The Arcane/ArtPix HQ is always quiet over the Xmas holidays, as we never celebrate Xmas or The New Year.
We always keep this time to rest, sleep, walk, reflect and make plans for the months ahead - this year, obviously, things have been slightly different as we cannot plan anything...
On Thursday, we were lucky enough to enjoy my favourite kind of weather: cold and crisp but sunny and a gloriously blue sky.
So we jumped in our red car and headed to the Isle of Purbeck and more precisely to the Studland and Godlingston Heath Nature Reserve for some peace and quiet away from the horrid news. It was just fabulous.
The Agglestone Rock is perched slap bang in the middle of the nature reserve - our very own Dorset Hanging Rock, complete with mythological/folk story: also nicknamed The Devil's Anvil, the rock is supposed to have been hurled by the Devil from the Needles on the Isle of Wight - its target not very clear: Corfe Castle, Salisbury or Binton Abbey in Wool?
From the rock, you get a stunning view over Poole, Bournemouth, Brownsea Island and the ocean... You can also catch a glimpse of the white cliffs and The Needles on the Isle of Wight.
The village of Studland is simply beautiful and is really worth a gander...
It has a special atmosphere - it is a secluded place at ease with its wealth and surrounding beauty.
We even found a (closed) second-hand bookshop: what wouldn't we give to take over the building and turn it into our Arcane/ArtPix shop/venue! It would be the perfect location! I am a bit jealous...
We will go back to Godlingston Heath in the Spring, as there are many walks to do in this superb corner of Dorset.
Since March, I have read a few books but probably not as many as I could have.
I always try and read the books both for pleasure, but I cannot help to keep my author/writer's hat on - I keep noticing things here and there, and, most importantly, I LEARN from what I read to improve my own writing.
This is not a review blog, just a quick recap of the books which have kept me going during these challenging months.
Back in March, I started with a challenge: Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, which I chose because of its period (19th century) and its location (New Zealand, a place I'd like to know more about). If this novel is a massive writing achievement (the prose could have been written by a Victorian author, the sprawling scope of the story was quite mind-blowing and the amount of research necessary to write this book is astounding), I am sorry to say that I found it confusing and overblown at times. The astrological elements left me cold, the complicated structure and length (at over 900 pages) spoilt the experience for me somehow and, in the end, I am ashamed to say that I didn't find it enjoyable at all - and I struggled to finish it.
I followed up with yet another Victorian-era Gothic novel, Sarah Perry's much more digestible The Essex Serpent.
I have added some 1920s humour with two of E.F.Benson's Mapp and Lucia series (they are light and delicious!).
I have a whole pile of them waiting for me to pick them up!
I love the Cormoran Strike series and loved the latest in the series, Troubled Blood, in which Strike and Robin deal with a cold case from the 70s. Utterly addictive!
Also by J.K Rowling (but published under her real name), The Casual Vacancy, her only standalone novel. It is excellent, cruel and perfectly executed. It really digs deep into the horrible mediocrity and grotesque quality of most people's lives, and every single character is horrible, adults and teenagers alike. I really, really enjoyed it.
A little bit of folk-horror is always welcome, and I really found inspiration in the fascinating stories gathered by Candia and Tony McKormack (founders of the band Inkubus Sukkubus) in their book/CD Tales of Witchcraft and Wonder.
I also admired Andrew Michael Hurley's succinct prose in his very dark tale Starve Acre, a novel at the same time rather short yet full of layers and meaning.
I have been re-reading Geoffrey Household's iconic West-Dorset based Rogue Male for a little project I'd like to complete in 2021... Hopefully, more on that later in the year.
I have been reading Agatha Christie's books since the age of ten. During Lockdown, I have been diving in and out of my Agatha Christie complete collected works published in the 70s by Heron Books.
I always discover something new each time I re-read a story!
Finally, I have just started Roger Deakin's Waterlog, and I already adore it, as I did his other two books: Notes from Walnut Tree Farm and Wildwood.
I am still waiting to hear whether I will be working in the next few weeks.
I haven't worked on The Right Place for weeks now, but will pick up my first draft as soon as possible, as I am determined not to give up on it. It will depend on the work situation... Watch this space!
Arcane Publishing is still in hibernation until mid-February at the earliest. As I cannot plan anything, I believe that it is the best way to deal with the current uncertainty. More news as I get it.
I think therefore I write.
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