Chris will lead discussion at the event Ethel MacDonald: An Anarchist's Story part of Havana Glasgow Film Festival at CCA on 17 Novbember, 2016.
It’s taken me a while but eventually I managed to have a coffee and a chat with Chris Dolan, Glasgow author, playwright, screenwriter, poet and broadcaster. Hard to pin down; he’s an exceptionally busy man but I was keen to hear what he’s been up to and add him to my list of Glasgow Writers.
I always seem to be running into Chris darting down Byres Road or springing up in different guises at various events in Glasgow’s literary world. Not so long ago I heard him read from his first crime novel, Potter’s Field, at St Louis’ Wee Literary Festival, and I’m looking forward to going along to the launch of his new book – Aliyyah, Book Launch, 19 June, 2015, CCA. It’s my impression that no two books could be any more different, the first :introducing Maddy Shannon, a Glasgow Procurator Fiscal, dealing with the gruesome murders of two young men in Kelvingrove, whilst Aliyyah, based on a R.L. Stevenson story Olalla which had long fascinated Chris, is a love story with ‘a kind of Arabian Nights feel to it.’
I’m really looking forward to reading Aliyyah, which not only sounds fascinating but looks absolutely beautiful, with a knock out cover created by Mark Meehan; who also created the delightful illustrations. Every detail of the book seems to have been created with meticulous care in collaboration with Vagaband Voices. Apart from the cover I particularly liked the belly band – the little strap with information about the book. The launch looks like a very exciting event, with readings and music – including Chris on fiddle. (19 June, 2015, CCA)
A few months back I attended another Vagaband Voices event, where Chris interviewed the writer Alan Cameron. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear Chris confirm that this is a role he thoroughly enjoys as his gregarious and lively approach lifts such events completely out of the formulaic.
Chris Dolan has a real passion for writing, Currently he is working on his second crime book, also featuring the character Maddy Shannon. It was suggested to him, and would probably have made sense, to write this book right after Potter’s Field but it would appear that Chris is not always swayed by what might be the more lucrative or best business route. So Aliyyah was completed first.
He has also been busy working on a follow up to the play The Pitiless Storm, dealing with issues around the Scottish Referendum. Performed by David Hayman at last year’s Edinburgh Festival, it received rave reviews. Chris is particularly thrilled that Hayman, will once again play Bob Cunningham in the new play, which addresses current political matters in Scotland.
Apart from his creative productions, Chris also passes skills on to others and loves his teaching post at Glasgow Caledonian University, where alongside his colleague Ann Marie di Mambro, among other things, he teaches on the Masters Programme on Television Fiction Writing
Having written extensively for television programmes such as Taggart and River City, he’ll have no shortage of material to draw on.
He’s also an accomplished poet and when we met he’d just been having a wonderful time with a group of Palestinian health professionals visiting Scotland. Chris recounted how impressed they had been by the reception they received. He was honoured to be asked to write a poem for them:
I’m not quite sure just how Chris Dolan manages to fit everything in but I certainly hope he continues with his prolific work. Not least of all, and often behind the scenes, contributing to Aye Write, Glasgow’s Book Festival, where he was responsible for the inclusion in the 2014 programme of Commonwealth Writers. I enjoyed our conversation about some of these events, which both Chris and I attended, and especially Kei Miller's reading of his work. Chris certainly gets around and ran into Kei, and Vahni Capildeo, the Trinidadian poet, when he met them at a party in Trinidad.
He’s having too much of a good time.
Pat Byrne, June, 2015.
Aliyyah (2015) £8.95 Buy online at Vagabond Voices
Potter's Field (2014) £9.95 Buy online at Vagabond Voices
Redlegs (2013) £9.95 Buy online at Vagabond Voices
Other books including Ascension Day, John Lennon: the story of the original Beatle and An Anarchist's Story: The Life of Ethel MacDonald – plus short story collections are available on AMAZON