Tag Archives: Helen McClory

ON THE EDGES OF VISION Wins Big in Scotland!

We are delighted to announce that Helen McClory’s On the Edges of Vision has been named The Saltire Society First Book of the Year. These awards are recognized as the nation’s most prestigious annual book awards.

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About the collection, the esteemed judging panel said: “These are dark stories about the limits of the conscious and the darkness within. About a world where reality flickers in and out of focus disturbingly. The familiar is even more disturbing than the unfamiliar. These are stories that draw you back to re-read, but they continue to squirm out of final reach.”

The book triumphed over stiff competition; McClory says of the win: “I am utterly delighted that On the Edges of Vision has won this year’s Saltire First Book of the Year Award…. For the collection to…win this prize is a huge boost not just to myself but the press as well, highlighting QFP’s innovative mission. Sparklers in both hands, quite honestly.”

Helen McClory is a writer on the rise and Queen’s Ferry is proud to have published On the Edges of Vision. Congratulations, Helen!

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Queen’s Ferry Title Shortlisted for a Saltire Literary Award

We are thrilled to announce that Scotland’s Saltire Society, at simultaneous announcement ceremonies held in Edinburgh and London, has shortlisted Helen McClory’s On the Edges of Vision for the Saltire Scottish First Book of the Year Award. As these prizes are widely regarded as the country’s most prestigious literary awards, Queen’s Ferry couldn’t be more proud of Helen—regardless of the winners’ announcement in Edinburgh on November 26th.

On the Edges of Vision is described in the announcement as “a collection of dark short stories and prose poetry about the limits of the conscious and the darkness within from Edinburgh-based writer Helen McClory.”

Reviewing the title for Monkeybicycle, Ariell Cacciola calls the book: “A debut collection that lingers in the curves of your eyes and during the double-blink gazes of late night shadows, Helen McClory has wound tight, unexpected stories… On the Edges of Vision is simmering…. If anything, McClory’s monsters are both homely and unfamiliar, and the tangle is what makes this collection ever so enjoyable.”

Why not pick up the book for yourself and see what all the fuss is about, or read the full Saltire Literary Awards press release.

On the Edges of Vision frontcover

 

ON THE EDGES OF VISION Pre-Sale Begins Today!

Helen McClory’s On The Edges of Vision is  now available via the QFP catalog!

In On the Edges of Vision, unease sounds itself in the language of legend. Images call on memory, on the monstrous self. In Helen McClory’s daring debut collection, the skin prickles against sweeps of light or darkness, the fantastic or the frightful; deep water, dark woods, or scattered flesh in desert sand. Whether telling of a boy cyclops or a pretty dead girl, drowned sailors or the devil himself, each story draws the reader towards not bleakness but a tale half–told, a truth half–true: that the monster is human, and only wants to reach out and take you by the hand.

“Helen McClory knows the mysterious boulder standing in the middle of the field isn’t as perplexing as what hides in the long–lived darkness beneath it. Her new book of stories, On the Edges of Vision, squirms as you read it, forbidding the tight grasp of expectation and rewarding the bloodshot–eyed attention of the curious. Old monsters eat here. New and strange monsters, too. Monsters with no names, and monsters with many names. You won’t be able to leave this book, or its marvels, where you found them. Read and be eroded into fresh soil. These monsters will thrive in you.”
—Casey Hannan, author of Mother Ghos

Order now for only $14.95, or contribute to the On the Edges of Vision Book Tour Kickstarter for rewards including print and digital copies of the book, shout-outs on Helen’s blog, editorial services from QFP, and more! As of July 21, the tour is 86% funded with 24 days to go. Help bring Helen to the States!

Helen McClory is a writer from Scotland. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of New South Wales. There is a moor and a cold sea in her heart. This is her first collection.

On the Edges of Vision Tour Kickstarter – Live through August 15!

On The Edges of Vision
On The Edges of Vision

The idea to launch a Kickstarter project to help fund the On the Edges of Vision tour came about as a result of me talking aloud about my thoughts on Twitter. It seems often to be the case that when I clap my hands to the keyboard to work something out, there are dozens of wonderful writerly people with advice, caution and encouragement to give. Sometimes it’s advice about cakes or language or the best place to go to find moorland in the lowlands (long story).

