The British Library has an exhibition about Gothic Literature on from 6th October to 20th January 2015, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination.
My second novel, The Book of Thoth, is a Gothic Novel, and will be published this autumn... Perfect timing, I say!
And of course, I will go to the exhibition and get some inspiration for my forthcoming books.
I cannot believe the amount of exciting exhibitions on this autumn...
I will also go to William Morris: Anarchy and Beauty at the National Portrait Gallery - I have been a fan of WM for quite a while...
I might also pay a visit to the Virginia Woolf exhibition, also at the National Portrait. I do not exactly like her writing, but she is an icon and she was a writer with an interesting life in interesting times. I always want to understand the creative process behind the person/work and see how writers live their lives and find inspiration.
We will also go to Longitude Punk'd at the Royal Observatory, an exhibition of Steampunk art!
And of course, we just cannot miss the Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London.
And of course, there will be a few gigs and plays for us to go to... I love the autumn!
I had a great day at So Vintage London at Old Spitalfields market yesterday. The truth is that this is probably my favourite market!
The logistics are incredibly easy (get into car/A13/arrive), you get a buzz the whole day because you are in the middle of that fabulous city that is London.
The Arcane Publishing/Matt ArtPix pitch was fantastic, with a lot of space to get creative with our tables and create a colourful and attractive stall. We had changed the layout of the stalls and we had tweaked our stock - and we had a lot of interest, people really looked and browsed and even asked us when we'd be back, which is fantastic.
Unfortunately, I cannot post any pictures of the day as I HAD FORGOTTEN MY CAMERA! But trust me, the stalls looked fab.
I now need to stock up on more books about vintage fashion and classic icons - my "Marilyn Monroe in fashion" book lasted less than an hour on the stall!
We hope to be back at Old Spitalfields market on November 1st (we booked some holidays and a local event ages ago for September and October!).
But I have been discussing the possibility of getting a monthly slot at Old Spitalfields with Matt ArtPix in order to build up an audience/custom from 2015. Watch this space!
Having just finished Christopher Fowler's latest Bryant and May, The Bleeding Heart (thoroughly recommended!), I carry on with detective novels and will be starting The Red House Mystery today. This is A.A.Milne's only detective novel (he is best known for being the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh!).
I will be studying detective novels a little bit more over the next few years as I might venture into the genre for my fifth novel which will be a rural noir story set on Exmoor and featuring a detective called Barton Stacey!
But I have two more books to write before I get to this one...
Yesterday, Matt ArtPix finished the typesetting of The Book of Thoth. Now it's my turn to read through and make a few corrections and adjustments.
Matt ArtPix will now finish off the cover design and we hope to have everything ready to go to the printers around 25th September after our much deserved holiday! We are on schedule, and it is getting very exciting!
Also, the book looks terrific! I really cannot wait to be able to get it out there into the big wide world...
Here is a quick update on what's happening with the books!
I will be taking I Am a Muse to various events in the next six months, mostly selling copies of the book on my second-hand/vintage book stall. The list of events can be found on the EVENTS PAGE on Arcane Publishing's website. The list is being updated regularly, so keep checking!
Matt ArtPix is typesetting The Book of Thoth and the first completed PDF should come to me in within the next week or so. Then I'll have to check things over, adjust bits and pieces, and check the second PDF, etc. until we get the content finalised!
Half the cover has been done (see above), so work will be required on this - Matt ArtPix's job again!
We hope to have everything ready to go to the printer by 25th September - after our fortnight in Dorset! Fingers crossed it all goes to plan!
And then today, I am starting working again on my third book, The Right Place, set in Dorset and inspired by PJ Harvey's song, The Wind.
I started work on this book during my week-long Culture lab course at Metal Southend in October 2012 and read the opening pages at the Shorelines Literary festival in November 2013 (you can read them HERE).
This project had been pushed to one side while I finished The Book of Thoth, but now that TBOT is being typset, I can go back to The Right Place and throw myself in it properly (plot, research, etc.).
