Dearest Ringwood Readers,
What a pleasure it is to welcome to you to the August edition of the Ringwood newsletter. This time of year is always a flurry of festivals and summer holidays, but we have found some time to continue working on some exciting events for the Autumn and beyond. But first…
We are looking for a few more experienced Volunteers to join the team, specifically from individuals who come from a marketing or communications background. We would like to have someone who can spend about 8 hours a week supporting our interns and providing valuable professional experience to team. No publishing experience necessary, just a love of books and reading.
If this is you, please contact:
We can’t wait to welcome you to the team!
Byres Road Book Festival
Ringwood was thrilled to announce this month that we are part of this year’s Byres Road Book Festival! The festival, Once Upon a Time in the West End celebrates sharing stories. There are lots of exciting events running from the 21st to 24th September in the West End. All the events are free but ticketed, so make sure to book your place. We hope to see you there!
Ringwood will be running two events:
Ringwood Books Advice and Q&A Session
Our very own Chief Editor, Isobel Freeman, will be available to answer all questions about publishing. From the submissions process to editing, from marketing to self-promotion, Isobel will give insight, advice, and anecdotes to help you better understand the world of publishing and book writing.
This event will take place 24th September at the Hillhead Library @ 3:30pm.
Reserve your place here: Ringwood Books Advice and Q&A Session Tickets, Sun 24 Sep 2023 at 15:30 | Eventbrite
True Crime Writing Event
This event features three of Ringwood’s best-selling crime non-fiction authors: George Barnsley (The Lanarkshire Police Chronicles), Allan Nicol (Liberation and Sheila Garvie: Mastermind or Victim) and Tom Wood (Ruxton: The First Modern Murder).
Join our fantastic authors, who all share backgrounds in the criminal justice system, for presentations on their books, followed by a fascinating panel discussion and audience Q&A session about all things true crime and writing. There will also be an opportunity to purchase their works and have them signed. For all Scottish true crime enthusiasts, this event is a must see!
This event will take place 24th September at the Ubiquitous Chip @ 4pm. (Doors open 3:40pm)
Reserve your place below: Ringwood Books True Crime Writing Event Tickets, Sun 24 Sep 2023 at 16:00 | Eventbrite
Sponsorship in Arts & Literature
By Matilda Eker and Vicky McCormick
In the light of the recent protests regarding the Edinburgh Book Festival Sponsorship, we have been thinking about the current lack of funding for a lot of literary events and small press publishers.
For those of you who may have missed it, Greta Thunberg was due to appear at the festival, but pulled out, citing the “greenwashing” of the lead sponsor, Baillie Gifford. This in turn led to an open letter signed by a group of more than 50 authors and event chairs stating that Baillie Gifford and similar corporations are “making huge profits from global disaster, and hide behind esteemed cultural institutions, like the Edinburgh book festival, as sanction for its continued operations”.
Founded in 1908, Baillie Gifford is an independent investment partnership based in Edinburgh. They’ve sponsored the Edinburgh Book Festival for 19 years. In a statement, Nick Barley commented, “The Book Festival exists to give a platform for debate and discussion around key issues affecting humanity today – including the climate emergency. As a charitable organisation, we would not be in a position to provide that platform without the long-term support of organisations such as Baillie Gifford.” Indeed, the book festival has had a sharp fall in ticket sales, and with the increasing utility bills, has had to make its own cuts and celebrate in 2023 with 75% of its usual budget.
Where does this leave the festival for 2024 and beyond? As an Edinburgh and Scottish institution, the Edinburgh Book Festival attracts high profile writers and speakers, but when even such a mighty festival still relies on sponsorship from the private sector, the rest of us smaller organisations are left in the cold fighting for the scraps of change that grants and donations provide. Competition is fierce. With less and less money being allocated to the arts, small indie presses, publishers and organisations have to do more with less. Often, these organisations have very few s (or no) full time staff, and are instead reliant on volunteers, who have less time to apply for grants and sponsorship.
As a small, independent publisher without any big sponsors, Ringwood relies solely on volunteers and interns, and on revenue from our publications. We would therefore like to extend a big thank you to all our friends, authors and readers for making Ringwood possible at a time when large parts of the literary world is at risk. We are grateful for each member of the Ringwood community for their contribution. While we are proud to be independent, the recent discussion about sponsorship has gotten us, along with everyone else, thinking. What is the power of sponsorship in arts and literature today, and do we have a responsibility to prevent greenwashing, or is that the price to pay if we are to continue this industry at the same level?
Short Story Competition
We would also like to remind you that we are still accepting entries for our annual Short Story competition! The competition was set up in 2020 to celebrate the best of Scottish short fiction.
Anyone born or residing in Scotland is welcome to submit their best work, and we particularly welcome stories from underrepresented voices or previously unpublished writers. The winning writer receives a prize of £100, and publication on our website.
