My computer died yesterday... Tea+laptop=disaster, and this at a rather crucial time... I am fuming and feeling rather under the weather.
I am going away in two days anyway, so nothing will get sorted before June. I will therefore be offline for two weeks, and I hope to be back and running as early as possible.
Not cool at all...
At least, today, I have managed to get together a publishing schedule for The Right Place. Provisional pub date: November 2017... Subject to change, of course...
My first novel, I Am a Muse, features a dead painter and his muse. I will most certainly go and see Mike Leigh's Mr Turner when it is released in the UK in October, it looks fabulous. (lovely review HERE - I loved Topsy-Turvy, the Gilbert and Sullivan film mentioned in the article!).
See the trailer below!
Getting ready for book 3!
Today, I am sorting our my study and preparing to get started on Book 3, The Right Place. I will probably start on research and planning around mid-June, after I've finished sorting out a few admin issues... I am still thinking about the ways I could fund this release... I cannot wait to get started as it is set in one of my favourite places, Dorset... An excuse to spend more time in that wonderful county!
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get permission to print the lyrics of PJ Harvey's The Wind in the book (nobody answers... probably not interested in a small imprint!) *sigh*.
Typesetting work on The Book of Thoth should start in June too...
Book Talk series, number 1: Jordan Reyne
I am absolutely thrilled to present to you the first in my interview series, "Book Talk".
And what a way to get started! an absolutely thrilling interview with the very talented Jordan Reyne, whose first novel, Remembering The Dead, is out now.
What began as a "Book talk" became something else altogether. Really, really interesting.
Subjectivity in the way we interpret history - very fitting with the current debate surrounding WW1 "celebrations" - as well as philosophy, music, the fluidity of language(s), writing, self-publishing, storytelling, surviving...
It's all in there and more.
Thank you Jordan for giving us such in-depth answers to my questions!
READ JORDAN REYNE: REMEMBERING THE DEAD
I Am a Muse in V&OAK magazine
There is a review of I Am a Muse in issue 2 of V&OAK magazine, a new glossy independently put together in Colchester by a team of talented and hard-working people. V&OAK stands for "vintage and one of a kind".
I am very happy with the review, and it was a surprise to find out that the article took a whole page in the "Culture" section. The review does highlight the main topics in the book. It didn't start well, though, and I have a slight issue with the following sentence: [talking about Constance] "An elite events planner, her story begins along a similar vein to your typical chick-lit narrative of an independent woman stuck in a love triangle with two different yet disposable men."
WHAAAAT? "CHICK-LIT"? *Hits head on wall*.
Believe me, this is absolutely NOT chick-lit. I most certainly do not write for women but for everyone who loves reading. I do not tackle "women's issues", and at no point in my book do I say that the men are disposable! Constance is a single, working individual in London who has affairs, shares a house when she'd prefer not to, and tries to keep her head above water.
Constance is not an "elite events planner", but the manager of an arts and media centre inspired by the iconic Tea Building in Shoreditch where artists and start-ups hire space and units. She also runs a monthly club night inspired by the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.
But I "forgive" the reviewer, because the rest of the article is beautifully written and rather spot on (and she corrects herself about the chick-lit tag too in some way!).
OK, and seeing my picture rather big on there was a bit of a shock... You can see you're no longer in the fashion section!
My partner in crime Matt ArtPix also had a little feature in the magazine about his design work.
And both Arcane Publishing and Matt ArtPix advertised in the mag!
A day in Whitstable and Whitlit
This weekend, we went back to lovely Whitstable to attend an event at the first WhitLit, the Whitstable Literary Festival. It is a shame that we couldn't stay over for the whole weekend, as there were quite a few interesting events. Then on the day we decided to attend, we had to choose between two events that fatefully took place at the same time in two different places in town.
So I opted for the talk on British Gothic (one of my fave subjects) with one of my favourite contemporary writers, Christopher Fowler, over the one about two of my favourite classic authors (namely Charles Dickens and most of all Wilkie Collins, whose work has inspired my second novel, The Book of Thoth).
