The Little Snake

This is the story of Mary, a young girl born in a beautiful city full of rose gardens and fluttering kites. When she is still very small, Mary meets Lanmo, a shining golden snake, who becomes her very best friend.

The snake visits Mary many times, he sees her city change, become sadder as bombs drop and war creeps in. He sees Mary and her family leave their home, he sees her grow up and he sees her fall in love. But Lanmo knows that the day will come when he can no longer visit Mary, when his destiny will break them apart, and he wonders whether having a friend can possibly be worth the pain of knowing you will lose them.

Uncle Shawn and Bill and the Pajimminy Crimminy Unusual Adventure

Badger Bill loves his best friend Uncle Shawn. But he has started to notice that Uncle Shawn is a bit unusual. Dr P’Klawz hates Uncle Shawn. He has also noticed that Uncle Shawn is a bit unusual – pajimminy crimminy unusual, in fact. It looks like Badger Bill is going to need a plan, or Uncle Shawn might be sent to the Maximum Security Institute of Unusualness forever. But all Bill has to help him are four bickering llamas, one pirate boy and one invisible girl. What could possibly go wrong?

Uncle Shawn and Bill and the Almost Entirely Unplanned Adventure

Badger Bill needs rescuing. He’s been kidnapped by two nasty sisters who are about to make him fight a boxing match against three even nastier dogs. The four most depressed llamas in the history of llamas need rescuing too. They are about to be turned into llama pies. But never fear – Uncle Shawn is here! He loves rescuing things. He has a rescuing plan, which involves dancing, and a mole, and an electric fence. What could possibly go wrong?

Serious Sweet

A good man in a bad world, Jon Sigurdsson is 59 and divorced: a senior civil servant in Westminster who hates many of his colleagues and loathes his work for a government engaged in unmentionable acts. A man of conscience.

Meg Williams is ‘a bankrupt accountant – two words you don’t want in the same sentence, or anywhere near your CV’. She’s 45 and shakily sober, living on Telegraph Hill, where she can see London unfurl below her. Somewhere out there is safety.

Somewhere out there is Jon, pinballing around the city with a mobile phone and a letter-writing habit he can’t break. He’s a man on the brink, leaking government secrets and affection as he runs for his life.

Set in 2014, this is a novel of our times. Poignant, deeply funny, and beautifully written, Serious Sweet is about two decent, damaged people trying to make moral choices in an immoral world: ready to sacrifice what’s left of themselves for honesty, and for a chance at tenderness. As Jon and Meg navigate the sweet and serious heart of London – passing through 24 hours that will change them both for ever – they tell a very unusual, unbearably moving love story.

Dr Who And The Drosten’s Curse

This is the first ALK outing into Dr Who territory and deals with strange goings on at the Fetch Brother’s Hotel and Golf Spa, just outside Arbroath. Set in the 1970’s, this adventure features the much-loved fourth incarnation of the Doctor, as played by Tom Baker. He’s accompanied by two assistants unique to this story while he battles horrible mind control, manipulated matter, over-enthusiatic badgers and a monster from the earliest days of the universe….


Here’s a review from We Love This Book and other from The Independent.

Events around the publication are still ongoing and are proving to be great fun.

All The Rage

alltherageThis is a short story anthology, dealing with love, loss and – of course – rage. Here’s a rather nice and explanatory review from The New York Times and another from The Guardian.


On Writing

On WritingAfter six novels, five story collections and two books of non-fiction, and countless international prizes, A.L. Kennedy certainly has the authority to talk about the craft of writing books – it’s just a wonder she’s found the time. These are missives from the authorial front line – urgent and vivid, full of the excitement, fury and frustration of trying to make thousands of words into a publishable book.

At the core of On Writing is the hugely popular blog that Kennedy writes for the Guardian – and we follow her during a three-year period when she finished one collection of stories and started another, and wrote a novel in between. Readers and aspiring writers will have almost everything they need to know about the complexities of researching, writing and publishing fiction, but they will be receiving this wisdom conversationally, from one of the funniest and most alert of our contemporary authors.

Alongside the blogs are brilliant essays on character, voice, writers’ workshops and writers’ health and the book ends with the transcript of Kennedy’s celebrated one-person show about writing and language that she has performed round the world to huge acclaim. Read together, all these pieces add up to the most intimate master-class imaginable from one of the finest – and most humane – writers in our language.

Blue Book

bluebook“The Blue Book” will be out as a paperback at some point in August and we’ll let you have a look at the new cover as soon as possible.

We don’t want to give too much away at this point, but we can say that “The Blue Book” is a love story and involves a fake medium.

And hello to all those of you who find it tautological to put the word fake in front of the word medium.

More will be revealed later, as they say, and meanwhile you can go to this link to hear ALK reading from the novel and chatting in Santa Fe with those very nice Lannan Foundation people.

Indelible Acts

indelibleThe twelve stories in Indelible Acts are variations on a theme of longing – the unassuagable human need for contact, for completion, for that most fugitive gift of all:
reciprocal love. Its characters’ lives are thwarted, dashed, impassioned, each in their own way immolated by hope.

A queue outside a cheese shop leads to a thrilling infidelity; a crematorium funeral exposes a love gone sour; a foreign hotel room becomes a diorama of despair as physical sickness becomes a metaphor for incurable grief. In the title story, two lovers confront their lusts amid the ruins of Rome; in ‘A Bad Son’ a young boy from a damaged home searches for some kind of peace in the newly fallen snow.

