Once upon a time, we were full-on book publishers. We founded independent literary publisher Two Ravens Press in Scotland, back in 2006. It passed into new hands in 2013, and unfortunately no longer thrives. These days, we restrict ourselves to publishing EarthLines Magazine, for writing about nature, place and the environment. Riverwitch Press is primarily a vehicle for our own work.
What is the Riverwitch?
A small river winds through a valley in north-west Donegal, in the hills among Errigal and Muckish mountains, and sews together many scraps of cloth – the fields, the bog, the heather moor, the scree slopes, the stands of trees, birds, fish, sheep, people. People who are and people who were, stories told and stories that might have been be told. Lives being lived and lives that might be lived. The Riverwitch somehow holds together this elaborate habitat: ancient and subtle, robust and harebell-delicate.
About our archive posts
‘Riverwitch’ was the name we originally gave to a creative project we began in January 2014. At that time, we were preparing to migrate from our home on the far south-west coast of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. We were in transition – gathering the things we love that can transport, and saying a thoughtful goodbye to those that cannot. This was a place where we worked hard and dreamed deep – where we watched our black lambs being born, chickens hatch and piglets miraculously appear in the depth of night. This was a place where we dug and built. But in the end there were things we could not give to this place and some things the place could not give us. Through our writing during those last months of in-between time, we hoped to come to understand this process better. But at the very least we hoped to share our last spring there in a beautiful clear Atlantic light.
When we arrived at our new home, Teach Dhoire an Easa (‘house of the oak grove by the waterfall’) on the banks of the Tullaghobegley River, we were strangers for a while. We saw and heard and smelled a new life. Through ‘Riverwitch’ we planned to write ourselves into the valley as we experienced it, with wide eyes, flapping ears, twitching noses. And for sure there were echoes of familiarity amongst the discoveries. The wrens looked like wrens even though they spoke, as all wrens do, with the specific voice of their district. After all, it is only a short, direct sea crossing from the Hebrides to the north-west coast of Ireland …
Sharon Blackie was born in the north-east of England but her ancestry is Scottish and Irish. She spent several years as an academic neuroscientist/ psychologist specialising in the field of anxiety and panic, and working at the Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris and the Institute of Neurology in London. After a few twists and turns, including a few unwise years advising a tobacco company on smoking and health, and the acquisition of a master’s degree in Creative Writing, she moved to a croft in the north-west Highlands of Scotland where she practiced as a psychologist specialising in narrative psychology, myth- and storytelling. In 2006 Sharon and her husband David Knowles founded literary publisher Two Ravens Press (now under new ownership), and in 2012, EarthLines Magazine. Sharon’s first novel The Long Delirious Burning Blue was described by The Independent on Sunday as ‘Hugely potent. A tribute to the art of storytelling that is itself an affecting and inspiring story’ and by The Scotsman as ‘… powerful (reminiscent of The English Patient), filmic, and achieving the kind of symmetry that novels often aspire to, but rarely reach.’ Her new book, If Women Rose Rooted, a narrative nonfiction book about women, Celtic myth, place and belonging was published in spring 2016. Sharon’s website can be found here, and she blogs about the myths and stories of place at Singing Over the Bones.
David Knowles is originally from Wales and is a former RAF Tornado pilot and a poet. In 2008 he left the RAF to run independent publishing house Two Ravens Press with Sharon, and for the past several years he has been an active crofter, managing two small flocks of pedigree sheep, pigs, and a milk cow. His short fiction has been published in two anthologies; his first collection Meeting the Jet Man was shortlisted for the 2009 Scottish Arts Council First Book of the Year award, and was Highly Commended in the Forward Prize and included in the 2010 Forward Book of Poetry.