I have written about Whitstable before on this blog, HERE and HERE. My partner Matt ArtPix also posted a lovely blog about the place two years ago, you can read it HERE.
We adore the architecture around the town, and there definitely is an atmosphere...
So yes, we are big fans and we will most certainly go back. Yesterday, there seemed to be even more interesting shops than the last time we were there. This is what a high street should look like: all the shops (or very nearly) taken up, mostly by independent businesses which have kept the uniqueness of the interior of the buildings they now occupy.
We spent a while in the fabulous Oxford Street Books, a treasure trove that had me virtually drooling. Whilst in the basement, a young couple wandered in. I didn't pay attention to them at all until the girl said - with a very bored tone of voice "Why don't you just get your books off the Internet?" (i.e Amazon); I almost SCREAMED. She did look bored. They left. The poor guy didn't even have time to browse properly! Their loss. We on the other end took our time.
In the shop, there was a signed copy of the first and only edition of The Bois Saga written by local VIP resident Peter Cushing. It was £195.00, of course... and no, I didn't buy it! There is an ebay listing for it HERE with a lovely and rather poignant write-up.
We also paid a visit to Harbour Books, the local independent bookstore and associate of the WhitLit festival. I bought a Dorothy Parker poster in there... oops.
As part of the WhitLit festival, a second-hand books event had been organised at All Saint's Church Hall. You just have to say "second-hand books" for me to come running. And there was a tea room as well, which was perfect after so much walking around! I was amazed: people literally bought PILES of books! It was so wonderful to see!
I got my hands on a wonderful little book called Gobbolino, The Witch's Cat by Ursula Moray Williams (written in 1942, this edition 1966). It's cute, and I am going to read it, because, hey, it's got witches and cats in it!
I also rescued the lady above from a charity shop. Isn't she just handsome? I can feel a book coming with her as the heroine.
In the evening, we attended a talk about British Gothic at the Horsebridge centre as part of the WhitLit festival.
The two speakers were Christopher Fowler, a favourite of mine - I encourage you to read his very entertaining and above all informative blog, which he updates daily. I try and read all his posts as I always learn so much about cinema and books! Chris was also one of the speakers at the week-long "Culture Lab: on Writing Fiction" I attended in Southend in October 2012. I have been reading his books since the late 90s, but I really struggle to catch up as he is so incredibly prolific (I am genuinely in awe of this, as I am such a slow writer...)
The second speaker was the very knowledgeable Barry Forshaw, writer and journalist and Vice Chair of the Crime Writers' association, who has a brand new book out about British Gothic cinema.
The discussion - introduced by David Sutton, editor of Fortean Times - was simply fascinating, and one hour wasn't long enough. We could have sat there until midnight without getting bored. The two entertaining speakers swapped ideas, opinions and anecdotes about Gothic cinema, literature and characters. It really was a delight to listen to these two experts describing encounters with the greats of British Gothic cinema (Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee), taking us on a journey from the beginning of the genre to the special effects-saturated movies of current times and Hammer's resurrection. At random, a few things that got mentioned: Dracula, Frankenstein, MR James, Mary Shelley, Ingrid Pitt, lesbians, The Innocents, Hammer Films, Bela Lugosi, sets being reused again and again for different films, Carry On Screaming, Mr Fowler's Bryant and May series... and so many other things!
We then had a few things signed... Of course, I had to get the latest in the Bryant and May series, I can't wait to start reading it!
Afterwards, we decided to hang around in the cafeteria for a bit with some nice hot drinks, whilst the venue was getting readied for the next talk of the evening.
Sitting by the floor to ceiling glass doors leading onto the terrace and looking down at the town outside, we admitted that we didn't really want to go home and that yes, we could see ourselves live in Whitstable...
I Am a Muse in issue 2 of V&OAK
There is a review of my debut novel, I Am a Muse, in issue 2 of the new biannual vintage fashion and culture glossy, V&OAK (VINTAGE AND ONE OF A KIND).
Independently produced in Colchester, this magazine is a must for all fans of vintage, vintage-inspired and retro.
I have to say that I was very surprised - and yes, very pleased - to find that the review took up a whole page in the "Culture" section! And it was a bit of a shock to see my picture so big too...After all, it's all about the book...
