Meet writers at free Waterstones Inverness event on Thursday
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IN an exclusive online QnA, two writers who talk about their books at an event in Inverness this week, talk about their work – quite different but linked by Robert Burns.
Barbara Henderson is the author of the historical novels Fir for Luck, Punch, and the eco-thriller Wilderness Wars. She is a columnist for a range of newspapers in the North of Scotland and lives in Inverness with her family. Richmond Clements is a writer and editor. Originally from Northern Ireland, he now lives in Inverness and has written several graphic novels and countless short stories and comic strips. His published work includes Turing Tiger published by Renegade Arts Entertainment, Pirates Of The Lost World and Ketsueki – also with illustration by UK-based Japanese manga artist Inko from Markosia. He also scripted the 2017 horror adventure game Black Mirror. Based on the Isle of Lewis, Cranachan publishes high-quality children's fiction and nonfiction for eight to 12s. Details: cranachanpublishing.co.uk Twitter: @cranachanbooks
Q (for Richmond): When did you first have the idea to turn Tam O'Shanter into a Manga-style graphic novel? It's such a visual poem that I imagine it worked well to do it in that format?
RICHMOND: A When I first read it, I was amazed that nobody had thought of adapting it as a comic already. The story is so visual, fast moving and kinetic it lends itself so well to the comic medium.
Q (for Richmond): When did you first get into graphic novels (to read) – and then when did you first do your own? And just for info, give a quick picture of your writing career so far?
RICHMOND: A I have always been a comics reader. I started writing maybe 15 years or so ago for a few small press titles – FutureQuake and the 2000AD fanzine Zarjaz – that I still co-edit. My first graphic novel was Turning Tiger, which was published by Renegade Arts 10 years ago. Since then I have had a few GNs published, as well as many short strips in various publications.
Q (for Richmond): How was it you hooked up with UK-based Manga artist Inko?
RICHMOND: A Inko and I worked together on a GN called Ketsueki for a publisher called Markosia a few years ago. She's an amazing artist and I knew she'd deliver the goods on this as she did on our previous book.
Q (remaining questions for both Barbara and Richmond): Both of you have books entering the world of Robert Burns – Richmond yours is one of the writer's poems, Barbara, yours features Robert as a character in an exciting smuggling incident.
How easy was it to try to get to the heart of the writer and his life and words all these years on?
BARBARA: A I feel that my take is a bit of a cop-out, but Burns is merely appearing in a cameo role. The details of the incident I am describing in Black Water are well documented in a contemporary operations diary, so I know Burns was there and led one of the groups of soldiers. I have given him a love of language, of Scots and an open and engaging personality. I think he would have had all of these in order to have lived the life he did.
RICHMOND: A I think the great thing with Burns is that he wears his heart on his sleeve, so it's easy to get into his work in that way. That and he is just so good at writing. I know that sounds obvious, but he really is brilliant. Funny, moving, exciting and accessible.
Q What will you both be talking about at your event at Waterstones Inverness this week?
BARBARA: A I'll be offering an insight into Scotland's smuggling coast in the late 18th century and reading from the opening of Black Water. Let's just say that peril is never far away in that book, and amazingly, the real events I based my story on bear that out, too. The sea at night is ominous enough, but throw in cannon- and musket-fire, quicksand, sabotage and intrigue and you've got a pretty compelling tale. Especially when the central character is only 13.
RICHMOND: A I will answer whatever I am asked!
Q Each of you, what is your favourite thing about Robert Burns – the Bard – having spent some time with him and his legacy in writing your own books?
BARBARA: A There is the worthy literature, of course, but I like Burns best when he is expressing fairly simple observations in memorable and humorous ways. They may have been comments on the world he inhabited, but they are often so timeless that they work for ours, too.
RICHMOND: A There is a real sincerity to his work that manages to avoid any tweeness at the same time. And, as I said before, his writing is just so good.
Q If time travel suddenly became possible and you got to go back and talk to him, what would be the burning question you would want the answer to?!
BARBARA: A He was a pretty prolific poet and letter-writer. I'd love to know his secret about staying motivated and churning out work so consistently over the years, despite having demanding day jobs. He must have been very driven.
RICHMOND: A Oh that's a good question! I think I'd just be happy to spend an evening drinking with him. A Souter Johnnie to his Tam, if you will!
Barbara Henderson and Richmond Clements will be talking about their books on Thursday (October 31) from 6pm at a free event at Waterstones Inverness. Barbara’s book Black Water and Richmond’s book Robert Burns Tam O’Shanter are both out from Cranachan publishers now.