Tag Archives: writers

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?


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Diversionary tactics

Because this month is a month of waiting, of waiting it out and waiting on response, of biding and tholing, I have little to share here. The circus is in town – the book festival in full swing, but I’m not going to much until the horror event much later. So for now, I thought I’d share some interesting links with you. So at least I might direct you to other, more intriguing places.


1. Matt Bell’s Tumblr. For writers it is a valuable collective of motivating quotes (sans sentiment) and interesting snippets of fiction. His new book, with a very long name, The House upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, is out, and is something I have a mind to read, once the current mountain of books is climbed.


2. For Scottish writers and artists, this mountain residency in Banff, Canada, might be an appealing prospect. From the site:


The four artists will be resident for the period in the Leighton Artists’ Colony studios, which are located in a secluded, wooded area on The Banff Centre’s 43-acre campus, providing an ideal space for creativity and intense productivity. These independent residencies offer artists the ability to work independently, as well as to engage within the larger artistic community of The Banff Centre. The successful artists will thus also be able to work collaboratively should they wish.
Each residency will provide:
•    Board & accommodation in a residential artist’s studio
•    All travel expenses
•    All Banff Centre fees
•    Advice, support, expertise and access to sites, curated by the Banff Centre, appropriate to the resident and the project
•    A stipend of c.£1,200 (exchange rate dependent) for the 5-week residency.


3.  ‘Pictures of Lo‘, A thoughtful take by Mary Gaitskill on the problems of designing a cover from one of the 20th century’s most controversial novels, Lolita. While I don’t agree with Gaitskill’s argument that Nabokov was writing a love story (for how can obsession with the image, constructed by oneself and pursued until recognised be love?), there are some brilliant lines:



“For Humbert’s aesthetic infatuation is based on a tyrannical ideal, and cuteness is a kind of ideal — one that is heartless, breathless, timeless, and ageless as Bambi, static and hard-edged, perfect in its way, with all excess flesh and unseemly feeling cut out”


4. Would you like to read the journal of a woman migrant passing back and forth between America and Japan? What if her writing is lovely, full of aches and lyricism, psychogeographic takes, haunted senses of place, slipped moorings and meanings? Here, On The Border.


5.  Maybe you are just hungry. Looking for something that will make you smack your lips, a peanuty gingery warm salad with kale. Tried and tested, multiple times.  That sounds terribly scientific. It is not. Munchy leaves and a slick, satisfyingly complex sauce that takes hardly any time (or measuring) at all.


6. Last of all, and to keep you going into next week, the supremely talented writer Cari Luna has an engrossing – and important – series of interviews on her blog, called Writer, With Kids. Put a pot of coffee on, peer at your children as they watch cartoons or doodle or study for their exams, and read.




Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Talented writers I know(ish)


all the pretty blues


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.




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.




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.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Sitting at the ladies’ table

A few days old now, but I took part in a roundtable on Kate Zambreno’s Heroines. At the discussion (if one can be ‘at’ an online space) were Joanna Walsh, Christine Cody, myself and Michelle Bailat-Jones, who put the whole thing together and asked thoughtful and probing questions of the group:



The chattering woman is the muse of modernism. Her talk that is represented as unconscious and intuitive and associative. He always accompanies her with a notepad. He copies down her “disordered” speech, and later he will use it to convinct her.

Kate Zambreno, Heroines, p.83

In 2012, Semiotext(e) published Heroines by Kate Zambreno, a book that is as much memoir as it is literary criticism, that is also a kind of novel, and that questions its readers about all these forms and how we define them, how we work within them and around them. The book also opens up a discussion about women’s writing and the literary canon, about who gets to “write women”—their fiction and their biographies—and from what perspective.


We decided to put together this discussion in response to Heroines, as it’s a book that has stirred up much interest, a fair amount of praise and some controversy.




In other news, I am working on an application for a three-month fellowship in New Zealand at the Pah Homestead in Auckland. It’s a bit of a long shot, but the position is open only to writers of Scottish origin or inclination, so I do have my hopes. It would be an incredible opportunity, and something that I would never be able to do under my own steam. Wish me luck!


