This Sunday 26th August, we were planning on having a stall at the fantastic Giant Shepton Flea, but with a very pessimistic forecast, we didn't attend (It rained the whole day; it would have ruined our stock).
Instead, we set up stall at the yearly Rotary Club of Wilton Mammoth Car Boot Sale at the beautiful Wilton House (a first for us). The day started really well as Matt ArtPix's items were snapped up by enthusiastic customers (I sold a few of my discounted books - yes, I am having a stock clear-out!). Unfortunately, rain stopped play and we had to try and cover our stock as best we could. When the shower stopped, we painstakingly started drying our stock, helped by a timid sun. When we thought we'd be able to relax and start selling again, THE RAIN RETURNED, and that's when everyone decided that enough was enough and everyone started the long process of packing up...
Thankfully, none of our stock was damaged, but it cut short what was a very successful event for us!
On the plus side, I have acquired two props which will be very handy in the organisation of future events and for Arcane Publishing displays... More soon!
Looking ahead, our next events will all be indoors, and we will be booking more over the forthcoming months... Check them out HERE and... Watch this space!
It's the summer holiday and I have been using that time to try and catch up on my reading among other things. I haven't read as much as I would have liked to this year, shame on me! A writer if first and foremost a reader.
I am pleased to say that I have been doing well so far: four Agatha Christie stories (I have a set of Christie's books which until two days ago I thought was complete, but it looks like I am missing a story or two... damn!) - very handy to find inspiration for my fourth novel Hell Lane; I have also read two Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels (still trying to catch up, still two to go to be up to date!). If you do not know this fantastic series by Laurie R. King, I urge you to read them. You start and you just cannot stop reading. If you are a TV producer, turn them into a TV series, please!
At the moment, I am immensely enjoying a book I've been meaning to read for a long time: Love, Nina, by Nina Stibbe. I just cannot put it down.
This is the kind of book I shouldn't like, really: I am not interested in books about family/domestic life and I don't care for epistolary novels. But the short dialogues and Nina's observations are sharp and delicious, and whilst reading this book, I am reminded of several things: how snobbish I was as a kid and later on, as a teenager - extremely serious, bookish and arty. I was mostly on my own or with adults as I found people my own age incredibly boring and immature. Nobody had the same interests as me (books, English and American classic cinema, literature, art, theatre...).
I never read books for children/Young Adults after the age of 8 or 9 - I read "proper" books, you know, the ones for grown ups. And I dreamt of having a family like the one in this book: I wished my parents had been London-dwelling intellectuals with a mad old house full of eccentric creatives. I fancied having bonkers arty grand-parents who might have lived in a dilapidated mansion full of dusty books and cracked paintings somewhere deep in the English countryside.
Needless to say, this was far from being the case!
So reading about the goings-on in this North London house is simply immensely pleasurable!
In addition, in the book, Nina is studying English and American literature (which I did for five years). Here again, I am reminded of my own unfinished business: a few years ago, I started thinking about going back to university to do an MA then PhD in English literature to become a university lecturer/researcher - something I'd do in a flash if only I had the financial means! I miss the intellectual demands of this kind of environment...
Two years ago, Love, Nina was made into a wonderful TV drama (with a terrific performance by the always watchable Helena Bonham-Carter as MK) - do try and watch it if you can, it is a very faithful version of the book!
Reading so much this summer has slowly started to have an effect on what can only be called my writer's block.
I haven't worked on my third novel, The Right Place, for about two years, bar the occasional glance at the contents of a folder. I think about it everyday, though, as I drive past St Catherine's chapel and around the Dorset countryside, both important elements of the novel.
Ironically, in the meantime, I have moved to the area where the novel is set - but one has to pay the bills and I have been obliged to push the writing to one side. I keep re-doing my publishing schedule for this book, which is no mean feat as I never know when I am going to be able to work on the book - and this situation is not about to change any time soon... So at the moment, the pub date for The Right Place has been pushed back yet again to... November 2020 (unless I find gold somewhere in the Dorset countryside).
This is incredibly frustrating, especially as I keep getting ideas for my fourth novel, Hell Lane, and can't wait to get started properly on it!
Arcane Publishing had a stall at the Bridport Bookfest in West Bay on Saturday. Unfortunately, whilst West Bay is always packed on a sunny summer day, the weather had decided to turn once again and the very wet harbour was mostly deserted! Nevermind... at least we authors and publishers were all inside, dry and cosy.
I had decided to try out a more elaborate display than usual for my books, and had gathered a variety of items that would reflect the contents of the novels.
For I Am a Muse, a contemporary tale of lost love and artistic inspiration mostly set in Cornwall, I used stones and shells found on various beaches, a guide book of Cornwall and a vintage vinyl record with a sleeve showing a surfer in action to evoke the surfer's life of the group of friends featured in the book; as a tribute to the characters of Alda and Alastair, both painters, I brought with me the original painting purchased at Alexandra Palace's Antiques and Collectors Fair a few years ago (it lives in Miss Gish's office at home!), an easel and a real vintage painter's palette with brushes and old paint tubes. I even found a paint-stained sheet which added "authenticity" to the whole thing! Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring my lovely vintage mannequin head... Next time!
