By Irene Ross
Our guest speaker at the Reading Room in May was Gordon Brown, author not politician, as he was quick to clarify. Gordon is from Glasgow and, after University, spent many years working in marketing roles before finally making the jump to pursuing a career as a full time writer.
Gordon’s talk was hugely entertaining, veering from humorous tales of finding inspiration in strange situations to key intelligence on writing and editing. He painted a wonderful verbal picture of watching a fight between two Glasgow drunks and observing the complete disengagement of the only other customer in the bar and then posing the typical writer’s question of ‘What if?’. Ultimately this led to the first of his series of books about Craig McIntyre, the possessor of a very strange skill. He also has a series of crime novels based in Scotland (Charlie Wiggs series), with an accountant as the rather unlikely lead protagonist.
Having books set in the UK and in the US, he is well placed to highlight the potential pitfalls in terms of vocabulary, location and editing of mixing the two. He also regaled us with tales of his own shortcomings when, even after several readings and major editing, the eagle-eyed reader spies the error which everyone else has overlooked – even down to making his hero go to the wrong side of the platform on the Glasgow underground!
He is one of the founding members of the Bloody Scotland book festival and touched briefly on its history, although he was unable to give us too much information on the 2019 festival, as he was speaking to us before the official launch. For more details on the event, which takes place from 20th to 22nd September in Stirling, see https://bloodyscotland.com/
Gordon finished the evening by reading one of his short stories to us. A tale which had us laughing out loud but had a gruesome twist in its tail! For more information on Gordon and his work, see his website at: https://www.gordonjbrown.com/
Join us at Edinbane Hall on Tuesday 25th June for our next meeting, featuring performance poet Harry Gallagher and an open mic session.
Tuesday, May 28, 7:30 p.m. at Edinbane Hall
The bio of crime thriller author Gordon Brown suggests two things: He has a bona fide writer’s heart and he is qualified to give advice on survival.
He has been writing since his teens, and earlier in life, Gordon delivered pizzas in Toronto, sold non-alcoholic beer in the Middle East, launched a creativity business, floated a high-tech company on the London Stock Exchange, compered the main stage at a two-day music festival and was once booed by 49,000 people while on the pitch at a major football Cup Final. He currently runs a strategic planning consultancy, while working on book after book that thankfully don’t molder inside of suitcases any more.
Gordon Brown has six published crime thriller novels set in Scotland and the U.S. The latest in his Craig McIntyre series is Book 3: Deepest Wounds (Strident, 2017), in which McIntyre is the key to an explosive secret that could change mankind forever. The first two books of the trilogy are Darkest Thoughts and Furthest Reaches. His writing is compelling – readers are hooked immediately and are gripped by the relentless pace.
As a founding board director of Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, Bloody Scotland, Gordon wonders what people seek there… “Knowledge? Insight? Hope? What happens between authors ears explained, or more often, not explained?” At our May 28 meeting with him, perhaps aspiring novelists will find what they seek and this crime thriller writer’s grey cells might be illuminated.
Gordon will talk about writing the one book that everyone talks about having in them. Don’t know where to start? He will share his experience of writing and publishing – the good & bad, the ups & downs and, of course, the dos & don’ts. There will be plenty of time for Qs & As, after refreshment break.
For a free delicious taste of Craig McIntyre, try this:
Come along and join Gordon for the evening, as we dive deep into the murky waters of crime and thriller writing. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at Edinbane Community Hall. Non-members pay £5, though they can take advantage of our 2019 membership for £20 at the door.
The evening usually starts at 6 p.m. with a few of us stopping for a pre-meeting supper at Edinbane Inn. Everyone is welcome to join us.
Our chairman, Simon Clayton, will be interviewing Gordon at the local radio station, Cuillin FM, on the Wednesday morning following the meeting, between 10 a.m. and 12 noon.
The Reading Room AGM
Tuesday 30th April 7.30 pm at Edinbane Community Hall.
Ian Williams will entertain us as soon as the AGM is over..
Everyone welcome so bring a friend or two along.
