The News

Jim Crumley’s new Encounters in the Wild series


Jim Crumley, one of the country's leading nature writers, offers close encounters with our favourite animals in his enchanting new series of books, published on Thursday 20 November… just in time for Christmas!

In the Encounters in the Wild series, Jim gets up close and personal with British wildlife. With his inimitable passion and vision, he relives memorable encounters with some of our best-loved native species, offering astonishing insights into their extraordinary lives. The Barn Owl and the Fox are the subjects of the first two books in the series, with two more planned for 2015. 

Inspired by Jim’s lifetime of living and breathing the British countryside, the Encounters in the Wild books combine poetic and incisive writing with beautiful artwork – and are the perfect gift for nature lovers.

Indie Christmas packages from Saraband

Merry Christmas! Happy Hogmanay! Celebrate the Solstice! We're offering readers some ethical and festive cheer in the form of these themed selections of Scottish books, available up to Twelfth Night so you can buy them as gifts or to enjoy for yourself in the holiday season. Support independent publishing and give a gift of words!

Historical novels set in 19th-century Scotland:
The Physic Garden, Catherine Czerkawska & Unfashioned Creatures, Lesley McDowell

Twentieth-century classics set in WWI Glasgow and WWII Edinburgh, both shortlisted for major international prizes:
The Credit Draper by J David Simons & A Capital Union by Victoria Hendry 

Contemporary Women's Classics:
The Four Marys, Jean Rafferty & Bear Witness by Mandy Haggith 


The Physic Garden by Catherine Czerkawska: A young gardener in early 19th-C Glasgow in a story of friendship, love and betrayal. "Powerful" (John Burnside); "restrained, elegant prose" (Sunday Times pick of historical fiction) 

Unfashioned Creatures by Lesley McDowell: : An ambitious 'mind-doctor' meets young Isabella Booth in a rich, Gothic story featuring Mary Shelley's real-life friend. "Intricate, and thick with insanity" (Scottish Review of Books); "a tantalising read" (The Scotsman)

A Capital Union provides a fresh look at WWII Edinburgh and the nascent nationalist movement through the eyes of young Agnes, a refreshing and vivid new voice. "Dramatic and engaging" (Alan Warner Book of the Year),"Startlingly accomplished (Sunday Herald) - Shortlisted for the Historical Writers' Association Debut Crown 2014

The Credit Draper by J David Simons is the compelling, original and page-turning story of an immigrant to Glasgow's Jewish ghetto during World War I, and the first in his acclaimed Glasgow to Galilee trilogy. "A joyous book" (The Herald) – shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize.

The Four Marys: Four lushly written tales rooted in Scottish history, mythology and lore brought up to date in these contemporary folk novellas. "Powerful stories" Marina Warner.

Bear Witness by poet, environmentalist and novelist Mandy Haggith follows environmentalist Callis McArthur on her journey to bringing bears back to the wild, and having a "Goldilocks" romantic experience along the way. "Daring and beautifully worked" Jim Crumley; "Passionate and subversive" Jason Donald

Tackling mental health issues with wit and imagination


In our stressful modern world, mental health problems are increasingly common. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, OCD… these conditions affect so many of us, from the richest celebrities to the Average Joe, yet mental illness is still surrounded by ignorance, prejudice and fear. Author and nurse Beda Higgins believes – perhaps surprisingly – that one of the best ways to promote greater public understanding of mental health issues is by telling stories.

Little Crackers, her new collection of short stories published on November 6, delivers a startling, original portrayal of individuals living on the edge. The stories challenge our perception of normal, and question how we care for the most vulnerable members of our society.

In the book we find, for example, a new mum struggling to bond with her baby; a student obsessed about flies spreading their killer germs; and a loving father battling his all-consuming fear of death.

The stories are often humorous, and always as entertaining as they are informative. Obsession, dementia, psychosis and even murder all feature in this quirky, surprising Tales of the Unexpected for the 21st century. 

Beda says: “Little Crackers is inspired by my experiences as a nurse over the last thirty years. I came up with a world of strange characters – the paranoid, the isolated, the exploited and the wicked – to illuminate the everyday grief, poverty, neglect, fear and isolation that we all know exist and are common, but which are so often ignored.”

At 6pm on Thu 13 November, Beda will be launching Little Crackers at Blackwells, 141 Percy Street, Newcastle.

Additional information