Thursday was a massive day. The second edition of my novel, The Birds That Never Flew, was launched at Waterstones in Glasgow and the event was quite beautiful. Despite my apprehension that no-one would turn up (fanny!) the venue was bustling with people; family, friends, fellow writers and Thunderpoint novelists and even a few folk just interested to find out more. I am really grateful to everyone who took the trouble to come along. Thank you for your time and kindness, it means a lot. Very humbling indeed. The event was organised by Seonaid, my editor at my publishers Thunderpoint and it was hosted by my friend, the fabulous Sara Sheridan. She is an extremely accomplished (and successful!) writer and before the event began she casually mentioned that she had read at 80 events in the last year. I laughed when I heard this as I was a virgin, (this being my first reading event), but that was quite fitting given the Virgin Mary’s association with my novel! Sara was a perfect host and whilst we had discussed in advance how she would guide the conversation it felt very natural and enjoyable. She’s an extremely engaging person and it was fun to chat with her, and share some of the insights into my characters and my writing processes with the audience. If you are reading this as a writer then you will understand that spending time with your characters is quite a solitary process and sharing them with the world can feel like a daunting undertaking. I know, the irony, given we write, publish and then seek an audience willing to share in our journey. However, whilst I wasn’t nervous about the actual event, I was looking forward to talking about TBTNF, I was feeling a wee bit tense about the thought of reading my writing aloud. My characters are bold and their entwined narrative arcs are tough and frequently written in the vernacular, their Glasgow accents raw and intense. They also swear, a lot. In the build up to the event work was incredibly busy so I had very little time to practise reading my elected sections. Consequently, on the night, I was really worried that me wee voice was going to sound crap. Maybe it did sound crap (the video will reveal all when I get round to posting it) but I really enjoyed the intensity of the process. Strange, given my apprehension before the event, but the actuality was that when I began to read it felt like it was a real honour to give an audible voice to the characters I had spent a lot of time with. They created this story and it was really lovely to be able to give them their five minutes of fame. I read from three sections of the novel, trying to give a flavour of character and the different narrative voices. Sara also invited questions from the audience. One of them was “how do you find the time to write?” It’s a good question. I have a very demanding job and my family is everything to me but as my daughter Siobhán chipped in, “she writes when she’s talking, when she’s on the phone, when she’s watching telly. She just writes…” And that’s the answer, I just write, even beneath my eyelids, watching, listening…
After the hour long session (it flew in!!) it was time for the signing. The virgin that I am, I didn’t even have a signing pen!! Thanks Sara, for saving me, I shall return it, honest!
And there I was signing my novel… I can’t wait for the opportunity to do it all again.It really was joyful!
Fellow Thunderpoint author Helen MacKinven was at the event. She writes a fantastic blog and she reflects on the event here. Thank you Helen, I’m really looking forward to your publication day! After the event I went home and stayed up all night to watch the General Election coverage and the returning counts being announced. The yellow wash in Scotland was astounding; history in the making, my birds flying solo as another flock settled around me, wings tucked in tightly, determined to stay. Like I said, Thursday really was a massive day, and not just for me. On the night of the General Election in 1997 myself and Art hosted an election party. Everyone was asked to come along in their party colours. The outcome was a reflection of Scotland as it was then. Everyone wore red apart from one friend wearing his SNP yellow with pride. And here in 2015, the party costumes have reversed. Times, they have changed. Where to next, I wonder.