Donald S. Murray has joined the Committee of SoAiS, the Society of Authors in Scotland, for the 2020-2023 period, to help amplify the voices of writers based in the Highlands and Islands.
The Society of Authors is the UK trade union for writers, illustrators and literary translators.
The society provides support at all stages of their careers, and has been advising individuals and speaking in support of the rights of the profession for over 100 years. SoAiS is a nation group within the UK-wide Society of Authors, and all members with a Scottish postcode are added to it when they join.
Volunteer committee members of both the Society of Authors and SoAiS are involved in organising a calendar of events for the group’s members; representing members in an official capacity; and maintaining and raising the status of authors, among other responsibilities.
“I joined the committee around a year ago because I was conscious that those writers living in locations like the Highlands and Islands needed to have our voices heard in organisations like these,” says Donald. “Too often they are dominated by those who live in the Central Belt and other urban areas. Oddly the pandemic with its Zoom-type meetings offers us all an opportunity to redress this historical imbalance.”
Acclaimed composer Electra Perivolaris has spoken of her “an absolute joy” of setting some of Donald S Murray's poetry to music.
She told the prizewinning writer and poet: “I’m looking forward to working with more of your poetry!”
This formed part of a broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in June…and in July more of his work formed part of “a wonderful week working with the The Carice Singers at the Cheltenham Music Festival Composer Academy,” Electra writes on Twitter.
“My new choral piece, ‘If This Island...’, another setting of the poetry of Donald S Murray, was performed on Friday. Thank you to all who made this such an inspiring week!”
Donald S. Murray's newly-published book's been chosen as the Historical Book of the Month by the London-based Times newspaper.
The novel ‘In A Veil of Mist’ which is being released via several on-line events this week, takes place in Tolsta. Set in 1952, it examines the impact of Operation Cauldron, a series of secret biological warfare trials run by the British, American, and Canadian governments that took place off the coast of Lewis. As part of the trials, scientists from Porton Down research centre in Wiltshire and the Royal Navy released deadly biological agents like the bubonic plague, testing their effects on animals aboard a floating pontoon in the Minch, where the reader lands in the opening pages.
In small communities, stories are often told in asides and whispers. When the boat, the Ben Lomond arrived near the shores of the Isle of Lewis in May 1952, rumours began immediately. They were still circulating when I was growing up on the island in the 1960s and 1970s, wrote Donald S Murray in an article published in the Herald newspaper from Glasgow on Saturday March 13. (Above, young Donald, left, with his brother Allan)
If I had been told at the start of all this that the launch of any of my books would be in Lancashire, I would have thought you were mad.
However, it appears it’s where the event is going to take place for In a Veil of Mist. There are good reasons for it!
It all starts when a poisoned breeze blows across the waves ... Operation Cauldron, 1952.