Dearest Ringwood Readers,
Welcome to the September edition of the Ringwood newsletter. The change of season has brought the colder weather, but that hasn’t stopped the literary community getting together. Here at Ringwood we had a whole range of events, including the launch of The Bone on the Beach. You’ll find all the details below!
Are you as excited for the return of the Ringwood Publishing Podcast as we are? Season 2 is nearly here! Join hosts Matilda Eker and Jess Court every Saturday as they chat to a whole new series of guests about all things books and publishing. Whether you’re here for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into your favourite author’s writing process or a deeper look into what really goes on in a publishing house, we’ve got you covered.
Fancy a sneak preview? We’re starting Season 2 with a bang this Saturday! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to host a podcast, you won’t want to miss hearing Rosie Watts, host of Season 1, tell all. Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
The Bone on the Beach Launch
Everyone here at Ringwood are delighted to announce the launch of Fiona Gillan Kerr’s debut novel The Bone on the Beach. The book was officially launched at Inverness Library as part of NessBookFest as part of their opening event.
We heard excerpts from the book and Fiona answered audience questions and signed copies of the book. Something that made the night even more special was the inclusion of two Advanced Higher English students from Ullapool High School who are native Gaelic speakers. The Bone on the Beach uses the Gaelic language throughout and it was great to have Nuala and Callum (pictured with Fiona) there to share their thoughts and ask questions.
“Gaelic is a bit like poetry, it’s lovely,” Fiona said, when asked about her feelings towards the Gaelic language. We would like to thank Ness Book Fest for their support and thank you to our interns, Rosie and Ashleigh, for organising and running the launch. We couldn’t have done it without you!
We now look forward to more fun for The Bone on the Beach. We’re organising not one, not two, but three more events! The next one will be held in Thurso Library on the 13th of October, followed by an event on the 16th of October at Typewronger, Edinburgh. Our final event is being held at Arlington Baths in Glasgow on the 14th of November and is part of Book Week Scotland.
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:
Website- The Bone on the Beach.
Byres Road Festival
Ringwood was honoured to be a part of the 2023 Byres Road Book Festival, hosting two events on Sunday 24th September at the Hillhead Library and the Ubiquitous Chip.
Book Advice and Q&A Session: Hillhead Library
By Rosie Hall.
Our Chief Editor, Isobel Freeman, and Interns Rosie Hall and Rachel Harley, spent the afternoon at the Hillhead Library, answering questions about all things publishing. The event was well attended by budding authors and publishing hopefuls alike, who were hopefully able to gain some valuable insights about how a manuscript makes it from submission all the way to print.
True Crime Non-Fiction Panel: The Ubiquitous Chip
By Megan Gibson.
It was a full house this Sunday for Ringwood’s true crime non-fiction writing panel. Followed by an introduction from Chair, Megan Gibson, authors Allan Nicol (Liberation, Sheila Garvie: Mastermind or Victim) and Tom Wood (Ruxton: The First Modern Murder) discussed their works in detail, ranging from the case itself to their personal stories writing them. From Mitchell Library archives to the lifecycle of maggots, these talks were both informative and entertaining, demonstrating the knowledge and skill of our authors.
However one of our authors, George Barnsley (The Lanarkshire Police Chronicles), was sadly unable to attend, so in lieu of this, Tom Wood took up the baton and gave a brief and heartfelt speech about the author and his important work, much to the fascination of the audience.
Following these presentations, a small panel discussion took place, discussing the wider topics of true crime, ethics, and the research and writing process. This was followed up by an audience Q&A. The event was a success both in audience attendance and content, and will surely be the start of many more true crime non-fiction events for Ringwood.
Goldenhare Books Event
We’re delighted to announce that Mark Gallacher, author of the dystopian Mars adventure Saved From the Fire, has had a short story selected for publication by Postbox Magazine. “The Question”, a story which paints a striking portrait of a young man in a fractured family, will feature in Issue 9, which is to be released on October 3rd at Golden Hare Books. You can buy your copy of the issue here. And be sure to keep an eye on our socials for pictures!
Mark Gallacher: “Hartman Running” – Saved From the Fire Reading
Who gets to tell their story – and who gets silenced? In Mark Gallacher’s futuristic dystopian novel Saved From the Fire, a Mars colony has to make the ultimate sacrifice to save an increasingly unstable Earth where control of information is more important than ever. Fancy hearing an exclusive reading from the book? Check out this clip of Mark Gallacher reading the chapter “Hartman Running” here!
