Scabby Queen

By Kirstin Innes

‘Gripping and moving. A literary triumph’ Nicola Sturgeon

‘A humane and searching story’ Ian Rankin

‘Kirstin Innes is aiming high, writing for readers in the early days of a better nation’ A.L. Kennedy


Now that she’s gone, those who loved her, those who hated her and those who felt both ways at the same time are forced to ask one question:

Who was Clio Campbell?

Three days before her fifty-first birthday, Clio Campbell – one-hit-wonder, political activist, life-long-love and one-night-stand – kills herself in her friend Ruth’s spare bedroom. And, as practical as she is, Ruth doesn’t know what to do. Or how to feel. Because knowing and loving Clio Campbell was never straightforward.

As news spreads, the story of Clio’s life spreads with it: from the Isle of Skye to an anarchist squat in Brixton, from a yoga retreat in Greece to Glasgow on the night of the Scottish referendum. Half a century of memories, of pain and of joy, and that peculiar feeling in between the two, are wrenched to the surface.

Scabby Queen is a portrait of a woman who refuses to compromise, and a picture of a country that does nothing but. It’s about the silencing of women’s voices, about the destructive power of the celebrity machine, but most of all it is about empathy: its motives, its limits and the way it endlessly transformed.

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 23 Jul 2020
Pages: 400
ISBN: 978-0-00-834229-6
Kirstin Innes is an award-winning writer, journalist and arts worker living in the west of Scotland. Her first novel Fishnet won The Guardian\'s Not The Booker Prize in 2015, and is currently in development for television with STV. Her second novel Scabby Queen will be published by 4th Estate in 2020, and she is currently developing a play with the National Theatre of Scotland.

‘Kirstin Innes has written a fat, firecracker of a book, revolving around the suicide of Clio Campbell, a Glasgow chanteuse, whose story emerges through the voices of friends, acquaintances, enemies and journalists with space to fill. It’s about women and silence, oddballs and adventurers and stupid mistakes; about ‘no need to worry about me’ Scottishness and 'getting by’ as practised by every culture on earth. Best of all, it’s about joy and hope and the pressing need to seize the day while one can.’ Janice Galloway, author of The Trick Is to Keep Breathing -

”'Scottish fiction has a long history of state-of-the-nation novels that examine the collision of myth and reality. Think of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Alasdair Gray’s surreal fantasy Lanark or James Robertson’s sweeping epic And the Land Lay Still. To their ranks can now be added Scabby Queen … as complicated, complex, tragic and bewitching as the woman at its heart” - Independent

”'Scabby Queen is a life and death struggle of a book: wounded, angry, beautiful, righteous, beaten and triumphant” - A. L. Kennedy, author of Serious Sweet

”'Totally immersive and gloriously polyphonic” - Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure

”'A warm, gritty, capacious take on the endearing theme of the fallen star. Irresistible” - Leila Aboulela, author of Elsewhere, Home

”'Innes’s range is as wide as Clio’s passions … The supporting characters are vividly drawn, and Clio herself is always larger than life - This is an opportune state-of-the nation novel with a feminist heart.” - Guardian

”'An absolute inspiration … Since I finished Scabby Queen I’ve found myself on many ocassions thinking 'What would Clio do?' … Although the fictional Clio exist only in the patchwork memories of others, Kirstin Innes conjures a vivid portrayal of a creative, determined, fiery working-class woman.” - Scotsman