The Backstreets of Purgatory in the sunshine

The special limited editions of The Backstreets of Purgatory have already reached some readers and it has been such a thrill to hear from people who are enjoying the novel. I love seeing it out in the real world. Here’s a selection of the photos that I’ve been sent over the last day or two. Looking good in the sunshine.

 

A few limited editions are still available from Unbound. The official publication date for the hardback is July 12th 2018. It will be available on Amazon and elsewhere. I must admit, I can hardly wait to see it in an actual bookshop. Sounds facile to say it but honestly, it is a dream come true.

Date for your diaries (if you are nearby): Thursday, July 19th, 7.30 pm at Waterstones on Byres Road in Glasgow. BOOK LAUNCH!! RSVP in the comments or via the contact form. The more the merrier!!

(Look, lots of exclamation marks. That’s because I’m just a tiny bit excited).

Launch Invite Final small

Tears for the Mack

Four years ago, I watched in horror the news stories reporting the fire at Glasgow School of Art. A few days ago, history repeated itself with a vengeance. After years of painstaking restoration, the Mackintosh building was due to re-open soon. But after the devastating fire of June 17th what little remains of this magnificent building is under threat of collapse or demolition.

Already, there are discussions all over social media and traditional media about the future of the building. Disagreement about its future because of the structural risk the gutted shell poses and the potential costs involved if rebuilding were to be considered. Arguments about whether there are better ways to use the money that it would cost. People are angry that this has happened again and are naturally seeking to apportion blame for this terrible event.

Watching the pictures of the burning building and the neighbouring buildings, it seems to me a miracle that no one was hurt or killed. After the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, we can at least be thankful for that. But while it cannot compare to that terrible, terrible event, this second fire in the Mackintosh building is a devastating blow for Glasgow. Considered by many to be Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece, the art nouveau building was a working art school, a landmark, a tourist attraction, part of the rich cultural heritage of Glasgow and a source of pride for the city. I know there will be many people with connections to the Mack who will be shedding tears for it.

The art school features in my novel, The Backstreets of Purgatory. I don’t want to make this post about the book but I do want to mention something that is bothering me, which may be trivial in the scheme of things but feels important to say nonetheless. The original version of the opening chapter was set in the Mackintosh building. After the fire in 2014, it took me a while to be able to rewrite it but, by the time I did, restoration was well under way and the future looked optimistic for the building. I had my main character make a throw away comment about the fire. He isn’t supposed to be the most sensitive of people but now his remarks seem even more crass and sad than I originally intended. Had I known, I would have written it differently.

But, of course, there was no way of knowing.

Art school window

At the moment, it is too early to predict what the future holds for the Mackintosh building. Who knows, perhaps we will hear the stonemasons and the carpenters working on it again. Perhaps the stunning iron work and the stained glass will be remade. Or perhaps, this time, the Mack will be gone for good. Either way, these are sad times for it.

 

Featured Image: The Mackintosh Building, Holly Hayes, flickr

Image: Classic Rennie Mackintosh, Ross G Strachan, flickr

 

Nicola McFadyen answers my Sprout questionnaire

She calls herself a small, angry Glaswegian but she isn’t afraid to admit she is terrified of processed cheese

There are some people that you know you are going to like even if you’ve only ever met them over Twitter. Some people crazy enough to volunteer for this Sprout questionnaire before they’ve actually seen the questions. Some people with the same weird sense of the world as yourself. Or rather, myself. Meet Nicola McFadyen Continue reading “Nicola McFadyen answers my Sprout questionnaire”

Carrie Marshall — writer, broadcaster, songwriter — talks overpriced confectionery, sausage guns and rodent assassination

Mars Bar: Smaller than a toddler’s pinkie and costing more than a car.

For me, the best thing about this website is that I’ve met some really amazing, interesting and funny individuals through my interactions here. The other day I put out a tweet looking for volunteers to take part in my Sprout Questionnaire. In my book, if you volunteer for the Sprout Questionnaire, you are, by default, slightly peculiar. And slightly peculiar is exactly the type of person I know I’ll get along with.

Carrie Marshall is one such volunteer. She is a writer and broadcaster and, in her own words, a spectacularly unsuccessful songwriter, although I think that summary vastly underemphasises an incredibly diverse and accomplished CV (which I’ve been checking out on her blog). She’s trans, lives in Partick and has just bought a drum kit to delight her neighbours. She posts thoughts at bigmouthstrikesagain.com, tunes at soundcloud.com/dmgm and tweets as @carrieinglasgow. Why not check out her words and sounds for yourself?

Carrie Marshall

We had such a laugh compiling this. I thought my questions were funny (I’m pretty much the only person who finds me funny) but Carrie’s answers were way funnier. It was a total treat for me. Thanks for taking the time, Carrie, and for properly getting into the spirit of the Sprout.

OK, here we go…

  1. You are a superhero? What’s your name and what can you do?

I would be The Baseball Bat of Justice, because all the short superhero names are
Continue reading “Carrie Marshall — writer, broadcaster, songwriter — talks overpriced confectionery, sausage guns and rodent assassination”

Chris McQueer answers my Sprout questionnaire

Surviving on the run with his granda, turning invisible, signing up for NASA and reinventing the diary, meet Chris ‘say aye to everything’ McQueer, a man with some very valuable secrets.

Sprout questionnaire? Yes, for once this isn’t bad spelling on my part. My Proust questionnaire has been put through the mincer and this is the result. A Sprout Questionnaire. Nothing at all to do with leafy green vegetables or European capitals, but hey, that’s probably a good thing.

[Actually I got the idea for the title from a game I’m playing by myself (I repeat, by myself) on Twitter #authoranagrams. The clue is in the hashtag. You can join me if you like @TaylorHelen_M.]

The first willing (I think he was willing) victim of the revamped questionnaire is Chris McQueer.

Chris is a 25 year old writer and sales assistant from the east end of Glasgow whose debut collection of short stories ‘Hings’ has been published by 404Ink and is out now. His work has also appeared in Gutter magazine, The Skinny and The National and he has performed at Glasgow’s Aye Write book festival, Belladrum Festival and on BBC Radio Scotland. His stories are riotously, brilliantly funny and more than a touch surreal, and show Glasgow in all its irreverent glory but, (and maybe I should whisper this bit) beneath the spurt-your-drink-out-your-nose laughs and the don’t-let-your-granny-read-it swearing, they address serious issues like class division. Everyone should buy a copy if you haven’t already.

I’m really chuffed that he agreed to take part in this piece of ridiculousness.

Over to Chris…

1. You are a superhero. Who are you and what can you do? Continue reading “Chris McQueer answers my Sprout questionnaire”