How to Write and Publish a Book Event
by Vicky McCormick
After the success of our June event at Stockbridge Library in Edinburgh, we decided to run a repeat of our ‘How to Write and Publish a Book Event’. This time, we were at Leith Library and our two authors, Flora Johnston and L.A. Kristiansen, were joined by Ringwood’s Chief Editor, Isobel Freeman.
Due to circumstances outside of our control (we’re not a fan of slow passport offices here at Ringwood!) Through the powers of zoom L.A. Kristiansen was able to speak at the event remotely. She and Flora shared their writing journeys and gave insightful advice to the audience about best practices on writing, editing and getting published. Isobel discussed the submission and publication process from her perspective and then all three speakers answered an array of thoughtful questions from our audience.
Meeting the Managers: Christine McCrosson
by Margaret Mitchell
As part of our new newsletter series, ‘Meeting the Managers’, Margaret Mitchell chatted with Christine MacCrosson, one of the newly appointed members of the four person Ringwood Publishing executive group.
Christine started with the company in July this year, offering her professional experience to an area that is entirely new to her. Christine’s love of books and, in particular Scottish literature, started at an early age when she came across Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic, A Scots Quair in her school library. Her taste in books ranges from non-fiction to the “starkness” of Scottish and, more recently for her, Irish fiction. But primarily she seeks books to which she, as a Scot can relate.
Christine said that becoming involved with Ringwood Publishing has opened up a treasure trove of Ringwood’s non-fiction titles. She devoured Tom Wood’s Ruxton in one sitting, and was delighted to read The Lanarkshire Police Chronicles by George Barnsley and Sheila Garvie by A.N.Nicol. Aside from these, Christine is very excited about Ringwood’s latest fiction offering, The Bone on the Beach by Fiona Gillan Kerr.
An asset to Ringwood Publishing, Christine offers a range of skills; Ringwood operates an Intern model providing younger people with the opportunity to experience and learn the wide range of skills that are required in publishing. Christine’s extensive experience as an educator gives her the supportive and empathetic approach needed to mentor and further develop these talented young people. “I’ve been very impressed with how knowledgeable and on the ball the Interns are, and by their enthusiasm and dedication to their career goals in the world of books.” Over the past few years Christine has worked with the Hartwood Community Development Group in her local North Lanarkshire area pursuing fundraising to increase recreational assets. Creating this Group honed her skills in ‘from the ground up’ organisational development.
In addition, Ringwood is a remote organisation meaning there is no physical central office; work is done electronically, and by Whatsapp and Zoom meetings. For Christine, this makes it even more important that the Interns are supported to feel part of the larger picture, and she sees to increase positive communication within the Company as a significant part of her role.
I asked Christine what she hoped to gain from her role with Ringwood. “When I joined the Company, I wanted to meet interesting people, both colleagues and authors, and to interact with people who are closely attached to books one way or another. I wanted to be part of conversations around books: what it takes to write, to edit and to publish a book. From my new perspective now inside the company I am just beginning to understand the whole publishing pathway. It’s a fascinating thing, publishing, and Ringwood is an intriguing Company. I’m delighted to be involved.
Annual Literacy Survey– Why do kids read less and less?
By Matilda Eker
Earlier this month, the National Literacy Trust published the 2023 results of their Annual Literary Survey, which reveals a steady decline in the number of kids in the UK aged 5-18 who enjoy reading for pleasure. Compared to 2005, the first year of records, the percentage of children who read in their free time has decreased with 26%– marking the lowest levels in 18 years. These results are alarming, to say the least.
The survey highlights lack of encouragement from parents or guardians and the lack of supportive reading environments as some important factors, and states that children who receive free school meals are even less likely to read in their free time, read frequently, or read for pleasure.
