My love affair with the radio reached a high point with the recording of my most recent play at the BBC Studios in Glasgow at the end of February. ‘My Life and Other Stories’ is a romantic comedy in which false identities and fictitious ‘memoirs’ wreak havoc. Although the writing process was anything but funny at times (with me vowing never again, never again) the recording sessions made it all worthwhile. Over two intense days, myself, one producer/director, one assistant, two sound engineers and seven actors worked hard in the window-less boxes of Studio 1 to make the script come alive. The cast were superb and I was absolutely delighted with their portrayals of my beloved characters, as well as their good humour and patience. The play will be broadcast on Monday 14th March at 2.15 pm on BBC Radio 4, and will be available on iPlayer for a month after.
Brought to Book
In my ever-enjoyable job at Kingussie High School library, I have been heading up a Steering Group to establish a whole-school Reading for Pleasure programme. The evidence is now overwhelming for the benefits of lots of enjoyable reading, including everything from the obvious things like literacy skills, to better maths (truly) and greater long-term educational and employment success. Our team has engaged pupils and the wider staff in getting the programme going, and we’ve organised National Poetry Day performances, Book Groups, an Edinburgh International Book Festival trip, posters, recommendations, quizzes, readings and much more. In November we gave a presentation to all staff, and last week, in celebration of World Book Day, we held Assemblies to launch the programme to the pupils. This involved a competition to come up with a name, and the winning one was ‘fREADom!‘
I am honoured and excited to be invited as a guest at the Ullapool Book Festival in May to share about ‘A House Called Askival’. For those who don’t know, Ullapool is a lively little town on the west coast of Scotland that still boasts two independent bookshops. (There needs to be an award for that sort of thing.) I am one of two debut novelists, and the rest of the line-up looks rich and varied, from Scottish luminaries like Janice Galloway and Bernard MacLaverty, to two Canadian authors, and three out of Israel and Palestine. The dates are 6-8th of May and my own slot is the Friday evening – would be great to see folk there!
A Novel Approach
Now that the radio play is off the desk, I’ve been able to return to the novel and am loving feeling my way back into the story. I have 60,000 words written and sense it is about half way. When I get to the end, it will be a first draft, but already much re-written. I’m fortunate to have some folks lined up to read and give feedback, though I’m making no promises about when they’ll get it! As ever, the research is fascinating. Recently that has included learning about Scotland’s Travelling people (incorrectly called gypsies) and 1950s surgery for cleft lip. A major encouragement has been the awarding of a significant grant by Creative Scotland (our arts council) towards writing the book. First expenditure: after six years, a new laptop!
A New Home
I haven’t moved, but my website has. After an extensive re-design by the very clever Louise Jones of Cairngorm Futures, it is now a lush and colourful labyrinth of images, ideas and information. Do have a wander!
Thanks again for being alongside. It is a privilege to have your interest and support.