Book giveaway and the story behind the stories

 

I’m doing a wee book giveaway over on my Twitter feed @vikkigemmell which closes at 5pm on Thursday.

One winner, (UK only, due to postage costs), will receive a signed copy of my contemporary short story collection, ‘Exposure’ and the goodies in the image above.

What could be a better way to pass your summer holidays? Reading, eating a bar of chocolate and sipping on a hot chocolate while the rain lashes down outside…

An extract of the blurb on the back of the book reads: ‘These stories will take you on an emotional journey, exposing the light and the dark aspects of love, loss, freedom and hope’ 

Extracts from some reviews describe the stories as, ‘Evocative…Poignant…Thought-provoking…Some very dark indeed, but all intriguing… Beautifully written, Wonderful use of words…’

It’s always a bit more challenging trying to sum up a collection of a variety of stories with different themes and different characters, so I thought I’d give you a little insight into a selection of them, with taster first lines, (and sometimes other lines), with my ‘story behind the story’.

Only You

‘As the plane sped along the runway Sophie felt a piece of herself fall back into place…’

I have a soft spot for this one as some of the scenes in the story are inspired by my observations during a couple of solo trips I took to Paris in my early 30s, which I have very fond memories of.

This story is about a young woman who calls off her wedding but decides to still go on her honeymoon alone to Paris, walking the streets in her wedding dress.

The bleeding heart panting mentioned in the story was hanging in the stairwell in my hotel, (the image of which is above), and I saw an old couple embrace passionately in Jardin du Luxembourg which relates to the line, ‘…As they pulled apart and walked on, hand in hand, Sophie didn’t feel sadness at what she had lost. She felt hope that something true, something that could stand the test of time, was still waiting to be found.’

And yes, I did also see a woman walking the streets in a wedding dress. I’m sure unlike my story she actually did get married, but for one fleeting moment I did wonder if she was alone, and if the smile on her face was not the obvious happiness you would expect which sparked off the whole idea for this one.

 

Performance

‘I can feel it. The heat rising from the audience beyond the curtains. The artificial smoke curling up, crawling across the stage, circling my ankles, pulling at me to hurry up.’

This was my first ever published piece of work, back in 2011. It appeared in the online Spilling Ink Review journal (which sadly doesn’t exist anymore). Thank you Amy Burns (the former editor) for starting me off on my journey to publication and for making me feel like I wasn’t writing into a dark abyss. This is one of my favourite flash fiction pieces that I’ve ever written.

The idea for the story sparked off from a burlesque performance I saw at the Cat House nightclub in Glasgow (probably around 2005!). I remember coming home a little bit tipsy and scribbling down some lines that didn’t fully form in to any kind of story until much later.

What struck me, and what I hope comes across in this piece, is that the girl on stage was totally in control and I wanted to switch the perspective away from her ‘being the show’, to the audience actually being the ones on display. ‘I am not naked. You are naked. I am not the show. This is the show.’

 

Exposure

‘She kept the window open and could hear the shouts below announcing the beginning of Saturday night…’

This explores the vulnerability of illness, the fragility of the body, the sense of losing youth and beauty and wanting to suspend it in time, as well as the connection you can experience during a seemingly fleeting encounter with a stranger.

The idea all started with a line that I thought might originally form a poem ‘Last Dance’, where I played around with similar themes, but it needed more exploration than a few lines in a poem so it became a story instead. ‘Her body was her weakness but also her strength. She needed to remember this.’ 

This story won runner up in a big competition and I was invited down to Foyles book shop in London for the launch of the anthology it originally featured in. This short story marks the beginning of a journey where I started to believe I could truly be a ‘proper writer’ one day.

 

Ghosts

‘Every Sunday when the clock chimes one, Tommy’s on the high street, pushing the empty wheelchair at high speed, chasing the pigeons..’

Often walking around my home town I would see an old man pushing an empty wheelchair. It fascinated me, and I built a story around this image, imagining that he still believed his late wife sat in it. The last line, ‘The discarded peel lies at her feet, curling into a heart shape, not yet part of the earth.’, was an observation I’d noted down from an image I’d seen months before of a tangerine skin curled into a heart shape lying on the ground.

 

Girl

‘Winter brings beauty back to her world. Frost masks dust, and with the snow comes a stillness; it flows through her body like a sigh…’

I think I originally wrote this for a competition with the theme of ‘Dark Fairytales’. A girl is locked in a house in a forest, pimped out by the ruthless ‘Queen’. The story goes to dark places, with redemption in the end. A lot of the time I start writing and I’ll try and not overthink scenes, waiting to see where the story takes me. With this, it started with a setting and a ‘mood’ and I let my subconscious flow.