The Annual General Meeting of The Reading Room (Seòmar Leughaidh) will be held on Tuesday 30th April 2019 at Edinbane Community Hall during the April Meeting.
The meeting will begin at 7.30 p.m.
- Apologies for absence
- Minutes of the last AGM (24/4/18)
- Treasurer’s Report
- Chair’s Report
- Election of committee members
- Election of office bearers
Please submit AOB items to a committee member in advance or email email@example.com on or before 23rd April 2019.
Edinbane Hall, Tuesday, February 26, 7:30 p.m.
The legendary lone kayaker drifts along the coastline for a final, explosive showdown with the Reading Room this Tuesday evening, February 26. When asked for a quote about his reputation for having the best doggone draw in the West(ern isles), he responded, “It’s gotten pretty gritty. I’ve started to hear the word ‘draw’ in my sleep…but man, I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”
As I watched a video of soprano Renée Fleming’s stunning performance of Belini’s “Casta Diva”, there was something familiar in her portrayal of Norma. I had just heard a 2008 podcast of TV journalist Simon Willis interviewing Brian Wilson about his daring sea kayaking. The soprano’s heroine reflected a tone that was also contained in Wilson’s voice – that of a secret smile.
Back in 1995, Blazing Paddles: A Scottish Coastal Odyssey, was the new product of a solitary 1985 adventure Brian Wilson had in his tiny kayak. His 1800-mile feat challenged more than his physical endurance. Navigation around the intimidating sea passages, cliffs and treacherous shores must have been intellectual manna for this philosopher.
Brian once said that in his opinion, circumnavigation is a pretty boring thing to do and that coastlines are the whole thing: Landing, cooking and sleeping on them and wondering about who else did these things, in a time when it was their way of life. They used similar boats in a similar way. His daredevil kayaking appears to be balanced by a lust for knowing the land and the lore.
In 1990, before Blazing Paddles was serialized by BBC’s Book at Bedtime and rescued off sports shelves to become a best seller in the travel section, Brian completed his solo 1200-mile voyage around the coast of Ireland, which later metamorphosed into Dances with Waves – Around Ireland by Kayak. Picture his little kayak “lashed by the tail-wind of Hurricane Gusta, bombarded by the incontinent gannets of the Skelligs and almost run down by a ghost galleon off Mizen Head”. Again, his tales are tall, and do we dare ask him if they are all true or did the faeries tickle his impish side?
Another Scottish adventurer, renowned writer and mountaineer Cameron McNeish, recognized a fellow risk- taker in a review of Dances with Waves: “This is the story of a great journey taken by a larger-than-life individual who is not happy unless pushing out the boundaries of his own experience.”
My apologies to Brian Wilson, whom I told I couldn’t obtain Blazing Paddles on Kindle. It is indeed available on Amazon’s UK site. A 4th edition in paperback will be published in May 2019 (Birlinn Books) but an old edition may be bought directly from him by post (email Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org). Dances with Waves can be found in the library or online.
Expect to be taken on a journey through folklore, history and environmental issues, including wildlife disturbance on the seas. Brian has worked with many of the major Scottish conservation and environmental organisations. He is now a freelance environmental contractor and trainer, specializing in traditional stonework and thatching.
The Reading Room is excited to be bringing Brian Wilson to Edinbane Community Hall and welcomes everyone to join us at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served. Our Good Reads corner will be available for perusal. Admission is £5 and members are free. Please enquire about our reasonable memberships.
For anyone who relishes something to eat before the reading, some members of the committee like to catch dinner at the Edinbane Inn. Please feel free to join us around 6 p.m.
For information on this or other issues, please contact us at email@example.com or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.
This event is partly sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust.
26 March: Simon Clayton will host our first Book Club Evening at Edinbane Hall, for discussion on his second novel, “A Place by the Sea”. There will be some copies available at our Brian Wilson event and the novel is also available on Amazon Kindle.
30 April: Ian Williams, “Great Stories Written Badly” and AGM.
(Thanks to Blazing Saddles’ Jim the Waco Kid and Butch Cassidy, for sins untold.)