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23 March 2021

My latest fiction, ‘The Other Side of Stone’ is officially launched next week on Wednesday 31st March with a Zoom event hosted by the Aberfeldy Watermill Bookshop. You are cordially invited to join me and Patrick Jamieson from Taproot Press for chat about the book and to raise a toast. You will find the link here for 7 PM (don't be surprised when it says that it is Mike somebody's meeting - it is the right link!). The book can be ordered from your local independent bookshop or directly from the publishers.

For International Women's Day on 8th March 'Books From Scotland' featured my background story of the book, why it took twenty years from first words to publication and the suffragette history that I was surprised by in Highland Perthshire when I first started writing it.

Event with nature writer Jim Crumley 18th Feb 2021..
04 February 2021

I'll be in conversation with nature writer Jim Crumley for a Moniack Mhor event to celebrate books in the Highland book prize longlist this year. Jim's candidate book is his fourth in the seasonal tetralogy 'The Nature of Summer' and will help us dream of warm toes, flowers, and long sunny evenings. All can attend virtually. 11 AM Thursday 18 February. Register here.

PREORDER 'The Other Side of Stone' now..
28 January 2021

My new work of fiction, The Other Side of Stone, spans three centuries in an intimate study of lives connected to a Perthshire woollen mill. It is now available for pre-order from Taproot Press. Learn more here.

Following characters as diverse as a 19th century stone mason and rural suffragette, each story is interwoven to create a haunting tale that explores the struggle for women’s rights, and the long-term impact of industrialisation upon rural Scotland with a backdrop of Perthshire’s woollen industry.

LOVE WORDS workshops January 2021..
22 December 2020

Susan Sontag's advice for writing was: 'Love words, agonise over sentences and pay attention to the world'. Taking the first part of this, I'm offering a series of four workshops on Thursday evenings in January for anyone who'd like to play with words In Zoom company. You don't need to be a wordsmith or a would-be writer, you might use words in your work, or just want to have a bit of fun, re-boot yourself creatively and explore what's possible with some prompts. The cost will be £60 and booking by messaging me on a first-come first-served basis. I'll reserve two places at £15 only for people facing financial constraints, so please spread the word. 

Fiction workshop at Garsdale Retreat May 2021..
22 December 2020

‘Making up Truths’ with me at the Garsdale Retreat. This five-day fiction-writing workshop will definitely go ahead in some form, May 10th to 15th. Not only is this a beautiful place in the Dales, but it's fully (and sumptuously) catered and the group numbers are kept small – so book soon! The wondrous Tania Hershman will be visiting midweek. Her stories, poetry and teaching have taken intriguing routes. If unable to meet in person the course will be virtual.

My next book coming March 2021..
02 December 2020

I'm delighted to announce the publication of my next work of fiction, 'The Other Side of Stone', from new publisher, Taproot Press, which explores lives linked to a Perthshire woollen Mill over three centuries. I'll be dropping news about it into the usual places over the next few months but you can read more here. Taproot have an interesting three book offer for December here.

Come on a walking and writing workshop wherever you are ..
25 September 2020
Many of us find walking a great partner for creative writing. During the lockdown, the lovely folk at Lyth Arts Centre in Caithness (a stone’s throw from where Maggie and Trothan's drama plays out in Call of the Undertow), commissioned me to create an audio writing and walking workshop. You can take part by walking wherever you are with a device that will play the Soundcloud file at this link. Grab a notebook and pencil, and come with me!
You'll also find a tip sheet, 'Serious Noticing for Playful People' at the bottom of the page.


DOUBLING BACK is back in print..
11 September 2020

Delighted to say you can once again get my book Doubling Back:Ten paths trodden in memory in paperback. Find it here for £8.99. 

Described by Brian Morton here: 

'... the journeys she takes – barefoot in Kenya, booted in Spain and Scotland, weighed down with both pack and narrative in Norway – are always in the footsteps of another. This isn’t just another poetic outdoors book meant to convey the feel of remote places to armchair climbers, but a meditation on memory and on the complex intertwining of place, person and the act of recording.'

And it's become topical again partly due to being the focus of a chapter in a marvellous history of women walkers published this week, Wanderers by Kerri Andrews.



Publication day for Antlers of Water!..
06 August 2020

'Lunar Cycling' published in Antlers of Water

In early 2019 Kathleen Jamie invited me to contribute an essay to a new nature writing anthology she was editing. She and the publisher Canongate had decided such an anthology was timely as, although Scottish crime writing is established as a phenomenon, the indigenous nature-and-environment writing movement is yet to be properly acknowledged. So here is the book that fills the gap, with the title Antlers of Water drawn from a Norman MacCaig poem. I'm very proud that my piece Lunar Cycling appears alongside an impressive roll-call of other writers from Scotland:   
‘The first ever collection of contemporary Scottish writing on nature and landscape, Antlers of Water showcases the diversity and radicalism of new Scottish nature writing today.’ Read more about the book here.

The invitation gave me the opportunity to draw on my month’s activity walking the intertidal zone of Rosneath peninsula when I was at Cove Park Artists Residency in summer 2017. Having decided to live with greater tidal awareness whilst surrounded by the sea, I observed on my low tide walk each day shells, pebbles, ceramics reshaped by the sea, tampon applicators, a single mangetout, a railway ticket, a doll’s head, Victorian boots, and so on. Noting how human artefacts were often strangely transformed by their sea-journeys, I gradually collected quite a museum of objects.

