I do use made-up words in my fiction, peppered in amongst the English … for example, ‘gracekeeper’ is not a word … I just thought it sounded nice and had good connections with what I wanted … I’ve also discovered that even though I keep saying that I speak English, I always forget that, of course, I understand Scots … I went for lunch with a publisher … and they would circle all these words [in the manuscript] and say: ‘I thought this was a word that you made up.’ And I would be like: ‘No, that’s an English word.’ But it was Scots, and because I use it as part of my daily language I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t an English word … A lot of these Scots words don’t even have an English equivalent … In the end, I always keep them [in the book] because I think people can understand the context … or like the word so much that they look it up or think that I’ve made it up.
Shall we take a walk around the mysterious back alleys of Granada?
Kirsty Logan, a Glasgow-based author, is well-known for her beautiful, unusual fiction. During a talk at Lancaster in 2017 – which I had the pleasure of attending – she encouraged writers not to shy away from the weird and uniquely distinctive aspects of their writing, but rather to embrace them to make their storytelling original. She confessed she hadn’t been the ‘ideal’ Creative Writing MA student. She was the only one in her workshop writing about queer mermaids. Fast forward a few years, and now she’s successful, cult – I adore her prose, and I know I am not alone in this. And she writes about many distinctive things, including girls who are friends with bears, a circus on boats, and keepers of sea-graveyards.
In this interview, Kirsty talks to me about how she has travelled around the world thanks to writing residencies, and discusses her fascinating experiences in places such as Iceland and Granada. We also speak about Scottish English, women writing horror, queerness, and gender-fluid characters – she has many, and reading about them in books such as The Gracekeepers was empowering. In this interview, she also reads us an extract of her new novel The Gloaming and a horror short story that will be published in a forthcoming collection, Things We Say in the Dark.
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