Dearest Ringwood Readers,

This is our first newsletter of 2023! We hope you all enjoyed the holidays and some much needed time off.

In this edition, we will discuss an update on an important campaign detailed in The Lanarkshire Police Chronicles by Ringwood author George Barnsley.

We also have a review of Séan Damer’s Those Tyrannising Landlords that was recently featured in The Irish Times!

But first…

Our Upcoming Releases

There are three very exciting new books that Ringwood will be publishing in the Spring of 2023!

Keep an eye on the Forthcoming Titles page of our website, where each book will be available to pre-order from the 1st of February.

Bodysnatcher by Carol Margaret Davison will be a thrilling addition to the Scottish true-crime genre. Davidson’s book covers the untold story of the Burke and Hare murders that occurred in Edinburgh from 1827 to 1828. Making it an undoubtedly compelling read!

The First of May by Brendan McLaughlin is a gripping, political, social and cultural autobiography by one of Glasgow’s most legendary publican, musician and political activists. This book delves into the intricate history of Glasgow, told through the author’s storied life of jarring tragedy, pitched political debates and laudable social work. 

& The Bone on the Beach by Fiona Gillan Kerr is a modern reworking of the ancient Celtic legend of Deirdre of the Sorrows. If you are a fan of the recent, spectacular resurgence of modern myth retellings, then this is definitely one to keep an eye on! The official cover for Bone of the Beach will be released on our website soon.

To learn more information about each title and their authors, make sure to look out for our upcoming newsletters.

Flora Johnston on What You Call Free:
Filling in the Gaps with Historical Fiction at the Currie & District Local History Society.

By Vicky McCormick.

Ringwood author Flora Johnston spoke at the Currie and District Local History Society this month about her novel What You Call Free, and the life of the two real women on whom it is based, Jonet Gothskirk and Helen Alexander. 

   Fact mixed with fiction in this talk, in which Flora shared the inspiration behind her novel. Explaining some of the research undertaken, and showing some of the links to the local area, such as the old kirk at Calder. Flora explained how historical fiction is a great way to access the past. Emphasising her passion for uncovering and promoting the lives of ordinary women in history, of whom there is often so little written about.

She explained how writing a historical novel, rather than an academic paper, gave her the chance to fill in the gaps with her own ideas of how these women might have felt. “I felt a strange sort of responsibility…. I wanted to honour these women,” Flora said. 

   Afterwards there was a Q&A with the audience as well as the chance to buy a signed copy of the novel. A great evening was had by all!

A Book Review ­­of Seán Damer’s Those Tyrannising Landlords in The Irish Times.

rish journalist, John Quin, recently wrote a review in The Irish Times on Séan Damer’s Those Tyrannising Landlords.

Read the full review below: 

  There are plenty of novels on the Irish diaspora set in America, in Australia, in London, but precious few examine the experience of those who went to Glasgow.

    Seán Damer corrects this with a historical tale that begins in the Rosses, 1911, after Lord Leitrim’s extortionate rent hikes lead the O’Donnell family to leave Donegal for Govan.

   The central character is the daughter, Peggy, who soon finds work in Partickhill as a maid for two sisters, a pair of enlightened teachers. There are paintings by JD Fergusson on their walls; some of those portrayed are naked. Charles Rennie Mackintosh makes a lovely cameo. Peggy is soon exposed to feminist ideas, suffragette thinking, and books by Marie Stopes. This is all new to her. Glasgow is noisy, dirty, and poor; she misses home.

    A link with other immigrants, her Gaelic-speaking Highland neighbours, is quickly established. Peggy picks up the patter: she meets chanty wrastlers who are the talk of the steamie.

   She is called a Taig but realises the bigotry cuts both ways: her father isn’t impressed at the thought of her going out with a Protestant. Da is an auld bigot: we see him spitting into the fire, we watch appalled as he clouts Peggy across the face. Catholic priests are also represented as fundamentally misogynistic and repressive. Damer is quick to establish his anti-clerical credentials; he’s keen to establish a balance. This is not a one-sided story.

   Peggy’s political education is deftly handled and Damer has you rooting for her as she crashes upwards through various glass ceilings. There’s an agit-prop edge to the tale, forgivable given the dreadful social conditions of the time; today’s Tory readers of the Glasgow Herald might find this wearying. The paper is quoted after the 1922 election saying: ‘We cannot view without profound dissatisfaction the significant gains made by Labour in industrial Scotland’.

    But Damer’s novel has a particular contemporary relevance. Rangers fans were recently escorted by the Glasgow police as they marched on Argyle Street singing ‘The Famine is over, why don’t you go home?’ to the tune of the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B. Brian Wilson wept.

    This a racy read; I’m going to get a copy for my ma’s Christmas.

Check out Those Tyrannising Landlords here.

The article is available to view here.

Ringwood in the News:
The Lanarkshire Police Chronicles: Author George Barnsley’s Campaigning Brought to Parliament.

By Megan Gibson.

