Alastair Jackson Blethers With His Camera: Spirit of the Hebrides

Tuesday Evening, November 19, 7.30 pm, Edinbane Hall, Free Admission

Book Week Scotland is the annual event which celebrates books and reading, sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust. We invite the public to come and play with this year’s theme, Blether. Bring your passion for reading and propensity to chin-wag, and join us at Edinbane Community Hall on Tuesday, 19th November, at 7.30 p.m.

Our merrymaking will center around Skye and Raasay and island life, with Alastair Jackson, co-author of The Spirit of the Hebrides. The book combines the poetry of Kenneth Steven with the photography of Mr. Jackson and features images of Skye and Raasay in homage to one of Scotland’s leading 20th century poets, Sorley MacLean.

Alastair JacksonAlistair Jackson is a photographer who grew up on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland; the environment has inspired him to create images which reflect this. He has been exhibiting since 2016, and his interest in wandering the hills and coast bring a psychogeographical dimension to his work, along with his interest in the history and culture of the Highlands. His photographs capture the sublime beauty of the isles, and those of us who love them should appreciate the familiar haunting quality of the images.

In addition, Alastair has sought to collaborate with a range of other creators, including artists Kate McMorrine and Moira Buchanan; photographer Ingrid Budge; and broadcaster & record producer, John Cavanagh.

His latest projects broaden his scope of work to look at environmental issues which are currently causing concern.

Kenneth Steven, Skeabost Hotel, 2015

Kenneth Steven, Skeabost Hotel, 2015

Kenneth Steven grew up in the Scottish Highlands and is first and foremost a poet. In late April, 2015, the Reading Room had the pleasure of his company for a companionable, informative and inspiring afternoon workshop and impressive evening reading. His gentle, contemplative nature worked its charm on the audience and he is fondly remembered and wished well on this collaboration with Alastair. The Spirit of the Hebrides, with Alastair Jackson’s stunning photography, must have touched what Kenneth is most interested in – the link between people and their land, what makes individuals the way they are, and how that identity is shaped and changed by wild places in particular. Though he will not be with us for the evening, we will naturally be blethering about his literary contribution to the book.

This event is funded by Scottish Book Trust. Admission is free. Refreshments will be served.

For more information about our event or questions about the Reading Room, please contact us at: skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: The Reading Room – Skye.

 

Review of October Event: James Oswald

By Debbie Roberts

It was a delight to meet James Oswald last week and hear him read from ‘Natural Causes’ and talk about his writing.

It appears that this farmer, writer and all round nice guy has spend most of his life writing in one style or another – comics, fantasy, crime with a sprinkling of the supernatural – you name it he’s almost certainly tried it.

Success as an author in financial terms has only come fairly recently and holidays as a couple are well nigh impossible with an extended family of beef cattle.

One of the characters in the Inspector McLean series is named after James’ friend and fellow writer Stuart MacBride. I’m still trying to figure out whether DI Tony McLean might in fact be James Oswald!!

If ever you get a chance to hear James speak don’t hesitate – you won’t be disappointed…

Next Event
Join us to celebrate Book Week Scotland at Edinbane Community Hall on Tuesday 19th November. We’ll be having a blether about Skye and Raasay and island life with Alastair Jackson – co-author of ‘The Spirit of the Hebrides’ : Word and Images inspired by Sorley Maclean.

The event is free and everyone is welcome so don’t be shy…

James Oswald: Darkness and Light

Event: Tuesday 29th October, Edinbane Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Related imageAuthor James Oswald has a gentle manner of speaking, whether he is telling a story about his life or answering queries about his writing career. While I watched his interview videos, it was easy to imagine him softly encouraging a calf into new life on his 350-acre Fife livestock farm that overlooks the River Tay.

Oswald has pursued a varied career – from Wine Merchant to professional Sheep Shit Sampler. The latter reference continuously tickled one of his interviewers, fellow crime writer Barry Forshaw, who referred to Oswald’s books as gritty, tough and mesmerising.

