Jean Rafferty's latest book, The Four Marys, was longlisted for the 2015 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered prize and was subsequently on promotion at WH Smith in their train station and airport shops. I'm incredibly grateful to Matthew Bates, their travel buyer, for that as it led to a second print run of the book.
The book is a collection of four novellas responding to Scottish myth, history and music and dealing with themes of motherhood and love. Are the two things always compatible? Through shape-shifting, baby-snatching, infanticide and a hanging, The Four Marys explores the passions and sometimes disappointments of being a mother.
The Four Marys is published by Saraband, winners of the Saltire Society's inaugural award for Scottish Publisher of the Year.
'Fairy tales, ballads, riddles and folk songs tell stories of sufferings and crimes, love and death, as Ophelia knew when she sang snatches of them in her madness. Jean Rafferty’s Four Marys takes up with strong feeling and uncompromising frankness the true histories concealed in these voices from the past; she unfolds their contemporary urgency. These are powerful stories about the lives and deaths of women – and of their children'
Marina Warner, author of From the Beast to the Blonde and Stranger Magic: Charmed States & the Arabian Nights
'Through the theme of reproduction, Jean Rafferty unflinch- ingly reproduces Scottish legends, inscribing them into the contemporary world, so that in sinuous prose the past shimmers to life through the present. The Four Marys is a tremendous achievement.'
Zoë Wicomb, author of October and winner of a 2013 Windham Campbell prize
Rafferty is also the author of Myra, Beyond Saddleworth, shortlisted for the inaugural Gordon Burn Prize.
It is published by Wild Wolf Publishing.
The book is also out on Kindle.
‘A book that is both easy to read, and hard to read. Its exploration of the all-too-credible notion that dehumanisation is only human, is compelling and disturbing in equal measure.’ ~ Deborah Orr, The Guardian
‘Jean Rafferty is a remarkable writer with the bravery to explore the depths and the talent to take us with her.’ ~ Louise Welsh, author of The Cutting Room
An award winning journalist who refused to specialise, Rafferty has excelled in the fields of feature writing, travel writing, medical journalism and sport.
She has a doctorate in creative writing from the University of Strathclyde for her first novel and its accompanying critical essay.
Rafferty is a writer with unusual range. She has written long-form journalism on such dark topics as ritual abuse and rape for Guardian Weekend and the Sunday Times Magazine, yet has also provided light-hearted comment for tabloids such as the Sunday People and the Daily Record.
Rafferty has been shortlisted twice in the UK Press Awards, an unusual distinction for a freelance writer, and has won a Rowntree Journalist's Fellowship for her work on prostitution.
Author of two books on sport, she has won both a Travelex Travel Writing Award and a Norwich Union Medical Journalism Award.
She is also an 'inspirational' trainer who has worked for universities, unions, local councils and in many countries throughout the world.