Umbrellas of Edinburgh, redux

Last night, I read my story A Beltane Prayer at the University of Edinburgh, as part of the latest fab event since the Umbrellas of Edinburgh anthology launched last autumn. What with having never read this story aloud before and not having done a public reading since October, I was more than a bit nervous.

I shouldn’t have been. The thing with literary Edinburgh is that no matter how rotten you feel, as soon as you’re in amongst it you feel miles better. Which was handy, because I’m currently in the pallid, rattly, exhausted phase of pneumonia recovery and kind of needed to feel less like death warmed up. And, as all good literati know, the best way to do that is with free wine.


Grapes are good for you!


The audience was fairly small, but then again so was the venue, which was pretty full! The best part was that, aside from my long-suffering OH and one of Team Story Shop, it was a sea of new faces. New, young faces, because as I found out recently, Umbrellas of Edinburgh is now part of this module, being studied by English Literature undergrads, and the lady teaching the module announced she was bringing all her students along to the event.

I’m part of a book on an actual degree course. Let that sink in. Also, I’ve never had such a rapt, attentive audience. Or one that was making actual notes in notebooks about my excellent adjectives or something.


More like Happy YA Heroes, amirite?


It was also a massive ego-boost to get whispered compliments on how well I read from the other Umbrellas contributors. I was very gleeful indeed at the post-event drinks and nibbles, especially as I found out a lot of the students were feeling super-inspired to go out into Edinburgh and write their own stories about their favourite areas. Hearing you’ve inspired others to write is, like, the best thing.

And, as an added bonus, most of the dozen books sold on the night, which were all that’s left of the print run – people couldn’t find them in Edinburgh bookshops, because they’d all sold out! (And no wonder, when we get actual whole displays like this in town. How fab.)


Thanks, Waterstones West End!

Thanks, Waterstones West End!


So, big thanks to Claire and Russell who brought the whole thing together, James at the University of Edinburgh for being an excellent reader and provider of wine, all the readers I met and imbibed with (especially Pete Mackay, who was replete with both Irish horror recommendations and sitcom ideas for me), and everyone who came along to support me (and ask me to scribble on their books, thus infinitely decreasing their value). Now, let’s see if we can’t persuade Freight to give this fab anthology a second print run, eh? ❤


3 thoughts on “Umbrellas of Edinburgh, redux

  1. Reblogged this on helen boden literary arts and commented:
    Fellow contributor to the Freight Books Anthology UMBRELLAS OF EDINBURGH [I have to do caps; if I type instructions for itals this Word Press dialog box tries to send an email . . . ]Laura Clay on the reading at Edinburgh University last week. I was rather fazed by the vast expanse of bright carpet, and felt as though I should be doing some gymnastics, not reading a couple of poems, but it was a very enjoyable evening. At the end of it, a group of poets occupied said carpet to discuss poetry mags and traffic jams.

    This whole project has been a joy, from offsetting the January blues last year by researching my locations (Morningside / Royal Ed; and Dreghorn & Redford woods, haunt of Wilfred Owen on the edge of the city), to launches, readings and events at the end of the year. Much thanks to editors Russell Jones and Claire Askew for the energy, commitment and professionalism they brought to the whole enterprise. I read this new anthology of a city already so well written about, and fall in love again with the place where I’ve lived, by a considerable margin now, longer than anywhere else.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s