Overall, I am very, very pleased with the review, which describes the topics tackled in the book pretty well, with a good style.
It didn't start well, though.
There is only one bit of the article I have a slight issue with: talking about Constance, the reviewer says: "An elite events planner, her story begins along a similar vein to your typical chick-lit narrative..."
WHAAAAT? "CHICK-LIT"? *Hit head on the wall*. No bloody way, I say.
I did cringe when I saw it...
Believe me, this is no chick-lit, and I most certainly do not write for women but for everyone who likes reading!
Constance is just a single, rather flamboyant person who lives in London and works hard, has affairs, has housemates, doubts and hopes...
My character is not an "elite events planner" either. She manages an arts and media centre in Shoreditch inspired by the Tea Building - artists and start-ups rent units to work in - and runs a monthly club night inspired by the legendary Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.
But I happily "forgive" the writer, because the rest of the review is rather spot on and beautifully written - and she changes her mind about the chick-lit tag!
Go to the "Review and press" section of this website toread a few more reviews from readers and some features and reviews from a few magazines and newspapers.
There is also a small article about my partner Matt ArtPix in the same issue of the magazine. He is a designer and has his own little venture. He also works on all the Arcane Publishing books and promo material!
My second book, The Book of Thoth, is inspired by the classic genre of the Gothic novel. Before I started, I printed a few documents listing the characteristics needed for a story to classify for the "Gothic novel" tag.
I've regularly had a look at the list of conventions pinned onto my noticeboard as I planned and wrote TBOT. Let's count, shall we?
OK, so here they are:
--wild landscapes (Kind of, does the Somerset countryside count?)
--remote or exotic locales (Does Somerset qualify? Oh, hang on, I mention Egypt. Is that ok?)
--dimly lit, gloomy settings (There's plenty of those in TBOT!)
--ruins or isolated crumbling castles or mansions (later cities and houses) (Yes, yes, and yes)
--crypts, tombs (Oh, yes! An Egyptian-style mausoleum and a sarcophagus)
--dungeons, torture chambers (Well, there's a tower. No torture, though...)
--dark towers, hidden rooms (Tower? Check. Hidden rooms? Dozens...)
--secret corridors/passageways (Loads)
--dream states or nightmares (YES!)
--found manuscripts or artifacts (CHECK!)
--ancestral curses (Yes, a terrifying Ancient Egyptian one!)
--family secrets (Indeed)
--damsels in distress (Two. Hang on, one is a flapper, so not in distress at all!)
--marvellous or mysterious creatures, monsters, spirits, or strangers (Of course!)
--enigmatic figures with supernatural powers (YES! Several ones!)
--scientific tone (fantastic events observed empirically) (TICK. A rational character, and a scientist and scholar, although the latter is also an alchemist)
--specific reference to noon, midnight, twilight (the witching hours) (All the time!)
--use of traditionally "magical" numbers such as 3, 7, 13 (NO! oops!)
--unnatural acts of nature (blood-red moon, sudden fierce wind, etc.) (YES, quite a few!)
OK, so only one convention that doesn't appear in my novel. Not bad, eh?
But maybe I should double-check... The Guardian Books has just posted a fun little guide to the Gothic Novel.
So if you'll excuse me, I am off to check whether The Book of Thoth definitively fits the genre!
Tomorrow, I am off to the Whitstable Literary festival to attend their event "British Gothic: a macabre evening with Christopher Fowler and Barry Forshaw".
I'm very busy these days. Things are moving fast and a lot needs to be done. I am just glad freelance work has dried up this month so I can get on with stuff (Ok, no money in, but we won't panic just yet!).
I still need to promote Book 1, I Am a Muse, and my imprint and bookselling venture, Arcane Publishing. More on that later this week I hope, I am waiting for something to come in to share it with you on this blog.
I should also be able to tell you more about some forthcoming events and ideas! Watch this space...
