Out There is in print at last and looking beautiful, thanks to everyone at Freight Books! And the contents are pretty good too, with stellar contributions from Ali Smith, Jackie Kay, Louise Welsh, Ronald Frame, Christopher Whyte, Kirsty Logan, Allan Radcliffe and many, many more. I am particularly pleased to have been able to include so many writers I admire, including some who have been an inspiration to me for many years. At the same time, I’ve discovered exciting new voices who will, I believe, go on to publish many more works in the future. The book is already attracting some lovely review coverage:
‘the work in this collection from both established and emerging writers is as moving as it is brilliantly written, and the opportunity to have them all in one place is irresistible.’ The List
‘this sophisticated and mature volume does a great deal more than simply tackle the heterosexual viewpoint that dominates most Scottish literary work, especially in very male-dominated stories. The short stories, poems and non-fiction collected here all put lesbian women and gay men at the centre of society and the centre of the story. But they do so in such a casual and easeful way that it almost feels as though the centre of society and the centre of the story are a place they have always occupied.’ Sunday Herald
The anthology would not have been possible without funding from LGBT History Month Scotland – thank you very much indeed for that, and to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, who also contributed to production costs.
GLASGOW LAUNCH coming up: Mono, Thursday 13th November, 7pm! All welcome.
August is starting to look nice and busy with events! Louise and I will be presenting our short story ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’, co-written for Glasgow Women’s Library’s 21 Revolutions project, at the Edinburgh Book Fringe. The event is at 1pm on 22nd August in the wonderful Word Power Books. Free and no need to book in advance – just turn up, listen and take part in the discussion!
The story (as well as being an homage to Dusty Springfield) was inspired by this fascinating item we discovered in the archive at GWL. If you need to know the answer to questions such as ‘Are homosexuals dangerous?’ this is the publication for you.
The 21 Revolutions exhibition, featuring prints by top Scottish artists inspired by GWL’s collections, is on at the Royal Scottish Academy during the Festival.
I have an article in the current Scottish Review of Books about Muriel Spark and Mary Shelley. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Girls of Slender Means (my favourite Spark novel) and the Folio Society has published a lovely new edition with illustrations by Lyndon Hayes (see below) and an excellent intro by AL Kennedy. Carcanet has also reissued Spark’s wonderful book on Shelley with an intro by Michael Schmidt. It was the first book about Mary Shelley that I read, many years ago, and revisiting was a treat. Although, as my piece shows, the temptation to read it more for what it reveals about Spark is irresistible . . .
This is Amy Murray’s lovely illustration for my story ‘Dykes’ Delight’, commissioned for LGBT History Month. You can read the story here. It was inspired by Glasgow’s first gay club, at 4 Queens Crescent. A couple of weeks ago I read an extract from the story at a History Month event in Dalmuir Library, and then met a lovely man at a who turned out to be one of the founder members of The Club. Apparently it was rather more glamorous than I’ve imagined it in the story, and its Bistro served fancier food. I wish I could have seen it! Many thanks to the anonymous person who scanned and uploaded brochures such as the one below – I’ve been fascinated by The Club for a while and it’s beena pleasure to spend time there in my imagination.
I am a keen supporter of LGBT History Month and this year I’m looking forward to taking part in a few events:
Saturday 9th February, 3pm, Summerhall, Edinburgh – Kin: Short Stories for LGBT History Month. Eight Scottish-based writers, including Ronald Frame, Roy Gill and myself have written short stories on the theme of ‘family’, which will be published online here through History Month – starting on Monday 4 February with Ronald Frame’s ‘Bill & Coo’. Free, refreshments provided, should be a great event and there’s another one on 16th Feb as well.
Monday 11th February, 7pm, Dalmiur Library, Clydebank – A Great Night Out: LGBT Discussion Panel with Diane Torr, Derek Ogg, myself and a mystery guest. This is ‘the hub event for LGBT History Month and will be an evening of lively discussion and debate.’ Also free, tickets from local libraries. Very impressive coverage from West Dunbartonshire Libraries, which is great to see.
Wednesday 13th February, .6.30pm, Word Power Books, Edinburgh – Queer Writers in Conversation. ‘Join writers Hal Duncan, Kirsty Logan and Zoe Strachan for an intimate, informal evening of readings and discussion at Word Power,Edinburgh’s leading independent bookshop. Themes include identity, sexuality, and whether genre fiction provides the ideal platform for LGBT writers.’
Really delighted that the The Lady from the Sea won a Herald Angel award at the Edinburgh International Festival! It was very well deserved by the superb cast and the directorial and design team who put together such a stunning production. The Herald gave it a five star review:
“If you don’t know Ibsen, but get Austen, you’ll love it, although Zoe Strachan’s libretto is more explicit and emotionally direct than anything either of them wrote. As a concise, lucid and poetic text it is exemplary and the narrative she, (Craig) Armstrong, and choreographer Kally Lloyd-Jones have put together with director Harry Fehr could hardly be bettered.’
For more review quotes visit the Scottish Opera website. Meanwhile here’s a picture of Claire Booth in the lead role as Ellida, with Finn Ross‘s video washing over the stage. For a full list of the cast and creative team see here.
There are more lovely images here.
You can hear the full text of my piece for Scottish Book Trust’s My Favourite Place here. The Woman’s Hour interview and extract are available on listen again here (about 18 minutes in, I’m told!)