So the first proofs of The Book of Thoth are back with Matt ArtPix. I now have to wait for the corrections to be done to check them. Then we will need to finalise the cover and prepare the documents for the printers. We are still planing on sending the book to the printers in early October to have the copies of The Book of Thoth on time for our November events. I cannot wait to see the printed books.
I can now turn my attention to my third book, The Right Place.
For several reasons, I have decided against applying for an Arts Council Grant - which I probably wouldn't have obtained anyway, and will therefore have to finance the project myself.
I have done a draft publishing schedule for the book, but lack of funds might mean that this will have to be amended. As it stands, I am aiming for a pub date of November 2017 (!). This is the optimistic one, by the way...
I have given myself plenty of time to think, read and plan, with "proper writing" only supposed to start next summer - but I need to be in Dorset for that, so we will see how things pan out then.
Still, you can read the opening pages of the book HERE, written during the week-long Creative Lab: On Writing Fiction at Metal Southend. That's the first chapter done!
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!
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!
I have just realised that I've never posted that blog about animals! So here it is: just a few pictures of animals Matt ArtPix took in France...
Here's a cute donkey who lives near the Faillitoux waterfall and who likes Vichy mints. Crunch, crunch!
Here's the waterfall!
Also on the way to the waterfall, we met a graceful foal...
The Salers area of Cantal is well-known for its cows called "the Salers". They are impressive beasts. Most of them still wear the heavy-looking bells that ring all around the valleys of the region.
These are lucky cows... Look at the landscape!
I love that shot... Typical of the region!
Beautiful wild horses and their playful young.
And these two cats were having a lazy afternoon on some stairs...
All pictures (c) Matt ArtPix
Yet another blog about our stay in Cantal!
Today, I have pictures of castles for you...
Apologies, the links are mainly in French...
This is the delightful Chateau du Chassan.
Here's the Chateau de Presteil, above the village of Polminhac. We couldn't really go nearer the castle without paying...
This is the lovely Chateau de Vixouze, which is set in a truly enchanting spot. It was bought in 1990 by a painter, Andre Leonard, who turned it into a venue where the arts flourished. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to hear that it had been bought by a rich business family in 2013... It doesn't appear as inspiring somehow...
And now: ruins! First up, it's Apchon... They are precariously perched on a basaltic rock and look about to collapse onto the village below... Refreshingly, there's no trace of Health and safety measures... You could easily throw yourself from the top or it could collapse on your head. Bad luck! It was brilliant up there, though!
Painter Auguste Bonheur saw the romantic potential of the ruins and produced his "Ruins of the Chateau d'Apchon" in 1852.
I've kept the best for the end... This is the astonishing Chateau d' Alleuze. This is a thrilling, incredibly inspiring and intriguing location with a palpable atmosphere. There, you'll find the ruins of a 13th century castle associated with the tale of a cruel, pillaging "friend of the English", Bernard de Garlan - it was during the Hundred Years War between France and England - as well as a chapel, St Illide, and a small cemetery full of rusted gates and worn out tombs.
Next blog will be one with a few pictures of animals! As you do...
All pictures (c) Matt ArtPix
Chaudes-Aigues is a pretty and rather sleepy Cantal town which comes alive during the holiday season - it is a spa town. Most people come to see this:
Imagine our surprise when we found a poster for a tattoo festival!
Actually, I have found an article covering the first edition of this event in the online version of INKED MAGAZINE (it's in French, sorry). Not surprisingly, English is the official language across the whole event. I can't help trying to conjure up the image of 10,000 tattoo enthusiasts converging to this rural location!
More than the hot spring though, it is Le Valdom which has caught my eye. I have struggled to find information about it, only that it is a private garden transformed into a natural heaven for fairies, dwarves, witches and other imaginary creatures. It's blooming lovely and probably the best thing about the town!
I have just come back from a week in France.
We had a great time in Cantal, a remote and beautiful part of the country full of gorgeous natural beauty and amazing buildings. If you are one of those people who have always dreamt of having a second home in France (good luck) and who have enough cash to make that dream come true, then this is the place for you: there are loads of fantastic buildings available , and they are dirt cheap. Buildings like this one for instance:
Or this one below. Apparently, there is an heiress who has sold all the contents but cannot be bothered to do anything about the building and therefore is leaving it to rot... Some people are too rich...
Me, I would be quite happy to get that wonderful little writing shack (although I would have to go back to good old pen and paper as there is no electricity...) What about the view, though?
The landscape in Cantal is breathtaking!
More about Cantal tomorrow!
All pictures (c) Matt ArtPix
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!
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 think therefore I write.
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