The Reading Room invites you to a book party…

“For as long as a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions, be subjected to the lordship of the English.  It is in truth, not for glory, nor riches nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

 

Theme:      Happy 700th Birthday to the Declaration of Arbroath
Place:        Edinbane Community Hall
Date:         Tuesday 25th February 2020 (and, yes, we know it’s about 5 weeks early!)
Time:         7:30pm
Entry:        Free
Format:     Come and join a friendly discussion on whether 700 years is long enough to wait. Bring, suggest, or swap books involving the struggle for independence. Highlight creative works that have flowed from the situation. Suggest how the future could unfold. Above all, have a good chat and enjoy some delightful home baking accompanied by tea and coffee.

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Next event: Postponed meantime
Helen Sedgwick’s Skye launch of ‘When The Dead Come Calling’
Place:         Portree Library
Date:          Tuesday 31st March 2020
Time:          6:30pm
Entry:         Free

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If you need more information please contact us at: skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk
or via Facebook: The Reading Room – Skye.

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.

Image result for james oswald

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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July at the Reading Room

It looks like there’s lots on in July on the literary front so the Reading Room folk are taking some time off. You’ll probably see some of us at these other events that are happening soon:-

Christopher Whatley, author of Pabay: An Island Odyssey will be at
Edinbane Community Hall – Saturday 6th July from 5.00-7.00pm
Cafe at An Crubh               – Monday  8th July from 5.30pm
Tickets are free for both events but please email events@birlinn.co.uk to RSVP or to find out more information.

Reading Room Book Stall at the monthly Indoor Sale at
Skeabost Memorial Hall      – Saturday 13th July from 11.00am-3.00pm

Anne Pia, an Italian Scot award-winning author poet based in Edinburgh will be at
Bog Myrtle, Struan              – Sunday 21st July from 4.00pm
tickets via http://www.seall.co.uk/events/anne-pia/

Last month we had a great time at our Open Mic with guest poet and all round good guy Harry Gallagher. There will be more about the event shortly but imagine our surprise when chairman Simon Clayton opened the evening by welcoming Harry in verse thus:-

Welcome to Harry

Edinbane, on the Isle of Skye,
Hosts meetings of the Reading Room.
At best, they light a writer’s fire,
At worst, they lift a little gloom.

Our members love the written word,
More so, when read aloud.
We always welcome poets here,
We’re not an awkward crowd.

This month, we are truly blessed,
And expect a thrilling ride.
Harry Gallagher’s only here,
All the way from Tees-side.

Remember, tonight’s an Open Mic,
For visitors and members.
So, let the breath of this good throng,
Be blown on your word’s embers.

After this short, sweet, intro,
You people can show your mettle.
And read until you’re satisfied,
Or ‘til Deb puts on the kettle.

To Harry we give grateful thanks,
Awaiting poems with Northern grit.
Poetry ripe with the richness of life,
Public bar sawdust, and spit.

Now, I’ll be quiet and we can start,
Please clear your throats and ears.
And welcome Harry to this place,
With great Applause and Cheers.

 

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

bloodyscotland_portraits_paulreich010crop

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.

 

Scottish Quine Gerda Stevenson to Lead Writing Workshop at Monthly Meeting

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 skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.

The People’s Poet Harry Gallagher To Juice up Open Mic

Nurse Ratchet might have sent Harry Gallagher downstairs for irreversible treatment but his electrical poetry and delivery threaten only to send thrills down spines. He is The People’s Poet, who performs up and down the UK, sharing his rhyme and rhythm penned for anyone who toucheHarryGs his heart – and it must be big and tender, because he is champion of so many, with his words that cut, bruise and soothe.

Write in Tuesday, July 10, with a big scratchy star, to see Harry and hear a lot of super poetry by him and participants of our Open Mic, at the intimate Edinbane Community Hall, 7:30 p.m.

Harry is described by poet and Black Light Engine Room Press editor, p.a. morbid, as a “truly wonderful troubadour of the everyday”, for his latest collection, How it is – Snapshots From a Northern Town (Stairwell Books, 2018). 

HarryNorthern Lights

“Gulls idly chatter with herons on bones of conveyors, cranes, staithes lodged in silt, water topped up with ancient stevedore blood.” Ghost River

Stunningly beautiful one second, brutal the next.  He gets to the guts of what it means to be a modern human.”
Robert Francis, poet and host of Permission To Speak event, Stourbridge

In his poem, “Bevin Boy”, Harry illustrates why his work is considered a love letter to the people from the North East of England:

No bloody medal for you,
just backbreak and slack
that seeped through your lungs,
laying the eggs of the wheezes
that you always knew
would oneday sing you to sleep.

Harry Gallagher lives and writes on the North East coast. His work has been widelyHarry GChasing the Sunset published by, among others, The Stare’s Nest, Black Light Engine Room, Lucifer Press, Rebel Poetry, The Fat Damsel, Material, Alliterati, Dead Snakes, Write Minds and Clear Poetry.  He is co-founder of The Stanza, a monthly poetry night in Newcastle upon Tyne.

There will also be an opportunity for local writers to share their work in 5-minute slots during the Open Mic session. Please sign up with Francis Mitchell when you arrive or contact the Reading Room at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk.

Entrance is free for participants and members; £3 for non-members/non-participants. Tea, coffee and treats are served. Everyone is welcome. There is some parking at the hall and more on the street. Some of us stop into the Edinbane Inn for dinner around 6 p.m. Please feel free to join us.

We can be contacted at skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.

A.C. Clarke Taking Poetry to the World

…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.

” …sulphur woven into a scarf of fog, incense cloying my brain in the church where once the marble altar steps rose up to meet my forehead, seamed it for life.”

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 skyereadingroom@yahoo.co.uk or on Facebook: Reading Room – Skye.