Category Archives: Uncategorized

Interview on Splice

Over the course of a few months, I was interviewed for Splice. You can now read the whole thing, if you’d like here.

 

Helen McClory is a prolific writer of flash fiction and short stories, as well as a novelist and an advocate for overlooked works of literature. In reviewing her two story collections for Splice, Daniel Davis Wood called McClory a “distinctive” writer who “survey[s] the stuff of folklore and mythology and weav[es] it into serious fiction with vivid imagery and poetic flair”. Throughout the summer of 2018, following the publication of her most recent collection, Mayhem & Death, Helen McClory generously set aside time to talk to Splice about her work, her interest in different literary forms, and her plans for the future

 

Wood also reviewed both On the Edges of Vision and Mayhem & Death here.

 

One of my pieces, “It Seemed Impossible it Could Ever Begin” was one Fictive Dream’s September Slam flashes.

 

Another apocalyptic story of mine, “A Quiet, Important Thing”, is up on Minor Literatures.

 

 

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You’ll Meet Me There on Spelk

The muscles of the poplar trees beat about, and the warm night is full of calls, or there is worn-hour haze, but invisible so in a darkness like this, a rain green darkness, and feet follow unseen feet across uncertain ways, between high and waving grass, spatters of mud on legs, boards, slipped shoes and sighs, until at last a light…

 

read the full flash/prose poem here.

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The Inciting Incident

chris close photo

(my portrait by Chris Close at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, taken by D.)

 

Thank you to everyone who came along to events I was speaking at and to the organisers – Blackwell’s Edinburgh, the wonderful (as always) EIBF, and Amnesty International. Back to quietly writing things.

Here’s a story from Mayhem & Death in Books From Scotland’s Festival edition:

 

‘A room can have disorder or stains in it. But this room does not, will not. All is in order, now. Let’s take one last look, one long breath in and out. A room in a story cannot be a haunted room, unless the writer puts the ghosts in there, or the suggestion of ghosts into it.’

read the full thing here.

 

Small sidenote: If you’ve read Mayhem & Death and have opinions on it, please consider leaving a review somewhere to help others make up their mind on whether or not to take a chance on it. If you have a Goodreads account the book can be found here.

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See Me Here

(my books for sale at the EIBF bookshop)

A few places to see me reading this week:

 

Tomorrow, at Blackwell’s Writers at the Fringe (Blackwell’s Edinburgh), from 6pm, with Jonathan Whitelaw, Sam McColl, Noelle Harrison and Robert J Harris (free!). Tickets here.

Friday, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (Writer’s Retreat), 6.30pm, with the excellent Camilla Grudova (£8/£6). Tickets here.

Saturday, at the Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre), with Roxanne Bouchard, Gina Miller, and Gunnar Staalesen (free) tickets available in box office on the day.

 

At the first two I’ll be reading from recently published Mayhem & Death– at the Blackwell’s I’ll be reading a story in that collection dedicated to my father. In the third, I’m reading the words of an activist silenced in Edrogan’s Turkey.

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Brazil Residency – conclusions

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I’ve been back from Brazil almost a week and have been reflecting on my experiences there. Time for a wrap-up post!

 

I (rather reluctantly) left Boiçucanga about ten days before I went home – this was because the residency actually officially started a week before I came (with short notice I had to come later!). So I took the bus to Sao Paulo and hung out with the artists I’d met in the beautiful spot by the sea in their city – there I saw the bustling streets, high-rises, graffiti, buses and underground, restaurants, bars, art galleries (MASP was a highlight), and their homes.  The video of translations and original versions of my work was broadcast at a gallery opening, which was, quite frankly, mindblowing. People were so incredibly generous to me, and I felt that I didn’t have enough time to give everyone their due. Huge thanks in particular to Lourdina, the residency founder, for her kindness, and to Bea, for putting me up for so long.

 

While I’d had warnings that Sao Paulo was dirty and stressful with little to attract tourists, my experience was so personalised that I couldn’t help but see the sunny side of things. I managed to do less work than I’d have liked, since my laptop succumbed to the blue screen of death for reasons unknown early into the Sao Paulo stint. But I took a lot of photographs, some of which I hope to share on Twitter and other places.

 

I’m home now, and as I thought, have a lot to think about regarding my time. I started work on a poetry collection while there – I’ve had a few poems published over the years, but have never really felt like I had a whole collection in me, until now. It’s exciting and challenging to approach it. They are poems about Brazil, about Boiçucanga and my time there. There are possibilities of working with a translator and getting in touch with Brazilian publishers about the finished work, and ideally I would like to return to the country for further research. I’m working too on a project to build a connection between Scotland and Brazil for visiting and local artists and writers, though it’s at a very tender stage, with much research still to be done on the practical points. I hope it will bring good things for many people.

 

So, at the end of all this, I think back to the point where it started – where I realised I could actually make it. Massive thanks to Kaaysa for hosting me, and biggest of all to The Saltire Society and the Society of Authors for providing the funding – at great speed, as was needed – to make it happen. Thank you for everything. The effects are ongoing, and I will feel them in my work, possibly forever.

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Filed under Boiçucanga, Brazil Residency, The Now, Uncategorized, writing residency

The Unsung Letter No. 58

Is here – apologies for the delay in posting. I’m still in Sao Paulo, bouncing from one place to another, head spinning.

 

Here is Harry Harris on a book of essays on famous women in popular culture:

 

Massey approaches her subjects as a fan, first and foremost. Not a fan in the sense of being uncritical or idolatry, but more with that obsessive, analytical desire to dissect and examine what sets these women apart.

 

Read the whole thing here. As ever, you can sign up for The Unsung Letter to come straight to your inbox with all its goodness – the personally adored secret or semi-secret books of its authors – here.

 

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Filed under Book recommendation, book recommendations, book review, the unsung letter, Uncategorized

Brazilian Residency Notes Part 8

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It’s been a while since I posted – I had fallen into the rhythms of the residency – work in the mornings when it was cool enough, then go out to the waterfall, or the beach, or the market, then prepare a meal with the others, then talk long into the night about art and life while the insects chirricked.

 

At some point, I worked with one of the other artists to create a translation of “Stick to Me, Peel From Me” and “Take Care, I Love You” into Portuguese. The second is a kind of dialogue so we blended it into both languages. In the picture about you can see Pedro reading his translation for the camera. He works with video, and so edited our performances together with footage from a shared meal at Kaaysa, and then we had a screening, projected on the studio wall. The process of translation was incredible – it has changed how I relate to those stories, how I understand my word choices, themes – everything. I hope to work with more translations, a whole book of them is the dream now. Working closely with the translator is bound to provoke new stories too, new modes of seeing.

 

And now, today is my last day at Kaaysa. It has happened very suddenly and time seems to have rushed and drawn out for years at once. I feel completely changed by my experiences here – in good ways I think, productive for my writing. But all change is disruptive, so I will have to see what a return to Scotland brings. Anyway before then, I have another trip to the waterfall, and over a week in Sao Paulo, kindly staying at the home of Kaaysa’s creator.  I’m viewing it as a second stage to the residency – with hopefully time to write rather than just take in another unfamiliar, hopefully wonderful environment. While in the city I am planning on attending a show Kaaysa are putting on, and seeing loads of galleries and hanging out a lot with many of my new friends. I hope to write another post about my time there too, though internet may be even spottier than it is here (or at least, my access might be). Watch this space.

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