The Mash House

By Alan Gillespie

A tribal story about secrets, death and malt whisky

Fiction
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“The cat’s brains were pink and glistening in the glow of the clear high moon. Rivulets of blood puddling on the concrete. Its limbs were folded to the side, and the dead thing’s face looked away from the road, towards the loch.”

Set in the fictional landscape of Cullrothes, in the Scottish Highlands, The Mash House is about simple people antagonising each other to the limits of human endurance. There is Innis, a newcomer who hides a shameful secret and manages the pub; his girlfriend Kirsten, a gorgeous, cheating, lying primary school teacher. And, in the same village, Donald is the aggressive distillery owner, who floods the country with narcotics alongside his single malt; he is haunted by an anonymous American investor intent on purchasing the Cullrothes Distillery using any means necessary.

This is a place where mountains are immense and the loch freezes in winter. A place with only one road in and out. With long storms and furious midges and a terrible phone signal. The police are amateurs, the journalists are scum, and the innocent folk of Cullrothes tangle themselves in a fermenting barrel of suspicion, malice and lies.

In whisky distillation, the mash house is where malted barley is repeatedly steeped in hot water. The intense heat and pressure changes the barley’s complexion. Sugar is drawn from the liquid, and the husks are sold as cattle feed. The villagers of Cullrothes must survive this same transformative process.

The Mash House uses multiple narratives to weave together the parallel lives of individuals in the village. Each fractured by the fears and uncertainty of their own minds. Rural isolation is at the forefront of these concerns. Who can we trust? What are we most scared of? What are we hiding from? Relationships, no matter how damaging or dedicated, sustain each of us.

Infused with love, addiction and free-pouring measures of single malt, The Mash House takes inspiration from the television series Fargo, from Mario Puzo's The Godfather, and from the rich tradition of tartan noir writers.

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1st edition paperback, eBook edition and your name in the back of the book.
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  • Alan Gillespie avatar

    Alan Gillespie

    Alan teaches English at a school in Glasgow, working each day with brilliant pupils to help them read better, write better and enjoy literature.


    Alan’s short stories are published online and in print, and he has performed at spoken word events, including the Edinburgh International Book Festival. He has received support from Creative Scotland, and took a residency as Cove Park’s Emerging Writer in 2011. His plays have performed in Glasgow and Barcelona. He completed an MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where he edited the department’s online literary magazine.


    Alan has recently written articles focusing on education and arts, and these have been featured in The Times Educational Supplement, The Guardian, The Herald and The New York Times.


    Alan grew up in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. His first teaching placement was in Ardnamurchan, a remote peninsula in the West Highlands. In his year there, he was appalled and charmed by the small community’s social quirks. These are blended in The Mash House to create a fond yet dark portrayal of rural Scotland and its people.


    He likes his whiskies large, with ice.


    https://medium.com/@alangillespie

  • The cat’s brains were pink and glistening in the glow of the clear high moon. Rivulets of blood puddling on the concrete. Its limbs were folded to the side, and the dead thing’s face looked away from the road, towards the loch. It was silent. Kirsty had been driving with the windows open, and when she hit the cat the sound of its bell tinkled noisily until it landed. But now the road was silent. The blood formed a jammy shadow around the cat’s body.

    Kirsty’s car was pulled over on the verge. She sat on the bonnet and lit a cigarette. There were a few houses nearby but Kirsty had not lived in Cullrothes for long enough to know who the cat’s owner might be. The creature had a red collar around its neck and a white loveheart shape embroidered on its flank. The road was dark with no streetlights. The water on the surface of the huge loch moved softly.

    Read more...
  • Alan Gillespie has written 2 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    19th September 2019 Meet the Author: Emma Grae

    Hey mashheads,

    One of the cool things about working with Unbound has been getting to know some of the other writers with live projects. One of the first I noticed was Emma Grae. Another Scottish writer with a novel called 'be guid tae yer mammy' which is set in Glasgow. 

    I interviewed Emma about her writing, her favourite books and her idea of a good party.

    Tell us what little Emma…

    17th September 2019 An Interview about The Mash House

    Hey mashheads,

    There's another Scottish writer currently crowdfunding with Unbound, called Emma Grae. She's been a good support for me throughout this journey. This week, she has kindly interviewed me about my upcoming novel, and other things. You can read the exchange here:

    Meet the Author: Alan Gillespie

    I'll be interviewing Emma later this week as well, so keep your spuds peeled for…

    11th September 2019 Ness Book Fest '19

    Hey mashheads,

    I got a bit of welcome news this week. I'm going to be reading an extract from our novel at the Ness Book Fest. This is a pretty awesome book festival held in Inverness, Scotland. Which suits the Highland setting and atmosphere of THE MASH HOUSE perfectly.

    I'm no stranger to a book festival reading. Back in the foggy past, I was part of the Margins Festival, a short-lived but…

    6th September 2019 50% Funding Reached!

    Dear mashheads,

    Today is a bit of a landmark day in the journey of THE MASH HOUSE - thanks to 188 generous souls, I have reached the halfway stage of funding. 

    I've been so grateful for pre-orders from old pals in Fife, my wonderful family, colleagues old and new, and the pupils and parents from Fernhill School, where I teach English. I've also had support from friends of friends, twitter acquaintances…

    27th August 2019 The Mash House in the Media

    Hello mashheads!

    It has been a busy summer. Working on the manuscript and fundraising and a bit of DIY. Part of my strategy has been to get a little coverage in the media.

    First I contacted the Glenrothes Gazette. This was the local newspaper where I grew up and I thought they'd like to carry a story about the book. I carried out a nice wee interview and was able to talk about how my schools…

    29th July 2019 What Makes a Good Book Cover?

    Happy Monday, everyone!

    I've had lots of new supporters for THE MASH HOUSE recently, taking the campaign to 36% funded. The novel is officially in its second trimester. Thank you all so much for getting involved, it means a lot.

    I've been thinking a lot about how the book might look once it's published. I understand the logic behind the old saying, but it's inevitable that we do judge books…

    10th July 2019 Free Range Writing #2: The Clydeside Distillery

    It's been too wet recently to write outside, so today I went for a tour of the Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow. I had an excellent tour guide, and afterwards spent time in the cafe working on my manuscript for THE MASH HOUSE on my typewriter.

    One of the major conflicts in the novel revolves around the ownership of a fictional distillery. On the tour I couldn't help but imagine my characters…

    27th June 2019 The Pickard Account

    Years ago, when I first moved to Glasgow, I had a flat near the Trongate, in the city centre. It was a poky wee place but it had a big cupboard that I could call a library, so I was happy. I was trying to convince everyone that I could be a writer and ended up joining a writer's group that used to meet in the Tron Theatre. Just along the road from that was a building that I instantly fell in love…

    25th June 2019 Free Range Writing #1: The Southern Necropolis

    I'll be working on my manuscript over the summer, and as long as the weather's fine I'll be taking my typewriter out into the wild. Sitting at a desk is fine for editing but I like drafting in the fresh air.

    Today I went to the Southern Necropolis for the first time. It's a sprawling and crumbling graveyard in the Gorbals, near where I live. I haven't been before. It's surrounded by high rises…

    31st May 2019 The One That Got Away

    Hi everyone!

    Another huge thanks to you all for pre-ordering my book THE MASH HOUSE. The project has been live for about a week now, and we're nearly 20% towards the target figure. You're all fantastic.

    I thought I'd share something a little different. A few years ago I was playing about with the idea of writing a children's novel called GULLS. Maybe I'll go back to it once this book is published…

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