Friday, August 13, 2010

What on earth does a Reader-in-Residence do?

The Creative Writing MA course at Edinburgh Napier University where I teach has many unique features - no workshops, no poetry, a love of genre fiction and commercial storytelling media, ten hours of professional editorial mentoring for each student, a private writers' room with a library with thousands of books, graphic novels and DVDs. The course also has its own Reader-in-Residence, Stuart Kelly.

Literary editor of Scotland on Sunday, Stuart seems to have read every book, story and graphic novel published in English. In his Copious Spare Time, he comes in and advises our students on further reading that might illuminate their own writing, to encourage them to be original and not simply reinventing the wheel already wrought by others. He's been a real boon for our first cohort, a marvelous asset for the course.

Stuart has written a book called Scott-Land about Sir Walter Scott, who was once one of Scotland's most acclaimed and best-selling authors for books like Ivanhoe and Rob Roy. There's a massive memorial to Scott in Edinburgh that best resembles an ornate Gothic spaceship, waiting to blast off from alongside Prince's Street. Yet the writer's work is largely forgotten, neglected by current generations.

Stuart's book assesses Scott's work, life and legacy. Scott-Land has been getting some glowing reviews and prompted an entire edition of Newsnight Scotland last night. If you live in the UK, you can see the 20-minute programme through the marvels of the BBC iPlayer - just click here. Alternatively, you could go read Stuart's droll blog McShandy's.

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