My name is Helen McClory. I’m a writer, reader and, for my day job, creator of literary guides. I was born and educated in Scotland. I grew up on the isle of Skye and in the capital, Edinburgh. Part islander, part denizen of the ‘city of Hume and Boswell’ (and Burke and Hare, and by spirit, Jekyll and Hyde), I’ve lived in Sydney (for graduate studies) and in New York City, though for the moment I’m back in Edinburgh working on my next project and daydreaming of more travels. I’m represented by Jenny Brown.
Mayhem & Death, a collection of flash fictions, short stories, prose poems and the novella ‘Powdered Milk’ was published in March 2018. Margaret Atwood said (of it and my earlier work On the Edges of Vision) “Shiny dark licorice mind candy: nothing quite like them”. The Skinny (*****) said: “Her finest work to date, Mayhem & Death is a staggering achievement – a beguiling and essential work.”
My debut novel Flesh of the Peach was published in March 2017. Flesh of the Peach tackles the immigrant experience, grief, art, violence and desire in various guises – all sprawled across the big landscapes of the New Mexican Southern Rockies, NYC, and the Cornwall of the main character’s childhood. The Skinny called it “an exhilarating debut. It houses a story rich and full.” The Herald called me “one of the best new writers to have emerged in Scotland in the last few years.” (!) The launch was in Blackwell’s Edinburgh on the 25th of April 2017 and I wore a gold jumpsuit and vintage cape at it, because the internet advised me to. I appeared at the Edinburgh International Book Festival with Meena Kandasamy on the 15th of August, 2017.
In 2017 I wrote a pamphlet, The Goldblum Variations, on alternative-world Jeff Goldblums, which was available in a limited edition from 404 Ink. It’s now been reissued as a minibook. If you would like some gentle absurdist microfiction following the notion and unreality of the Hollywood legend, you can buy it here for a modest £5 while it is still to be had.
On The Edges Of Vision, a collection of flash fictions, prose poetry and longer form pieces came out from Queen’s Ferry Press in August 2015. The book won the Saltire First Book of the Year Award 2015 and was longlisted for the Saboteur Awards Best Short Story Collection 2016. Two of the pieces from the collection, “To String” and “The Mistress of the House on the Machair” were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Another, “Lope”, was shortlisted for the 2014 Bridport Prize. On the Edges of Vision has been reissued by 404 Ink to coincide with the release of Mayhem & Death. If you’d like to get an idea of the stories in both collections, here’s a list of publication links.
On the Edges of Vision originally launched in Waterstones Argyle Street on the 20th of August. I took the book on Kickstarter-funded tour from 24th of August to the 6th of September 2015, reading at bookshops up and down the American East Coast. View the tour blog, archived here. Have time for a podcast? Here’s two – Mr Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon (in which I and Mr Bear read from On the Edges of Vision) and Book Fight (in which I talk about one of my favourite books on female (toxic) friendships, Paulina & Fran). Or have a look over on the Press section for reviews, interviews, and more.
From the 31st of October to the 7th of December 2013, I was a Creative Futures Artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada. Search posts tagged ‘banff’ for more on my experiences there. Before I went, I had just finished a stint as Writer-in-residence at Necessary Fiction. Check out my project – bringing attention to Literature of the Girl – in their archive (September 2013).
My first MS, Kilea, tells the story of a mysterious but sweet-hearted girl growing up under harsh conditions on a Scottish island. A chapter from Kilea appeared in Necessary Fiction in February 2012 and again in 2013 when I was writer-in-resident. Another extract appeared on The Island Review in September 2013. An early draft of Kilea formed the basis for my PhD thesis at the University of Glasgow.
I started The Unsung Letter, a weekly email singing the praises of an unjustly-underhyped new book, with each post written by a different writer, critic or book-pusher every time. Sign up here. I often write about (and think about, and watch) horror films and TV shows of a macabre tint and I have been known to write about them in places like Bright Wall Dark Room and The Female Gaze. I love literary fiction and support small presses whenever I can. Still like to know more about me? If you would like to ask me anything, or would simply enjoy a chat about writing and bookish matters, email me: hlmcclory[@]gmail.com or say hello on twitter: @HelenMcClory. Interested in having me speak at your event, school, college or uni? I’m part of the Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature Database.