Filed under Uncategorized

Looking for Dr Livingstone + interview news

Edinburgh cityscape


Today D and I made our way back to the National Museum of Scotland with the aim of walking through the exhibit on Dr David Livingstone, explorer, missionary and abolitionist. True to his reputation, he was a little hard to find. The exhibit was tucked away on the third floor of the new part of the museum. It was interesting, if a bit piecemeal.


Livingstone was born into a cotton mill worker family, and worked at the mill from the age of 10. An exceedingly bright boy, he was taught to read and write, then taught himself Latin. He saved up enough money to go to University in Glasgow, but to save a penny on the cart fare, had to make his way on foot up the river clyde from Blantyre every morning. Good training for his later rambles around Malawi and southern Africa. There was a video, filmed in Malawi, talking to residents there in the Malawian town of Blantyre – they seemed happy with his legacy there, of his pacts with local tribe leaders to end the East African-Indian Ocean slave trade.


But I am suspicious of heroes, particularly of strong men of the British Empire who, regardless of whether they were doing good themselves, went into ‘the dark continent’ with the aim of opening it up to Europe.  There wasn’t a lot of analysis, and only one dissenting voice was lightly mentioned, that of John Kirk, the botanist who traveled on one of Livingstone’s expeditions. Livingstone was, it seemed, a hard leader. And then there was that famous meeting with Stanley, where the presumed Dr Livingstone refused to come back to Britain, and later died in a village in Malawi of a nasty combination of Malaria and Dysentery.


Well, whoever he was (D wants to read his journals now), we saw his little navy cap and his nice sketch of a fish from Lake Malawai.


I enjoy visiting the museum, which has free entry, and it’s a good thing too. Coming in the new year, after I’ve finished this second ms (May at the latest, I hope), I will be going there a lot. And to the grand Central Library on George IV bridge. Research for novel number 3. It is going to be about a strong, egotistic leader and her followers, and set in the wastes of Edinburgh. I’ll not reveal too much more before I have an outline in place. As you can see from the picture above, there’s a certain atmosphere to the city in winter – a soft harshness – which I want to learn and replicate for my postapocalyptic version.  Anyway, that’s enough for now.


The other piece of news I have is that Smokelong Quarterly is coming out next week. In it will be my Edinburgh-based flash, ‘Boy Cyclops’, and an interview with me (first ever interview!), facilitated by the excellent writer Casey Hannan. (Casey’s book, Mother Ghost, is available on pre-order from Tiny Hardcore Press. His writing is really beautiful and weird and compelling, and I’ll be picking it up when I can).  When Smokelong goes live I’ll link to it here, and you will have lots to read, should you wish.


Finally! Don’t forget to submit your photograph for my competition! The deadline is the 31st of this month.


Leave a comment

Filed under 2012, Edinburgh

Endless Reads Review up on PANK: Heroines by Kate Zambreno

It’s probably bad form to write a review entirely composed of quotations from this book.

But – that’s my immediate urge. READ MORE…



Filed under Uncategorized

Monday Linkage

Monday! September! Perhaps you are waking up blurry and vampire for coffee. Perhaps it’s the afternoon where you are, but you’d rather be reading. I have some links you might like, at any rate a small break from whatever you’re doing, or not:


12 of the most beautiful literary journals online (PANK is here! But many others which I was only tangentially aware). Paper Darts and Metazen look fabulous, I think.


An analysis of colour and whiteness in The Great Gatsby by Jo Dingley of Canongate Books (and the start of her new blog, Not Writing My Novel – which I shall be reading with interest)


This incredible long poem by Anne Carson, on Emily Bronte, a mother-daughter relationship, a moorland, a broken heart and many other things besides, entitled  ‘The Glass Essay


An interview with the translator of Clarice Lispector’s A Breath of Life, which I must, must read (as is the case with all Clarice Lispector’s novels)


And lastly, something light on Tin House’s blog ‘5 1/2 writers under 11‘.

A sample:


Andrea Wexler (Age 0): Andrea Wexler may only be an infant, but the literary community is already abuzz with this wunderkind’s ability to place lettered blocks in her mouth with a dexterity that The New York Times has called, “breathtaking.” Conceived at Yaddo, Wexler was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as an embryo and later went on to receive a MacArthur Fetus Grant. She is presently a lecturer in residence at Columbia University, where students and faculty are all anxiously awaiting her first word.”


