Paperback Launch: Fan Q&A

If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve heard from us and our delightful authors. To celebrate the paperback release of Time and Tide (out now!) we bring you Stryvling Press superfan, Shannon Currie. Project Assistant Federica Trogu sat down for a lovely chat with Shannon about books (no surprises here), her takes on Time and Tide, convoluted poetry, and––most importantly––the key role of Scottish snacks as interpretative tools.

Hi Shannon! Thank you so much for joining us on Time and Tide launch day. First thing first, introduce yourself. If you were a book, what kind of book would you be? 

Thank you for having me! I’m a student on the MLitt Publishing course, alongside the Stryvling team. I think if I were to be a book, I’d like to be a somewhat tattered, secondhand fiction paperback, filled with lots of scribbled annotations and dog ears, because I’d like to be a book that was well-loved  and had been enjoyed by lots of people who had each had an individual experience reading me. 

Talking about Time and Tide next. What drew you to reading the title? Feel free to say that it was thanks to our amazing marketing team! Let’s give them some love. 

Being part of this years MLitt cohort meant that I was aware that there was a Stryvling anthology in the works, but what really initially drew me to the book was the beautiful cover, the design team really did such a wonderful job with it. Following that, I became progressively more excited for its release after watching and reading the videos and blogs created by the marketing team. I think they achieved a really good balance between showcasing the authors, and giving an insight into the publishing process and all of the hard work that went into making the anthology happen. I especially loved the author interviews, as it was really intriguing to read about the influences and inspiration behind each writer’s work, which made me want to read the anthology all the more. I also loved the author readings during the few days before the anthology’s release! 

Tell us about your favourite story, and why you liked it. 

I’m going to cheat and talk about the two that stuck with me the most after reading, the first being Lauren Ross’ ‘November Took My Father,’ and the second ‘Peer Support’ by Dianne-Dominique Theakstone, because I really enjoyed all of the stories and poetry in the anthology, so it was hard to pick just one. As a memoir, I felt ‘November Took My Father’ was beautifully written and really poignant. The way the author weaves her personal experience with the history of the Romanov sisters is such a unique and powerful way of dealing with a difficult topic, and I think it’s of massive credit to her writing that she is able to make a piece of history, which is often dealt with in a really clinical way, more emotional and applicable to life experiences in the present day.

I also loved ‘Peer Support’, as I thought again, it was such a unique and insightful way to present an important message about an issue that is not discussed enough. I feel like I learned a lot about the issues faced by those with disabilities in regards to accessible housing, and for such a short story too, and so for me the author did an amazing job of making this an accessible piece that was nonetheless informative and impactful. I also loved the way in which the author showcased the wonderful, but also essential relationship between assistance dogs and their owners, and think that is largely why the story stuck with me so much.     

Although we personally love the book and everything in it, is there any story you didn’t like?  

Honestly, there wasn’t a single piece I didn’t enjoy. I think every author brought something unique to the anthology, and though I’m not a big poetry lover and so was a little dubious about the poems before reading the anthology, I really enjoyed those too! 

Oh, I have a soft spot for the poems in our anthology, and I’m glad you’ve brought them up. Time and Tide is a mash-up of genres, and poetry is often seen as a difficult one: it suffers from the misconception that an academic background is needed to understand it. How do you feel about the poetry pieces in the anthology, and do you agree with the statement above? 

As I said I’m not a huge poetry lover, and I think that has a lot to do with the ‘academic’ poems I read, and the way I had to read them, as a former English Lit student. It’s not to say that Coleridge and Wordsworth’s poems aren’t great and enjoyable for some, but I often found it a bit deadening to be sat forensically examining their work. It made them feel unnecessarily convoluted and inaccessible. I don’t think it’s a niche genre at all, in fact quite the opposite, as some of the poems I have really enjoyed weren’t ones I read as part of a university module, and would probably not be what some would consider ‘academic’, but they were great because they were accessible and relatable, and so no, I don’t agree that you need an academic background to understand poetry, because you don’t need to be able to critique or ‘solve’ a poem to be able to enjoy it and interpret it in your own way. I really liked the poetry pieces in the anthology for the very reason that they weren’t overly convoluted. My two favourites were ‘July’ by Lauren Ivers, and ‘This’ll do’ by Beag Horn, the former because it has such a nostalgic feel to it, and the latter because of how beautifully descriptive it is.   

Finally, let’s wrap up this chat with something weird. Pick your favourite stories and/or character (from any published work). If they’d be your favourite Scottish snack, what would they be and why?  

I thought hard about this one, and did some Googling to see what things were considered definitive ‘Scottish’ snacks. One of my all time favourite stories is Little Women, because I love how individual each of the March sisters are. I think Beth would be Tablet, because she’s very sweet and an old-soul, and I always associate Tablet as being made by Scottish grannies. Jo would definitely be Irn Bru, because she’s vibrant and unique, and nothing says vibrant and unique like a bright orange fizzy beverage. Meg would be shortbread, because she’s reliable and homely and shortbread is reliably tasty everytime, and reminds me of a cosy home at Christmas. I think Amy would definitely be Haggis (which technically isn’t a snack but bear with me), because people typically either love or hate Haggis, and I feel it’s the same with Amy (I love her personally).  

Thank you so much to Shannon for sitting down with us for this Q&A! 

Time and Tide is out now in both paperback and ebook. 

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