is. If a stirring has brought you to Scotland and the Isle of Skye, and you find yourself absorbed in the traditions of the people who have lived here and you endeavour to visit and study historical sites, listen to the music and read the books about them, our July meeting should be marked with a star and arrangements should be made to bring your friends who have these same interests. It should not be missed.

A little more allurement…if you have become obsessed with the culture of the Gaels and Scots and the Lowlands and the Highlands and the Isles, and if you hear the whisperings of the past that have created the voice of today and they send a trilling through your own spirit, Margaret Bennett right now is being added to your calendar and there is nothing that will prevent you from an evening with “Scotland’s foremost folklorist”!

Margaret comes from a family of tradition bearers, whom she describes: “A Hebridean, Gaelic-speaking mother and Lowland, Scots-speaking father, who both spoke English. One sang Gaelic songs, the other hee-durram-haw-durrams and played the bagpipes. One leaned far to the left, the other did not. They raised four children between two cultures, three languages, surrounded by a wealth of domestic, social, religious, cultural and political paradoxes.”

Bennett has written over ten books, including Scottish Customs From the Cradle to the Grave. She is a member of the Scottish Storytelling Forum. Her life has been filled with music, traditional and revival, and she has featured on media productions and music productions with her son, the late, sensational international star of the Celtic music scene, Martyn Bennett.

The folklorist, writer, singer and broadcaster will bring her wealth of talent and knowledge to the Edinbane Hall for an evening event at 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25, to talk about what inspired her to write about the traditions of Scotland and the Scottish diaspora. Her talk will be illustrated with fieldwork examples of recordings and photos of Skye tradition bearers, whose way of life, songs and stories are now recorded for posterity.

Everyone is welcome. Admission fee is £5; free for members.

Workshop: Earlier that day, Margaret will lead a workshop at the Shinty Club in Portree, at 2:00 p.m. She will instruct on how to research and record oral traditions for local archives and/or as an accurate resource for writers. The workshop will begin with an overview of the exemplary work undertaken by the School of Scottish Studies fieldworker, Eric Cregeen (1924-1983), colleague of Calum Maclean and founding member of the Oral History Society. Cregeen is regarded internationally as one of the most influential oral historians of our time.

The afternoon session offers an informal and practical introduction to oral history interviewing, with an opportunity to handle recording equipment and discuss some of the issues around oral history, life stories and memory. Topics include how to document the material to preserve local tradition and how writers can research and use the material in their own writing. The fee is £5; members are free. Please feel welcome to show up if you find you would like to attend. Skye Camanachd Shinty Clubhouse (Pairc Nan Laoch) is located on Struan Road across from the West Highland College, on the way out of Portree.

For more information about these events, Reading Room membership or general questions, please get in touch with us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Face Book at the Reading Room – Skye.

Both the evening talk and the workshop are part-funded by the Live Literature Fund via the Scottish Book Trust.

Roger Hutchinson Reads From New Book (AGM follows)

Our guest reader for Tuesday, April 25, will be Roger Hutchinson, who will be giving us a glimpse into his new book, The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker : The Story of Britain Through It’s Census Since 1801.

Brave Roger. To have taken on the quest to create a cohesive (and interesting) statement about Britain’s census with any number of pages suggests to me 700 milliliters of whisky at 43% and 100 grams of 84% chocolate. What was he smoking?

Thank goodness census records aren’t all numbers. Or at least the digits tell stories that we wouldn’t have without them. With the national census, people began to lose anonymity. We began to find out what the population was, who died and from what, and the numbers became the colour and texture of life–a self-portrait of the British Isles.

For example: Britain in 1801 still had its share of nomadic descendants and the enumerators had to follow them to their haunts: “The numbers living out of houses vary with the seasons; in winter they shrink into dwellings, and in summer they swarm again in the fields, which have irresistible charms for the vagabond race, as well as for their near relatives, the hop-pickers and haymakers. Mixed among them are found some of the victims as well as some of the outcasts of society.” *

In The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker, Roger Hutchinson looks at every census taken at the beginning of each decade for 200 years. All human life is here, from prime ministers to peasants and paupers, from Irish rebels to English patriots, from the last native speakers of Cornish to the first professional footballers, from communities of prostitutes to individuals called ‘abecedarians’, who made a living from teaching the alphabet.

Hutchinson is adept at producing books that talk about the people. He has over twenty publications, many of which you will see in every shop that sells books in Scotland, including Calum’s Road; St. Kilda: A People’s History; The Toon; Silent Weaver; and A Waxing Moon: The Modern Gaelic Revival. Because he is a journalist with the West Highland Free Press and a Raasay resident, he is also a local favorite author.

Following Roger’s presentation, we will have refreshments and then have a short AGM meeting to report on 2016, tell you about our programme for 2017-2018 and find out how you’d like to see the Reading Room develop in the future.

The event will be held at Edinbane Community Hall, starting at 7:30 p.m. The lighter evenings should make parking easier, and rumour has it that Edinbane Inn is open Tuesday nights again, for anyone wanting to make an evening it.

Admission is free to members and £5 for non-members. Everyone is welcome. Our reasonable membership is available at every meeting. Reading Room anthologies, Island Life and A Stillness of Mind, are for sale at £8.50 each, and we have a Good Read selection of literary works at prices that will make them jump into your hands.