Each story in this mesmeric new collection is an epiphany, a revelation: eloquent, excoriating – saved from bleakness by humanity and humour – unflinching and unwavering in its scrutiny of desire and loss. Justly celebrated as one of the most original young writers at work today, A.L. Kennedy writes stories of such intimacy, such aching honesty, that they are impossible to forget.


Most of the reviews for “Indelible Acts” were distressingly favourable, although many were also rather scary – which is why the review categories here differ slightly from those listed for previous publications.

A review (in French) of AL Kennedy’s Indelible Acts is on line :


“…rich originality and humanity of a writer, still in her thirties, who is becoming on of Britain’s very best.”
Katie Owen The Times

“This is Kennedy’s fourth collection and again she shows herself to be a mistress of her art.”
Michael Arditti The Independent

“It is Kennedy’s assured humour and her psychological astuteness that rescues (sic) this immaculately crafted collection from a well of utter desolation.”
Helen Brown – The Daily Telegraph
Not that a well of utter desolation is any bad thing, I always say…

“And the humour is magnificent.”
Michael Thompson-Noel – Financial Times

Someone finally noticed I’m trying to be funny from time to time.


“As always with Kennedy, the intense craftedness is occasionally oppressive…”
John O’Connell – Time Out

“If Kennedy wants to avoid becoming the next generation’s queen of hopeless longing, her characters need to get out more.”
Sarah Smith – Literary Review


“Not all the men have committed adultery…”
Katie Owen – The Times

“…Kennedy has suffered many years of back and neck pain – a fact that may have helped shape an artistic sensibility in which emotions are often manifested through physical symptoms.”
Susan Flockhart – The Sunday Herald

The kind of guess that academics usually make. In fact, if you think about it, most people’s emotions are manifested through physical symptoms. And I started writing about people and their emotions long before my back packed in. (Which, incidentally, tends to blur rather than enhance your understanding of physicality.)

“A.L.Kennedy lives on the edge and so do her characters.”
Michael Thompson-Noel – Financial Times

Actually, a nice cup of tea is the highlight of my day.

“…it is better to have loved and suffered than never to have loved at all.”
Allan Radcliffe – The List

All together now – Oh, no it’s not.

“Among her gifted generation of Scottish writers, she stands supreme, she stands alone.”
Tom Adair – Scotland On Sunday

Possibly the silliest thing anyone has said, yet. But if you ever want to be put on a pedestal, Tom has one and is an enthusiastic reader and nice man and so forth.


“A.L.Kennedy has long been established as an extraordinary writer of ordinary agonies.”
Alice Ferrebe – Scotland On Sunday

“Kennedy writes with flaying precision about the things we won’t often admit to ourselves, let alone speak aloud.”
Charlotte Mosley – Daily Mail

“Kennedy reigns supreme in describing the terror and fascination of self-annihilation, whether corporeal or emotional.”
Rosemary Goring – The Herald

“Couples torment and betray one another as a matter of course.”
Michael Arditti – The Independent

“It’s a brilliant, but extremely painful read, sparsely populated with chokingly desperate characters. If you’re feeling at all emotionally precarious, it could tip you right over the edge. But if you think you can keep your balance, these 12 stories are the most devastating you will read this year. ”
Helen Brown – The Daily Telegraph

I think this should be on the cover of the paperback edition – like the health warning on cigarettes…

“Many of these people fear judgement and punishment; there is an interesting Calvinism in Kennedy’s world view which she exploits to advantage.”
Catriona Crowe Sunday Times


Books of stories are, of course, especially plagued by contradictory reviews – usually picking out one story that A loves and B detests and so forth. Or you can always argue about forms… And people wonder why writers don’t find reviews entirely helpful.

“Kennedy is an intense, unbending writer, and no more so than here, but some readers may find themselves wishing for some of the black magic realism that infects her novels and makes her best writing take flight.”
Claire Allfree – Metro

“Her third person novels… seem farther distanced, producing a billowing sense of shapelessness, a drag from which her stories never suffer.”
Tom Adair – Scotland on Sunday

“AL Kennedy’s last novel… was a huge epic of a book. Indelible Acts is a slim volume of short stories, but equally as satisfying.”
LR – The Big Issue

“…in A Wrong Thing … I found it hard to find any sympathy, let alone interest…”
Sarah Smith – Literary Review

“A Wrong Thing is a virtuoso slice of writing about an obsessive, thwarted by illness and paranoia…”
Tom Adair – Scotland On Sunday

What Becomes

Here is the hardback cover for “What Becomes” – image created by the excellent gentleman and photographer, Kevin Low. You may wish to order a copy from the splendid WORDPOWER bookshop. Or feel free to make your own arrangements for purchase and delighted posession. Below you can read an extract of the cover blurb, kindly provided by Jonathan Cape.

“Always attuned to the moment of epiphany, these twelve stories are profound, intimate observations of men and women whose lives ache with possibility – each story a dramatisation of the instant in a life that exposes it all; love and the lack of love, hope and the lack of hope.

These men and women are perfectly ordinary people – whose marriages founder, who sit on their own in a cinema watching a film with no soundtrack; whos risk sex in a hotel with an anonymous stranger. They conceal tenderness and disappointment, vulnerability and longing, griefs and wonders…

A.L.Kennedy’s fifth remarkable collection of short stories shows us exactly what becomes of the broken-hearted. She reveals the sadness, violence, hurt and terror, but also the redemption of love – and she does so with the enormous human compassion, wild leaps of humour, and the brilliantly orginal linguistic skill that distinguishes her as one of Britain’s finest writers.”

Listen to a reading of one of the stories given at the 2008 Edinburgh International Book Festival here>>. Recording courtesy of the fine folks at the EIBF.