The News

Laura Marney joins Saraband and relaunches bestsellers

Laura Marney – one of Scotland’s most exciting novelists – is on a creative roll, with new editions of her books, a radio comedy, a stage play and appearances at top literary events.

All four of Laura's novels – including her highly acclaimed 2004 debut, No Wonder I Take a Drink – are to be re-issued in March 2012 as the satirist and comic writer joins Saraband.

Laura has updated and re-edited the books, which also include Nobody Loves a Ginger Baby (2005), Only Strange People Go to Church (2006) and My Best Friend has Issues (2008). Her first book, No Wonder I Take a Drink, was voted one of the Top 20 Scottish books of all time in a poll by The List magazine. The new e-book version of the novel will feature a bonus for budding authors in the form of an exclusive interview-style creative writing masterclass.

Laura’s stories feature flawed, realistic characters that she brings to life with a darkly comic writing style characterised by themes such as obsession, addiction, loneliness and friendship. No wonder one critic said of her writing: “At last, a funny novelist with guts” (Henry Sutton, The Mirror).

The re-issuing of the four novels comes in the middle of a prolific time for Laura, who has never had so many creative outlets for her work and her views:

Radio – BBC Radio 4 broadcast of Leap Year tales (February 2012) play Aw Wrong, a comedy monologue about a couple who, expecting the imminent birth of their first child, take steps to influence the course of nature.

Stage – Laura’s new stage play, Man of the House, is a claustrophobic thriller about ambition, the lack of it, and the perils of unhealthy co-dependent relationships. It will be performed in Edinburgh at the Netherbow Theatre in May and at the Glasgow West End Festival in June at the Cottier Theatre.

Aye Write – Laura is set to appear at the Glasgow Book Festival, which this year runs from Friday 9 March to Saturday 17 March. She will be joining a panel of women publishers, writers, and readers to discuss the controversial state of women’s writing today.

Laura said, “The people who buy books, read and recommend to friends – in short those shaping the publishing trends – are women. The people writing the reviews and winning the prizes are men. Women are not fairly represented. How can VS Naipaul get away with saying he considers no woman writer, not even Jane Austen, his literary equal? We can’t give credence to this sexist bollocks.”

World Book Night – Laura joins authors such as Maggie O’Farrell at the WBN event taking place at Blackwell Bookshop in Edinburgh on Monday 23 April to celebrate reading and books.

Even in the midst of this busy schedule, Laura is also planning a sequel to No Wonder I Take a Drink. Called The Answer, My Friend, Is Blowing Up Your Kilt, the new book will look at Scotland’s history, contemporary culture and future at a time when the debate around Scottish independence is raging. 

More dazzling reviews for Beneath Cold Seas

David Hall's gorgeous collection of underwater photography has continued to reel in some of the most dazzling reviews we've seen for any photography book.


February's issue of Undercurrent, for example, concentrates on Hall's technical achievement: "It's hard enough to take a first-rate photo of reef life in the best of conditions. Try doing it in murky, bone-numbingly cold water while wearing a dry suit with 40-plus pounds of weights around your waist, and thick, insulating gloves making it hard to use the camera controls. That's what David Hall had to endure while photographing in Canadian waters, but those physical disadvantages make his 160-page book, Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, all the more amazing." But Hall's writing is also praised as being as eloquent as his photography. Undercurrent is a highly respected newsletter/magazine for divers that accepts no advertising and publishes thoughtful reviews of equipment, dive destinations and books related to diving; it has sometimes been called “the Consumer Reports of diving” and most serious divers subscribe to it.

Peter Symes, editor of X-Ray Magazine, is perhaps the strongest proponent of Hall's work to date: "Hall has consistently managed to capture patterns, textures and colors…as if they were created on an easel. David Hall is an inspirational master who clearly hasn’t yet gotten all of the recognition that he deserves. “ Peter Symes has been in the underwater photography business a long time, and his praise for Hall's photos is fulsome indeed. He calls the photographer "in a class of his own" and says that the book is "a rare piece of art. Or rather, it is full of them." He likens the photos to works by the great Impressionists.

Outdoor Photography Magazine's Jemima Greaves says: “Dispelling the myth that cold, murky waters equal boring waters, Hall has captured the staggering beauty and variety of marine life found in the Pacific Northwest. Although the animals themselves are truly amazing, it is Hall’s creative eye and masterful photographic technique that really sets this book apart…”

Queens Quarterly's reviewer also focuses on the unsung brilliance of the colours and variety of the underwater life in these cold, dark waters. "When we think of vibrant sea creatures, we tend to envision coral reefs and tropical waters. But although temperate oceans are colder and darker, life within them is still bright. Consider the dazzling yellow stripes splashing the flanks of China rockfish or the neon feathered tips of the clown nudibranch."

Blogger Bensozia agrees: "David Hall's astonishing photographs show the vibrant colors and teeming life of a part of the world [where]... I never suspected these spectacular wonders. I have never looked through a book of nature photographs that wowed me so consistently. From brilliant anemones to illuminated squid to rococo sea slugs, Hall has documented an Aladdin's Cave worth of visual wonders."


Making Shore is shortlisted for Chambery Festival of First Novels 2012

Organisers of the Chambery Festival du Premier Roman – a festival celebrating Europe's best emerging literature – have announced the shortlist of the English-language novels for the 2012 season, the 25th in this popular festival’s history.

Making Shore is one of the 12 shortlisted titles, so our congratulations are due once again to Sara Allerton, who won last summer’s People’s Book Prize for Fiction.

The competition for the French festival will be fierce, as the list includes two novels that have collected the Costa First Novel Award: Kishwar Desai’s Witness the Night (2010) and Raphael Selbourne’s Beauty (2009), and a Richard and Judy-selected novel, Elizabeth Speller’s The Return of Captain John Emmett.

The shortlisted novels are published by Mantle Pan Macmillan, Faber and Faber, Virago, Headline, Tindal Street Press, Maclehose Press, Sceptre, Orion, Beautiful Books and Alma Books – an interesting mix of indies and large houses. The festival selections are made by 3000 participants in regular literary events and reading groups. The English-language reading selections are coordinated by Waverton Good Reads, their affiliate partner in the UK.

Additional information