Gratitude, B&F tour dates…

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Time for some gratitude and some catching up! I’ve been meaning to write this blog for an age, but I’ve been too busy (in a good way). I am grateful to everyone who has supported The Brilliant & Forever, my new novel, which came out this year. The critical response has been wonderful, thoughtful, humbling:

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The book has a slightly revamped cover, with a funky new title font and quotations from reviews added.
It’s been a joy and a privilege to read from The Brilliant & Forever and sign books at so many events and festivals already this year. I also loved doing events for the film I co-wrote, Hamish: The Movie, and for the book I wrote with Roseanne Watt (Shetland) and Alison Miller (Orkney).
Here are the upcoming dates on my B&F tour – I hope to see some of you there. Thank you again for appreciating The Brilliant & Forever and what it’s about, and for spreading the word.
I will blog again soon. I’m currently writing a new book which, true to form, is a little on the unexpected side…Anyway, here are those dates. Click on the links for more information. Thank you again.

25th August 2016 Blackwell’s Bookshop, Writers at the Fringe (evening)
26th August Far From the Madding Crowd, Linlithgow (evening)
27th August Edinburgh International Book Festival (morning)
16th-18th September Three Lochs Festival
23rd-25th August Wigtown Book Festival (island writing event and a solo perspective on Shakespeare’s The Tempest)
28th September-3rd October Manxfest, Isle of Man
13th October Arcadia University, Edinburgh
17th-22nd October Moniack Mhor
2nd-5th November Faclan Book festival, Stornoway (delivering the Royal Literary Fund talk and featuring in the debut live performance of Akutagawa, the new band with Willie Campbell, Colin ‘The Boy Who Trapped the Sun’ Macleod and me; listen to one of our songs here)
25th-27th November WordPlay, Shetland (tbc)
28th November University of Glasgow (lunchtime reading – open to public and students alike, more details nearer the time)

 

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Update – New Year, New Novel, New New New

Happy New Year! This is a good time to blog about 2015 and 2016. I haven’t written here for a while, mainly because I’ve been so busy. I’m thrilled to announce my new novel The Brilliant & Forever is released in March. It’s my best book yet. Here’s what my publisher says about it:

This is a novel like no other; a whip-cracking, energetic, laugh-out-loud satire on what we value in culture, and in our lives. And yet, written with exquisite warmth and empathy, The Brilliant & Forever is also a moving exploration of integrity, friendship and belonging. It’ll split your sides and break your heart.

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I’ve already got some exciting appearances booked in to promote The Brilliant & Forever but I can’t say what they are yet – so look out for me at your favourite festivals this year.

Talking of festivals, some of my highlights of 2015 were my events at Loopallu and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Loopallu is primarily a friendly music festival that sells out swiftly every year – and little wonder. It’s intimate, memorable and perfectly curated (sorry to use the ‘c’ word but I think it’s allowable in this context…)

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As well as performing my first public reading from The Brilliant & Forever there, I did a spoken word gig and songwriting workshop with my old pal Willie Campbell (whose 2016 also looks fantastic, given that astrid are reforming and have recorded a new album in L.A. – it comes out in summer). 2016 will also see the release of new material I recorded with Willie Campbell and Colin Macleod (the artist formerly known as The Boy Who Trapped the Sun) in Colin’s studio in our native Hebrides. This new band/songwriting partnership is called Akutagawa. Filmmaker Jim Hope documented the recordings we did. I wrote the lyrics and mumbled on one track, and Willie and Colin worked their musical magic. We’re all really proud of the result – you’ll hear and see more about us soon.

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The Edinburgh Book Festival gig was also a blend of music and words, in support of a bilingual (Gaelic-English) book of poems and essays I edited, Struileag: Cladach gu Cladach/Shore to Shore. I was joined onstage by Rachel Newton, Aonghas MacNeacail, Babs NicGriogair and Alasdair Whyte – incredible talents, all.

In the latter part of the year, I co-wrote and conducted interviews for a feature-length documentary film, working alongside Robbie Fraser and bees nees media. It’s all about the fascinating and complex force of nature that was Hamish Hendersonand will be out in 2016.

Right now I’m working on a story commission for Alex MacDonald at An Lanntair, Stornoway. (I’m going up to Lewis this week for research and inspiration). More on that soon.

2015 wasn’t just about writing – I counteracted all that sitting down typing with a great deal of cycling (including a number of sportives, Ride London and the Festive 500) plus I developed an unexpected love for running 10k races. I continued with my voluntary work, too.

Hope to meet – and re-meet – a few of you in the coming year. I’ll be keeping you posted on all my activities so come and say ‘hi’ and let me know what you think of The Brilliant & Forever

Oh, and finally! Katsu here doesn’t know it yet, but he’s getting a new friend in January, a young half-sister.

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RideLondon-Surrey 100, 2015

Ride London 100 – done! Despite feeling unwell (upset stomach and weird lingering fatigue and weakness that began mid-week) and despite only getting 2.5 hours’ sleep, I cycled the 100 miles in 5 hours 36 minutes exactly (this includes stops to fill water bottles, grab some gels and take the occasional ‘natural break’). My actual riding time was about 5 hours 15. I’m very pleased with that. It was warm and started getting hot, so my peely-wally Scottish skin is also glad I finished shortly after mid-day. Thank you so very much to those who have already sponsored me. If you haven’t yet, but wish to do so, here is the link. Asthma UK is a hugely worthwhile charity. Thank you thank you thank you.

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Rare KM & WC gig tomorrow night at EdBookFest!

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Willie and I are playing a rare gig tomorrow night at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. We’re honoured, delighted. and very much looking forward to it. The gig is part of the lively Jura Unbound strand that takes place in the wondrous Guardian Spiegeltent – it’s a free, drop-in event that starts at 9pm. I’d advise you to get there early because it’s liable to be busy, plus our Very Special Guests are not to be missed.

Willie and I will play tracks from our Visible From Space album, plus Willie will do some solo work – the astounding one-man band looping-pedal stuff that takes serious co-ordination and which he does so well.

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I’m thrilled to say that we will be joined by the pre-eminent Shetland poet and novelist Robert Alan Jamieson and terrific singer-songwriter, Island Review writer and all-round-good-guy Jordan Ogg. They, like me, were friends and fans of the late Lise Sinclair and we’re dedicating our night to her memory – in a celebratory fashion, as she would have doubtless wanted. (Click here to read Mary Blance’s poignant, eloquent obituary to learn more about Lise, or better yet get a hold of one of her CDs.)

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Edinburgh International Book Festival

Jura Unbound

Kevin MacNeil & Willie Campbell

Thursday 15 August

9:00pm – 11:00pm

The Guardian Spiegeltent

Free & Drop-in