A WRITER’S life is solitary, and rejection is commonplace. However, some disappointments are less predictable than others, and can shock. And so it was last year with one of Scotland’s most intriguing and talented new literary voices, the Edinburgh-based writer of flash fiction, prose-poetry, novellas and novels Helen McClory.

Her work was caught up in, and ultimately lost in, the collapse of Glasgow’s Freight Books.

The sudden disaster of that sinking ship took her debut novel, Flesh of the Peach, with it.

But McClory, 34, kept on writing. And writing and writing. Eventually another, new Scottish press, 404 Ink, contacted her after reading of her fate on Twitter. And so another book was born. It is out now: the magical and sinister Mayhem + Death.

It contains short stories and very short stories, flash fiction and prose-poetry. There are also two interlinked works, the opening story Souterrain and the concluding, gripping novella Powdered Milk, which takes a horror trope and turns it inside out.

From mourning mothers to death at the bottom of the sea, to ghosts and a landscape of spikes, the stories are dark and beguiling – fittingly so, given The Herald has previously described the writer as “clearly one of the best new writers to have emerged in Scotland in the last few years”.

Others have agreed with that assessment: she won a Saltire Society prize for her first book of short stories, On the Edges of Vision, in 2015.

We meet over a coffee at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. She is just back from a residency in Brazil, the excitement of which has led to further South American plans, yet to be revealed.

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Flesh of the Peach, like many other books, is now in a kind of limbo – it has been published but by a defunct publisher. She hopes it can have life again, but it is tough for a book, even as smart and fine a debut as hers, to have a second life.

However, the intervention of 404 Ink has provided a tonic. She says: “It feels like I am now in caring and competent hands, whereas with Freight I was there at the moment everything went into freefall, right before my launch.

“And then there was no support, almost no reviews, and then the book was out of print and I, like everyone else, was scrabbling for answers. I really felt it died when it went out of print. When that happens it is a terrible moment and you have to grieve for it.”

404 Ink, founded and run by Laura Jones and Heather McDaid, asked her if she had enough stories for a second collection.

McClory adds: “They are two remarkable people in their twenties, working out of their spare bedroom, I am just amazed what they have done this year. I couldn’t be happier at this stage.”

404 Ink have also published McClory’s pamphlet of absurd and funny stories about the actor Jeff Goldblum, The Goldblum Variations, and she is is completing a novel and working on a book of poetry.

Poetry resonates in her writing. One character is described “as a storm cloud poured into the shape of a girl”. There is also violence: “Butter knife though it was, in up to the hilt”. There is also the weird and uncanny, and an insistent, probing intelligence.

McClory’s writing can be strange. Sometimes, with the flash fiction, it exists in tantalising fragments and atmospheres.

She says: “It is very unconventional, and there is a lot of resistance to unconventional stuff, especially by women. Women are not taken for intending their choices, it is seen that things happen accidentally with their work. Somehow the work is there, but it is seen as autobiographical or it is just leaking out of them.”

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She says she has run up against the attitude of “You’re doing it wrong, because you don’t quite know what you’re doing”.

McClory has travelled: she has lived in Scotland and Australia and the US. She was born in Paisley, lived in Edinburgh until she was four, then grew up on Skye. This was followed by a return to the capital when she was 12. She figures that moment is when her compulsion to write was born. “It was brutal, a shock to the system – I did not know how anything worked.

“I wonder whether with writers, something happens in your formative years that puts you slightly outside and that instant makes you a writer. And that was my instant – moving to Edinburgh and not fitting in at all. Books become a refuge.”

That refuge has become a career, after a period studying for a Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

There she studied transgressive and innovative fiction, rule-breakers and confrontational texts. “That was the moment where I felt I had permission to do whatever I wanted,” she says. “I must have spoken to something already inside me.”

She followed it up with a PhD in Glasgow, where she was “trying to find a middle way between tradition and radical influences” and wrote her first novel, which has been “rejected by everybody”.

She adds: “I just kept writing. It is the only thing you have control over. Flesh of the Peach took four years to get published and I went through dozens of rejections – 40 or 50, and I lost an agent.

“I have been told, ‘Your writing is no good, you need to learn how to write’. Through it all, the writing is there.”

She believes the consolation for writers is on the page. “The idea being that, at some point, you might have one reader. To find someone to have that connection with, and all art is about connection. But it is also about yourself, yourself and the page.”

Her novel will take a look, from three different angles, at a dramatic incident, and desire. She adds: “It takes confidence to feel you have the permission to do something slightly unlikely or offputting, because I want to.

“My heroes are those who have done it before and are often now marginalised. Like Leonora Carrington [the

English-born Mexican artist and

writer] who was famously eccentric

and surreal. Her writing was bizarre and wonderful. She lived in Mexico and escaped from an asylum.”

McClory notes: “So in terms of that, I have been quite lucky – no one has tried to lock me up.”

Mayhem + Death, by Helen McClory, is published by 404 Ink, price £8.99