AN AULD Alliance of friends, one living in France and the other in Scotland, are promoting mental health awareness and the work of Support in Mind Scotland, through a collection of short stories.

Authors Elspeth Morrison and Angela Lockwood connected when the latter worked in Edinburgh at a jeweller's shop. At the time, Elspeth was attending our resource centre in Edinburgh - the Stafford Centre - and she says publishing the e-book in aid of Support in Mind Scotland is a way of giving something back to the charity for the support she received.

Their book Something Short, which has had five-star reviews on Amazon, is a collection of short stories from French and Scottish shores. In the book, we meet a variety of interesting and amusing Scottish characters in Begonia, The Wee Baldy Man, The Pop Star and a mad scientist in Animals, but also some personal experiences in dealing with arthritis and depression in Begonia and The Goldfish Bowl. 

Elspeth, who lives and works in Edinburgh, is a published author of historical non-fiction, namely The Dorothy Dunnett Companion vols I & II and editor of The Lymond Poetry.

Angela, originally from the Netherlands, ran her own jeweller’s shop in Edinburgh for ten years before she and her husband moved to the south of France in 2011. Angela prefers the climate there, but often thinks about the town she left behind and its people. She published her first book Language in the Blood in August 2013.

Elspeth has kindly written an essay for our website on the background of the book, which we are delighted to publish:

"I have known Angela Lockwood for about 13 years: she had her own jewellery business in Broughton Street in Edinburgh, and I was her jewellery apprentice and later her friend. Angela no longer lives and works in Edinburgh, she has moved to the south of France. She writes for fun, and has published two comedy novels about a Scottish vampire (Language in the Blood and vol 2,  Blood Ties). She has also just published a novel inspired by her cat: Conversations with Tom. 

I have always written, and have had three non-fiction books published, but I have always aspired to write fiction. Angela has always known this, and she came up with the idea for a collection of short stories, written by us both, about Scotland and France. It was partly a bit of fun, and partly as a good way of getting her name known in e-publishing circles to promote her first vampire novel. Angela asked me if I would be interested in co-authoring a collection of pieces. 

I was a member of a women's mental health writing group at the time, and had written lots of short pieces as 'Homework', inspired by the group. As well as refining my writing style, I have found writing therapeutic: I have a long history of depression and anxiety. Rather than bearing my soul, I thought  I could maybe share some of my lighter autobiographical and fictional pieces with a wider readership.

The Stafford Centre was a 'safe place' for me to go, when other mental health support services had closed or been withdrawn.

For my mental health issues, I have been visiting the Stafford Centre since about 2012-13, and have received a great deal of support from the staff there. I attended the Art Group and the Mindfulness Group and have been on several outings with the centre. The Stafford Centre was a 'safe place' for me to go, when other mental health support services had closed or been withdrawn.

I felt the staff really cared about me. I could drop in for lunch, or a coffee or a casual chat as well as the groups and I got to know and trust the other people who used the centre as well as the staff. It was a place where it was OK for me to really be 'me' and not hide behind a mask, or pretend to be 'well' when I was not feeling great.

A group of volunteers from the Stafford Centre planned to go to Belarus to help build part of a children's centre. In preparation for the trip, they were fundraising. This was about the same time as we were finishing editing the book. I suggested to Angela that we could maybe donate the (small!) profit of selling our short story collection Something Short, to Support In Mind to help towards the trip. We didn't anticipate raising loads of cash, but we thought it would be a way of saying thank you to the organisation for making a big difference to me as the Stafford Centre had provided me with a community that really helped me.

I'm happy to have given something back to an organisation which does a great job helping marginalised and isolated people

We've had some good reviews from readers on Amazon, which has been flattering.

I'm just happy to have given something back to an organisation which does a great job helping marginalised and isolated people finding support and a safe place to be. 

So many mental health services these days are obsessed with 'Recovery' and 'Outcomes'. I know measuring the impact of a service is important for funding, but the great thing about the Stafford Centre is that the staff and management really listen to the people using the service, rather than imposing fashionable policies on them."

You can order the Kindle version of Something Short by clicking the link HERE