I am absolutely thrilled to have been selected as one of the participants to Metal Culture's LAB: On Writing Fiction.
If I am being honest, I am still pinching myself and will be for quite a while.
One of the guest speakers is one of my favourite writers, Christopher Fowler. Also invited to speak will be the awesome Cathi Unsworth, whose new novel, Weirdo, I am currently reading - it's fabulous and some of the themes feel so very familiar.
I have long resisted creative writing courses, but I think this one will be different. It is a professional, intensive course.
As someone who enjoys nothing more than working in my little corner on my own, this will be a challenge - and I haven't spoken in public since I gave up teaching yeeeears ago!
This is perfect timing as I am leaving for Dorset tomorrow. During the week-long course, I will be working on what I hope will be my third book, The Right Place, inspired by St Catherine's chapel in Abbotsbury and PJ Harvey's song The Wind. I will be doing some research and I will be taking yet more pictures that I will bring with me to the course for inspiration.
My intention is to keep a diary of the course here on my blog, with thoughts and comments.
I am very very excited.
I am hoping to publish an edition of The Book of Thoth with some illustrations. If everything goes to plan, I will be collaborating with artist Sabine T to bring the characters and the atmosphere of the book to life.
Sabine's art mixes fantasy, exoticism, mystery, sensuality and dreams, which is exactly what I need for The Book of Thoth.
One of Sabine's artworks will also feature in I Am a Muse.
I have posted here some examples of Sabine's work.
SABINE'S WEBSITE HERE
In two days, I will be heading to Dorset for two weeks. No computer, no neighbours! But I am taking pen and paper, The Book of Thoth manuscript, some books and DVDs for rainy days.
I will hopefully take some notes and pictures for my third book The Right Place.
Words cannot express how impatient and happy I am about going back to this fabulous county.
When I come back, with the strength of Nature flowing through my veins again, it will be extremely busy: exhibitions and gigs to go to, I Am a Muse to publish, The Book of Thoth to work on, some markets to attend, a lot of planning for 2013, hopefully some freelance work - although not too much, I have just finished a big job and I would like some time to write!
I got the "cinema bug" very early indeed, at the same time as I got the "books bug". I grew up on a diet of American and British classic movies. The only TV I watched - apart from a few cartoons - was a programme called "La Dernière Séance" (Read about the programme HERE Sorry, the Wiki page linked here is in French!) which was on Tuesday evenings - I was allowed to stay up because children didn't go to school on Wednesdays in those days.
Somewhere in Paris, in a recreated classic old cinema and surrounded by a dressed up audience, a presenter would introduce the evening with a few anecdotes about the making of the evening's features and the actors starring in them. There was always one feature film dubbed in French, then some news and cartoons in original English version, and then the second feature film in its original English version with French subtitles - the latter one I was not allowed to watch because it was shown after my bedtime, but those films fascinated me and I sometimes managed to catch the first 5 minutes... People speaking in English! It was so very intriguing and exciting...
By the age of 10, the walls around my bunk bed were plastered with pictures of Marilyn Monroe and I was reading obsessively about the Golden Age of Hollywood, Alfred Hitchcock's movies, Gone With the Wind and all that. My teenage years were spent reading books - including some cinema related ones - and watching old movies. I have never stopped since!
I was strangely reminded of this last week: we had three wonderful evenings of cinematic experience thanks to the excellent Southend-based The White Bus Ltd and The Palace Theatre in Southend, who had recreated the Palace Cinema as it had been during its 1932-1933 season, as part of the 2012 Palace Theatre's centenary celebrations.
So every evening between 13th and 15th September, we made our way to the theatre - conveniently located about 15 minutes walk from our house! - to enjoy three hours of classic entertainment: a full hour of supporting programme, including Laurel and Hardy shorts, some Pathé newsreels, Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons and the last three episodes of the serial The Whispering Shadow with Bela Lugosi - I want to watch the whole thing now, I wonder whether I can find the DVD somewhere?
There was piano playing in the lobby, quite a few people had made an effort to dress up, the theatre itself had been decorated in 30s style and there was even a cocktail bar! Of course, the programme was an absolute delight.
We have been told that there might be some more themed evenings like these, ie recreating cinemas from the 40s, 50s, etc. We wholeheartedly support these projects and simply cannot wait for more! Who knows, it might even lead to a full-blown Vintage Festival in Southend!
Before I go, I wish to make one or two comments about the audience. Without wanting to appear snobbish - and if I do, well, what the hell - I have to say that I would have thought that an audience who make the effort to turn up at a theatre to watch 1930s movies would be slightly more clued up on a few things than your average cinema-going crowd - Oh, I know, silly me...
So I was not expecting so much rubbish littering the theatre carpet after the entertainment had ended - is it really too much of an effort to wait and throw it into the bins provided to this effect at the end of the evening?
