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.
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…)
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.
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 Henderson, and 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.