You can now find the PDF programme for the Shorelines festival HERE.
It has got all the events, their locations and times... Some hard copies should be available soon in the Southend-on-Sea area.
I know! I read another book from the Mary Russell series, The Game, not that long ago, but I enjoy them so much and this one has been on my "to read" shelf for quite a bit...
I kind of miss going to gigs. Not that I have stopped altogether, but I no longer get in for free and I no longer live in London - the train journey is not too long but ticket prices keep rising and rising...
Which makes it imperative that I really pick my gigs very cautiously.
When I was a music journalist, I would sometimes attend two to five gigs a week!
Luckily, after several almost gig-free months - unheard of for me! - I now have several ones lined-up.
And I won't forget my camera, next time...
Yesterday, the Arcane Publishing team was at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London to see PIL (Public Image Limited)...
And we forgot our camera!
Unfortunately, I do not have the time to write a review, but I can tell you that it was a fantastic gig. Great songs, fabulous musicians, great atmosphere... John Lydon - a legend if there is one! - is a very expressive frontman, and actually - some people might be surprised - quite focused and humble.
And what a voice!
And they played "Open Up", Lydon's collaboration with Leftfield, which is one of my favourite tracks of all time!
Here's a video of yesterday evening ... Open Up!
And here's the original track...
So here it is, the final front cover for The Book of Thoth. Matt ArtPix has done a sterling job on this and also on the promo material I will be taking with me to the Shorelines festival (read his blog about it HERE.
Yesterday, I finalised the reading/presentation, only a few tweaks to the slide show to do...
This week, I am going back to The Book of Thoth. My first draft is sooo behind schedule, now... I have given myself until the end of November to complete it, then will start work on draft 2 immediately.
And it's been brilliant until the very end...
That last shot and tossing of the coin, eh?
Not sure whether they left everything open just in case they came back for a second series... If it did, it would have to be as good as the first one. I don't really watch TV, but when it's that awesome, then I don't mind... I've always been intrigued by Cillian Murphy, and he has proven himself to be an exceptional actor.
Author Neil Gaiman gave a lecture at the Reading Agency on 14th October. An edited version of that lecture has been made available on The Guardian's website.
It is essential reading: a passionate, poignant, rousing, intelligent plea for books, fiction, literacy, libraries and imagination. Everything is in there. Our uncultured and boorish politicians should be MADE to read it. Below, I have reproduced my favourite bits - although the whole thing is my favourite bit really...
Some of these quotes remind me of the child and teenager I was - an avid reader with a wild imagination, desperate to live somewhere else, to experience something else, knowing there was more to life than what I could see around me. Books and the ambition of becoming a writer have pushed me, have made me study hard and stay focused, curious, inquisitive, interested. They saved me in my (numerous) hours of need... Here's to books and fiction...
Neil Gaiman on The Guardian
Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it's a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it's hard, because someone's in trouble and you have to know how it's all going to end … that's a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you're on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading.
When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed.
Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.
If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn't you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with (and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.
I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them.
Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.
According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, England is the "only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest group, after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type of occupations are taken into account".
We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.
Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all.
I haven't been feeling very much like a writer recently... I have been unable to make any progress on The Book of Thoth (the end of the first draft is nigh, but I just cannot sit down and finish off the blooming thing... I just cannot afford to say "no" to any freelance work at the moment! I need to finance Arcane Publishing!
Anyway, I do not wish to rush it.
At least today, I can sit down with my publisher/author cap on and prepare for the Shorelines literary festival... I am preparing my reading whilst listening to PJ Harvey's Is This Desire? (and then probably a bit of all the others albums too!)
I will be listening to A LOT of PJ Harvey when I start writing The Right Thing next year. Her music is perfect for the themes I will be tackling in the book... And in many ways, the central character, a very serious teenager, shares quite a few characteristics with the singer.
I am also working with Matt ArtPix on the flyers I will give away at the festival - I will make sure I print enough of them to last me until the publication of The Book of Thoth!
Here's a picture of St Peter's church in Eype, Dorset, where PJ Harvey recorded her critically acclaimed Let's England Shake. It is now an arts centre!
I have been following her career since the mid-nineties, and it is really nice to be able to explore and write about the county that has spawned such an intriguing talent. I understand how she has been so intensely inspired by such an environment.
During my time in Dorset, I went back to Abbotsbury TWICE - after all, this is where my third novel The Right Place will be set!
I met the lovely owners of The Lazyhill gallery - who incidentally got married at St Catherine's chapel; now that's one hell of a setting!
Each time we go back to the chapel, there are some fresh prayers to St Catherine. One of the specialities of the Saint is to find husbands for unmarried women...
Well, let me tell you: she's going to have one hell of a job completing this one!
This made me smile and smile... The two resident doves were as baffled as I was!
More Dorset blogs to follow...
All pictures by Matt ArtPix
I think therefore I write.
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