Creative writing students launch anthology

Students from UHI’s BA (Hons) creative writing course have published an anthology of their work, with all profits going to a north of Scotland cystic fibrosis support charity.

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Creative writing students Geoff King, Dawn Tripp, Linda Blackwood and Megan Harper with the anthology

‘Northern Writes’ features writing by all nine students who have completed the degree this year, showcasing the skills they have learned and developed over the four-year course. It is available to purchase from Amazon for £5 per copy.

The book centres around the theme of ‘journey’ to reflect the students’ developmental journeys and the subject of the pieces, which take readers on physical, emotional and entertaining journeys.

Readers will travel through time and space, from a play set in Elgin in 1704 and the present time, to a conflicted Starforce captain tired of fighting galactic wars. Another tale takes us to Japan for an artful love story.

However, the majority of the stories are set in the Highlands, including one where a woman reflects on friendship when she investigates her friend’s death on a Scottish mountain and another where a journalist gets more than he bargained for in an interview.

There are stories to make you laugh, including a tale of a Glaswegian struggling to write his wedding vows without the word ‘rose’ and pieces to make you cry such as the heart-breaking poem about a woman’s struggle with IVF, the powerful memoir of a young adult who has forgotten the sound of her late mother’s voice and a poem, Seaweed and Roses, about living with cystic fibrosis:

 “History says I was born kissed by salt

and I can taste the seaweed on my tongue”

‘Northern Writes’ is sponsored by the Queen’s Hotel, Wick, Simpson Oils Ltd of Wick and Kat’s Kups ‘N’ Kakes/Kat’s Kaithness Tipple, with all profits being donated to The Leanne Fund, which provides support to those living with cystic fibrosis in the Highlands, Islands and Grampian. The charity was chosen to reflect Ashleigh Tucker’s struggles with the condition which she writes about in Seaweed and Roses.

It is hoped that the book will entertain readers, make money for The Leanne Fund and serve as a showcase to help the students further their publishing careers.

The nine students are aged from 22 to over 60 and live in Glasgow, Inverclyde, Dundee, Wick, Inverness, Moray, Thurso and Tain.

The group is the second cohort of students to complete UHI’s creative writing in the Highlands and Islands BA (Hons) degree, which was set up in 2018 by Orkney author, Dr Sara Bailey. The course experiments with all forms of writing, exploring audiences in the digital, print and performance world, and aims to develop the knowledge, skills and discipline necessary for a writer in today’s marketplace. It is taught mostly online to fit with the geography of the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire.

Kirstie Gunn, the Programme Leader on the course, said: “I am so impressed by this great batch of students and the fantastic work they have produced. They have done the degree as well as UHI as a whole very proud. I hope everyone who picks up a copy of the anthology will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed helping them produce it.”

A spokesperson for The Leanne Fund said: “What an incredibly thoughtful gesture. The Leanne Fund are so grateful to have been considered by Ashleigh and her peers to benefit so generously from their creative work. Heartfelt thank you to all nine students, The Queen’s Hotel, Kat’s Kups ‘N’ Kakes and Simpson Oils. We very much look forward to reading their work.”

A spokesperson for Simpson Oils Ltd said: “Simpson Oils of Wick was happy to give a donation to help with the creative writing book for those living with cystic fibrosis in the Highlands.”

Sharon Sutherland, owner of the Queens Hotel, added: “Peter and I are delighted to donate towards the anthology so that people studying in the creative arts can have an opportunity to publish something showing the amazing work they have produced. Throughout the years, The Leanne Fund has greatly helped our granddaughter, Ashleigh Tucker, who, along with the rest of her graduating class, have worked hard to publish this book. Well done all.”

The Leanne Fund was founded in 2010 by the family of the late Leanne Mitchell to help to those affected by cystic fibrosis. The fund aims to help people affected by the condition to live a full and rewarding life in their community. This is achieved by providing social, practical, emotional and financial assistance and enabling families to enjoy special times together. Because cystic fibrosis is a progressive disease, the burden of treatment and permanent presence of symptoms can be stressful. The range of support available from The Leanne Fund helps aims to make life a little easier.

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