Edinburgh friends! Join me at Edinburgh launch for Ashes and Stones at the wonderful Lighthouse Books. I’m overjoyed & honoured to be hosted by Edinburgh’s radical bookshop—an ally to so many communities. 15 February, 7pm. Ticketing information at the Lighthouse Books Website.
I just read that Elspeth Barker died last month, and I’m still recovering from the perfection of her only novel, O Caledonia. Heartbreaking and hilarious—why had no one ever told me about it before? I recognise Janet, the ill-fated protagonist, as myself. I see vividly in this book the enchanted, cursed landscape of Northeast Scotland and the steely, unforgiving nature of this place. I have never read a book that was written with the delicious precision of language—words with the power to summon a place and time as if the reader is living it beside the writer and the people, animals and land of the book. This is no hyperbole—Barker was a sorceress.
Every month I write a new fairy tale based on an old Scottish tale, and I share it with my Patrons on Patreon. This month’s New Moon tale is “The Bell that Never Rang” It is a fairytale laid over the psychogeography at the centre of Glasgow. I have always loved Glasgow. Tourists may visit Edinburgh—and it is a lovely place—but if I had to choose a city that is the heart and soul of Scotland, it would be Glasgow. “St. Enoch” is a name you see in the city, and I always assumed it was the name of some random, male Christian saint who converted the Picts. But Enoch is a woman—the first recorded rape victim in Scotland. In this tale, I’ve shifted the “facts” of the prism of her life to let the light through another facet.
Her sacred places were many in the city and they are all now lost, renamed and buried under shopping malls and roundabouts. She was the mother of the founder of Glasgow, Saint Mungo. His name is perhaps more famous now because of the Hospital for Magical Maladies in the Harry Potter books, which is named after him.
School children used this mnemonic device to remember his miracles, and I have used one of them to name this story:
Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam
The image of Saint Tenu in the collage above is taken from an icon in the Mull Monastery by Friar Serafim.
I’m excited to have my short story “Gald” included in this magnificent anniversary issue of Luna Station Quarterly. The beautiful cover is by Anna Steinbauer. “Gald” is about a mysterious Pictish potion and its use in a dystopian future on the north coast of Scotland.
This issue is packed with brilliant stories of potions and makes great holiday reading–curl up with your animals and a cup of mulled wine and these magical stories! Find myriad ways to purchase the ebook or paper issue here: http://lunastationquarterly.com/issue/issue-040/ and support an exceptional journal that has published women writers for TEN YEARS. We have long been out locked of genre, and Luna Station Quarterly is one of those game changers that is making the landscape easier for our voices to be heard. LSQ has always been on my A list in terms of publishers for my stories, and I’m so honoured to be included in this benchmark issue.
I love DIY culture, and owe much of my life to its ethos. For years I have supported artists I admire on Patreon, which embodies the ethos but is even better as it creates community around creators. It’s a website that lets you support artists and writers and in exchange you get an exclusive look at their work before it goes out into the world. I have been building my Patreon page for a while and finally decided to launch it today, at the May full moon. I will be adding weekly updates about my creative process as well as monthly poems, short fiction or non fiction pieces inspired by folklore, witchcraft and the wild landscape. I hope you will join me on this journey.