I’m over the moon that my debut novel, Blessed Assurance, has finally been given me a publication date – 18th November 2019 – by Scottish book publisher, Vagabond Voices. (I’m also delighted by Mark Mechan’s cover design)
There will be various launches throughout September and October, in bookshops in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. I’ll keep you posted.
It’s been a busy month. Started work on my PhD at Aberdeen University (and Curtin University, Western Australia) So far I’ve been reading thousands of pages of Australian fiction; Randolph Stow, Patrick White, Alex Wright, David Malouf, Tim Winton, Peter Carey, Alex Miller, Kate Grenville. What storytellers! What joy! Now after being overwhelmed by these extraordinary writers, I have to try to put pen to paper myself
Nice to see my urban wildlife poem, The Puddocks, in the summer edition of The Curlew. It’s a stunning literary journal, beautifully produced and illustrated, and all profits got to environmental charities.
I’ve also had a great few weeks with artist, poet and playmaker, Skye Loneragan, photographing her Creative Communities project all around Glasgow
And I’ve been having such fun performing some of my poems to groups of primary school children at various Glasgow libraries, including Ruchill and Knightswood.
SCAPAfest outdoor, yoga and adventure festival,3rd to 5th May on Ardkinglas Estate, Loch Fyne, Argyll. I’m going to be reading The Sleepin Pipe O’ Inverfey and a few other new fairy stories written in Scots. It’ll be the first public outing of these unco tales, and I’m looking forward to sharing them.
A really useful Scottish Book Trust, weekend industry marketing lab. There were friendly fellow authors and all manner of booky bods, every one of them generous with their time and experience. I left all tooled up, ready to wield my tome and tackle book shops, book festivals and other book related giants Bring them on Sancho!
Intergenerational Mentoring Network. What a joy to be sharing a love of books with a couple of sparkling and curious wee Primary 2s. What better way to start a Wednesday morning! What better way to get the literary fires burning!
Aberdeen-Curtin Alliance. Just received confirmation that my proposal has been accepted and I’ve been awarded the Aberdeen-Curtin Alliance scholarship to study a fully funded PhD in Creative Writing. It’s a practice based PhD. In my case this means another novel. (working title, ilk ). Years 1 & 3 will see me travel up and down to Aberdeen and Year 2 I’ll be based in Fremantle, Australia. What a gift! What an opportunity! What a privilege! Thank you Beatrice Colin, Chris Dolan, Skye Loneragan and Rebecca Robinson for your help. More soon.
The Curlew, a beautifully produced Welsh quarterly dedicated to nature writing and illustration has just told me that they’ll be publishing one of my short poems – The Frogs On Queen Margaret Drive in their summer edition. I’m particularly pleased as this is such a simple poem inspired by my daily walks down that very street.
Blessed Assurance. It has been confirmed that my first novel, Blessed Assurance, will be published by Vagabond Voices in September 2019. I’ll post more information (launch dates, cover etc) as when and it arrives. Feeling …relieved and nervous. Looking forward to feeling excited.
Corsica. Chris Craig (Actor & fairy Godfather), Andy Alston (Keyboard player with Del Amitri and Oatcake Maker extraordinaire) Trish Mullin (Actor) and myself took a stripped down version of our Fantoosh dinner show to the L’Aghja Theatre in Ajaccio, Corsica. It’s been almost 15 years since I was last there. It’s a beautiful island and artistic director Francis Acqui and his L‘Aghja Theatre team were once again the most wonderful hosts. Nick Brett from Edinburgh Steiner School brought over homemade haggis from the inspirational Garvald Farm in the Scottish borders, a place he has a close connection with. The Andy Alston led Scottish – Corsican ceilidh at the end of the evening was a thing of beauty.
Burns Behind Bars. A little tour of Rabbie Burns related readings and performance, in HMP Low Moss, HMP Dumfries and HMP Greenock. I was creative writing lecturer in HMP Shotts (and occasionally in HMP Low Moss) for several years so I’m very happy to be able to continue that relationship. I’ll be performing with actor/musician Deborah Arnott of the most excellent bluegrass/folk band Blueflint.
