Reviews etc.

14453 Unspeakable Cover AWUnspeakable

The novel focuses on blasphemy and betrayal in a time of social, religious and economic uncertainty, not to mention moral panic. It is based on the life of Thomas Aikenhead, (1676-1697), the last person to be hanged for blasphemy in Scotland.  Aikenhead was a student – and claimed he was still a minor – when he was supposed to have committed the ‘horrid crime’, for which the death penalty had been very recently introduced, according to some ‘by trick and surprise’. Like many drawn to academic study, Thomas enjoyed airing his views but what was it about the mood of the  times, or the personalities involved, which led a group of fellow students to aid and abet the conviction of one of their own,  for what might have amounted to little more than careless, foolish talk?



 Newspaper reviews

Blog review


pelmanism coverHow much can we trust our memory and what kind of truth can it really offer?   Fragments of memory reveal fragmented lives – a young girl’s world is affected and infected by the germ  of mental illness developing, at first undetected, within her immediate family.  Through snatches of memory, a picture builds up; like a mosaic, we begin to piece together the complex ingredients of admiration, resentment and fear which operate within the father/daughter relationship:   Gala  needs to forge an identity independent of her father’s vagaries,  to combat the oppression of a man unwilling, or unable,  to confront  his own demons.   A clear-eyed  portrait of a flawed father from the perspective of his daughter,  Pelmanism  presents a dual narrative, moving between time zones,  echoing the shifts and loops of memory yet moving inexorably towards a crucial decision:  can Gala resist the ties that bind or will she be drawn once more into a skewed world of fear and suspicion?

Homage to R.D. Laing

whatever they do

they must not no matter what

let him know they think

something’s not right

whatever they know

they must not no matter what

let him think they know

something’s not right

whatever they think

they must not no matter what

let him know they know

something he doesn’t


Short reading


If you want to buy the book, please use this link:


This was a collaborative project between the Tasmanian poet, Karen Knight, and graphic artists Polly Thelwall and Laurie Hastings.  The graphic artists came on the scene after the poems were written.

BodyworkBODYWORK CV 6.5mm spine

How do we feel about the flesh that surrounds us and how do we deal with the knowledge that it will eventually do so no more? How do physical conditions and our attitudes towards the body – our own or another’s – affect our emotional, physical and spiritual lives? Rose’s third collection of poetry focuses on the human body in all its glory, comedy and frailty; on the quirks, hazards and conundrums of physiology; on intimations of mortality – and immortality.

This is the first collection – of poems or stories, where I consciously worked around a topic, so here’s a piece about how the poetry collection Bodywork came about.  I can’t find a link to the magazine, Anon,  in which it  was previously published so this is an attachment: On Bodywork


Lord of IllusionsLord of Illusions

Exploring the human condition in all its glory – and all its folly – Lord of Illusions treats both with compassion and humour. Often wry, always thought-provoking, this fourth collection offers glimpses into the hearts and minds of a diverse cast of characters; from jockey to masseuse, from pornographer to magician, from hesitant cross-dresser to far- from-home aid worker. The subtle twists and turns, the changes of mood and tone, demonstrate the versatile appeal of the short story.

 Selected Stories



This collection includes some concrete poems and a sequence of  sound poems. It was a new departure for me at the time and I was curious about the very different approach to composition that the making of such poems entails, where a single word rather than a phrase or a line is more often the basic unit.

Pest Maiden


As Russell Fairley, dumped by his girlfriend, struggles to get over a lingering virus, his life begins to resemble a fictional nightmare. A mysterious accident at the blood- processing unit where he works leads to tragedy, while throughout the contemporary narrative stalks the shadow of the pest maiden, medieval bringer of plagues. This first novel brings us the very human story of one man surviving a crisis – and conjures the shadow of a dark and ancient threat.

‘Subtly entertaining, but with a hint of menace, Pest Maiden evokes the irony which pervades all human life… a highly readable novel which is also highly intelligent’ Scotland on Sunday

‘Enthralling’ Time Out

‘Certainly contagious, this clever and witty novel may cause something of a literary epidemic of its own’ Sunday Herald

‘An elegant and intelligent black comedy…distinguished by economy, empathy and a sly wit’ Scotsman

‘An evocative and imaginative writer who plays dazzling games with words… the unsettling images and voices that Dilys Rose conjures up linger long in the mind’ Times Literary Supplement

war dollsWar Dolls

A photographer censors his relationship with his daughter… a teenager struggles with his father’s Scottish machismo and his bull terriers… A Mexican freedom-fighter fuels the paranoia of a documentary-maker by interviewing him at gunpoint…a tourist in Brazil comes too close for comfort to some chillingly elegant members of the elite.

Whether focusing on childhood, adolescence or adult life, on long-term relationships or chance encounters, these stories give voice to the contradictions between people, and to the loyalties and moment of joy which might, if the conditions are met, illuminate their lives.

Red Tidesred tides