I was honoured to be invited to address a group of prisoners and staff at HMP Saughton, after being specifically chosen by library users as an author they'd like to visit at part of National Libraries Week 2019. As when presenting a similar event at HMP Barlinnie last year, I was made to feel most welcome by staff and prisoners alike. My talk took place in the small prison chapel, where I read extracts from my biography, BrainBomb - revised chapters printed out on A4 as opposed to the version published on a short print run in 2009. I was delighted to sign copies of the original paperback, together with a short-story collection published in 2010, entitled Bedlam.
There was a frank Q&A session focusing on mental health. I was asked if being sectioned and spending time in psychiatric hospital was cathartic in giving me the inspiration to write BrainBomb, to which the answer was 100%.
I described my journey towards becoming a writer, starting with scribbling anti-war/CND lyrics for post-punk band 4 Minute Warning back in 1980, through to being published alongside various Scottish literary giants (including Alasdair Gray, Iain Crichton Smith, Liz Lochhead, Ali Smith, William McIlvanney, Iain Banks, Janice Galloway, Ian Rankin, A. L. Kennedy and Irvine Welsh to namedrop a few) in the Picador Book of Contemporary Scottish Fiction in 1998. I outlined the events leading up to me becoming an in-patient at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in 1987 and again in 1990. Afterwards there was a frank Q and A session, focusing on mental health. I was asked if being sectioned and spending time in psychiatric hospital was cathartic in giving me the inspiration to write BrainBomb, to which the answer was 100%.
The visit was a rewarding experience.