Glasgow Writers: Chris Dolan

chris dola

chris dola

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. 

Book Launch: Lies of the Land, the second Maddy Prior novel, Glasgow Caledonian University, 1 June, 2016 at 6.30 p.m.

Rebus – A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin. Adapted for Radio 4 by Chris Dolan – Episode 1 Saturday 13 February, 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.’

 Listen to Chris talk about Aliyyah

aliyyahI’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.

The Pitiless Storm

Poster-Fringe-preview-showsHe 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.

David Hayman – Bob’s final speech from The Pitiless Storm   

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:

Ataba (2)

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.

THE-POTTERS-FIELD-cover-2nd-draft-196x300Chris Dolan Books and Where to Purchase:

Excerpts from Potter’s Field and Aliyyah

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



McKitterick Prize, Ascension Day
Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Award
Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Short Story Competition, ‘Year of the Vezzas’
Canongate Prize for Journalism
Edinburgh Festival Fringe First, Sabina!
Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award, Poor Angels and Other Stories, shortlist
Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Short Story Competition, ‘Sleet and Snow’
The American Dream? - poem by Leela Soma
Bernard MacLaverty - Award Winning Writer

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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