By the way, talking about I Am a Muse: Steve Pottinger, the poet and publisher who created the independent imprint Ignite Books and who so generously shared publishing tips with me and typeset I Am a Muse last year, is on the BBC news website because of a letter he had written to Caffe Nero about their tax-evasion tactics (someone has done some research about it, see the results HERE). Steve is a very passionate and eloquent speaker who deserves your attention. He will be appearing at quite a few events over the next few months, so try to go and see him! All dates HERE.
The manuscript of book number 2, The Book of Thoth, is now finished. Draft 4 was completed yesterday and I am giving it a quick once-over this afternoon. I am quite pleased with it, it is definitively the book I wanted to write. I could probably fiddle with it for another six months or so but time is running out: publication date is December 2014 and I would like to have the freshly printed books piled up in my lounge by the end of September latest.
The manuscript is now going to Matt ArtPix who will be designing the cover and typesetting the whole book. No pressure, then!
I am now turning my attention once more to The Right Place, which will be book number 3. I wrote the opening chapter during my week-long Culture Lab "On Writing Fiction" at Metal in October 2012 and read an updated version of it at the Shorelines literary festival last November.
Now is time to start the next phase of my research: I need to build up the back story, plan the plot, etc. Unfortunately, my Arcane Publishing funds are severely depleted and will be even more so once The Book of Thoth has been printed (it is a big book!).
I hope to find a solution to this state of affairs in the forthcoming months and keep the ball rolling!
I love using boards. I pin anything I think will help me put the book together: pictures, notes, postcards, maps, ideas, etc. The one I have for The Right Place only has the two pictures above on it; I pinned them this morning. The images come from The Sunday Times Magazine's Spectrum section. They are part of Italian photographer Marina Rosso's project "The Beautiful Gene". Kat Moorhouse, one of the main characters, is a red-haired girl. I'd like to inject a bit of Pre-Raphaelite beauty into the book...
Another character in The Right Place will be the Dorset landscape and its relationship with the people who inhabit it. The book might not feature any straightforward supernatural phenomenon like The Book of Thoth, but the mythical and mystical qualities of the countryside there will definitively have a strong influence on the story.
I cannot wait to get started!
We had another day in London yesterday. It was genuinely lovely, the sky was blue and the capital didn't look as busy as usual - maybe Londoners and tourists had decided to make the most of the sunshine outside of the metropolis on this Bank holiday weekend...
First a visit to the Charing Cross market stamp fair on Northumberland Avenue (you can also find coins, currency and postcards). This is held in an underground car park underneath Charing X station every Saturday.
My personal finds were an envelope used by a firm of solicitors complete with broken red wax seal (I was really happy about this one as I have a scene with an old-fashioned letter sporting a red wax seal in my second novel, The Book of Thoth, and I have never seen a real one before, funnily enough!). What was sent in it, I wonder?
I really regret now not getting that 25 billion dollars Zimbabwean banknote... I could have gotten 3 for £1!!! That's what I call a good change rate.
Then I got my hands on quite a moving item... A "postcard" sent by a French soldier, Lucien Legouge, to his godmother - whom he has never met - from one of the German prisoner of war camps (Stalag VII-B, which was located in Memmingen in Bavaria) . The godmother lives in the French occupied territory.
I have done a bit of research, and I have found a video of the liberation of that very same camp on YouTube! Amazing footage!
Then we were off to The National Portrait Gallery to see The Great War Portraits exhibition. My favourite items in the exhibition are Jacob Epstein's futuristic The Rock Drill, La Mitrailleuse by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson, William Orpen's self-portrait, Selbstbildnis als Soldat by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and an elegant portrait of the great war poet Siegfried Sassoon by Glyn Warren Philpot. A very sobering and poignant exhibition.
You can listen to a tour of the exhibition with curator Paul Moorhouse HERE.
Back on the Central line then to go back to East London. We went to one of our favourite places, Old Spitalfields market, where So Vintage London were having their monthly vintage market. We were there on a special mission but we cannot say more at the moment...
We love walking around all the markets in the area, it is so incredibly vibrant! We love the Brick Lane Tearooms and all the other Truman markets, which is packed full of marvellous antiques!
I couldn't resist those two fabulous Edwardian ladies in Swallow and Pips! I wouldn't cross them if I were you!
I think therefore I write.
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