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'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!
Arrived in the post today: the "Crone" EP, which is the first release of Jordan Reyne's new project, the Maiden, Mother, [CRONE] trilogy, complete with personalised messages and signed too! Always nice!
I have raved about Jordan's music before on here (you can read a review of her latest album, The Annihilation Sequence HERE) and therefore I am thrilled that she is working on yet another new project.
Jordan is also a writer and I hope to be able to post an author interview with her soon on this very website, which will be gaining a new section in the forthcoming weeks. This has been delayed a bit, but I really want to build up a series of author/publisher interviews on my website over the forthcoming months...
I know, I know...
I am still working on the editing of Book number two, I have written only one chapter of Book number three and I haven't really done any work at all on Book number four...
And then up pops the idea for Book number five!
After an animated conversation in the car with Matt ArtPix - those pesky creative couples, always bouncing ideas off each other all the time! - whilst on our way back from Devon, here's what I have come up with: a Hound of The Baskervilles-inspired vintage mystery set on moody Exmoor, with a rural detective named Barton Stacey - it is the name of a parish in Hampshire. When my partner saw it on the map, he decided here and there that it was the perfect name for a detective! I have no idea whatsoever whether I can pull it off or not. I want it to be a bit outrageous, a bit humorous (can I do humour?) and we'll have a cover inspired by vintage classic detective novels...
I have my work schedule sorted for the next ten years, I think!
You know when you fall in love with a place? Well... I've fallen in love with this house in North Devon. It's the ideal writer's house, NO NEIGHBOURS, private track, fields, the fabulous Woolacombe beach about 15 minutes away... Thing is, I can't afford it (and never will...). Argh indeed...
I came back from Devon two days ago with three new books - they will not be for sale via Arcane Publishing as they are for my own private collection, but I am so excited about them that I wanted to share them with you!
The first one is "The Mammoth Book of Thrillers, Ghosts and Mysteries" by Odhams Press, 1936 edition. The cover has a lovely embossed bat on it, there are great black and white illustrations and mini author biographies for each featured writer. It's a real treat, featuring people such as Joseph Conrad, Guy de Maupassant, M.R. James, D.H Lawrence, H.G Wells, J.B Priestley and many other very famous and less famous writers. I cannot wait to start reading these stories!
Then I got my hands on a wonderful School Girl's Annual from 1930, full of exciting adventures and lovely illustrations of bob-haired girls that I will use to illustrate some blog posts in the future.
And now, my favourite find of them all... A very rare copy of a fabulous book called Dorothy and Lillian Gish, written by Lillian Gish herself and published in 1973 (Lillian Gish still had two full decades ahead of her when she wrote the book!), and absolutely packed-full of incredible pictures - family, movies, theatre sets, etc. most of them from the sisters's personal collection.
I am a great admirer of Lillian Gish - she inspired my pen name! - she was an incredible person, actress, scholar, cinema expert. She had a fabulously luminous, ethereal beauty, and you can perceive her incredible intelligence in those determined eyes... A real star and captivating individual.
The sisters's lives and careers together spanned seven decades! I am absolutely thrilled to bits to own a copy of this amazing book; it is a true treasure!
I love it when I find a newspaper cutting in a second-hand or vintage book. This one contained a cutting of Lillian Gish's obituary in The Daily Mail...
A few examples of the incredible pages of the book...
I have just uploaded a new extract of The Book of Thoth to the BOOK'S PAGE. It is not the same one as the previous extract; I have chosen the section in which Adam and Dimitri discover Vangelis Chronos's secret laboratory... Enjoy!
I know that after having blogged quite a lot over the past few weeks, it's all gone quiet. This doesn't mean nothing is happening backstage!
I am working on one or two things to do with The Book of Thoth but won't put any detail on here - if I pull this off, then I'll blog about it, if not then I'll keep quiet...
In the meantime, as I have mentioned before, Arcane Publishing and Matt ArtPix are taking a break from fairs and markets. We need to think our promotional strategy through and decide what our next move is going to be!
My partner in crime (and everything else!) Matt ArtPix is working on a new series of images, Southend postcards... He regularly posts updates about the designs, so head to his blog to read more about it!
I think therefore I write.
All Art Books Cinema Culture Events Idea Ideas Inspiration Inspirations Literature Music People Places Promo Publishing Reading Reviews Self Publishing Self Publishing Self-publishing Society Theatre Thoughts Working Work In Progress Work In Progress Writing Writings