I had such a positive response to the idea of the Kickstarter that I decided I had to at least try. Queen’s Ferry Press have beyond risen to the occasion, providing perks for donations, an editorial eye over suggested rewards and tonnes of support generally for the whole tour endeavour, something that has seemed at times like stepping out across an invisible bridge and hoping to stay airborne.  So far, the whole process has gone incredibly well. My goal is small, realistic. Just £1000 to defray costs, with money raised beyond that gratefully received to help me book more stops, more bus tickets, to shore a future reading tour through the UK or beyond. In response to missives on Facebook and Twitter, more readings have already appeared on the schedule. My heartfelt thanks to the network of writers, editors and booksellers who have taken a chance on this book and agreed to be a part of this. To host me in their cities, most of which I’ve never even been to. Raising my glass to the internet for making these little hales and cries possible at all. To my friend A, who helped make the video, putting up with my desire for romantic ruins and my hesitancy, and voice – which he had to listen to many times in the editing process. To D, for being the sound man (as he always is, every single day). To all the friends new-made or long loved who have put their backs into this.

My very first book, these stories of monsters and connection, will be available for pre-order on the 21st of July, and the tour begins on the 24th of August. A litany so far: Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, DC, New York. If I can see you, somewhere here, as I read to you, or after, as I sign your name and smile (awkwardly, but sincerely, as I do most things), it would be wonderful. Reach out. Tell me I’m here, tell me I made it. Tell me your favourite book, the best spot in this city.

What this will do for the book itself cannot be easily quantified. How many more readers will get to know On the Edges of Vision than would have done otherwise? How many more people will buy a copy? Come to a reading, ask me to sign? Not sure. But I can feel that they will be there, the readers. That sensation of connecting, or the possibility of this. A sensation of the finest threads vibrating.

If you’d like, support the Kickstarter here. The fundraiser ends at midnight, August 15th.


 

Helen McClory
Helen McClory

Helen McClory is a writer from Scotland. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of New South Wales. There is a moor and a cold sea in her heart. This is her first collection.

‘Monstirs’ and Flash: Helen McClory writes this week’s QFP blog

‘What is a monster?’ asks Helen McClory. Her forthcoming collection, On The Edges Of Vision, may help you answer that question for yourself.

On the Edges of Vision began life as Monstirs, a tidal wave of a collection started in the beginning of April and finished, for the most part, by the beginning of June. Two stories were older: “Boy Cyclops” and “Pretty Dead Girl Takes a Break.” These I wrote years apart, when I was still at work on a short novel. It took me a while to realise that I’d found in them a theme I could explore further. I’ve always been drawn to narratives of the supernatural, the intersection of humanity and monstrousness. ‘All monsters are human’ says Sister Jude in American Horror Story: Asylum, repeating a truism that’s nevertheless a repellent little koan of a thought we generally jam to the back of our minds like a wad of gum.

I had just finished watching a TV show, Hannibal, all gloriously gruesome, psychologically rich and full of vignettes in the form of moments of instability, and of course the fantastical death tableaux. Hannibal poses the question, what is a monster? and answers it with transformations, film history, churned-up Catholicism. I realised with “Boy Cyclops”(published in Smokelong Quarterly), a story about a friendship with a fantastical creature who may be nothing more than an ordinary man, that I was asking the same thing. What is a monster? In what ways are others read as monstrous? Given that we cannot know who a stranger is, or even who we are, all we have is external or legend. How we tell ourselves into what we see. Or the ways we don’t, which is where “Pretty Dead Girl Takes a Break” steps in. The corpse of a beautiful woman proliferates to the point where we expect one in every crime drama. A horribly normalised visual trope, a monstrous assumption forged by misogyny.

