Monday, 8 September 2014


Rufus Wainwright has a song that goes, 'Why am I always on a plane or a fast train?' I hear you, Rufus. I am away so much that my kids don't even bother to summons me if they need something anymore. Sniff. My awayness is OTT at the moment and showing no signs of stopping.

Nairn beach, the Moray Firth
Having said that, Nairn in Scotland was beautiful. It's at the bottom of the Highlands, on the coast, and it has this gorgeous balmy climate. A lot of people retire there and it's easy to see why, between the good weather, the cute shops and the decent food available in places like Basil, a café by the harbour.

I had a lovely time at the Nairn Book and Arts Festival: I went to a reading/presentation about tango dancing from Kapka Kassabova, a Bulgarian Kiwi who was seduced by tango and 'followed' it for ten years.
Peter Ross reading from Daunderlust
I went to the journalist Peter Ross's reading from his fascinating book of essays/articles Daunderlust - snapshots of the real Scotland, with everything from aria singing chippers to corpse dissection. I did my own reading from The Closet of Savage Mementos and the aforementioned Peter interviewed me. It seemed to go well (Peter kept his end up marvellously) but I sometimes get fed up listening to myself saying the same things about the book and its history, over and over. Occupational hazard, I guess. There were some funny questions put to me (mostly in private) - people really have a hard time separating fact and fiction, it seems. Several people believe that all that happens to Lillis in the novel also happened to me. Very little of it did, in fact. It's kind of amusing though to be quizzed in detail about a personal life that you have invented for a character.

Jacquelyn Pearce installation, Seamen's Victoria Hall
I went to an afternoon reading from local writers' group The Pen and I and I attended an art exhibition with ethereal, magical work by Jacquelyn Pearce and others. I even went to a jazz concert (unheard of for me) and loved it. It wasn't that awful, crazy jazz but gorgeous, tight, classical jazz from the Tim Kliphuis Trio. Fab.

Beachcombed finds
And I walked in the rain and beachcombed and did some research for novel #4 and even wrote a little on trains, planes, buses.

The fishwifie from Fishertown at Nairn Harbour
And now I am thoroughly exhausted and prepping for next week's trip to the Cork Short Story Festival and all I've to do there. It's a fabulously social festival (Nairn wasn't that) so I need to gather my wits this week to be ready for the whirl of lunches, drinks, launches, readings, teaching, panels and chat with lovely story people I'll be meeting. Bring it on ;)

Nairn has some great town flower beds
Beach selfie in the rain

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