I have a few characters already that need defining and refining and a few plot lines, but things are still pretty vague. I want the inspiring landscape of the county to play an important part in the plot, and I'd like to give the book an atmosphere of mystery and an edge that will make it stand out. A genteel book about rural idyll it won't be!
In the forthcoming days, I will also work on the brief I will send artist Sam Cannon who has agreed to illustrate the cover. It's going to look amazing!
The main obstacle for this project is lack of funds. I will need to spend quite some time in Dorset in order to write in a quiet environment surrounded by the landscape that is such an important part of the book, but accommodation costs a lot of money. I am still not sure how things will turn out, but we live in hope!
Here's the (provisional) blurb for The Right Place - some elements in it might change:
Catherine (Kat) Moorhouse is a quiet, mature fourteen year-old girl. She was only a baby when her mother, a musicologist from New Zealand, died in a car crash on a research trip. She has lived with her widowed journalist father in New York, Edinburgh and London.
After a vicious bullying campaign that has left her seriously shaken and heart-broken, Kat is relieved when her father decides to move to Dorset for an indefinite period of time. The young girl soon feels at ease in her new environment and falls in love with the county’s ancestral landscape. She is particularly drawn to St Catherine’s chapel in Abbotsbury, with which she shares her name. One evening, on Chapel Hill, she meets a mysterious woman, also called Catherine, who works as a “life assistant” to a local elderly aristocrat, Ronald Sinclair. The origins of Lord Sinclair’s family are rather dubious and are the stuff of legend in the area.
As her relationship with Catherine develops, Kat finds herself at the same time fascinated and repulsed by her new friend and understands that nothing is what it seems in this idyllic part of England…
Last Saturday, I worked at Village Green, Southend's ever expanding music and arts festival in Southend. It was a rather fab and exhausting day. I admit to feeling something akin to my wristbands (below) on the Sunday: a bit crumpled and battered; but I am really pleased to have been part of it.
There are pros and cons about working at an event: you get sucked up in the intensity of it and are surrounded by talented people the whole day, BUT you do not get to see much...
I didn't mind one bit though, as I was exactly where I wanted to be anyway: the Dragnet tent, the 40s crime/mystery/literary tent curated by authors Syd Moore, Travis Elborough and Cathi Unsworth.
I feel very privileged indeed to have spent the whole day surrounded by so many inspiring, inspired and talented writers and musicians who were clearly passionate about what they were doing - and yes, my antisocial tendencies have been challenged big time, but one has to try!
Everything went smoothly and the atmosphere was really friendly and relaxed. During the breaks, we were entertained by great retro music spinned for us by Travis Elborough and Max Décharné.
As I was kept busy the whole day and could only catch one or two minutes of the talks and readings here and there - although thankfully, I managed to catch the whole of the Sohemian Society Players' play and of The Cesarians' set - this blog will be dominated by images rather than words.
Someone mentioned the inside of the beautiful tent as looking like a church with its stained-glass windows - and indeed it did! Someone else - I think it was our very efficient stage manager Jo Tyler - mentioned it as being "a little oasis of calm" in the middle of the frenzy of the big event!
An oasis of calm indeed on the surface - the Dragnet tent resonated the whole day with the tales of bygone mysteries, murderous deeds and shady characters...
Here are Cathi and Travis starting off the proceedings with a discussion about crime fiction and the seaside.
The poet Benedict Newbery went back in time in verse...
Anna Whitwham read the opening chapter of her gritty debut novel, Boxer Handsome, and talked to Ann Scanlon.
The very charismatic Max Décharné took the audience on a journey from the pages of classic pulp fiction books to Noir movies.
I purchased his book "Straight From the Fridge, Dad" from the bookshop next door and got it signed, nice!
Also from the bookshop stalls, my partner in crime Matt Artpix acquired some great pulp fiction books!
Back on stage, Lilian Puzzichini discussed outcasts and memoirs with Travis Elborough.
The Sohemian Society Players (Duncan Bolt, Emma Brown and Callum Coates) enchanted us with "A Drop of Tea with Acid", a murder mystery written by Marc-Henri Glendening and delivered with glee in perfect retro BBC accents. An extra layer of atmosphere was added by violinist Sophie Loyer.