My essay focuses on the object pictured, a plastic bicycle pedal which had run away to sea. I had never before thought to explore the fascinating life cycle of the barnacles which have colonised it and what they could teach me about living with the rhythm of tides.

Antlers of Water is published today, 6th August and available from your favourite indie bookshop, or from Waterstones at £20.

Black Lives Matter in the far north of Scotland..
03 August 2020

When I was researching Call of the Undertow, I endlessly explored the setting at Dunnet Bay, not so far from John o’Groats. Much of the novel is set on the wild shore and cliffs but a few notable buildings presented themselves including this handsome church at Dunnet which was where Timothy Pont, Scotland’s earliest mapmaker, was Minister from 1601 to 1610. Inside, I was shown up a rickety ladder into the high tower to examine the large inscribed bell which had been presented to the church by Mary Oswald in 1778. Curious about her, I later discovered this portrait of her in The National Gallery, together with some history.

She grew up in Jamaica, daughter of an extremely rich planter, Alexander Ramsay. In 1750 she married Richard Oswald, whose father had also been a minister at Dunnet and who built a trading empire and made his fortune through the transatlantic slave trade. His company owned a slave fort on Bance Island on the Sierra Leone River, through which more than 10,000 enslaved Africans probably passed. The couple enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle with a stately home in Ayrshire and an impressive art collection. We might think it unlikely that the far North of Scotland has connections to the slave trade, but here is one physical legacy.

In my novel, the young mapmaker, Trothan, with his nose for injustice, finds ways of depicting such stories on his local map. He draws Dunnet Church with its huge bell swinging in the tower, but being rung from below by a group of shackled black slaves. Later on, it’s the more recent history revealed by his map that pitches both characters into trouble. 

Call of the Undertow is ON OFFER for Non-Kindle e-readers for only £1 (reduced from £2.99), and the special edition hardback for only £12 (reduced from £15) inc. P+P in UK only from NOW until 7th August from here.
‘Linda Cracknell’s Caithness rises up off the page and takes form around us… Its light and skies, rocky shores and wheeling, screaming gulls, huddled villages and craggy beaches, its grave, austere beauty… Reading this book is like being there.’
Kirsty Gunn
Seaside-Season-Sale on Call of the Undertow..
26 July 2020

If you are missing the sea as I have been, and want to feel yourself there through fiction, Call of the Undertow is ON OFFER for Non-Kindle e-readers for only £1 (reduced from £2.99), and the special edition hardback for only £12 (reduced from £15) inc. P+P in UK only from NOW until 7th August from here.

Confluence of Years..
14 July 2020
It's exciting to know that various reading groups around Scotland will be discussing my story, 'Confluence of Years', this week. It was commissioned by Open Book, a fabulous organisation that runs weekly shared reading sessions for a diverse range of community and public participants.
The story came about because I wanted to visit an estuary area of North Devon where my grandmother grew up this spring, for another writing project (non-fiction) and for obvious reasons couldn't travel. So the story was my way of travelling there, taking what I call a 'dream-walk'!
I also suggested some accompanying discussion and writing exercises, and some poetry that feels related about walking and the sea. Read on here and you can also hear the story read aloud and discussed by the commissioners on their podcast here.
Camel Cadence - a poem on patience..
10 July 2020

My poem 'Camel Cadence', inspired by February in the Sahara at Cafe Tissardmine, is published in Scottish PEN's PENning journal (page 33) this month on the theme of Patience. Read the whole magazine here. I'm particularly happy about this as years ago I helped to found PENning.

New short story collected in Homeless World Cup anthology..
05 July 2020

As Lee Child says, “You don't have to like football (or be homeless) to love this book – it's an all-star squad of amazing talent, and all in a great cause, so read it now!” Published TODAY, When the Homeless World Cup would have been played in Finland, HOME FIXTURES brings together writers as diverse as Ian Rankin, Denise Mina, and Jackie Kay. The two dozen contributions focus on football and/or homelessness and the aim is to raise funds and awareness for the Homeless World Cup Foundation.

I'm always delighted to be asked to write a new story, and for 'The Give and Take' to appear in such company is very exciting. Nick Hornby, of 'Fever Pitch' fame, is one of the stars of the squad.

In 2011 Anthony Clavane wrote in The Guardian about how rarely football features in fiction. He listed 10 writers who had done so, including that gloriously painful match in Barry Hines' 'Kestrel for a Knave'. At number 10, and the only place for females on the list, came in an anthology of Scottish football short fiction In which he picked out my story 'The Match' for special attention. "Truly she is the anti-Hornby", Clavane says of me!

So here you have it, Hornby and anti-Hornby in the same volume and just £1.99 for a great cause.


Talking to Christopher Brookmyre ..
02 July 2020

I'll be in conversation with crime and thriller writer Chris Brookmyre for the online Birnam Book Festival tonight at 8pm. It's going out live on the Festival's Facebook Page but the recording will remain here afterwards. We'll discuss his latest novel 'Fallen Angel', described as 'gloriously dark, deliciously twisty', and much more. 

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