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Claire Askew is a poet, novelist and the current Writer in Residence at the University of Edinburgh. Her debut novel in progress was the winner of the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and longlisted for the 2014 Peggy Chapman-Andrews (Bridport) Novel Award. Claire holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and has won a variety of accolades for her work, including the Jessie Kesson Fellowship and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award. Her debut poetry collection, This changes things, was published by Bloodaxe in 2016 and shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and a Saltire First Book Award. In 2016 Claire was selected as a Scottish Book Trust Reading Champion, and she works as the Scotland tutor for women's writing initiatives Write Like A Grrrl! and #GrrrlCon.
A smart, thoughtful, intriguing crime novel. DI Helen Birch starts to dig into what should be a simple case, but finds far more than she bargained for. I absolutely adore this series, for me it contains one of the more realistic characters in the modern book world of policing. The first novel in the series All The Hidden Truths, was shortlisted for the 2019 Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger and won the McIlvanney Debut Prize. Here we are at the third book in, and see DI Helen Birch in all her glory, flaws and all, but she doesn’t become a caricature, when I’m reading, she exists. Edinburgh sings, and the investigation sits nicely alongside Helen’s personal life, with certain parts crowding and affecting her thoughts. Claire Askew gets inside the small things, makes them count, she also handles the more difficult subjects contained here with compassion and empathy. The ending is a corker, and slides nicely into place. Cover Your Tracks continues a great crime series, and it’s one I can wholeheartedly recommend.
The second novel in the DI Birch series from Claire Askew arrives with a whammy of a storyline that hustles along and causes thoughts to skip all over the place. Fabulously readable, What You Pay For was a head down and read in one sitting book for me. Highly recommended.
All The Hidden Truths is Claire Askew’s debut novel and the start of the DI Birch series set in Edinburgh, It was the winner of the McIlvanney Debut Prize and shortlisted for the 2019 Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger. This is a series that is worth putting on your must-read list, smart, sharp, and so very readable, it comes with a highly recommended tag from me. Books in The DI Birch Series: 1. All The Hidden Truths 2. What You Pay For 3. Cover Your Tracks Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.
Claire Askew's electrifying second collection is an investigation of power: the power of oppressive systems and their hold over those within them; the power of resilience; the power of the human heart. It licks flame across the imagination, and rewrites narratives of human desire. It is a collection for anyone who has ever run through their life 'backwards/ in the dark,/ with no map' - these bright poems illuminate the way. How to burn a woman throngs with witches, outsiders, and women who do not fit the ordinary moulds of the world. It is a collection which traces historic atrocities, and celebrates the lives of those accused of witchcraft with empathy, tenderness and rage. It lifts a mirror up to contemporary systems of oppression and, in language that is both vivid and accessible, asks hard questions of our current world. These poems also delve deep into love in all its forms: from infatuations to the bitter ending of relationships. They ask what it is we want, how we might go about getting it, and what its cost might be. How to burn a woman sweeps the world up in its arms and presents it: a rough bonfire of London buses, Salem streets, Edinburgh closes. Askew's astute, incisive language lifts from every page, throwing sparks.
Umbrellas of EdinburghPoetry and Prose Inspired by Scotland's Capital City by Claire Askew
NOVELISTA is a friendly, straight-talking writing guide for people who want to write a novel but don't know how to begin. It asks all the important questions and gives a host of reassuring answers that demonstrate that anyone can write a novel - even you! To begin with, what the hell is a novel? It's basically a tiny world, where characters are born, live, and (sometimes) die. To write one all you need is a notebook and a pen - but along the way you'll want to learn about good writing habits, planning, mastering descriptions and dialogue and how to pull it all together. This book will guide you through the process and orient you towards the goal of publication. From absolute beginner to novelista, this book will change the way you write and think about writing.
This changes things was Claire Askew's first full collection, coming after years of work in Scotland's flourishing poetry and spoken word scene. Her poems focus on the lives and experiences of women - particularly the socially or economically marginalised - at pains both to empathise and to recognise the limits of this empathy. They embody a need to acknowledge and challenge the poet's privileged position as documenter and outsider, a responsibility to the poem's political message and to that message's human subject. This changes things draws much of its strength from this exploration of inbetweenness. Claire Askew's purposeful deployment of objects, lighting effects and liminal spaces implicates her reader in the poem's argument, holds up a mirror and asks us to pay attention. The book's romantic relationships, depictions of frustrated travel or social mobility, are bound up in its awareness of the systems of power that permit no true state of innocence. Even the final poem, 'Hydra' - with its celebration of the body and its senses - cannot ultimately allow us off the hook. This changes things was shortlisted for the Saltire Society First Book of the Year Award 2016, Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for First Full Collection 2017 and Michael Murphy Memorial Prize 2017.