Tag Archives: kirsty logan

#ScotLitFest and Brexit

One very good thing, and one depressing thing!

One week ago, the first online literary festival of Scottish writing happened – right in the wake of Britain voting to leave the EU (as you may know, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted strongly to remain within it). #ScotLitFest took place across Twitter and livestreams and Youtube, and was fantastic, a shining point in moment where the future yawned open ahead of us. You can catch up with some of the discussions, readings and interviews of #ScotLitFest by checking out their Youtube page. And there you’ll see a discussion between Kirsty Logan and myself, as chaired by Sasha de Buyl-Pisco. It’s about an hour long, and we talk about all sorts of things, from short stories, to novels, to bad art and notions of reality.

 

Make yourself a tea – perhaps this is even a two-tea event.

 

On the topic of Brexit, 3AM Magazine (who have published my work before) have been gathering the single-sentence reactions of writers, publishers and other literary types on this article. I’ve contributed my instant impression, though others have had more constructive or analytical things to say. On Wednesday I took myself and my opinions outside, and attended a pro-EU rally outside Hollyrood, the Scottish Parliament.

 

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There were some good speakers (and some harder to hear) but Patrick Harvie, leader of the Scottish Green Party, said it best – humans are a migratory species, and that is a good thing, he said. He wanted us to celebrate the inherent value of all people. No ‘good’ migrants for him. I have to hope that voices like his win over. Brexit has caused a lot of division, and have led already to a bubbling up of (of course always present) racism and xenophobia. Where now for us? Well, for Scotland, as for Northern Ireland, the future seems particularly uncertain, but with a way forward for Scotland at least that I am putting my hopes on: There is talk of a second independence referendum for Scotland, and a few previous ‘no’ voters I’ve spoken to have said with Britain wanting to leave the EU, they would now vote ‘yes’ for an independent Scotland within the EU – an community which after all protects so many rights as well as providing funding for infrastructure and institutions alike. But this is all ahead, all possible, or impossible. The future, as I said, has opened up its jaws. What happens now depends on the voices of the people and the actions of those in charge.

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Glasgow Launch of On the Edges of Vision

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Yesterday was the launch of On the Edges of Vision at Waterstones Argyle Street in Glasgow. Kirsty Logan (author among other excellent works the brand new A Portable Shelter )was an excellent interviewer, with thoughtful and probing questions on the influence of Scotland on my writing, on monsters, flash fiction- and trash telly. I’d like to thank her, everyone who came along, and of course huge huge thanks to Caron and the rest of the staff at Waterstones for ensuring that everything ran so smoothly. What an absolute delight of an evening!

 

 

 

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My book in some pretty great company on the first floor – if you are stopping by the Waterstones in Argyle Street, why not pop in and say hallo!

 

[All photo credits go to D, who also took the pictures at Story Shop]

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Reading the dollhouse

Kirsty Logan's The Rental Heart and other fairytales

 

 

Yesterday was the Glasgow launch of Kirsty Logan’s The Rental Heart And Other Fairytales, published by Salt, a packed-out event with people sitting on the floor in some spots. Chat was led by the indefatigable Peggy Hughes, and some very interesting things were said by Kirsty on her writing process, particularly the idea of constructing a ‘dollhouse’ or a single room of a dollhouse, in the case of shorter fiction. It seems to fit her writing voice so well; lucid, compelling arrangements of tactile detail, a vivid control within the imaginative space. I was lucky enough to snag a signed copy – books ran out before the end. All in all a huge success. You can read lots of Kirsty’s stories online for a taster of the book; why not have a wee look here and here (from my tenure at Necessary Fiction). You can order the book from Salt directly here. Congratulations to one of Scotland’s up-and-coming literary stars.

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Thievery!

It’s not as bad as it sounds!

 

Writer Kirsty Logan has featured a little piece by me on her website, for her series Thievery, in which writers describe how they came to write a particular short story. In mine, I talk about the real-life inspiration behind an excerpted story from Flesh of the Peach:

 

Back in 2011 I was living in New York City, walking dogs for a living and trying to write a novel with a name that kept wriggling away from me. I knew I wanted the book to be set partially in New Mexico – a place I’d heard a bit about from D, my husband, and his dad, who’d lived in Albuquerque a while. In my mind, Albuquerque was a place that Bugs Bunny always said he shoulda turned left at, and that was about it. About New Mexico, I knew there was a lot of desert and art. Sand in a variety of pleasant pastel colours and good light. I checked out some paintings, the state flag and the names of a few of the national parks on Google, but at heart I knew that any novel I wrote would be title-less and flimsy if I didn’t get myself out there for some real life research.

