Orkney author Gabrielle Barnby releases short stories

Gabrielle Barnby's new book has been released via South Uist-based ThunderPoint Publishing. Picture: Contributed

Gabrielle Barnby's new book has been released via South Uist-based ThunderPoint Publishing. Picture: Contributed

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AN Orkney author is celebrating the publication of a book of short stories set in France and England, due out this later week.

The House With The Lilac Shutters, by Gabrielle Barnby, will hit the shelves on Thursday, 1 October.

And the Scottish island connection is not only with the author – the book will be released via South Uist-based ThunderPoint Publishing.

Revolving around the Café Rose, opposite the titular house, the collection of contemporary short stories links a small town in France with a similar-sized town in England.

It traces the unexpected connections between the people of both places and explores the unpredictable influences that the ripples of the past can have on the present.

Based in Orkney, and a member of the Stromness Writing Group, Gabrielle Barnby works in a variety of genres including poetry and children’s fiction.

She said: “Each story in the collection stands alone, but characters from one may reappear in another. In different ways the stories explore how chance encounters can spread their influence over the course of a lifetime.

“I began working on The House With The Lilac Shutters and other stories three years ago whilst visiting my retired parents in the south of France. The local town has provided the inspiration and the setting for many of the stories.

“After the initial burst of creativity there is a lot of hard work needed before a piece is completed, there are periods of doubt and anxiety. The never-ending drive towards getting something really, truly the best it can be is exhausting.”

In 2014, her short story Hostel appeared in Northwords Now and a selection of her poetry from the St Magnus Festival was published by the George Mackay Brown Fellowship in Waiting for The Tide.

Various pieces of her poetry and prose are included in Come Sit at Our Table, a collection of work by the Stromness Writing Group.

She is also a contributor to Kirkwall Visions, Kirkwall Voices, a creative response to the city supported by the Blide Trust.

Gabrielle’s early career was in science. She gained a D.Phil. from Oxford University in 2003 based on research into the molecular basis of autism and has numerous scientific publications on this topic. She began writing fiction after relocating to New Zealand in 2007.

Seonaid Francis, Director of ThunderPoint Publishing said: “With a keenly observant eye, Barnby illustrates the everyday tragedies, sorrows, hopes and joys of ordinary people in this vividly understated and unsentimental collection of short stories.”

The House With The Lilac Shutters has been described as a set of “beautifully observed descriptions of human jealousy, desire, guilt and love,” and one reviewer wrote, “The more I read, and the more descriptions I encountered, the more I was put in mind of one of my all time favourite texts – Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood.”

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