This year we are also adding two new prize categories to the competition, the first of which is the Lela Soma Prize. Named after Ringwood Author Lela Soma, this prize will be awarded to the best entry from a writer of colour. We are also introducing the Grant Muir Prize, named after late Ringwood Company Secretary, which is restricted to entries from existing or previous Ringwood interns, staff or authors. Each of these prize winners will receive £50.
Entries should be under 3000 words and must be submitted electronically before Friday the 1st of December. More information and how to submit is found on our website. We look forward to reading your work!
Short Story Writing Seminar
Great news! We are holding a writing seminar offering advice and guidance to all budding authors on writing short story and how best to construct entries for the 2023 Short Story Competition. Two of the competition judges, Rob McInroy and Maureen Cullen, both Ringwood novelists with prize winning short story competition experience, will lead the seminar.
This will be taking place at 2pm on Sunday 22nd October at Hillhead Library. Admission is free and all are welcome, whether you have written and submitted to competitions and journals before, or you are a complete beginner. Come, have a chat, and get exclusive help before submitting your entry. Stay tuned for more information and how to register for tickets.
How to Write and Publish a Book
After the success of our event in June, we are running another ‘How to..’ event on Tuesday 26th September at Leith Library in Edinburgh. Come along to hear about the writing and publishing process. This event is free and is for anyone interested in the writing and publishing process, whether you are writing your first draft to polishing off and are ready to submit to agents and publishers. Bring your questions!
You can register for tickets here.
An Interview with Fiona Gillan Kerr: Author of upcoming novel The Bone on the Beach
By Ashleigh Tucker
Fiona Gillan Kerr was born to Scottish parents outside Cambridge, where her father was stationed with the R.A.F.; and was educated in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), at Berkhamsted School and Durham University. Now, with her husband, she divides her time between the States where their 4 sons live, and her Scottish home in the Highlands – a restored crofter’s cottage in a small village by the sea.
The Bone on the Beach is her debut novel inspired by the beauty and mystery of the Highlands, where history dictated that homes would be burned and villages abandoned for centuries, legends continue to haunt, and the past is remembered by each succeeding generation. The novel is due to be released at the end of September with a launch event happening at Inverness Library on the 28th of September from 5-6:30pm.
How would you describe your debut novel The Bone on the Beach?
It is a reimagination of the ancient Celtic legend of ‘Deirdre of the Sorrows’. A tragedy and a love story which has been passed down, told and retold by storytellers through the centuries. A great story is often passed on through this oral tradition. Occasionally it is re-enacted in its original setting by the great writers, such as Sophocles or Homer.
But, if it’s retold in a contemporary setting, it can take on a new life because an audience or readers can relate it directly to their own lives and experiences. I’ve tried to do this in The Bone on the Beach. My hope is that readers will be able to do this with Deirdre’s, and Meghan’s, story.
Of course, this novel is also a mystery and a ghost story, and who doesn’t love those?
What inspired you to write The Bone on the Beach?
Quite literally, one day walking along a beach in the Highlands, I found a bone. My first thoughts were – Whose bone is it? Why and how is it here?
In my writing, I’m usually inspired by an out-of-place physical object. A single black high-heeled shoe abandoned in the middle of a busy road. A swing swaying back and forth in an empty garden on a windless day.
A broken tea cup displayed in the window of an antique shop. The questions are always the same. Why this? Why here?
The Bone on the Beach is set in the gorgeous Scottish Highlands. Why did you pick this landscape as the location for your book?
It is a Celtic story and I live in the Highlands. How could I not be inspired to write about what I see and experience every day? The landscape is, as you say, ‘gorgeous’. But it’s much more than that. Every day, every village, every glen and moor evoke memories of a rich past – sometimes glorious, sometimes heart-breaking, always fascinating. And Highlanders have long memories. Superstition and ritual is still alive and well today, I’m delighted to say. Whether you believe or not does not matter. It is the richness of the possibility which makes it interesting.
Deirdre and Megan are like two sides of the same coin, one desperately wants to escape from the quiet village, while the other runs to the village as a sanctuary from her life in the city. Do you believe these girls reflect each other?
Yes, absolutely. It’s trait of human nature to believe ‘the grass is greener’ somewhere else. Growing up, we want to explore what’s out there, wonder if there’s a better way to live. It’s a healthy trait. Both Deirdre and Meghan are looking for a new start. Their stories reflect the same problems. They both believe that finding sanctuary elsewhere is the answer. In some ways, it is the answer… but really only because it gives them time to put their lives into perspective, gives them the courage to face up the past, take the good and abandon the bad, and move on.
If you can share it with us, what is your favourite moment or quote from your book?
“But Deirdre was like Brigid, different from most of those around them, knowing and seeing things in another dimension. It was their fate to be misunderstood, but never to deny their right to be so.”
This would be my choice of quote. To me that is the affirmation of what living is all about – the importance of being true to yourself. Our uniqueness makes us who we are – undefined by others, by our appearance, our gender, our age, our background or job or status in the community and the world around us. Deirdre always had this quality; and Meghan grew into it.