James Oswald has been a storyteller since he was a child, and we look forward to the many tales he can share about his life on the farm, including changes due to the political climate, and how he writes and gets published. He can tell us about the publishing house bidding war that arose after the astonishing success of his two debut novels as e-books, both of which were short-listed for the Crime Writing Association Debut Dagger Award. Natural Causes and The Book of Souls stirred elements of urban fantasy into “police procedural” genres, which initially had no commercial appeal for publishers. Detective Inspector Anthony McLean is a tragic figure who operates in Edinburgh as a traditional sleuth, while using his supernatural intuition. He is currently stalking inexplicable evil in Bury Them Deep, the 10th novel in this series, not yet released. Tony McLean resurrected from two much earlier comic scripts of ghost stories – Oswald admits to easy mind-wandering among dragons and magic.

Nothing to Hide (New Series James Oswald)His new Constance Fairchild series is receiving accolades from readers. Con works for the Met, and though this young, female detective is based in London, her dark, shivery world gets the opportunity to hover around Tony McLean’s equally sinister one. Although the twain have not yet met, it is hoped they will. The second novel, Nothing to Hide, is available in hard cover, audio and ebook, and the paperback will be out on November 14.

Under his perhaps no longer well-hidden identity, J D Oswald, James also has written a classic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro. Inspired by the language and folklore of Wales, it follows the adventures of a young dragon, Sir Benfro, in a land where his kind have been hunted near to extinction by men. The whole series is now available in print, ebook and audio formats.

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What kind of person writes crime novels? How can you spend hours a day with grisly, adrenaline-pumping details, twisted human minds and dredging up uncountable possibilities of evil in our world? According to James Oswald, the crime writers he knows are nice and well-adjusted people, without the competitive edge you get with other writers: “All the frustrations in life we get out on the page!” 

To dig into the mind that creates gruesome demons that might actually exist (and who’s to say they don’t) but a rational detective must accept irrational explanations (and can you destroy or stop a supernatural monster?) – well, I say, come and enjoy James Oswald with the Reading Room, on Tuesday, October 29! Committee members meet up at the Edinbane Inn around 6 p.m. for dinner and welcome anyone who wants to join them. The event at Edinbane Hall starts at 7:30 p.m. 

Refreshments will be served. You may browse our Good Reads table and expect interesting camaraderie among guests and our special guest, James Oswald. Non-members pay £5 at the door. All are welcome.

For information about this event or questions regarding the Reading Room, please contact us at:  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye 

 

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Max Scratchmann: Be Ready For Anything

Event: Tuesday, September 24, Edinbane Community Hall.

Illustrator, writer, performer, poet Max Scratchmann very likely will have you talking about this evening for a long time. We are pleased to give you the opportunity to meet this engaging artist at our next meeting in the intimate Edinbane Community Hall, Tuesday, 24 September, 7:30 p.m.

Max is a prolific illustrator, with work appearing on over forty book covers, various CD sleeves and T-shirts and literally hundreds of magazines in Britain, America and Japan. He is the author of over eighteen books, including the award-winning autobiography about Scottish jute workers in India, The Last Burrah Sahibs, and the unintentionally controversial account of downshifting in the Scottish islands, Chucking It All.

 The Last Burrah Sahibs is a humorous and compelling memoir of the lost life of luxury in 1960s Bangladesh, through the eyes of an 11-year-old boy.

His book on living in the Orkneys gave him short-lived and undeserved infamy. Chucking It All: How Downshifting to a Windswept Scottish Island Did Absolutely Nothing to Improve My Life was called “one of the most hilarious books you will read this year” by The Scottish Review of Books. The author’s irreverent, but grudgingly affectionate portrait of his failed attempt at living among Orkney’s denizens especially enraged locals who recognized themselves being characterized. What was light-hearted grousing apparently led to his manuscript being binned by the original publisher. We want to hear the story.