For further information about the Reading Room, please email us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook, at The Reading Room-Skye.

This event is sponsored in part by Scottish Book Trust.

* Great Britain Historical GIS Project 2004-17. The GBH GIS is a network of collaborating academic researchers. For details please contact Humphrey Southall (Humphrey.Southall@gbhgis.org).

Storybones, Storyskin with Margot Henderson

margot_photo2

Margot’s work requires creativity, resourcefulness and the ability to be with people where and how they are.

The Reading Room presents an evening of poetry and stories by Margot Henderson, who will perform some of her work and share stories of her engaged practice as a Community Artist. She will also hold an afternoon workshop called ‘Words for Well-Being’.

This Scots-Irish poet and storyteller is one of those ‘list people’. You know the type–the ones who make us flush green and cringe and throw half-empty teacups and whisky glasses at walls…the ones who have accomplished such an incredible amount of creative work, it requires much space and headings to organize it all and we are loath to believe a word of it.

With over 30 years of experience in leading Community Arts projects and workshops, Margot was Reader in Residence for Inverness, Storytelling Fellow for Aberdeen and Writer in Residence for the Cromarty Arts Trust. She has led Expressive Writing groups for Maggies Highlands, CLAN and the Highland Hospice  She is a regular workshop leader with LAPIDUS and the WEA in Wellbeing. She also leads Mindfulness workshops and retreats.

The central themes of Margot’s work, which takes place in a huge range of venues, are: encouraging creative self-expression; exploring roots and heritage; deepening connection to self, community and place; and generating a sense of belonging. She has a deep love of nature and a keen sense of our interconnectedness.

garden-pea-dsc_9098

Margot as a Garden Pea in a Pod, ‘Connecting with the Intelligence of Nature’, at a 2008 celebration of Findhorn Community co-founder, Dorothy Maclean.

She has taken part in cross-arts collaborations and has been commissioned by a range of organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Findhorn Foundation, Ballet Rambert, the Barbican Centre and the Tate, to create and perform her work.

Everyone is welcome to join us at Edinbane Community Hall, on Tuesday, February 28, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free for members and our reasonably priced memberships are available at the door. Non-members: £5. Refreshments will be served.

Write Here

Margot’s Afternoon Workshop will be mainly aimed at carers and people who work in the caring profession. She says, ‘Sometimes we are so busy caring for others that we don’t find it easy to take space for ourselves. This workshop is a chance to take some time to relax and reflect, create and express.

‘We will share some playful and practical writing prompts that can support our own happiness and well-being. These tools can also be helpful in working with others.

‘Writing can be a wonderful way of becoming more present helping us get in touch with and express our feelings. We can resource ourselves through writing in groups, sharing concerns and inspirations, responses and reflections as a way of finding greater meaning and well-being in our lives. It can also be a way of developing empathy and creative imagination. Sharing our writing together can be satisfying and fun.’

The workshop will be held on February 28, 2:30-4:30 p.m., at the Caledonian Hotel, downtown Portree (upstairs from street). Admission is free of charge but please register with us, as space is limited. Message us on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye or email us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk.

 

‘Two Books and a Song or Two’ and a Farewell to Linda Henderson

The Reading Room will salute the New Year with a literary social event at Edinbane Community Hall on Tuesday, January 31, from 7:30 p.m., during which we also will be bidding adios to our president, Linda Henderson.

At least two Good Reads selected by our panel will be presented for discussion:           Wilma MacRuary’s choice is The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion, and Tom Coles has picked The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson. Check out these books if you want to participate.

We will also hear about Morag Henriksen’s latest book, Tapestry of Scenes–a mix of her short stories and poetry with artwork by herself and her family. Morag will treat us to a song or two during the evening.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Linda Henderson

The Reading Room has been fortunate in Linda Henderson, who, happily for her, will be moving to the Nairn area in February. She took over as chair of the Reading Room in April, 2014. I remember the evening well, with memorable Reading Room organizer, Richard Neath, handing accolades to another memorable organizer, Charlotte Johnson, who was stepping down from the big chair.

I know Linda must have had to take a big breath before taking that step, because it is a helluva job heading this small but muscular literary group. It can’t be done alone, but if you consider all that must be accomplished by the few dedicated people who do the running, the position of chair is pretty intimidating. Hurrah for Linda’s passion, effort and creative fortitude that were so necessary to sustain the vision.

In her time, the Reading Room has presented about 30 events, including a retreat on Raasay. We also produced our second anthology, edited by Linda. She says, ‘It’s been fun and I’ve met some wonderful writers and welcomed them to Skye from all over Scotland. I’ve been supported by a great team who have never let me down and who have more exciting and fascinating events up their sleeves.’

Linda is going to be concentrating on her own writing, knitting and taking on a new garden as well as looking forward to ‘all the cultural events that the wider Inverness area has to offer’. Best of luck to her in all her endeavors and we hope to see her at future events.

Whatever else we get up to on the 31st will depend on whimsy, so come prepared to contribute to the party. Refreshments will be available and our small collection of used books will be displayed for sale, along with our second anthology, Words from an Island – A Stillness of Mind.

Everyone is welcome to join us. Admission is £5 and free for members (membership available at door).  For more information, please contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or message us on Facebook: The Reading Room – Skye.