Words with sounds for Illicit Ink

I’m reading Baby Ben is Crying at Illicit Ink (at The Bongo Club) on May 5th. This time, Babs, Illicit Ink’s benevolent dictator, opened up the floor for performances with a little extra. Costumes are welcome, of course, as are story telling without notes (gasp!) and collaborations.


My friend Rhian Thompson makes electronic music. She likes sine waves and interesting sounds. We first talked about doing something together last year, over beer after the New Writing Scotland launch. When I read the call for Illicit Ink’s Sleeptalking I thought of that chat and got in touch with Rhian. Could we do something together? Yes, we could!

Rhian’s developing background music and Foley and I’ll provide the voice over and story.

So, what was the story? Ah. Well, you know. I hadn’t written it at that point.

So I wrote a story, let it rest, reviewed it, re-wrote it and wrote a second story just in case. Rhian, meanwhile, started collecting sounds. A call on Facebook for the sound of children crying made me very excited: crowd sourcing sounds is collaboration above and beyond my expectation.

Now the story’s written, edited, recorded and submitted. We’re locked in to baby Ben and his pain. Rhian’s collected sounds and we’ve met to talk about lighting and costume. We’re good to go, pretty much.

Come along and hear us. R. A. Martens, George Anderson, Kirsti Wishart, J. A. Sutherland, and Andrew C Ferguson are some of the other writers performing on Sunday. It’ll be awesome.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival: things to see and do

Last year, I went rather wild at the book festival. This year, I’m taking it easy. I’ve only booked events at the weekend or in the evening and I’m only doing one workshop. But what a workshop.

1-2-1 Writing Clinic

According to the program, the 1-2-1 Writing Clinic on Sunday 19th is for new writers who wants advice from professionals who have been through it all. To help the adviser, we’ll be asked to submit materials in advance. I’ve got 15 minutes with a publisher at 10:15 in the morning. I’ve got 15 minutes with Francis Bickmore, Editorial Director for Canongate Books. I’ve prepared my one-page CV and am choosing between a number of candidates for 500-word writing samples. 15 minutes isn’t long so to get the best out of my time, I’m thinking hard about the questions I want to ask and, of course, writing them down.

People to see

If the weather is good, Charlotte Square is quite a nice place to just hang out. You don’t have to have tickets for things to have a cup of tea, browse the book shop and do a bit of author spotting. (But don’t crowd the author’s yurt. It’s bad form.) The festival programme has all kinds of fun and I’m attending a couple of debates as well as author talks. Here are the events I’m particularly looking forward to:

Things to do

Then there’s Unbound, the free event in the Spiegeltent. They offer all kinds of booky fun in a relaxed atmosphere and for no cost other than what you spend on drink. I’m hoping to go to:

  • Wednesday 15: Magic Words – Illicit Ink at unbound! Fun times with magicians.
  • Friday 17: Literary death-match. I’ve never been to one. It’s time to change that.
  • Friday 24: Swimming and Flying, a talk by Mark Haddon.
  • Monday 27: It will be all write on the night… To close the festival brave souls will finish an audience-lead story on the night. No time for edits here. R. A. Martens and George Anderson are part of the fun.


The contributor’s copy of New Writing Scotland 30 arrived in the mail this morning

Look at this, isn’t it pretty?

Front cover of A Little Bit of Cliff in the Evening: New Writing Scotland 30

The table of content is rather attractive too. It’s got Lin Anderson, Alasdair Gray, Andrew Greig and Agnes Owens, as well as two of my writer’s group colleagues, R.A. Martens and Carol Farrelly. The stories I’ve read so far have been great. It’s an interesting mixture of poetry, short stories and even a comic.

The collection is available from Amazon now. (You can even read a bit of my story online: just click Look inside and then my name for a teaser page.)

The official launch is at Blackwells, from 18:00 on August 28th. Come along!