A real delight!
At the end of the day, I rescued a worse for wear script of the play that had been abandoned in the Green Room...
I am keeping it in my archives (and I'm going to read it properly too of course!).
I love this picture! Syd Moore is sadly missing here, but she was busy doing all the press for Village Green!
Paul Willetts, in conversation with Marc Glendening, described how 1940s London was quite different to the one we imagine with our rose-tinted 21st century nostalgia - it was full of gangs!
Outside the tent, we came across Captain Blackadder - who was giving out flyers for the run of Blackadder Goes Forth at the Palace Theatre later this month!
Back inside, Mark Pilkington and Syd Moore took us to meet Essex witches and the perverse Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins.
Here are Iain Sinclair and Cathi Unsworth deep in conversation!
If you want your music to have a sense of drama, great lashings of panache, a seductive and self-destructive edge and you don't mind treading on the dark side of the human psyche, then you should see The Cesarians live.
They really gave everything they had on Saturday and absolutely rocked the Dragnet tent with their unique blend of demonic rock'n'roll cabaret - singer Charlie Finke did look possessed - creating the perfect collision between intellect, modernity, rawness and old-fashioned sophistication and decadence. I had seen them in London before, but this performance inside that Dragnet tent really was something.
This first Dragnet was a pilot for a potential weekender next year. This mixture of vintage crime, literature and music, mystery, noir references and shadowy goings-on is a winning formula; we therefore demand more!
(All pictures by Carya Gish)
I am off to carry on reading Christopher Fowler's "The Bleeding Heart", the latest in his terrific Bryant and May series. Will London's most unlikely pair of ageing detectives make an appearance at the next Dragnet? One can only speculate!
Magic can still happen; who would have thought?
In an era of trash and dumbed-down culture, fast-food, fast-fashion, fast-fame and digital everything in which music, words and images can be downloaded, consumed and then discarded in a few seconds at the click of a button, it is thrilling to discover artists who still have a real vision that translates into a complex, intellectually and visually stimulating body of work and beautifully crafted and thought-through "products".
Take cellist Jo Quail's new album, Caldera, which launched last Saturday at The Islington in London.
The Caldera limited edition package contains a gorgeously manufactured CD, a hand-finished DVD (with a red wax seal! I have a thing for red wax seals...) and prints by photographer Karolina Urbaniak, who is also responsible for the imagery and layout of the album. The whole album is a genuine work of art.
Last Saturday, we attended the launch of Caldera at The Islington in London, organised by up-and-coming music promoters Chaos Theory and it felt like a great privilege to be there.
For the event, Jo - who usually performs on her own with her trusty Starfish electric cello - was surrounded by an impressive group of collaborators:
Francesca Ter-Berg (cello), Rachel Jones (violin), George Mattar (violin), Al Richardson (percussion), Eilish McCracken (piano), Jim Rattigan (french horn), Ruban Byrne (guitar), Sebastian Lee (viola) and Jonathan Farey (french horn), Daemonia Nymphe and Lucie Dehli.
Adrian Ainsworth, who has written some beautiful sleeve notes for the Caldera album, has posted a review of the evening, and I don't think anyone could have done it better than him - I most certainly couldn't, especially with some awful radio blaring out of some builders' van two houses down the road as I type... welcome to the real world.
Read his report on this very special event HERE.
Live and solo, Jo can reconstruct fully layered versions of most of her material armed with her cello and fearsome control panel of loop pedals. On this occasion, however, some of Jo's tracks were going out on the town in new clothes - and as a result, we saw and heard something unique and unforgettable: like the cauldron of the album's title, a true melting pot, part the sound of the new record, part Jo's normal show, and then a whole variety of extra ingredients to savour.
Matt ArtPix has been hard at work on Part I of The Book of Thoth, trying things out... It does look good... A few tweaks required but we're there, really! I am extremely pleased with the look of it!
I think therefore I write.
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