Belly laughs as Ker­rie en­ter­tains

Argyllshire Advertiser - - NEWS - Laura Maxwell ed­i­tor@ar­gyll­shiread­ver­tiser.co.uk

With read­ings from each of her four books in­ter­spersed with ques­tions from the crowd and quirky anec­dotes, the Mel­bourne-born, belly-danc­ing au­thor en­ter­tained her avid read­ers.

Much of Ker­rie Noor’s earthy hu­mour is cen­tred on her great love – belly danc­ing – and its in­flu­ence is felt all over her orig­i­nal book se­ries, the first of which is en­ti­tled Sheryl’s Last Stand.

The cen­tral char­ac­ter in this book is more than sim­ply a mem­ber of a lo­cal trav­el­ling Scot­tish belly dancers’ group. Sheryl is a Lochgilp­head woman – mid­dle-aged, celi­bate with­out choice and with plum­met­ing self-con­fi­dence and a loathing for her body shape. Belly danc­ing ap­pears to let Sheryl, and Ker­rie, re­dis­cover a love of their own body.

‘You’re us­ing parts of your body, probably out of com­mis­sion for a while, like the pelvis and it makes a part of the body, you’re maybe not keen on, sexy.’

The fe­male char­ac­ters in the book get up to what loud ladies in a small town would en­joy; gos­sip and drama.

‘There is an el­e­ment of bitch­i­ness about it, which I ex­ag­ger­ated in the book. Or maybe it was just me that was bitch­ing.’

But two books later in the se­ries, Ker­rie is chang­ing di­rec­tion. Her new book, Rebel With­out A Clue, is a sci-fi dystopian novel about a male alien from a fe­male-dom­i­nated planet land­ing in Glas­gow.

‘There’s ac­tu­ally not a lot of sex in my books,’ says Ker­rie. ‘Ex­cept maybe no­body hav­ing any.’

The story starts out as a re­ver­sal of The Handmaid’s Tale, with women of this planet no longer need­ing men to re­pro­duce and evolves, through a plot de­scribed as ‘mad’, into an out­sider’s per­spec­tive of Glas­gow.

‘The male alien Le­g­less goes down to earth and goes around fer­til­is­ing all these women, and doesn’t un­der­stand this world where he’s in charge.

‘Most of the time I was the only woman liv­ing in a cul­ture dif­fer­ent from my own. I be­gan to see sto­ries in out­siders.’

Be­ing an Aus­tralian in Scot­land – and on top of that mar­ry­ing into a Bangladeshi fam­ily – would give that out­look, of ev­ery­thing be­ing fa­mil­iar but just off a little.

The lan­guage is the same, with the ac­cents dif­fer­ent. The ru­ral com­mu­nity is the same, only with less ter­ri­fy­ing mon­sters to deal with in Ar­gyll. This is the out­look Le­g­less finds him­self in as a dom­i­nated man in a world of dom­i­nant men.

Such an off-the-wall plot with no clear mes­sage makes the book an ink blot test - you take what you’re look­ing for from it. Maybe you even see some­thing else with an­other look.

Ker­rie ex­plained: ‘Orig­i­nally I wanted it to be all hu­mour. I sup­pose I’m driven about power and con­trol and it’s re­ally fas­ci­nat­ing when you start to think about it be­cause peo­ple dom­i­nate in quite small ways.’

So maybe the point was to gain the women’s per­spec­tive for men to re­late to?

Ker­rie is cur­rently work­ing on her fifth book, the se­quel to her dystopian sci-fi named Rebel With­out A Bra, and she will keep belly danc­ing around Lochgilp­head.

‘At the be­gin­ning you just write, and you just open up your mind and stuff comes out and you’ll find that all this stuff comes out that you didn’t re­alise you were think­ing about. It’s amaz­ing. You ac­tu­ally dis­cover so much about your­self.’

Au­thor and Ar­dr­ishaig res­i­dent Ker­rie Noor en­ter­tained a li­brary full of book lovers on Wed­nes­day June 20.

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