For The Book of Thoth, a Gothic novel mostly set in 1925 and full of ghosts, alchemists, Ancient Egyptian gods, time-travellers and other strange and marvellous things, I gathered quite a few items bought at antiques and collectors fairs, including two issues of The Play magazine which features towards the end of the book, and lovely postcards of the actress Pauline Chase to illustrate Lady Sophia Chronos's pre-WW1 stage career. Of course, Thoth and Princess Amunet were not forgotten - I do have in my possession a framed (fake) Ancient Egyptian papyrus showing the passage between Life and Death, perfect to express various themes in the book. And of course, Lord Vangelis Chronos's alchemical experiments were alluded to thanks to an assortment of old brass objects of dubious provenance purchased at the Giant Shepton Mallet flea! (Witchy candle and dusty chandelier, author's own).
I do hope I will have the opportunity to put this display together again at another event...
There will be some announcements soon about the next events the ArtPix / Arcane Publishing team will attend, and we also have a few very cool music-related events planned for the autumn...
Oil 54 and Arcane Publishing have also started working on the next LONDON: Winter Tales event (#3). We have sent a few emails and if everything goes to plan, you will be in for a real treat early next year! Read about forthcoming events as well as about our previous Winter Tales events, go HERE.
On Saturday 11th August, I will have a stall at the Bridport Bookfest which will take place at the Salt House and Fishermen's Green in West Bay, Bridport, Dorset.
For this event, I am going to have fun and experiment with my display. I will put together a stand which reflects the narrative and setting of each book. I have found quite a lot of fab items and will just make it up as I go along.
Obviously, I will post pictures once the event is over! Below are some pictures of a few items I will bring along, there will be many more!
People will then be able to go and have a look at the Matt ArtPix/Arcane Publishing unit round the corner at The Customs House!
Finally, this summer, we have started doing what we've really moved to Dorset for: exploring the Southwest region and finding potential opportunities for our respective ventures Matt ArtPix and Arcane Publishing. After a year sorting ourselves out after our move from the Southeast during which we haven't really traded outside of our unit at The Customs House in West Bay, we are trying to be as active as possible and we are now busy booking events for this autumn and winter. Some of them will see us go back to more straightforward vintage markets (but good ones!), but we are thinking about challenging ourselves and venturing into "happenings" such as The Frome Independent market - we will probably apply in the autumn to try and trade there next year - obviously, this is all conditional on us being accepted, which is by far not a done deal. It doesn't cost anything to try!
Last Sunday, we finally made it to Frome, a town which has been so written about (and which has won this year's The Sunday Times's Best Place To Live in the Southwest) that house prices have now shot up and apparently, there is a "Make Frome Shit Again" hashtag. From March to December included, every first Sunday of the month, the town hosts the brilliant Frome Independent, an event which takes over the whole city centre and attracts hundreds if not thousands of people each time.
There's music, a flea market, a designer-maker market, a street food market... Shops and art galleries are open...
Most of all, what I have found exciting about Frome, is that it seems to have found a great balance between its identity as a traditional (and charmingly lovely) Southwest market town and its growing reputation for art and culture, community enterprise, trendiness, thriving independent shops and can-do attitude. And the latter is I think what genuinely makes the difference. In Frome, people actually get off their backside and DO things - properly. And it shows. People are creative, yet they also understand the realities of life and the fact that your creativity can be turned into a business and can contribute to the economic and cultural regeneration of a town. People with ideas and talent are encouraged to at least TRY and the Frome Independent is a brilliant way of giving people the opportunity to just do that. When your town doesn't have a lot of job opportunities, well, you CREATE them!
I loved St Catherine's, Frome's Artisan Quarter; it has a timeless cobbled charm and is full of great independent shops. There, you will find designer-makers, vintage dealers, craft, art and lifestyle vendors and various cafes - just to think that not that far back, this was all boarded up! We loved OWL - a craft and art gallery - for its unique and original products which you feel you haven't already seen hundreds of times as is the case with such places nowadays... We will have to go back to Frome to visit two vintage shops that were unfortunately closed, Deadly Is The Female and Dandy Lion.
Cheap Street is another pretty street and has retained its historic medieval character (there, you will find a well-stocked record/DVD shop, Raves from the Grave.)
Black Swan Arts and The Cheese and Grain are two extremely busy cultural venues that host an array of events and exhibitions throughout the year.
We also saw a lot of lovely things for sale and spent ages in the Flea market (it's our thing!) - There, I drooled over the vintage typewriters at the Charlie Foxtrot stand (one day...)
Later on, I also bought a lovely card at Tom Charlesworth's stand (go and check out his website - if you like dark, folklore/mythology-inspired illustration, it's for you! It is rather wonderful...)
Of course, we just couldn't NOT go to a bookshop... So we had a good look around the Frome Bookshop and I managed to get out without buying anything...
I genuinely believe that the Frome experience can be replicated in other towns around the country - obviously, every town is different and each location would need to find its own specific identity.
This Sunday, The Frome Independent was renamed "Frome-on-Sea" and had a mini-beach complete with sand, deckchairs, seagulls and donkey rides. In Weymouth, we do have all of those (and the seagulls are real!) as well as the brilliant architecture - add to this a gorgeous scenery and a lot of artists and creatives who would jump at the chance of participating to the regeneration of the area and help turn it into a respected, all-year-round destination. But the local authorities NEED to be open to ideas and MUST show generosity, understanding and readiness to LISTEN to organisations and individuals (something which, unfortunately, is not happening in Weymouth).
We live in hope...
And we will be back!
I think therefore I write.
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