The Caterpillar. I am delighted that quarterly magazine, The Caterpillar (child of literary mag The Moth) will be publishing one of my poems – A Cat Is NOT For Christmas – in their winter edition. It’s such a beautiful magazine, one of the few still appearing in print and the only one I know of that specializes in children’s literature. It looks like I’ll be sharing the covers with some exceptionally playful poets and word weavers.
Poetry Reading. It’s the Friends of the River Kelvin (FORK) ‘Winter Warmer’ at the Ha’penny House down below the Botanical Gardens. I’ll be showing my support for these good folk by reading a few home-made children’s poems, including When Santa Went Out One Halloween (aka…We Wish You A Scary Christmas)
Book Week Scotland! This year the theme was ‘Rebel’ and I was in Knightswood Primary School in Glasgow, reading a few Rebel related poems. (including one specially written for the occasion) What a wonderful bunch of children they all and what a book loving school! The icing on that cake was being asked to come back the following day to present prizes at the prize giving ceremony.
Prison Writing Anthology. Also, as part of Book Week Scotland, I’ll be in HMP Shotts with book publisher, editor and writer Allan Cameron of Vagabond Voices. We will be continuing our work editing an anthology of prison writing, which will be published next year. I’m particularly proud of this project, as I was creative writing lecturer at HMP Shotts for several years, a period of great creativity in my life.
Rites of Passage. Looking forward to exploring Rites of Passage in rural Cumbria with Dead Good Guides. (That’s Sue Gill and John Fox, who in a previous incarnation were known as the inspirational Welfare State International) I’m fully expecting to journey outwith my cosy wee comfort zone. Thank you Creative Scotland for your support! More on this can be found on my BLOG page. See link above.
I’ll be facilitating another Words Work Well Bibliotherapy workshop on the subject of reading and writing with prisoners. Once again it’s called Bedtime Stories for Beginners (If you can be bothered, that’s also a link my article of the same title.)
The Monster and Mary Shelley have temporarily shuffled off into the sunset after their successful tour of the Scottish Highland and Islands came to an end at Lyth Arts in beautiful Caithness. However, the feedback has been so positive that The Occasion are already looking to re-animate them in 2019 and take it to venues in England, Ireland, and a few more in Scotland.
Thank you director Pete Clerke, performer Catherine Gillard, Composer (and voice of ‘The Monster’ Rich Williams, designer Ali Maclaurin, lighting designer Paul Froy and production manager Davy O’Neill for bring it to life so successfully.
Reviews of The Monster and Mary Shelley
“Stewart Ennis’ captivating script sparkles, weaving the contemporary with the classical. There’s high melodrama, horror and a huge dose of comedy. Catherine Gillard delivers a tour de force performance as Mary. Switching from child to teenage rebel to adult dealing with love, lust and loss. This is a well-judged piece of writing …quick, modern and witty prose. ” The Review Hub
“Like its subject, Stewart Ennis’ script is a multi-faceted gothic collage that gives vent to the assorted voices in Mary’s head … a vivid cut-up of psychological light and shade that gets to the dark heart of the creative urge within. The Herald
“Electrifying theatre! Ennis’ script is profound and compelling. His themes of love, loss, place and identity are delivered with empathy and understanding; often dark but punctuated at intervals with spells of bright humour to bring light to the mood. Catherine Gillard puts on a convincing and spell-binding performance as the charismatic Mary” SEAL
“…a fascinating and hilarious contemporary look back at Mary Shelley’s creation of Frankenstein. … a wonderfully engaging show … Catherine Gillard is utterly entrancing.” The Wee Review
“The teentastic-Georgia-Nicolson-style retelling of how Shelley lost her virginity at her mother’s graveside is stand-out hilarious.” Aunty Pat’s Film, Theatre & Telly Zine
“The script is a stonker!” Enthusiastic audience member
More about My Monster
Fed up reading? Here’s a short soundcloud interview I did on Radio Saltire.