Everybody hates clowns

alternative christmas

The idea of a midwinter festival has a lot going for it, particularly here in the North West of Scotland where the time between sunrise and sunset can be less than six and a half hours long, but Christmas is out of control.

If the pressure to join in with the yuletide festivities is getting too much for you, give yourself a break and listen in as I cut through the Christmas bloat on Losing The Plot’s Alternative Christmas.

There are some cool tunes too.

Thrillers With Attitude Literary Smorgasbord: Ross Beattie

If you have ever been anywhere near a writing group or book festival of any kind, you will know that writers come in all shapes and sizes, from big, robust circles, to tiny, stabby stars. They come in different flavours too, from cool, classic vanilla, to eyeball-exploding, triple-hot chilli sauce.

Thrillers With Attitude is on a mission to find out what makes these weirdly-shaped and strangely-flavoured writers tick.

My guest this week is poet and radio presenter, Ross Beattie.  

Hi Ross, thank you for agreeing to take part in the Literary Smorgasbord.  Please tell us a little about yourself – what were you like at school?

I’d given up on school by the time I was 14 as other more important things in my life took over.

When did you start writing?

If I’m going to be completely honest in this interview I best start now. I began writing while on a flight from London to San Francisco during a time in my life when I was taking a lot of drugs and the 12 hour flight was a struggle so I started writing that struggle down.

Do you define yourself as a writer, and if so, at what moment did this first happen?

I only define myself as a writer when I write.

Why do you write?

I mainly write as a form of therapy and in a hope I’ll write something I’m happy with.

How deep do you dig when you are writing – how much of yourself do you expose?

I’m more exposed in my writing than at any other time.

You publish your poems online – how do you feel about the response you get?

Honestly it’s a really nice feeling if someone “Gets” my work. To receive a message from a complete stranger telling me that I’ve helped them feel less alone makes me feel like my writing matters.

Are you inspired by any writers in particular?

Camus and Bukowski

Best writing moment so far?

The next one hopefully.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve got hundreds of unfinished poems so I’m always kinda working on them. Plus all the new lines that creep up on me unexpectedly.  You can find some of my poetry at Black Poem Blues although it’s a bit of a mess as I’m not good at keeping on top of things.

What are your ambitions, writing wise?

Just to be proud of my own art.

What is your writing routine – do you have a favourite time of day for writing?

Didn’t a great man once say “Write drunk, edit sober” ?

Do you have a set amount of writing to do each day – if so, how is it measured – pages, words, lines, time…?

I write when I can’t not.

How do you write – longhand, laptop, typewriter, quill and ink?

Black pen in note books or on my phone if I’m out.

Any writing habits – music, particular place to work?

Music always helps everything so music is never not playing in my house.

What inspires you to write?

Music, reading, memories and pain.

Any advice for aspiring poets?

Keep writing and write what you know.

If there was one person, contemporary or historical, you could spend a day with, who would you choose and why?  How would you spend the day?

Neil Young because he is a God and we’d hopefully spend the day getting stoned on his ranch. If I was in complete control of everything we get to do I’d ask him to play me all the tracks from his album, On The Beach.

A few quick questions to finish with.  What is your favourite book?

The Outsider, Albert Camus.

Author?

Charles Bukowski

Film?

Endless amounts as I’m a huge film fan !

Radio programme?

I’m gonna be a wanker and say Too Rare To Die on Lochbroom FM 102.2 or 96.8 on Thursday nights at 9:30pm or listen again on Mixcloud. This is my radio show.

Music?

So much music! I only play stuff from my record collection on my show so go listen!

What are you reading right now?

Journals Mid 50s (1954-1958) by Allen Ginsberg

It’s been a real pleasure having you on the Literary Smorgasbord, Ross.

Ross Beattie

Ross Beattie

You can follow Ross on Twitter and Facebook and read his poems at Black Poem Blues.

Confession time – I’m a fan of Too Rare To Die, the programme Ross produces and presents for Lochbroom Radio. If you have any music in your soul you will love it, so treat yourself to a listen on Mixcloud.

LG Thomson is the author of Boyle’s Law, Each New Morn, and Erosion.

Nosy writer gets thirteen weeks

Two months ago I went to an open day at my local radio station.  Being naturally nosy, there was no way I was turning down the opportunity to take a peek behind closed doors.  Curiosity may have killed the cat.  What it resulted in for me was a thirteen week commitment to making a weekly radio programme.  Thus, Losing The Plot was created.

I’ve got an eccentric resident poet, Peedie Mo, to wrangle.  Most weeks, I also have a special guest to engage with, reassure, and encourage.  My special guests generally don’t regard themselves as special in any way.  They wash the dishes, take out the bins, nag the kids to get up… In short, they do all the mundane stuff that most of us do.  But, like the rest of us, each of them has a story to tell.

Sure, some of the stories might be more obvious than others.  Like the strings teacher who occasionally jets off to Japan to play in front of an adulating audience before scooting back to Scotland in time to clean out the guinea pig cage.  But the smaller, less obvious stories, have been just as fascinating.  The care worker with a zest for life.  The person who was trapped in a water tank as a child and fears nothing but fear itself.  And, of course, there’s Mo.  My resident poet is a former primary school teacher, scuba diver and chicken liver picker.  Clothes as colourful as her personality, she is a force of nature.

Two months ago I walked through a door because I wanted to see what was going on behind it.  What I discovered was a rich seam of fascinating stories buried in the everyday.

LG Thomson is the author of Boyle’s Law, Each New Morn, and Erosion.

Listen to Losing The Plot on Lochbroom FM every Thursday at 6.30pm GMT, or catch up on Mixcloud.