A House Called AskivalAustraliaBook FestivalsChildren's WritingCreative Writing ClassesNovelsScotlandUncategorized

The Turning Year

It’s clear and frosty here in the Highlands of Scotland and the smell of wood smoke lingers in the air.  An exciting time, as Christmas approaches, and a good time to look back and look forward.  Here’s some of my writing news.

Turning Leaves

Turning Leaves is the Kingussie Book Festival where I was warmly welcomed as a guest author in September.  It is run by the Caberfeidh Horizons Bookshop, an inspirational place which employs staff with special needs.  Asked to share about “A House Called Askival”, I started with The Landour Community Cookbook that is a thread throughout the novel and talked about my ‘recipe’ for writing Askival.  There were seven key ingredients, including moving a lot and the extraordinary place that is Mussoorie, and a long and complex method requiring enormous patience and a supportive husband!  Faithful as ever, he was in the audience that day, a small group but all very interested and responsive (with the exception of one bored looking boy – mine).  The picture above shows me with the symbols for my ‘ingredients’.  My other contribution to the festival was giving a writing workshop for the Caberfeidh staff who were wonderfully enthusiastic and creative.   We created autumn poems by writing words on leaves and it was their idea to toss them in the air.  The leaves now adorn the walls of the bookshop.

More Workshops

The past few months have brought lots of opportunities to share the joy of writing with others and it’s an element of my work that I truly love.  Back in the summer holidays I had two sessions with a bunch of lively, imaginative kids writing Mythical Maze Monster Stories (pic below) and I still see most of them on Thursday afternoons when they come charging in to the library for their Chatterbooks group.  It’s fantastic to know kids who are so wild about literature.  In November I spent a morning at Fortrose Academy, an hour north of here, reading a short story and fielding questions about writing.  Teenagers are loathe to show enthusiasm in a classroom, but their teacher assures me they enjoyed it.  Right now I’m in the middle of a ten week course for adults on Creative Writing through the Cairngorms Learning Partnership.  The participants are a great group with writing interests that range from children’s books to memoir, novels to comic strips.  The writing has been very good, the laughs even better.

Askival’s Progress

I still don’t know sales figures, except that the hardcover is nearly sold out in the UK, which is great.  There is a paperback scheduled for late May here, July in the US and probably September in Australia.  Will let you know all the detail once it’s confirmed.  Certainly, reader responses have been overwhelming.  As well as a growing stack of 5 star reviews on Amazon UK and Amazon US, most weeks I hear from someone personally via text, Facebook, my website, email, letter or just stopping me in the street, to say how much they enjoyed it.  This has been the most gratifying thing for me, to know that readers have been engaged and moved.  (If you haven’t already, please consider adding your review to Amazon, and if you cut and paste to both US and UK sites, I shall be doubly grateful!)  Here’s a link to a literary newspaper Northwords Now that has a good review on page 20, and another from an online blogger, Complicated Evangelical.

Australia Awaits!

I am very excited to be spending a month in Australia mid-December to mid-January, mainly to see family and bask in some sunshine, but also to share about the book.  There will be a number of gatherings with old friends, but also a book signing at the very charming BookTalk in Richmond on Saturday 10th January at 11am.  All welcome, and you might even like to stay on and join me for lunch in their fab cafe.

Season’s Greetings

I trust that wherever you are and whatever your traditions, the coming holidays will bring opportunities for gatherings with loved ones, joyous celebration and times of peace and reflection.  For me, the focus is the One who came to bring Life.  May yours be blessed,





One thought on “The Turning Year

  1. Askival – I am almost finished reading this wonderful book, it has been a slow read, and the only reason for this, is, I want to enjoy, savour and digest every single word, I feel as if I am with Ruth and can even smell the surroundings of Mussoorie, and want to walk up the top of Mullingar Hill and rummage through all the bit ‘n’ bobs for sale. Such and engaging story and so very well written.

    I have introduced ASKIVAL into our Christian monthly book club, and every one is eagerly awaiting to read it.

    Blessing to all.

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