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Oh, and Happy St Valentines Day to those who care to celebrate such things. D surprised me this morning by making us breakfast (he was supposed to be at work, I thought) then whisking us off to North Berwick to climb the Law, a pyramid-shaped hill of volcanic rock that stands out from the surrounding flat fields like nothing else but its twin, the Bass Rock, which stands a little more like a cake tin out in the waters of the Firth of Forth. The Law was also being climbed the hard way by a trio of Shetland ponies.

 

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(That’s a giant fibreglass whale jawbone, recently erected to replace the real whale jawbone that used to stand there before it.)

 

We had a fine meal in North Berwick’s Thai restaurant, then after a quick pint in the Auld Hoose, caught the train back to Edinburgh just as the skies opened and the sleet came blowing down.  The weekend stretches out for writing and reading and staying warm.

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Girl Lit post + one perspective on a field of goats

So here is the next wonderful piece of work on Necessary Fiction (so soon it will be over). Here’s my intro, as usual:

 

When you were little, did you want to run away and join the circus? Did you want to run away off into the night, scram out across the fields, trailing comets behind you? Come take a stranger’s hand and let the fairy tale, and the charmer (death?) take you beyond the tricks of the everyday, into an Angela Carteresque world.

 

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I’m so glad to have been doing this, to have been sharing girl lit, literature by women, of women. I am privileged to say ‘here this is, read it’ to an audience. To think of the psuedo-course of literature with girlish concerns, otherwise marginalised. Yes, I can say marginalised, and there it says 2013 on my computer calender. I’m thinking of David Gilmour and his comments about never teaching women writers, because he doesn’t feel passionate about any of them (excepting V. Woolf), nor any Chinese Writers. And imagine who he isn’t teaching, has never read, who he hasn’t even thought to mention to exclude. And I think, yes, foolish. A foolish goat, now a scapegoat.

 

Because I think his attitude is by no means rare. Not in academia. How many comfortable, kindly, utterly blissfully shielded goats are there across the world in universities, ignoring the works they don’t like. Stuff written by people with perspectives different to their own, you know. Women, People outside the Anglo-American world. People from countries whose literary history they are uncomfortably ignorant of. They like challenging works, of course, don’t get me wrong. But it can’t be challenging in the wrong sort of way, you know. And preferably, the challenge should have been raised at least fifty years before. So the goat can find its feet.

 

Reading books is hard. Finding new voices and tuning ones ear. It requires a certain amount of energy. An openness which can at times feel like skinlessness. To read without discrimination – now, does that sound to you like reading without care to the writer, or to the content? It might seem the latter, to a goat.

 

I am not always the best reader. The number of books I have read is not great, the selection not as broad as it could be (I am ashamed in particular of my lack of attention to French works. To Hungarian. To South African. To, yes, Chinese works). But I’m trying. I’m like Ethan Hawke’s character in Before Sunrise, as  the hokey old palm reader says, “He’s trying”.

 

 

Here’s to all those in university and college departments everywhere who are trying. Who share and remain willing and interrogative of their own self interest, who really listen. Who love words but not their own understanding of the words, of the authors, knowing to distrust this. The trying does not stop.

 

The reading, the searching. The rawness. The disturbance of reading. The instability of frameworks, angles, stories, voices, landscapes, techniques. It’s awe inspiring. The writing keeps coming. How can you ever cope? How can you ever be inclusive? You just keep trying. You ask. You listen. You read, and that is life and it does not stop. Gratitude is that we are making this vital stuff at all, and that you are bearing witness to it, in the hardest ways you can.

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Girl Lit 3 on Necessary Fiction: Kirsty Logan

I’ve just posted another fresh, fierce Girl Lit story on Necessary Fiction, this time by Kirsty Logan. Here’s a bit of my intro to lead you in:

 

Below is a story of teenage self-destruction, rock and roll, drugs and punch ups – a fairytale of all these things, from the hand of Kirsty Logan, fellow The Female Gaze Review writer and inhabitant of Scotland. She writes lustily and skewed, injecting old forms with modern feeling. And in her explorations of marginal spaces, female and often queer experience, is both fantastic to read and a prime writer of our genre-in-question, Girl Lit *dramatically strums guitar *

 

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Talented writers I know(ish)

 

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Catchy title, but I couldn’t think of another way to put it. This is a post celebrating and making a wishlist for all the books just out or coming soon by people I sort of know – by that I mean, people I’ve met through twitter or their blogs and admired from afar. In some cases, these are the author’s first books, which makes it all the more exciting.

 

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Casey Hannan

 

I know I’ve spoken often of his Mother Ghost (Tiny Hardcore Press). I’m still waiting for it to descend into my hands. You can read some of his flash fiction on his blog and I highly recommend that you do. His works are strange, sparse, vivid. I really cannot wait to read the whole collection.

