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.
Reading January 29 7:30 pm Edinbane Hall Workshop January 30 7:30-9 pm Portree
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 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.
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 email@example.com or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.
Writing Workshop, Edinbane Hall, Tuesday, September 25, 7:30 p.m.
For a writing workshop, there is a rule worth tucking into your bag, along with notebook, pencil, eraser and water bottle: “Consider the source.”
With Gerda Stevenson as your evening muse, your little smiley button which assures You are Great! can rest in peace. This is a woman who will inspire creativity. She assures participants of her intent:
“I always think that the purpose of a workshop is to stimulate the writers through various exercises, so that they go away with a bank of new raw material ready to be honed in their own time.”
Our September monthly meeting will offer readers and writers the privilege of meeting with this lady, who has generated an incredible amount of art in her life. She was a Scottish Borders child. Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she has displayed her acting talent in many stage and television productions. Her performance in the film, Blue Black Permanent (Greta), won her the BAFTA Scotland Best Film Actress Award and she may have been one of the more convincing characters in Braveheart.
Gerda has commissioned and directed many programmes for BBC Radio Scotland, working with established Scottish dramatists such as Donald Campbell, Alan Spence, Janet Paisley and Anne Downie. We would know her voice from the long list of British radio stories she has read.
Her writing gifts seem to have no bounds. Along with her many radio adaptations, she is a visiting lecturer at the University of Glasgow, where her poetry collection, If This Were Real, and her stage play Federer Versus Murray are studied on the Contemporary Scottish Literature course. Her poetry and prose have appeared in the Scotsman, the Herald and New Writing Scotland. In 2014, Gerda was awarded a Creative Scotland Artist’s Bursary, to write her second collection, Quines, on neglected Scottish women. This outstanding 2018 collection (Luath Press) is kicking critics into attention.
In 2014, she was nominated as one of the Saltire Society’s OUTSTANDING WOMEN OF SCOTLAND. She has run many acting, writing and story-telling workshops in schools and drama colleges across Scotland. If anything can lure you to this workshop, The Thomas Muir Lecture 2018 video will show you what you don’t want to miss!
Everyone is welcome to join the Reading Room on Tuesday, September 25, 7:30 p.m., at Edinbane Community Hall. There is no admission fee and no preparation is required. This evening is dedicated to enjoying Gerda’s inspirational presence and to relaxed enjoyment and appreciation of the art of writing. Committee member Debbie Roberts, will host the event.
Some of the Reading Room group will meet in the Edinbane Inn pub, for dinner and pre-event camaraderie. All are welcome to join in, at 6-ish.
On Wednesday, September 26, Gerda will be interviewed by Simon Clayton, on his Cuillin FM show, Simon Clayton’s Ever Changing Moods, airing between 10 am-12 noon.
For information regarding this event or the Reading Room, we can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.
…and she is bringing her varied talents to the Reading Room this month, giving a talk illustrated by readings along the lines ‘From Saxons to Surrealism’, charting her development as a poet.
She is a poet but is also a judge of poetry. This means to me that she is someone who understands what it takes to create fine poesy and who also can take us as writers to another level from simply writing poetry, to recognizing what will be meaningful to others – is our writing universal?
As a translator, A.C.Clarke is interested in the discipline of language and in getting inside the skin of the translated poet. Her penchant for gaining the perspectives of others also is gratified by writing about marginalised and historical figures like the ‘wild girl of Champagne’, ‘Wild Peter’ and Helen Duncan (the last person in the UK to be tried for witchcraft). Her fifth collection of poems, A Troubling Woman (Oversteps Books, 2017), is centred on the life of the medieval visionary Margery Kempe and serves as a companion to her poem collection about the atheist priest Jean Meslier, Fr Meslier’s Confession. Both examine the various aspects of belief and doubt.
The poet has been involved for several years in ‘polishing’ poems and short stories by Romanian writers. Her poems have been translated into Romanian (most recently in the new Anthology of Scottish Poets, Diehard Press 2016) and into Albanian, Arabic, German and Italian. She has experience of working with refugee poets and is also a qualified Further Education teacher.
A.C. Clarke moved to Scotland in 2002, after retiring from teaching and university administration. At that time, she began taking her writing more seriously and since then, the world of poetry has been acknowledging her work. She has been regularly published and invited to appear at events in Scotland. Her work has been awarded, commended, long-listed and short-listed regularly since 2004. She was Makar for the Federation of Writers (Scotland) 2007-2008 and is an active member of Scottish PEN.
Most recently, Owersettin, a pamphlet in English, Scots and Gaelic in collaboration with Maggie Rabatski and Sheila Templeton, was published by Tapsalteerie in 2016. She was one of four joint prizewinners in the 2017 Cinnamon Poetry Pamphlet Competition and her winning pamphlet, War Baby, was published by Cinnamon Press early in 2018.
She is currently working on a harebrained scheme to translate all of Paul Éluard’s poems (at least 1,000) before she dies! and on an ever-expanding series of poems about his first wife Gala (Dali) and the Surrealist circle.
Please join the Reading Room for our Tuesday, June 26 meeting at Edinbane Hall, at 7:30 p.m., and welcome A.C. Clarke for an evening of poetry and inspiration.
Admission for non-members is £5. Everyone is welcome. Refreshments will be served and our Good Reads table will be available for perusal and purchase of new and used gems.
For information on events and our reasonably-priced! memberships, please contact us via e-mail at email@example.com or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.
Our evening reading on Tuesday, March 27, promises to tutor us on how to get successfully inside the head of a young girl, which author Ross Sayers does with gusto in his novel, ‘Mary’s the Name’, released by Cranachan Publishing, in January 2017.
8-year-old Mary Sutherland is a funny and profound lass who tells her story that appears to charm everyone who reads it. Wee Mary is an orphan who lives with her Granpa in Stirling. When her Granpa gets mixed up in a robbery at his work, the pair flee to the Isle of Skye, but trouble soon follows. The book’s main themes are family, friendship and the loss of innocence.
‘Mary’s the Name’ is all the more interesting to us Skye folk because Mary’s tale involves many of our favorite (but perhaps stuck in our scrap books?) local spots and landmarks. Her favorite building is on Quay Street…can you guess which one?
Ross Sayers grew up and attended university in Stirling, where he found his passion for writing Scottish fiction about ‘real, honest and (most of the time) swear-y characters’. He says he enjoys reading his work to a crowd, ‘especially if I get to do silly voices’.
Please join the Reading Room for an evening with Ross Sayers, at Edinbane Community Hall. We want to hear those silly voices along with the backstory of Mary and the inspirational Portree muses.
There is no charge for members; £5 for non-members, but our very reasonable membership may be purchased at the door. Refreshments are served at break, when we can schmooze with our guest and browse the Good Reads.
For information about our programmes, membership or for other questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Facebook at Reading Room – Skye.
More coming up…
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. –