Review of November Book Week Scotland Event: Alastair Jackson

By Simon Clayton

The Spirit Is Willing…

The Reading Room were pleased to welcome photographer and author, Alastair Jackson, to a ‘Book Week Scotland’ event at Edinbane on Tuesday 19th November. A pleasing number of fifteen members and guests braved the drizzly night, to hear the former Skye resident talk about his collaborative work with poet Kenneth Steven.

The ‘Spirit of the Hebrides’ is a homage to legendary poet Sorley MacLean and skillfully combines the poetry of Kenneth and the photography of Alastair. In spite of his doubts surrounding the publisher’s imposed title, Mr Jackson went through the evocative and haunting images in the book, on slides, each accompanied by an appropriate poem.

Mostly seascapes and all monochrome, the photographs brought to life the wonderful boundaries of Skye and Raasay and made many of us want to visit some of the vantage points Alastair used. Many were subsequently put off when learning of the difficulties of access, and the (up to) 5-hour walks involved!

The topics brought to life by the photos and poems were very much the stuff of Skye’s history and a wider Scottish context. Depopulation was well demonstrated and one brooding picture of Storr Lochs – entitled ‘After Culloden’ – clearly told a wider story. Each image seemed to bring the ever-changeable Skye weather into play, to great effect.

After the presentation and questions, we all enjoyed the usual delicious home baking and hot drinks which helped the group have a good ‘blether’ – which is, after all, this year’s concept for Book Week Scotland. The icing on the cake was to learn subsequently that ‘Spirit of the Hebrides’ has been listed for the next Highland Book Award. We wish Alastair well in the judging of that competition.

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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Harry’s Back with Open Mic

HARRY GPoet Harry Gallagher will make a special appearance at our 25 June Open Mic, taking place at Edinbane Community Hall, 7:30 pm.
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Harry has just been announced as the BBC Tees poet for National Poetry Day 2019. They’ve commissioned him to write a poem from listeners’ suggestions, which will represent the area in a positive way. Look for that project. 
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Launched January of this year, Harry’s new book of poetry, Running Parallel, is a jointly authored book with p.a. morbid, of Black Light Engine Room Press. Harry says the book has two covers – get halfway through, turn it upside down and you have a completely different book! You will have a chance to purchase it at the event. 
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The well-known Tees poet will arrive fresh
from reading at three literary festivals:
‘Wirral Festival Of Firsts’;  ‘IRON Or Festival’ at Cullercoats; and  ‘Crossing The Tees’. He says, ‘I love coming to Skye. I love the people, the openness, the mountains, the sea and the way it really feels like two different countries – Sleat and everywhere north! Being a terrible industrial relics nerd, I also love spotting bits of paths that used to be railway lines!”
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The evening will kick off with Open Mic. Readers are invited to share a poem they penned or one by someone else whom they particularly admire. Share a song if you like. We encourage performances in English, Gaelic or Scots. 5-minute slots are available.
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Our special guest will take the stage after intermission, during which coffee, tea and treats will be served.
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There is no entrance fee for members and readers; non-readers pay £3. Our Open Mics are always fun and offer inspiring entertainment for the audience.  Harry Gallagher is a dynamic poet and performer whom you want to be sure to see.  Reading Room looks forward to  welcoming all of you.
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On the day after the event, Wednesday morning, 10 a.m., Harry will be interviewed on local radio Cuillin FM, by our chairman, Simon Clayton.
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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 

Review of May Event: Gordon Brown

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.

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.