All monsters represent some fear, some disgust, bafflement: we are worried by our bodies, by the possibilities of other bodies. We worry about the fluidity of our identities and our flesh. We’re all sliding around trying to find our balance, and at the same time watching what the other dancers on the floor are doing.  That’s why I chose the title Monstirs, at first. My way of pronouncing the word monsters, to put the word as-I-say-it in your head. To leap across that membrane. But On the Edges of Vision, suggested by the publisher and a portion of a line from ‘Boy Cyclops’ and performs the same trick—sidling up to you, turning your head, asking you to look at the periphery, where two eyes become cycloptic, where they split apart. It’s asking you to see both the fuzzy and shadowed, and the sharp and sunlight—to see that the quotidian and the monstrous are at once in the same place.

Once I had the desire to write a collection set in this uncanny Venn, the momentum pushed me ahead. In about a month and a half, I wrote about forty-three pieces, one after the other, each hovering around the thousand word or under mark, with a few stragglers going long. I took out four or five fairly quickly, and the rest I ran by my husband, D, who suggested I throw another two. Unlike most of my other projects, I wasn’t thrown into agonies of choice. Cutting down seemed like the natural thing to be doing, given each word in each story has to be carefully weighed and each at any moment is susceptible to ditching. The arrangement of the whole was based on trying to compliment the themes and styles. If a story was in third person, I wanted it to be next to one in first, or second. If it was about a dead person in some way brought back into animation, I wanted it to be near a story that was full of life. The pared-down collection I sent out to a small number of likely looking places, and it was this version that Queen’s Ferry Press kindly took up. When submitting the full manuscript to them I added an extra two flash, written a few weeks before, and inspired by a trip in June to the holy isle of Iona and the strange black cave-dominated island of Staffa. Thin places both.

I approached QFP initially because I knew they’d published Aaron Burch, the editor of one of my favourite literary journals, Hobart, and another of my favourite presses, Short Flight, Long Drive. His Backswing looked great, though I wondered if my style, miles away from Hobart’s house style of impossible American coolness, would appeal to QFP. Then I saw that QFP was inspired by a bit of the world that was less than a handful of miles from where I was living. The Firth of Forth—the estuary of the River Forth—has been a place of crossings and re-crossings for over a thousand years. I myself had crossed the firth countless times travelling between university in Fife and the city of Edinburgh, over the iron-red bridge that links the twin settlements of North Queensferry and South.

The fact that QFP took its name from this iconic point of connection eased my fears of the work being misunderstood. Place is important to my writing, and though I’ve lived in and write stories set in America and in Australia, I’m a writer with a Scottish accent. There are Scotland-based stories throughout this collection and a smattering of Scottish words and turns of phrase. The collection was rejected by only one other publisher, also America-based, who shall go unnamed. In their critique they cited poor spelling and general ‘sloppiness’ of the manuscript. When I went back to check, there were perhaps three misspelled words, so I can only conclude either they were very rigorous, or that pinch of Scots dialect had really thrown them. But language is a bridge, and I think readers enjoy walking out to catch the view. So far, QFP has proved to be everything I could hope for from a publisher—understanding, open, and direct. Living up to their name.

Why write flash fiction, low-count short story, veering into prose poetry? Well, because I love reading flash, love the sharpness, the unsettling power of the fragment. The excellence of Anne Carson, Casey Hannan, Kathy Fish, Tania Hershman—and there are more writers I’m finding. A boon of them, writing in a form that’s perfectly suited to the constraints and eye strain of the internet. That attempts to charge the language up and then folds it small, handing it to the reader where it will discharge like an opened missive of tiny lightening.

To date, stories from the collection have appeared in nine literary journals, with one of the very shortest pieces, “Lope,” shortlisted for the Bristol Flash Fiction Prize this year. I took part in FlashFlood, the UK’s National Flash Fiction Day deluge of flash with an appropriately waterlogged story, “The Drowned Sailors,” about longing and its twin, loss. I hope that for the reader of On the Edges of Vision, the flash form calls to mind island territories, the pockets of night that lurk in old houses and the bottom of the sea, the changing look in the eye of a stranger, the charged stage sets of the motel, the diner, the car, the family home. I hope that they read this collection, then take to the book shops looking for more, and that we meet there among the stacks, there to exchange To-Be-Read Lists as long as our shadows dancing behind us.

by Helen McClory