George Barnsley’s novel, The Lanarkshire Police Chronicles, features a collection of non-fiction stories gathered through the Lanarkshire Police Historical Society, to paint a picture of 200 years of policing history in the district. Parts of Barnsley’s novel tells the stories of those who are no longer with us. With specific emphasis on a campaign run by Barnsley and the families of those who died in the line of duty: the posthumous recognition for the bravery of Detective Sergeant William Ross Hunt and Constable George Taylor.
 On November 30th, 1976, Constable Taylor was brutally murdered while intercepting State Hospital escapees. He was 27-years old when he died, and was survived by his wife, Sally, and four children.     
    On June 5th, 1983, Detective Sergeant Ross Hunt was murdered while attempting the arrest a suspect in two stabbings. He was 49-years old when he died, and survived by his wife, Marjory, and three sons.   

    Ringwood is now pleased to report that after a long struggle for recognition, the campaign of Barnsley and the victim’s families is finally beginning to reach its apex. On the 10th of January at London’s Westminster Hall, Wendy Chamberlain, North East MP and former Lothian and Borders police officer, presented the debate to institute a new posthumous bravery award for the emergency services. 
    Chamberlain highlighted the injustice of the case of Constable George Taylor as “a particular case in which an individual’s bravery and sacrifice has not been recognised, and a family [who] has suffered a loss that they feel has been forgotten”.

    Due to what was presumed as an administrative oversight, Constable Taylor was never recognised at the time for his bravery and sacrifice, regardless of the appropriate recommendations being made by senior police officers and continuous campaigning throughout the years. Taylor’s family were subsequently refused commendation for his bravery, due to the incident occurring past the five-year window required for award application. Chamberlain emphasised the “long-standing campaign by his family and the Lanarkshire Police Historical Society to right this wrong”, commending the “momentum behind the campaign to finally recognise his bravery”.
    In debate for the wider issue of all emergency personnel receiving posthumous commendation, Chamberlain stated that “no award or recognition can ever replace a loved one, but if we can go some way to making a family feel that the loss has been recognised, it is important that we do”.
    Other MPs highlighted cases of injustice in their own constituencies, such as that of PC Ged Walker, WPC Yvonne Fletcher and DS Ross Hunt, the latter who is also part of Barnsley’s campaign.

   The debate received cross-party support, with the Government now issuing this matter as a priority. We are hoping to see these issues addressed later this year, and would like to extend our congratulations to Ringwood Author George Barnsley, the Lanarkshire Police Historical Society, and the families of DS Ross Hunt and Constable George Taylor for their relentless work.  
Check out The Lanarkshire Police Chronicles here.
The 2023 debate transcript is also available to read here.

Get to Know Our Interns: Hayley Bannon.
Introduction & Questions By: Vicky McCormick.

   In our last newsletter, we started this feature to allow friends of Ringwood to get to know our amazing interns. Getting the necessary publishing experience can be difficult, which is why Ringwood offers internships to those who want to work in the industry. Our interns work across a variety of departments, allowing them to get the necessary skills needed for employment after their internship.

   This month, meet Hayley Bannon! Hayley joined Ringwood in September and is our audiobook champion. She told us how in addition to her role as an Author Support Worker, she has been working to produce audiobooks for several Ringwood titles.

Tell us about your background and how you came to Ringwood.

   I call myself a late-booker since I discovered my passion for publishing later in life. I’ve always been drawn to the creative industries, having studied journalism, design and professional writing but I was unable to find my niche. I’d always known about Ringwood from the cohorts on my publishing course but I was too nervous to pursue it back then — unsure of what I had to offer. I graduated during the pandemic and just after I started to find my feet, Ringwood was recommended to me by an intern alumni, who is now working in London with a major publisher. She credits her experience at Ringwood with getting where she is today. 
   Timing is everything and I believe I came to Ringwood at a time which was right for me. At my interview I discussed my long-term goal of working in the audiobook field and fortunately, the staff at Ringwood were also interested in exploring that avenue. 

What is your role at Ringwood?

    I am a support worker for two authors but recently, I have been given the responsibility of heading up the new Audiobook department. We are hoping to produce our first audiobook — The Ten Percent by Simon McLean using A.I. software. And along with a team, I spent my Christmas break submitting a marketing plan for one of our titles to Publishing Scotland who have offered to fund five audiobooks for publishers. 

What are your favourite genres of books?

    I love a good queer romance and anything with authentic LGBTQI+ characters. Recently, I’ve recently been getting into queer fantasy. I loved reading trans author Juno Dawson’s Her Majesty’s Royal Coven and The Poison Heart series by Kalynn Bayron.

What do you most enjoy about working in publishing and what are your goals for the future?

     I love that the publishing industry is largely populated by women so they understand the importance of a work/family life balance which is really important to me as I’m getting to that stage in life. 
As a person with dyspraxia, I prefer audiobooks because I get tired or fidgety, so it allows me to still enjoy books without staying in one place to read them. I would like to be an audio assistant, helping to cast voice actors for audiobook projects. My end goal is to become part of a team who is focused on the accessibility of their books in order to give back to my peers with similar disabilities who find listening easier than reading.  

What would you like to see more of in the Scottish publishing industry?

    Definitely more scope for audio departments to be developed within Scottish Publishers as most of these sectors are still in London . Once I have completed my internship with Ringwood, I hope to be that change!

Thank you for your time Hayley!

Until next time,

Jade McKeogh (Editor), Megan Gibson & Vicky McCormick (Assistant Editors) and the Ringwood Team.