Your Holiday Essentials
The schools are out, the sun is actually shining; the time is now to think about your holiday plans. And when we think of holidays, we think of holiday reading. If you're having trouble thinking what books to pack, then let BooksfromScotland recommend the latest in brilliant Scottish fiction, crime, children's books, poetry and memoir. You might need a bigger suitcase . . .
Scott-land: The Man Who Invented The Nation By Stuart Kelly Published by Polygon
Imagine there was a third Jacobite rebellion in, say, 1753 and that someone wrote a novel about it. If you know your Scottish literary history, you’ll know that Sir Walter Scott did just that in Redgauntlet, and if you’ve read Stuart Kelly’s Scott-land you will know that such a genre is called uchronie. But let’s go one step further. Let’s imagine that Scott himself never existed. How would Scotland be different?
Implicitly or not, that question is going to be asked a lot this summer, especially around 15 August, the 250th anniversary of Scott’s birth. There are too many events to mention here – check out walterscott250.com – but even a cursory scamper round the internet shows what a deep mark he made on his country: the Gazeteer for Scotland alone mentions 54 attractions connected to him (including one, the Walter Scott Way, from Moffat to Cockburnspath, which I didn’t know about but wouldn’t mind at least partially sampling).
But back to uchronie, or if you prefer, althist, AH, or speculative fiction about the past. If you were writing a novel set in a Scotland in which Scott never existed, what kind of place would it be? And – the crunch question – to what extent would it be different from England?
Consider the background. Claims about the historical depth of Scottish literary culture had already been shattered in the Ossian controversy. Scotland was in the throes of an Industr...
Extract taken from The Mash House By Alan Gillespie Published by Unbound
The cat’s brains were pink and glistening in the glow of the clear, high moon. Rivulets of blood puddled on the concrete. The dead thing’s limbs were folded, and its face looked away from the road, towards the loch. The night was silent.
Alice had been driving with the windows open, and when she hit the cat the sound of its bell tinkled noisily until it landed, but now the road was silent. The blood formed a jammy shadow ...
‘All my novels have been an exploration of place, to a degree, and an important aspect of The Good Neighbours for me is the way in which writing the book was itself a journey of discovery.’
‘The wall she had built around herself was as sturdy as that of the flat and nobody had the power tools to knock it through.’
‘By the time John joined the fertiliser factory in Leith, phosphate rock arrived in slow boats from Africa. A fine golden powder mixed with small pebbles and the occasional bullet.’
‘There was a wealth of work to be inspired by, and yet I think the true inspiration was the real Scottish wilderness.’
‘Remember this time will pass / This silence that hangs heavy / In our streets and town squares / Will lift when this crisis is past’
‘Smithers and Wing are partners (and wives) in supernatural crime-solving. Together they haunt the back streets of Edinburgh, putting the bumps back to rest – for a fee.’
‘Growing up where ah’m fae oor social status wis based upon how well you could fight or kick a baw. No exactly the criteria fur becomin the nixt Prime Minister or CEO ae a fortune five hunner company, …
Watch Sacha Kyle read from Hushabye Lullabye, a TV tie-in board book accompanying the successful CBeebies animated series.
‘At any given moment in our lives we have the power to say – this is not how the story is going to end.’
‘Becoming a great runner is all about training properly. And having some sort of natural talent, I guess. But mainly it’s about training. And to train properly you’ve got to be disciplined.’
‘Upon entering the room, they took up their places at the table. But it was only when they had all gathered that they realised Hamish was missing.’
‘There’s power from the wind and waves and energy in the tides. There’s vitality in the music and craft in the pottery. There’s warmth in the whisky, style in the furniture and sparkle in the jeweller …
‘Well, did you buy it, / the painting in Javéa, / of close to a dozen / oranges tipping / from a straw basket / onto a table, a glass jug / of water close by?’
‘We got loads of women – so, so many came forward. They just thought, This is great we’re talking about this now. And it was wonderful that they spoke up because every single person who does that, thr …
‘I sang to them, a song they / could keep, yet under it all, I hid my unease like the / morning moon that shines a little keener, unsure / of its fate, so that song can be heard / even from the outsid …
Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of William C. Morris Award Finalist Starfish, Summer Bird Blue, and Harley in the Sky. Her upcoming sci-fi series, The Infinity Courts, is set to release in 2021, followed by her middle-grade debut, Generation Misfits. A …
BHP Comics is an independent publisher based in Scotland, producing a variety of comics, graphic novels and art books that cover a wide range of topics and themes. We aim to engage, provoke, inspire and inform with the works we publish. We also produce …