 

Katie Coyle

 

I know Katie through her work with The Female Gaze. It was lovely to hear her YA book, Vivian Versus The Apocalypse (Hot Key Books) will be published in September. From Goodreads:

 

A chilling vision of a contemporary USA where the sinister Church of America is destroying lives. Our cynical protagonist, seventeen-­year-­old Vivian Apple, is awaiting the fated ‘Rapture’ -­ or rather the lack of it. Her evangelical parents have been in the Church’s thrall for too long, and she’s looking forward to getting them back. Except that when Vivian arrives home the day after the supposed ‘Rapture’, her parents are gone. All that is left are two holes in the ceiling…”

 

Kirsty Logan

 

The one person I’ve actually met, at a reading of hers in Edinburgh’s cafe Love Crumbs. She also works for The Female Gaze. Kirsty won the Scott Prize this year, so her collection of short stories The Rental Heart and Other Stories will be published by Salt in November. She provides a synopsis on her blog:

 

“These stories feature clockwork hearts, lascivious queens, paper men, circuses, and a gracekeeper; some are queer retellings of classic stories, some are modern-day fables, but all explore substitutions for love.”

 

Sarah McCarry

 

AKA The Rejectionist. I’ve loved her discursive, fiery, bookish blog for ages and would place a bet that her YA book, All Our Pretty Songs (St Martin’s Press) is going to be intense and fantastic. Here’s a quote from Elizabeth Hand on the book:

 

“Sarah McCarry’s brilliant lightning strike of a novel reignites the myth of Orpheus in a blaze of rock and roll, obsessive love, and the kind of all-consuming friendship one only experiences when young. A stunning debut that fans of Neil Gaiman and Francesca Lia Block will devour.”

 

You can preorder a signed copy of All Our Pretty Songs here!

 

Hilary T. Smith

 

AKA The Intern. She too keeps a great blog of her travels and adventures across North America and the world – and back in the day, when I started reading her, of her trials as a literary intern. Her YA novel Wild Awake (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books) wins the award for most enlivening cover. Look at those luscious oranges and purples.

 

“Wild Awake, the debut novel of Hilary T. Smith, introduces readers to one of the most memorable characters in young adult literature since Holden Caulfield, seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd. With her parents away for the summer, Kiri looks forward to time alone with hours to practice her piano, win the Battle of the Bands, and convince Lukas that they should be together forever. 


However, a phone call from a mysterious stranger changes everything, plunging Kiri both into a seedy world where her older sister had lived and died as well as into a psychological descent, so raw and intricately portrayed,that Kiri simply must prevail or be destroyed. Heart-wrenching, powerful and much more than a coming-of-age story, Wild Awake, perfectly portrays a forced maturity, one in which a strong human spirit refuses to be undone, whatever the cost. Highly recommended.”—Sue Campbell, Book Passage

 

It’s coming out on the 28th of May but you can get your mitts on it early here.

 

Michael Wuitchik

 

Michael has been kind enough to pop his head over here a few times (usually giving much appreciated words of advice) and we share agent Drea Cohane.  His novel My Heart Is Not My Own (Penguin Canada) is out in August this year. Here’s a short part of the synopsis from Michael’s blog:

 

“Ten years after returning from war-ravaged Sierra Leone, Dr. John Rourke receives a package in the mail. In his hand is the unfinished diary of his ex-lover, Mariama Lahai, the beautiful and charismatic African nurse who disappeared ten years before on the day Rourke was evacuated from Freetown. The journal documents Mariama’s capture, rape and journey at the hands of the rebels but leaves unanswered the question that still haunts Rourke–is Mariama alive?”

 

Cari Luna

 

I know Cari from Twitter, where she frequently provides insights into her writing life in Portland. She also has a great interview series on her blog called ‘Writer, with kids’. However, I started following her after reading her devastating short story on PANK, ‘Gone to Water‘. Go and read it and tell me you don’t want to grab yourself more of her work. Here’s a quote about her novel:

 

“On May 30, 1995, the NYPD rolled an armored tank down East 13th Street, evicting squatters from two buildings. With gritty prose and vivid descriptions, Cari Luna’s debut novel, The Revolution of Every Day, imagines the lives of five squatters from that time. But almost more threatening than the city lawyers and the private developers them are the rifts within their community.” – Amazon

 

The Revolution of Everyday (Tin House Books) is out in October, but you can preorder it right here.

 

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I hope some of these books have caught your fancy too. If you are a writer-friend(ish) of mine and I’ve neglected to give your book a mention here, it’s likely that I’ve missed word of your publishing news. Let me know! I’ll happily add it to the list.

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