 Max’s poems and short stories have appeared in many anthologies and magazines, and he runs the Edinburgh performance poetry company, Poetry Circus. An additional tidbit is that he also works as a model and has a remarkable portfolio.

He has led seminars on self-promotion for artists at the Centre for Arts Development in Liverpool and taught both collage and digital art throughout the country. He also exhibits his work The evening should include a sprinkling of his talents.

Everyone is welcome to join the group for this special event. Non-members, £5. Refreshments are served and we always have our Good Reads table open for browsing.

If anyone would like to join committee members for pre-event drinks or dinner, just pop into the Edinbane Inn around 6 p.m.

For information about this event or questions regarding the Reading Room, please contact us at:  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gordon Brown Talks About Writing THAT Book

Tuesday, May 28, 7:30 p.m. at Edinbane Hall

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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.

Deepest_Wounds_Cover_frontGordon 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.

For information about this event or questions regarding the Reading Room, please contact us at:  skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye 
This event is partly sponsored by the Scottish Book Trust.

 

Who Am I? Jewish Identity and the Faces of Tracey S. Rosenberg

Reading  January 29 7:30 pm Edinbane Hall  Workshop  January 30  7:30-9 pm  Portree

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She’s a funny lady, a self-pronounced loud poet whose cat vociferously agrees with her. When she’s not making people laugh, they might be weeping over the eloquent poems of her second chapbook, “The Naming of Cancer” (Neon, 2014), which enfolds the reader as witness to the agony and courage of patients, family and health carers. Her first novel, “The Girl in the Bunker” (Cargo Publishing, 2011), elicits a groaning sense that children, somewhere, are even today being forced to decipher truths about racism and self-identification.

tracey

Tracey S. Rosenberg describes herself as an American who came to Scotland and never left. We will detect if she has become a wee bit Scottish, when she joins us to read her story “The Western Wall”, a fictional response to Muriel Spark’s award-winning novel, “The Mandelbaum Gate”.  As part of the celebrations of Spark’s centenary, Tracey was awarded an Endless Different Ways grant from Creative Scotland, and she travelled to Jerusalem to write the story, which depicts three modern young women whose personal identities conflict with their shared religious history.

“The Mandelbaum Gate” provides the author  prepositional angles in theology, adventure, humour, romance and mad philosophy to shimmy up, hang from and slide down, so we can look forward to her creative gymnastics inspired by the novel that Spark wrote after witnessing a few days of the Adolf Eichmann trial in 1961. The novel addresses, among other issues, complex interpretations of Jewish identity.

tracey cancer

The surgeon’s finger stands in for the blade: /
it will remove her, just here.       “Touch”

The poems of Tracey S. Rosenberg have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies, including The Istanbul Review, Gutter, New Writing Scotland and The Journal of the American Association. Her short story “May the Bell be Rung for Harriet!” won the Brontë Society Creative Competition, with the shortlist judged by Dame Margaret Drabble, and was selected for Best British Short Stories 2015. She can be seen performing and volunteering at multiple literary festivals around Scotland, and among the intriguing vimeos in which you can view her, my favorite for sheer, exuberant delight is the “Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremonies”.

Our Tuesday evening reading at Edinbane Hall, January 29, begins at 7:30 p.m. £5 at the door; members are free. Everyone is welcome. Refreshments are served after Tracey’s reading and there will be plenty of time for Q & A, browsing our Good Reads section and general chatting. Be sure to ask about our reasonable memberships and feel free to give input on what you would like to see happen with the Reading Room in the future.

Tracey’s workshop on “Portraying Character” will be held at St. Columba’s Church, downtown Portree, in the Parish Rooms, on Wednesday, January 30th, 7:30-9:00 p.m.  No preparation is needed and participants need only bring paper and pen and £5 fee. Refreshments will be served.

