Several Careful Things

I’ve been busy and waiting and stricken with feverish cold, stuck inside as the sun shines on everything, or else walking through the new sweltering warmth of spring just intent on getting to my work and home, so it has been necessary to look to several careful and tender and rich things that help put me at ease. Poems, songs, books. Here are a few that might help you, also –


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Five years




It’s been five years since I started this blog. Way back in 2010, when I was 26, I wrote my first post – ‘Fresh Tracks‘ which was in its puzzled, poetic, fragmented way talking about my hopes for the future, and for the novel that would become Flesh of the Peach.


This year Flesh of the Peach was chosen for publication, and my first collection is coming out soon (though it still seems unreal). When I wrote that post, D and I had been in New York a few months, struggling along in a flat plagued by bedbugs, in a Queens neighbourhood barren of trees and filled with sleepy, overworked commuters. Now we’re back in Edinburgh, and things are full of light, and the novel is done, but the work is not. Who can say where we’ll be in another five years time? Will this blog even be a part of my life? Will you still be reading it? Will there be more of my books out in the world? Should there be limits set, or just like this – a quiet happiness at what’s been achieved so far.


Stopping a moment from the lookout. Taking in the hazy air, and the bridges ahead. Which ones to be taken, which ones to be half-crossed and then returned from. Which ones will lead out over a wild, new sea.

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Current Obsessions in Fiction

What I’d like to read right now, what I’m working my way towards in my own writing, what lingers like incense (happy Easter, by the way, to those who celebrate):



hills of grass on and on without end and a puddle here or there reflecting a giant blue sky

diners, motels, petrol stations in the middle of the desert staffed by one person who will not meet your gaze

the mountains were there is a solitary hut above the treeline

constellations when they are considered by small groups of people on the dark face of the earth

ill-defined wrongness and wrongdoing and buttoned lips

islands and their specific, haunted geography

big fat lazy rivers of the kind Scotland is too small to possess

found lines of poetry in spam emails

witches and their fashions and self-forged legends

books which change on contact

forests as impossibly large, engulfing settings for stories (I need more of these)(especially ones which note the way the light shifts and falls, and birdsong, and cracking twigs)

old houses, naturally, with infinite-dimensions of basements and attics and pantries and dairies and outbuildings

little villages in the mesas were all the inhabitance practice a particular craft handed down from one generation to the next

dream logic that is not pure message

graveyards, like shores – with a little mist on them, and great depths

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On the Edges of Vision has a cover!

I’m in love with the cover design created by Brian Mihok. It’s both warm and and slightly sinister – and I think hints at a number of stories in the collection. >>>>>>>Go check it out on Queen’s Ferry Press’s site [ah go on, click it – you can see blurbs for the collection there too!].


And then, if you like, you can add it to your to-read pile on Goodreads (if you use another library aggregation site and On the Edges of Vision isn’t there, do leave a comment)

(leave a comment anyway)

(let me know what you think)

(can you tell I am excited! My book has a cover!)




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Essay on American Horror Story: Coven up on The Female Gaze

I spent about 2000 words thinking about Coven:


Let’s talk about how you’re a witch, and you are really into looking good. And into looking. Taking an eyeful. Judging the quantities and qualities of what you see. Let’s talk about how you and your girls breeze about being the crème de la crème of New Orleans, looking your absolute best – but how sometimes, the perfection of your image can mask a lack of depth and certain coherence of personality traits – and plot lines.



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partial eclipse over edinburgh



Today there was a partial solar eclipse over Edinburgh. I captured it here – it actually looked better through thickish cloud, dimming the blinding brightness.


rainbow haze


When I saw this rainbow haze, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me (or on my camera, since I was looking mostly at the screen) but there it is, the light dispersed and beautiful.


It’s been quiet here. Things are happening behind the scenes. Talks of cover, plans for a reading tour – this latter ephemeral. But so is an eclipse. A passing (and in this case, partial) moment. When people say that reality is dull, I wonder if they’ve ever given themselves time to look up. Or had time to go looking. There’s a total eclipse every few years in different parts of the world. There’s Spring, or if there are no seasons, then other things – coincidences, faded memorials, poems, stories. A poem is real, a story is real. A man folding up a piece of paper and putting it in his pocket, a dog running through a park so fast its legs blur. All that chaos, stillness and wonder, and not infrequently.


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The Great 2015 Indie Press Preview

On the Edges of Vision has been mentioned in this gloriously long list of the year’s anticipated titles on Electric Literature. I’ve been through the list and already seen some things I definitely have to check out (that I might otherwise not have heard of). It’s a great resource for those of you looking to support small presses and find something you’d like. Or something that will melt your brain or heart, if a stronger metaphor is needed.


If you want to get more of an idea of the collection (beyond the essay on monsters that Tobias Carroll kindly links to), you can read some published pieces here on my fiction page.


What on the list catches your eye?


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