I wonder too, if social media and technology also have a part to play in these results. With apps like TikTok, which is designed to keep you hooked, a lot of time can be lost to aimless scrolling. I’ve seen a lot of discussion lately about whether TikTok actually shortens your attention span, and while opinions differ, a lot of users seem to experience the same phenomenon, where it’s hard to focus on anything longer than a minute after you’ve been scrolling for too long. With a personalised algorithm, TikTok ensures that you get content you enjoy from the very first second that you open the app, whereas the benefits of reading often take longer to kick in. Reading requires you to be more active than when you’re watching short videos, and while the reward might come later – when you’ve become absorbed in the plot, invested in the characters, or just found out the big reveal – the effects last longer, and even benefit you for life. The National Literacy Trust suggests that children who enjoy reading are three times more likely to have good mental wellbeing than kids who don’t enjoy it.
However, the question remains: if kids nowadays read less and less, despite reading being so beneficial, what can we do to stop the trend? We know that things like encouragement from adults and supportive reading environments have positive impacts on children’s reading habits, the survey also states that many children do not read with their parents, nor see their parents read. However, even if more parents start to encourage their children to read, is that enough, when you take into consideration the potential impact of social media usage?
Looking further ahead, we might wonder what it would mean for the future of the literary world too if this pattern continues. Will there still be a market for small indie publishers like Ringwood? And widening the gaze even further: What would the effects on public wellbeing be if more and more kids risk missing out on the many joys and benefits of reading?
As the National Literacy Trust states on their website, they hope the results of the survey will act as a wake-up call for us to urgently address the issue at hand, and help more kids find their way back into reading.
Get to Know Our Interns: Rosie Hall
Introduction & Questions by Margaret Mitchell
It’s a familiar conundrum: you can’t get a job without the relevant experience, and you can’t get relevant experience without a job. This is possibly even more difficult in the competitive world of publishing. Ringwood Publishing provides a platform for Scottish works. It is a ‘one stop shop’ which considers manuscripts direct from authors right through to publication and sales. This publishing model means that Ringwood’s Intern Program can offer work experience relevant to every stage of book publishing.
This month, we hear from Rosie, one of the talented Interns Ringwood has attracted. Rosie recently completed her Master’s degree at Edinburgh University in Religion and Literature. She spoke about her passions for Scottish literature, her sense of place that is uniquely Scottish and her enthusiasm for Scots language(s).
What are your roles at Ringwood?
I’ve worked in marketing and editorial, which I enjoy. It can be anything from the initial brief report on the manuscript right up to its final proofreading. We look at things like, are all the characters distinguishable? Is this side plot relevant? Then the manuscript returns to the author for them to make changes and or refuse them, as sometimes happens! I enjoy working with the authors. They’re all different. They basically bring you their baby in written form and you try to deliver it! It’s a relationship that depends so much on trust. In my other roles at Ringwood, I’ve used my work with the Aberdeen International Youth Festival to inform my approach to Ringwood public events, like book launches, ensuring that things go smoothly. In my management role, I support new Interns as they enter the company and encourage them to get as much as they can from this valuable experience.
What are your favourite genres of books?
I’m passionate about Scottish literature, and Scottish writing. One reason I love it is because we’re in a situation where American writing and American media is the centre of everything we consume. These have become our cultural reference points. Through books, we inhabit other lives and places.
I love Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, which makes the point about Glasgow, “Glasgow is a magnificent city,” said McAlpin. “Why do we hardly ever notice that?”…“Because nobody imagines living here, think of Florence, Paris, London, New York. Nobody visiting them for the first time is a stranger because he’s already visited them in paintings, novels, history books and films. But if a city hasn’t been used by an artist, not even the inhabitants live there imaginatively.”
I think it’s important to keep regional differences and to be proud of the unique way we speak. Scots words, such as clamjafrie, dreich, wheech, boggin, say a lot more than the rough equivalent in standard English, which wouldn’t provide half the atmosphere. Readers’ interests in preserving Scots language, and their ability to understand it should not be underestimated. It’s heartening that Ringwood, with its focus on Scottish writing, is so open to the use of Scots language and all its regional variations.
What’s next for you?
I enjoy books obviously and aim to get a job in publishing, specifically Scottish publishing. In the meantime, I am enjoying my work with Ringwood. The experience I’m accumulating, energetically doing everything across all the different areas will, I hope, stand me in very good stead for my future goals. I thoroughly recommend these internships.
Thank you for your time Rosie!
Until next time,
Megan Gibson & Vicky McCormick (Editors), Matilda Eker and Margaret Mitchell (Assistant Editors) and the Ringwood team!