Be sure to catch Tracey on Simon Clayton’s “Ever Changing Moods” program, Cuillin FM, Wednesday, January 30, 10:30 a.m.

If you need info on this event or the Reading Room, please contact us at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.

 

 

 

 

Margaret Elphinstone Takes Us on a Journey

October 30 Meeting, 7:30 pm, Edinbane Hall

     “…you pick up your character and you follow them. He wanders through all these          worlds, and you need to know what he needs to know. So I got out my canoe on the            Ottawa  River and we went canoeing.”

As I began to research Margaret Elphinstone’s writing projects along with my own memories of her, a thought started to niggle at me about some authors: It’s not just the reading of a book. It’s the body heat it absorbs from my hands. The placing of  my index finger on a precious phrase. The book mark reluctantly fitted against the gutter, when the real world calls me away.

In my own nomadic state, Kindle has had to suffice. As I readied to order a virtual novel of Margaret’s, I saw the words from a couple of lit reviews: “…old-fashioned.” “…slow and beautiful.” “…emotional landslide.” I knew the download would have to wait until I could hold this novel in my hands. Some books are like that.

ElphinstoneHazelnut

“My unimposing find was a scrap of roasted hazelnut, which, when carbon-dated, extended the known history of Orkney back to around 6000 BC. To the time of my novel in fact; I took this as an excellent omen. (The Gathering Night)

Margaret will be visiting the Reading Room on October 30, with the theme, “Journeys into Writing,” and will also discuss the journey theme in her books. Both will be exciting in different ways. She is a documented master of creating characters’ internal journeys from the research that takes her on marvelous adventures. She has made discoveries on archeological digs, ringed a puffin, spent days alone on uninhabited islands, got marooned on Shivinish, made a coracle on Coll (and paddled), and felt the heat through her boots on the cooling lava of Eldfell on the Icelandic island of Heinmaey.

That’s not where it ends though. The author is a child of the 1960s, and she had a bellyful of fire for civil rights, the peace movement, the second wave of feminism, anti-nuclear demonstrations and scrutiny of the values, lifestyles and institutions of the day. “In those days, we thought we would change the world,” she says, to echo American radical feminist Marilyn French.

ElphinstoneSeaVoyabers

Elphinstone sat on the doorstep of Eirik the Red’s house. Very little had changed from what Gudrid had seen 1000 years ago. (Sea Voyageurs)

Margaret appears to have started out her life with a big bang of ideologies, which she claims are invisible from within. “The world does change, but nobody changes it…what we have perceived as the natural order of things cannot be wiped out by any effort of will.”

The era of her novel-writing seems to have popped up in the middle of her life, when she jumped off of the activist treadmill. She suggests writing her novels was an absorbing immersion but we could see it as a natural progression in her study of human nature and “where have we been, where are we going to?”

ElphinstoneSeaRoadElphinstone remarks that as a historical novelist, her characters are constructed by history–not only do they speak and act according to their context, but they can only think and feel within that context. Is this passion she has devoted to the history of our survival the missing link necessary to her developing formula for the future? She has commented that her own generation has been unable to accept a historical cause and effect. “Over issues of climate change or economic profligacy, we have not fully experienced how the world changes.”

Now novel-writing has been retired and she has hopped onto the treadmill again. We can catch her writing essays, making speeches and causing little rumbles within mountain caverns. Margaret Elphinstone is being heard again in those earlier hallways that still echo with a human condition that needs a strong voice. The intimate energy of Edinbane Hall will surely be agitating the little grey cells of anyone thirsty enough to show up.

The evening will begin at 7:30 p.m.. Admission is free for members, £5 for non-members. Our reasonable memberships are always available at the door. Refreshments will  be served and our Good Reads table will exhibit a variety of books, including our two Reading Room anthologies.

For information regarding this event or the Reading Room, we can be contacted at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.

This event is sponsored in part by Scottish Book Trust Live Lit

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