Helen Lamb and Three Kinds of Kissing


“What doesn’t get talked about, what lies behind a look or a glance, is what really matters.”


Our latest publication, Three Kinds of Kissing, by Helen Lamb, will arrive at Vagabond HQ any day now (any moment really!) and we can't wait to share it with you. It’s a subtle, thought-provoking exploration of behaviour in families where everyone – including the parents – is still growing up. It’s also a compelling mystery: someone is missing, someone is dead, and we must gather the clues across a story that spans four years to discover how this has come to be. In the following blog post, Chris Powici, writer and partner to Helen Lamb before she passed away in 2017, discusses Lamb’s writing process and interests:

The subtle spellbinding strength of Helen’s writing comes from an intuitive, keenly felt sense of what makes human lives so special, and sometimes so messy and difficult. Helen knew that what doesn’t get talked about, what lies behind a look or a glance, is what really matters. This unswerving commitment to the “truth” of her characters runs through Three Kinds of Kissing. The story of Grace and Olive, and of the secret that binds them together and tears them apart, may be a work of fiction but it is unwaveringly honest.

Whether in prose or poetry, writing for Helen could be joyful and liberating but she knew, also, that writing is a serious business. Helen felt a rush of excitement when a sentence or a phrase turned out “just right”, but she didn’t write for pleasure or amusement. She wrote because she wanted to find out what she had to say and then to say it as best and as beautifully as she could. As anybody who has read her short story collection Superior Bedsits can testify, writing helped Helen to see into people’s hearts, including her own, and she recognised the responsibility this entails: to be bold, to be clear, to be honest and to never ever be boring or trite. That’s why she’d spend entire coffee-fuelled nights sitting at a computer screen or poring over the pages of a notebook. The writing had to be good, had to be shaped and crafted, because that’s what the truth demands. Helen knew that our lives are stories and her fiction and poetry had to do justice to her characters. She cared about writing because she cared about people – real and imagined – and all the heartache and joy, the pain and thrill of being human.

Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered Three Kinds of Kissing. If you haven’t already purchased it, you can learn more about the book and/or order it here.

We’ll be launching the book in Glasgow (21 September), Stirling (27 September) and Edinburgh (25 October) in the coming weeks. Check our events page for more details.

About Chris Powici: Chris Powici’s latest collection of poems, This Weight of Light, was published by Red Squirrel in 2015. He lives in Perthshire and teaches creative writing for the University of Stirling and the Open University, and gives readings and workshops for schools and writing groups. He edited Northwords Now from 2010 until 2017.

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