My favourite moment would be the finale, the last chapter. But that’s a secret I don’t want to reveal to readers until the end. It’s what all good mysteries do, isn’t it? Keep the best to last?
Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer? Do you feel these influence your writing in any way?
Everything an author reads must influence their choices when they’re writing, often unconsciously. That and, of course, their own experiences. Above all, I’m a fan of any novel with twists and turns, cliff-hangers at the end of chapters and, above all, a good ending. I try to incorporate these into my own writing. More specifically, I love Hemingway’s use of language – it’s so immediate, you feel you are there. Somerset-Maugham’s short story endings are wonderful. Joyce Carol Oates’ characters with their intricate family dramas fascinate me. Ann Cleeves’ Highland mysteries and Peter May’s Fin Macleod series in the Outer Hebrides are intrinsically woven into their settings. Their stories could not be set anywhere else. And another special novel for me is Tortilla Curtain by the American writer, T. C. Boyle. The twist at the end of that is brilliant, thought-provoking, and unforgettable.
Thank you for answering these questions, Fiona.
You can keep up to date with any updates or events for The Bone on the Beach on both our social media accounts and on Fiona’s accounts: TikTok- @fionagillankerr, Instagram: fionagillankerr, Website: The Bone on the Beach.
The Bone on the Beach is now available for pre-order from our website here.
Writing Historical Fiction: Forgotten Voices
by Rosie Hall
We are delighted to announce an upcoming event at Typewronger during Scottish Book Week: “Writing Historical Fiction: Forgotten Voices”. The event will take place on the Monday 13th November at 7pm, and invites a panel of our writers to discuss the role of Scotland’s history in their work. How is history written, and rewritten into novels? Can “fact” and “fiction” be blended together? How can novels help us understand Scotland’s past, and interrogate its biases?
Join us for an evening of readings, discussion, and Q&A’s with some of Ringwood’s finest historical fiction writers: Flora Johnston, Rob McInroy, L.A. Kristiansen and Carol Margaret Davison. We will hear how these writers explore Scotland’s past in their writing – allowing readers to rediscover the lives and stories that don’t make it into the history books. Stay tuned to our newsletter and social media for more details.
Get to Know Our Interns: Vicky McCormick
Introduction & Questions by Megan Gibson
Welcome to this month’s ‘Get to Know Our Interns’. It can be hard to get a job without experience, but it can be hard to get experience without a job, so this is where Ringwood comes in. Ringwood provides invaluable work experience for young people interested in pursuing a career in publishing. Ringwood interns dedicate their own time alongside their work and studies, gaining experience across a variety of roles while pursuing their own interests in the publishing industry.
This month we chatted to Vicky McCormick. Vicky has been with Ringwood for eight months and in addition to being on the newsletter team, she has worked on the editorial and marketing team of one of Ringwood’s upcoming releases. More recently, she has been working as Ringwood’s Website and Social Media Manager.
Tell us about your background and how you came to Ringwood.
I have been working in education for the last few years, which I enjoy, but always loved reading and writing. The pandemic made me think hard about what I really wanted in life, so I took a year out to do a master’s in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. From there, I decided to see if I could gain experience in the publishing industry. I found Ringwood and here I am!
What is your role at Ringwood?
I have been involved in many different projects and teams, from proofreading, editing, being on the newsletter team, to working as an author support worker. At the moment, I am working as the Website and Social Media Manager. I work with the marketing teams to ensure that our books are getting promoted online, as well as our events and any recent author news. I enjoy the creativity and the fast-paced nature of this role; compared to book editing, which can take a long time, online changes and updates have to be done quickly and concisely!
What are your favourite genres of books?
I’ll read anything if a friend says it’s good, but the genre I read most is sci-fi. I love books that allow you to escape the real world for a while, but have relatable characters and relationships at the core of the story. I particularly enjoy Neil Gaiman, Claire North, Erin Morgenstern and Stephen King.
What would you like to see more of in Scottish literature today?
I’d love to see a wider range of contemporary Scottish literature, not just crime! I love that there are so many great Scottish crime writers, but I’d love to see more books which are set in Scotland and focus on other aspects of life, such as growing up, family life, and relationships. There are loads of great rom-coms set in New York or London, but why not somewhere in Scotland?
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to work in publishing?
Get as much experience as you can. If you are lucky to get an internship like the one at Ringwood or somewhere else, make the most of the opportunity. You get out what you put in. If you can’t get an internship just yet, focus on other hobbies or activities which you enjoy that can give you transferable skills. I would also advise on networking. By that, I mean saying hi to someone you find interesting and chatting about their projects. Festivals and online spaces like Twitter are good places to get your name out there and see who is doing what. Develop good relationships with everyone you meet. Scotland can be a small place in certain circles, so you might end up meeting someone then working with them in the future!
Thank you for your time Vicky!
Until next time,
Megan Gibson & Vicky McCormick (Editors), Matilda Eker and Margaret Mitchell (Assistant Editors) and the Ringwood team!