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Recent and Upcoming Events

Speaking live on BBC Radio Scotland to Fiona Stalker about Mary Queen of Scots and my historical novel FOR MY SINS.

I’m currently delivering a series of 10 creative writing workshops to Braidhurst High School as part of their Drive to Literacy. I work them hard, but they are enjoying themselves, honestly. Here they are writing their first ever prose poem, and unearthing gleaming results. They’re a quiet bunch, but as you can see, they are allowed to stand up sometimes.

I’m also working as a Creative Writing Mentor as part of the Scottish Book Trust’s What’s Your Story programme, mentoring two exceptionally gifted young people, during which I’ve had to learn sign language. Our surroundings at Moniack Mhor were very conducive to creative writing. We had the cottage to ourselves, complete with roaring stove and the entire collection of the Scottish Poetry Library on the shelves.

For World Book Week, I’m in Sandaig Primary for two Art of the Ghost Story workshops on 6th March, and on 7th March (World Book Day itself,) I’ll be appearing in the Mitchell Library, the Burns Room at 10.30 am and 1.30 pm as part of the Aye Write/Wee Write’s schools programme. Last week I was in Wishaw Library for two sessions with local school children, who prepared for the visit by reading Chill, designing covers and drawing pics of what they thought I should look like.

Then on Tuesday 12th March I’ll be in the auditorium at the wonderful YayYA Festival, which draws in schools from all over Glasgow and beyond, curated by… who else? Grand Master of Design, Kirkland Ciccone.

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Newcastle is Nice!!!!

Yes it is. I had a fantastic day out yesterday with fellow author and obsessive drinker of tea, Kirkland Ciccone. Here we are on the train feeling very excited about our booked seats down to Newcastle from Edinburgh. Literally one second later we were escorted off the train. Not literally… exaggeration. Our seats were double-booked so we politely conceded to a group of elderly ladies, but not before Kirkland accidentally upset one of the strident-looking members of the group by calling them ‘pensioners.’ She didn’t like the word, but we all laughed it off in good cheer, while helpful members of the public showed us where we had gone wrong with our tickets. on-our-way

Then we had to walk through the drunk carriage (I ask you, it was 9.30 am!!!!) Then we found seats where we could cause less trouble.  Arrived in Newcastle and was amazed at how beautiful it is. The buildings showing its mercantile and industrial heritage, the buzz, the sunshine. My father’s forebears were shipbuilders on the Tyne in Newcastle, came over from Ireland, and one of them – great grandfather Chris Gollaglee died saving another man’s life. His younger friend slipped and fell, so he reached out and saved him, but lost his own life. It took him six weeks to die in hospital and he was in all the papers in Newcastle, and I still have the letter his descendant wrote to my dad saying “No greater love hath man than to lay down his life for his friend.”

Kirkland was very excited to be down in England, and I felt quite at home amongst my own again, after 25 years of living north of the border amongst all ye Scots and Pictish people… aye…

Here we are at the UKYACX in Newcastle. The Two Ronnies.cskeubtxyaaoqn2

Had a fabulous time listening to lots of authors, eating cake. This was our panel. I really enjoyed being on stage again, I think I mentioned Wuthering Heights a few times (and Kate Bush), how Chill was chosen for First Minister’s Reading Challenge, (thank you Nicola), and how I won the Royal Mail Award (before it was privatized). They laughed, they listened, they looked keen, while I was mean and lean (or not so lean, after eating 5 of their cakes). I had a sugar rush afterwards. Kirkland upstaged us all with his cat-walk, where he took the audience by storm and showed them what a real fake fur looks like. He’s a born performer…

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Out into the sunshine, and I saw fellow author Lindsey Barraclough , author of Long Lankin, sitting outside reading my book – so had to beg a photo. Love it when fellow authors soak up books – especially when they’re your own… but seriously, we’re not just there to promote our own but to learn from others, so I now have a much longer reading list.

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Then it was home again on the train – booked seats this time – BUT… in the drunk carriage again with some football supporters who regaled us with loud and incomprehensible chants while I tried to nod off, and thought wistfully of the pensioners on the morning train. Kirkland and I wondered what it would be like if authors chanted when they’re on a day out.

I love Newcastle, and I’m going back again some day……..