 

 

If you don’t fancy entering the giveaway then ‘Exposure’ is available to buy on Amazon here in both ebook and paperback format 

 

NEXT MONTH I’m going to be doing a giveaway of Follow Me as the countdown begins for my second YA novel, Promise Me, due for release in September

Follow Me gets a mention in Books of the Year

FM

I’ve had a wee bit of a #famousforfifteenminutes type of a weekend. I was really excited to see Follow Me mentioned in the Books of The Year section in the Sunday Herald Life magazine, chosen by Scottish Crime Writer, Alex Gray as one of her favourite reads of 2015. My publisher, Strident, has the write-up on their website, which you can read here .

I was also apparently featured on the cover of a Renfrewshire free paper on Friday, called Paisley People, but I have yet to get my hands on a copy of this to see the article!

I’m also delighted that my author profile is now live, (after a wee bit of a delay), on the Scottish Book Trust Live Literature Author Database. You can see that here  This means that schools and community organisations who are registered for Live Literature Funding in Scotland can book me to do a workshop/talk, with support from SBT. Here’s more information about this great scheme here

 

 

 

 

 

In the Press and other excitement

greenock telegraph

 

I was delighted to see an article in The Greenock Telegraph today about Follow Me.  I grew up in Inverclyde, and even although I now live in Renfrewshire, I work down in Greenock and it’s nice getting to stay close to my roots. I’ve posted a snapshot of the article at the top of this post.

I’m really looking forward to doing an author event for school pupils at Greenock Central Library early next month, as well as going in to talk to 4th year pupils at a school in Gourock, and one in Glasgow later in November.

Last week I was part of an author team for the West heat of the Kids’ Lit Quiz, which took place at Our Lady’s High School in Cumbernauld and it was lots of fun. The pupils from a range of schools across the West of Scotland put us to shame with their amazing knowledge of literary classics and modern books.

My talented friend, Rebecca, also did a brilliant post about Follow Me on her creative website The Magpie Diaries recently. I loved how she centred her post around the Keats Poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn, which is quoted in my novel. You can read her post here  Another writer, Patsy Collins, also asked me to write a post for her blog about my book launch experience. I had lots of fun writing this for Patsy and it was nice to see so many people interacting with that post. You can read that here

Lastly I noticed other day that if you order Follow Me through the Foyles Bookshop website you can get it delivered anywhere within the UK Free within 2 days. Here’s a link to their site here

You can also request it in Waterstones or buy on Amazon (that link is on my homepage).

 

Launch Night ~ Waterstones, Argyle Street, Glasgow

book launch

So excited to reveal that my launch for Follow Me will be in the Argyle Street branch of Waterstones in Glasgow on Friday 9th October at 6.30pm. There will be drinks, some nibbles and of course book signings! I’ve been lucky enough to attend book launches in the past for writer friends and it feels amazing to know this time I will be the author at the event.

Read my book blurb here on the website of my publisher, Strident.

Come along to the event and hear more about the inspiration behind my book!

Final Cover Reveal!!

 

Follow me front cover

The cover design for Follow Me went through some last minute, quite dramatic, changes the other week and I am delighted to be able to reveal the final finished version above. The artwork/photography is by artist Ida Henrich, and I am really happy with how it turned out. It makes everything feel very real seeing my name on a book cover!

I was lucky to be consulted about my cover (I wonder how many authors are?). My publisher, Strident, even asked me to write a short brief of any ideas I had before work began. I had always visualised woodland being central to the image as Eddison Woods is a central feature in my story (and leads to the Barn). I love the green light in this too.

The release date is 30 September, so not long to go now. As my counter states on my home page – 21 DAYS TO GO!

My launch event still to confirmed – will post details as soon as I know…

Blog Feature

Hi all,

Just a short post to alert you to the fact that I am featured on Margaret Montgomery’s fantastic blog, Notes from the Blunder Ground, today. You can read the post here

Margaret’s debut novel, Beauty Tips for Girls, was released in March, published by Cargo, and is a brilliant book. (you can read my review of that here).

You’ll maybe notice from the image on Margaret’s feature that the cover for Follow Me has gone through some last minute changes… I’m still waiting on the absolute final version, but it will look pretty close to that one and I love it!

The release date is creeping ever closer…