Any gems you’ve discovered? Please share!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized



Today I am trying to shake off the peculiar airlessness suffered during days without writing. During the move there was no enough space to do any, between the boxes and the piles of clothes and the seemingly endless phone calls to utility companies and working out  how the stove works, the heating (it doesn’t)(neither will the internet for a while).


I’m going to throw myself back into writing as soon as I can, but right now, I’m in a Starbucks on the Royal Mile, cold with cold, awful tea to hand, pondering a disappointment – I had applied for the chance to read at the Edinburgh Literary Festival, and was not accepted. It’s quite a blow, in a year (more than a year) of knocks and tumbles and crests and crashes, both in my personal and writing life. In the midst of this, I feel the need to look for firm ground. More specifically, to sources that feel comforting, or challenging (to be challenged by some interesting work, while it may throw us up in the air, while we may feel unsteady and temporarily set off balance and even fearful of where we will land, is not the same as being hit by normal, mundane waves, is it?)


I’m thinking of other writers to whom I look for sustaining ideas. For a sense of kinship. For the thrill of reading works that are beyond difficult, inimitable. And most of these writers are North American, oddly enough. There seems a wider market for experimentation, honesty, rawness, discomforting prose over there rather than here.


I touched on this a little in my review of Jackie Kay over at PANK, with the idea of ‘the deep narrow sea-loch of Scottish literary scene’. There are amazing writers here, but not so much of the avant garde. Not that I count myself as trying to be avant garde – I doubt I could be a true boundary breaker, working in colour, rather than ideas. But there are people who work language with a tremendous, vivacious skill, and I would like to read them, in order to be electrified. Hopeful that some of the sparks will fire me in ways I could not manage on my own.


Of course, I need to read more writers from the UK to see if it’s true all over, to see if the most challenging texts are or are not to be found on these shores. Recommendations would be great – particularly for female writers. I’m looking for a Scottish or British (or Australian, or Kiwi) Vanessa Veselka, Kate Zambreno, (I’d say Bhanu Kapil, but she is (or was) English, and is now in America).


If you can think of anyone working the glittering, sharp angles, tell me. I would like to be swept away by a brilliance close to home, not by my own lack of grip.


Meanwhile, writing, gulps of air. And waiting for something, as ever, some shore beyond anxiety and the limits of my work.


Filed under 2012, art, Bhanu Kapil, book review, consolations of writing, Edinburgh

Thresholds: an online lit reading

Boundaries, thresholds, doorways. Space, hybrids, dichotomies, taboos. The girl, the woman. The wilderness, the city. I’ve been interested for a long time in these points of tangent and overlap and crossing which appear in literature. Now I’ve had the idea to host an literary reading along these themes.


This is a call for entries.


This is an address to you, for your writing to be broadcast online some time around the end of June. All you need to join in is a webcam and writing that you feel fits this broad theme.


How it will work – my friend A has video editing skills, and has agreed to help me put together our show. What I’d like is to have enough entries to select about 40-60 minutes of readings. I’ll then broadcast the show on either Livestream or Youtube at a time when hopefully most people in the West at least will be able to watch it live. This date will be announced nearer the time. I already have one writer down, and I’m very excited to see others join. This will hopefully be just as well-viewed (and as good as) an evening of fiction/poetry in person. There may be a chat function, there most certainly will be a video put up afterwards. Of course, no free wine- BYOB, or whatever you’d like. And snacks.


Interested in submitting? I think the best way to submit would be to upload a short  (5 minutes max) recording of a reading of your work to Youtube – you can make this private (i.e., don’t upload to the general stream – here’s how to do that, if unsure) and send me a private link. My address is: wheresthebread[at]hotmail.com. If you have any queries leave a comment below or email me.


If you’d like to submit something in another language, please feel free to do so – providing a transcript in English (so we can sub). I think it would be nice if in the reading you presented it as if giving a reading in person – however you feel that applies to you.


The deadline for submissions is the 24th of June. I can’t wait to start seeing what you come up with.



Filed under Uncategorized