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IN THE EVENT OF FIRE

New Writing Scotland 27

Edited by Alan Bissett & Liz Niven

Published in: Paperback.
By: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, Glasgow, August 2009.
Price: £7.95
ISBN 978-0-948877-92-6

Cover image: ASLS



  • In the Event of Fire is out of print.

This year has seen one new editor and one experienced editor share the reins of New Writing Scotland. Reins, it seemed sometimes, which belonged to an impatient horse. New Writing Scotland represents an annual jerk-forwards in the onwards motion of Scottish literature, with all its energy, raw and pulsing and unpublished. Reading through the submissions this year was a frequently exciting experience: those times, it felt good. Other times, being editor was an apologetic throwing of negativity into the world, that understanding of just how many rejections we would have to make.
     Let us tell you about The Box. It sits in the corner of the room. The Box! Like a booby-trapped device in a horror movie. Will it spring open today with knives? Or flowers? Each year, New Writing Scotland editors report on the staggering number of entries received, but it’s difficult to visualise just how huge a pile 800 of them is, just how long it takes to read. We make no grumbles: this is the editors’ job and we carry it out with much determination and enthusiasm. After the reading? The monumental task of grading each anonymous submission as Yes, No or Maybe, a little intellectual beauty contest, and coming to a mutual conclusion about 800 different catwalk models, not knowing if we’re giving a new writer their first taste of publication, or rejecting the work of some major literary figure.
     Satisfying were those whose opening lines struck a real confident strut. Equally relished, in their own way, were the ones which could be discarded almost immediately. Most frustrating was the large body of Maybes, where talent was clear but we observed technical problems or maybe our Maybe was simply down to subjectivity. These are the manuscripts over which editors can agonise the most. Should we publish, therefore giving a writer who was close-but-not-quite-there encouragement and an audience? Or should we protect the writer from too early exposure, allowing time for further crafting? In the main, we chose the latter option, selecting those which both editors felt had achieved a certain clarity, depth or singularity of voice. These, basically, are the ones which made us most excited, made us think: yes. A double yes. Yes! This writer needs to be read.
     Which leads us to our title. We like ‘In the Event of Fire’ for its everydayness (it’s a sign which we read, perhaps literally, on a daily basis) but also for the danger implied. Notice how fire is described as event. Something which erupts from the ordinary. Something which we are cautious about. We responded to writers who abandoned caution, who let the fire become an event, who did not scream, running for the exits, but who let it burn. Now, let it spread.
     It’s exit out the Fire Door for one of the current editors, her three-year editorial post being completed. It’s been great reading to find out which voices will set the heather alight each year, and a weather eye will keep watching from a safe distance. Our other editor, however, very much looks forward to The Box next year sitting there in the corner of his room, ticking away with the event of fire.

Alan Bissett
Liz Niven

Click here for information on submitting work to New Writing Scotland.

Contents

  • Jean Atkin . . . . . Galloward / Galloward 1925
  • Colin Begg . . . . . Observation Post
  • Kate Blackadder . . . . . Hattie
  • Isobel Boyle . . . . . Mwaniki
  • David Cameron . . . . . The Silent
  • Giles Conisbee . . . . . Peat
  • Catherine Czerkawska . . . . . A Quiet Afternoon in the Museum of Torture
  • John Duffy . . . . . A Sleeping Croon
  • Robert Ewing . . . . . First Contact
  • Corinne Fowler . . . . . The Black Devon
  • Ewan Gault . . . . . The Restless Wave
  • Diana Hendry . . . . . Some of These Days
  • Kate Hendry . . . . . The Coop
  • Nick Holdstock . . . . . What Practice Makes
  • Vicki Husband . . . . . View from the Necropolis
  • Elisabeth Ingram . . . . . Green Line
  • Kirstin Innes . . . . . Country Dancing 1994
  • Mary Johnston . . . . . Gowsty Gaberlunzie
  • Bridget Khursheed . . . . . Fish Ladder
  • Eleanor Livingstone . . . . . Nova Scotia? / Breathless
  • Rowena M. Love . . . . . Gutter Girl
  • Harry McDonald . . . . . Alzheimers
  • Joe McInnes . . . . . Heartlines
  • Ian MacPherson . . . . . Salmon Chamareemo
  • Andy Manders . . . . . night night
  • Theresa Muñoz . . . . . Fight
  • John Murray . . . . . 12 Runes
  • Ronnie Nixon . . . . . Art Prize
  • Jane Rawlinson . . . . . Threshing the Wind / Stone Furniture, Skara Brae
  • James Sinclair . . . . . Abandoned
  • Nancy Somerville . . . . . Breaking Away
  • Gerda Stevenson . . . . . Last Sunday
  • Andrew Stott . . . . . Shoes
  • Alison Swinfen . . . . . The News
  • Daryl Tayar . . . . . Back Court Body
  • Jim Taylor . . . . . The Muppet Show on Ice
  • Sheila Templeton . . . . . Totality
  • Valerie Thornton . . . . . Prospecting in Partick
  • Deborah Trayhurn . . . . . Manhandled by Memory
  • Fiona Ritchie Walker . . . . . In the Event of Fire
  • Janette Walkinshaw . . . . . I’ll Settle for Arran
  • Christopher Whyte . . . . . Rèilig Ann An Seligstadt (with English translation by Niall O’Gallagher)
  • Sue Wilson . . . . . Countercurrents
  • Matthew Wright . . . . . Grey Area

Last updated 10 June 2014.