Also, the atmosphere got somewhat slightly spoilt by people giggling and laughing out loud at dramatic moments, especially during the episodes of The Whispering Shadow and during the first feature film The Mysterious Doctor Fu Manchu.
Yes, those movies have a very different pace to our often overdone 21st Century films. If one knows about the history of Hollywood and cinema and has half a brain, one can perfectly appreciate the masterful artistry of these early film makers: the talkies had just started, and everyone, from the director to the sound technicians to the cameramen to the scriptwriters to the actors had to adapt to this brand new, exhilarating way of making movies. I think these people deserve a little bit more respect from modern audiences. We shouldn't really patronise them. We owe them so much!
But then again, it might just be me...
Photos: Matt ArtPix.
I am pretty sure that there are quite a lot of people out there who absolutely loathe Will Self.
I just find him rather fabulous for a number of reasons. One of the most important one is that somehow, he is the only (mainstream) public commentator who is allowed to say whatever he likes, and that involves being non-PC, dry, cynical, misanthropic, rude - but always in a very knowing, witty, verbose, intelligent way - and it is often incredibly funny, but not in a stand-up comedian way, which I absolutely loathe.
He excels at spotting the most grotesque aspects of the human condition and of the society/world we live in.
I have a few of Mr Self's books and I have to admit they are not an easy read - they are sometimes downright unreadable and not particularly enjoyable, but only in my opinion, mind, I am not a very "literary" reader - but I love his essays, articles and his broadcasting work. Reading an interview with him is always highly entertaining and interesting.
The latest one I've read was in free Men's magazine Shortlist, and there are some gems in there:
"Books are like children. They kind of leave home and grow up. Some of them end up shoving beer bottles up their jacksies trying to get money for crack. And others become respectful small-town solicitors."
I also love his take on the Olympics and Paralympics!
"I loathe that shit." [...] "It's a total fucking lie from top to bottom. Just to take one aspect of it, competitive sport doesn't make people better, it makes people worse. Psychologically, it makes people worse people." [...] "How often do you meet an elite athlete that has done antyhing else in any other walk of life? Is Usain Bolt going to paint a fantastic painting or do some neurosurgery? So what's the fucking point?"
You can read the full interview HERE.
Mr Self's website complete with blog is HERE.
Respect - and good luck for the Man Booker prize, Mr Self!
I love Steampunk.
I would love to see Vintage Tomorrows, a movie about this rich, inventive subculture.
For a trailer, go HERE.
As my latest big assignment comes to an end this week, I have been able to allow my mind to wander back to my books.
Here is the final artwork for the I Am a Muse cover, still one of two tweaks needed and of course the barcode - still need to sort this one out.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to start the publishing process before early October when I come back from my holidays, but I hope things will be moving quickly from then on, for a publishing date of late November.
Fingers and toes all crossed!
It is quite funny how the media always attempt to pigeonhole people and put them into brand new categories with silly names. Usually, those people have been doing their stuff without thinking they were part of a particular group, just following their instinct.
So imagine my hilarity when my partner came back with a copy of the (atrocious) ES Magazine he found on the train and on the cover was the following headline: "Meet Sarah. She's a slashy".
Then inside, several pages about some photogenic young people DOING THINGS!
Well, yeah, if you're dynamic, creative, passionate, inventive and want a fulfilling life, you, like, do things. (Article HERE)
So we've discovered that we are "Slashies" (although we no longer live in London and we are older than those featured in the article, so we probably don't count). You know, we have a job that officially pays, and then we do some other enterprising, creative things on top of that. As if that's new.
So, dahling, I'm, like, so chuffed to be part of the new AWESOME slash/slash/slashy trendy category:
Meet Miss Gish, editor/writer/translator/publisher/assistant stall holder - my boyfriend suggested adding bird feeder to the list, but I'm not sure that counts!
Unfortunately, a big assignment is keeping me too busy to write or to blog.
When I manage to get free time, I want to get the hell out of the flat.
I hope to be able to resume work on my books soon. I Am a Muse is still due to be published in November but progress has stalled lately. Still a barcode to do, and the PDF of the content to sort out. The cover is pretty much there now, and I am very happy with it!
There is still potential for delays and utter frustration... I am trying to take everything in my stride. I'm slowly learning how to be a publisher. So, so much to absorb and understand!
I wanted to write a proper blog about the wonderful Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands exhibition at the British Library. We spent more than four hours in there last weekend.
It encouraged me to carry on writing, even if the process is so so slow. It reminded me of why I love books, writers and Britain so much.
Go HERE to see a video about the exhibition, it is better than a long blog, I think.
Two weeks before my two-week retreat in Dorset!
I think therefore I write.
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