A House Called AskivalBook FestivalsChildren's WritingCreative Writing ClassesNovelsRadioScotland

On the Road and On the Radio

Radio Rocks!

I’ve always loved radio, both as a listener and as a writer contributing stories and plays, but in the last couple of months I’ve also been doing some of the talking.  It kicked off in June with my local station, Speysound Radio, and a lovely, laid-back music-and-chat hour with friend and neighbour, Lewis Thomson.  I got to pick six of my favourite tracks, chat about Askival and confess to my tortuous writing process.  Then a few weeks later I drove up to the BBC studios in Inverness where I sat in a cupboard and had an interview down the line with Janice Forsyth of Radio Scotland’s Culture Studio, which was a little surreal, but fun.  There was a giant photo of the River Ness behind me (should this be TV) and a tempting mixing desk in front of me.  (I promise I only fiddled with a few of the buttons…) Leap to late July and Glasgow is gripped with Commonwealth Games Fever.  I didn’t qualify for any events, nor was I organised or determined enough to secure tickets, alas, but I was invited to talk on the BBC Commonwealth Voices programme.  It was recorded from a small ‘pop-up’ studio in the Forge shopping centre, which seemed an apt name, as the place was roasting.  I had a fantastic time with producers Pauline Moore and Ian Hamilton (above) talking about the book, India and food and rapidly running out of time.  You can listen to that interview here.  Next up is an interview with Stuart Watson on Revival FM on Wednesday 1st October, 21.30 to 23.30 (GM+1).

Edinburgh Festival

Most summers I descend on Edinburgh for a few days as a voracious culture vulture to gobble up what I can of the festival fun.  I usually pin it around the Society of Authors in Scotland AGM and Lunch and then persuade (pester) various friends to join me for different events over the couple of days.  One regular hook-up is with writing buddy, Fiona Thackeray, at the Book Festival.  We met on a fiction writing course years ago and have stayed in touch, reading and critiquing each other’s work and offering encouragement, goading, congratulations and commiserations as the situation demands.  Fiona has strong ties with Brazil and has published an exquisite collection of stories set there, The Secret’s in the Folding, which I commend to you.  Meanwhile, her Brazil novel is still unfolding…  I’ve been going to the Book Festival for years and always with the dream that one day I might be one of their authors.  Well, I didn’t make it to the dizzy heights of the programme, but my publisher, Freight, were well represented and Askival was on their shelves in the book tent.  No big deal for mega-writers, but a magic moment for me!

Mythical Monster Maze Stories!

I had the enormous privilege of running two creative writing classes for 8-12yr olds in one of our local libraries during the summer holidays.  The theme came from the Summer Reading Challenge and gave us lots of scope for creating fantastical settings, weird and wonderful creatures and thrilling adventures.  (With lots of gross stuff, too…)  The kids that came were lively, excited about books and plunged into the writing activities with gusto.  It was sheer joy.  I’m honoured to be handing out their Reading Challenge certificates next week.

Creative Writing Classes Coming Up

And now for adults…  Through the Cairngorms Learning Partnership, I will be running an evening creative writing course in Kingussie from October to December, kicking off with a Taster Session on Thursday 25th September.  Click here for all the details.

Turning Leaves Kingussie Book Festival

I am very excited to be a guest author at my local town’s book festival this autumn.  ‘Turning Leaves’ started last year as part of Kingussie’s ‘Little Town of Festivals venture, in which the town hosted a different festival each month, from Beer to Books to Bikes.  The book festival is organised by Caberfeidh Horizons Bookshop, that stocks mainly second-hand books, but also ones by local authors (like me.)  ‘Turning Leaves’ went so well last year that they have received funding again and the programme this year looks great.  I will be running a workshop for people with learning disabilities, giving a talk about ‘Askival’ and hob-nobbing over wine and nibbles at the ‘Meet the Authors’ events.  The programme runs from 26th to 28th of September, full details here.

How’s the Book Selling?

I get asked this question a lot and the simple answer is ‘I don’t know’.  Amazon have contractual reasons that mean they can’t tell me, and my publisher don’t normally collate sales figures till at least six months after launch, when they’ve got info back from distributors, retailers, etc.  All I know from Amazon is that my ranking, updated hourly, has yo-yoed from a peak at 4,754 to the pit of 591,399.  This is simply how I rank next to all of their 32+ million books so doesn’t help a lot. 

Meanwhile… thank you

For your ongoing interest.  It has been heartening to receive positive responses from so many readers, though I think the only press review so far has been in my local paper.  Good reviews are slowly stacking up on Amazon, however, which is a powerful sales tool, and if you’re up for adding your own, I’d be very grateful.  

Till the next letter,