Collective residencies / HUMANITIES II / Olot


From Monday, 24 October 2016 to Sunday, 6 November 2016

Glasgow (Scotland, UK)


David Manderson (Glasgow, 1955) is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. He has been involved with the writing scene in Scotland for over thirty years. He ran the Real to Reel Short Film Festival at the Glasgow Film festival for eight years and founded the creative writing magazine Nerve. A graduate of the creative writing programme at Glasgow university, his debut novel Lost Bodies (Kennedy and Boyd, 2011) was greeted with acclaim. His follow-up book The Glass Half Full: Moving Beyond Scottish Miserablism (Luath, 2014), co-authored with leading director Eleanor Yule, played an active and controversial role in the lead-up to the Scottish referendum. He has also published stories, articles and essays in Scottish and international anthologies. He is currently working on a second novel, among other projects.


The project to be developed at Faber is the second draft of the novel Undertow (working title). A literary psychological thriller which has been in development for two years, it has reached a crucial point where a 100,000 word text, written through many preliminary drafts, will now be refined into a fast-paced but character-driven narrative that enthrals the reader and takes her on a journey through its dark heart to a kind of redemption. The task is to focus the reader’s attention on the central storyline: the journey of an innocent young man into a dangerous and brief adulthood.

I believe that through this work and many earlier attempts to write this story, I am now within touching distance of completing. My work at Faber Residency will give me the chance to shape what I have into the finished version, requiring only final edits and polishes.

Refreshing, invigorating, renewing

I came to Faber Residency at the end of a long term of marking and assessing at the University of the West of Scotland, where I work during the day, and an almost two-year period of writing a second novel, which I write at night…

I wasn’t sure, would it work for me?…

Sometimes you need a lucky break – not just to get away from routine but to show you why you’re doing it all in the first place.

So there I was, gazing at the mountains above ploughed fields, at the woods between the low volcanic hills, at the town of Olot lying in its bowl-shaped valley, wondering if I’d manage to do everything I’d hoped I would – had promised I would – and what the rest of this residency would turn out to be.

The greatest challenge in being a writer is simply keeping up hope. You have to believe in yourself – not an easy thing when the evidence suggests otherwise. You have be happy and relaxed, constantly encourage yourself to keep moving forward. And it’s so easy not to.

Okay, I thought. Here goes. Out came the laptop and the notebook, the 100,000 word manuscript I’ve been hacking out of the air. I started to work on it.

Strangely, it began to fall into place. The last ten pages I thought I still had to write become thirty, then forty. They tumbled out. Then it was done.

Dinner at night was with Francesc and the other residents – Roy, Valeria, Llatzer and Andrew. The talk was of Proust, Heaney, Breaking Bad, journalism, Catalonian politics, translation, poetry, theatre, jokes…

Gradually I relaxed. Swimming with Francesc, walking with Andrew, laughter with Roy…one night we went out and walked through the town and came across a Living Castle, children on top, adults at the base. Just like life…

Cups of coffee with my notepad in a small square. Sheep’s milk ice cream guiltily devoured near the market place.

So is possible to work without pressure, to make time your friend. To write peacefully and well. To know when to close the laptop and feel good about it: to know it’s time not to go on. I produced the words and the revision. And each go at it made it clearer, let me know it would be there for me, fresh and breathing, when I came back.

Oh and the interviews and the talk on Scottish and Catalonian independence and the audience and the people from the English school and the public interest and the offers of future partnerships and projects. And the visit to Gerona and the final cup of coffee in the Barcelona bookshop. I fell for Catalonia big time.

Good times, new friends, people I’ll know again.

A new novel lurking in my laptop, waiting. Excited about it.

Loads of energy. Loads of other ideas.

Thanks Olot, and thanks Faber – Francesc, Agata, Albert, and Marta and everybody else I met. I’ll be back in Catalonia again, for sure.

So this is not the end…

Notícies, articles i activitats

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