We had a lovely - and very informative - time last Tuesday evening at the London Review Bookshop in Bury Street. It was one of those evenings that make me want to move back to London NOW.
We spent about an hour and a half in the erudite company of Andrew Whitehead, one of the co-editors of London Fictions, and three of the authors who have contributed to the book: Cathi Unsworth, Lisa Gee and Rachel Lichtenstein - three very different personalities and writing styles!
London Fictions is a book about our monster of a capital published by the small press Five Leaves. Twenty-six contemporary writers write about writers who write about London!
To my shame, I have realised that I haven't read any of the books on the list! I expect London Fictions to make me want to pick up some of them.
The always captivating Cathi Unsworth has written about the L-shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks, set in West London in the 60s - and she got quite a shock when she was told that the author was actually in the room with us! The very dynamic Lisa Gee talked about Zadie Smith's ode to the controversial issue of multiculturalism, White Teeth, and Rachel Lichtenstein about Simon Blumenfeld's Jew Boy set in the East End of the 1930s - without any notes!
There is a lovely accompanying website, London Fictions, where you can read even more contributions - and get in touch if you wish to contribute to the project yourself! As a collector of vintage books, I love the section with the vintage cover artworks!
I am looking forward to reading London Fictions, as my fourth book will be entirely set in contemporary London and will deal with the ever accelerating changes I have observed since I moved to the capital back in 1998.
I wish to write about the high rise towers of glass and metal that seem to be sprouting out of the ground at an accelerating pace whilst the old buildings, sandwiched between the glittering tower blocks, stubbornly stay put, the only witnesses to the history of the city.
I will also try and capture the uneasy relationship between the glossy corporate face of the city and a murkier, mysterious, edgy underbelly - imagined or real.
By the time I start working on the book - I still have to publish two other ones before I settle down to write that one - London will have further evolved and developed beyond recognition. Who knows what I will find...
When I decided to set up Arcane Publishing, I knew close to nothing about the publishing business - only the few bits of information I had gathered as an avid reader, hopeful writer/publisher and whilst working in educational publishing.
In the past 12 months, I have learnt an awful lot. I am getting there, but it is a very steep learning curve!
It doesn't exactly feel like being back to university; there is very little theory involved here; it is mostly practice!
To brush up on the main aspects of independent publishing, I have purchased The Insider's Guide to Independent Publishing published by the Independent Publishers's Guild.
I hope I will be able to become a member one day...
Beforehand, there is so much to learn.
I don't do e-books.
I am obsessed with "proper" books, you know, the ones made out of paper. I love old books with beautiful covers, gorgeous illustrations. I love the feel of a book in my hand, the impression of the ink onto paper. Buying and reading a book, the object, is a completely different experience to that of downloading.
I have the same *old-fashioned*?- attitude to music. I buy CDs.
Here are two great videos praising the merits of a book made of paper.
The second one is in Spanish subtitled in French...
You should have listened more during your Modern Foreign languages classes!
Cartoon found HERE
So here we are... The typesetting has been done (thank you Mr Steve Pottinger!), the cover has been designed and formatted (thank you Matt ArtPix!).
I Am a Muse is going to the printer this weekend. Hopefully everything will be in order and I will be able to have a delivery date next week.
I will be keeping around 10 copies to give to people and then I will have to work on business cards, promo blurb and how to sell them - I will not be using Amazon.
I'd love to do an audio book too, but this might be a bit too ambitious... Maybe in a few years!
I have a lot of work at the moment and therefore the blogging and writing of the second book have been slowing down quite dramatically these days... I am trying to get as much money in before my holidays in Dorset, and hopefully I will be able to spend more time on The Book of Thoth in the spring!
We had a lovely evening on Friday in the company of journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson, P. D. James, Jason Webster and Henry Sutton.
They had a lively discussion about crime fiction, told us about their favourite crime fiction books and read from their own works.
I love listening to authors talk about their work and reveal the ideas behind their stories, the way they work, their inspiration... The three authors had three very different personalities, styles, inspirations and ways of working...
I love Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Laurie R. King's Mary Russell Mysteries and Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May series. I also would love to get my hands on some Mrs Bradley Mysteries by Gladys Mitchell and learn more about The Detection Club...
For me - and I was delighted when P. D. James mentioned this - the setting of the story and the characterisation are the important things: I like to get a sense of the era, a sense of the place - I am not very interested in contemporary detective works, apart from the Bryant and May series, but these have a lot of very original features you do not find in any other detective fiction.
The actual detection work is of very little importance to me at all.
I purchased P. D. James' latest book, Death Comes to Pemberley (very soon to become a BBC TV drama), and got it signed by the great Lady herself. I couldn't help being in awe of the lovely 92-year-old author; what a life she's had!
The exhibition Murder in the Library, an A to Z of Crime Fiction, is on at The British Library until 12 May 2013.
It's good timing, as I will be attending the British Library talk on THE STORY OF CRIME FICTION on February 8th.
When I was at university, there were no social events - or at least I didn't know about them. I had been waiting to go away to university to maybe, just maybe, open my horizon a little bit: so far, I had been stuck in a small provincial town in the middle of France dreaming of another kind of life. Then I got stuck in a bigger provincial town STILL in the middle of France. Well done me.
If I genuinely adored my studies and worked like crazy for five years, the content of the lectures and the structure of the courses were very French: very dry, academic, deprived of any kind of joy, creativity or imagination-stimulating opportunities. I studied English and American literature and civilisations and NOT ONCE were we shown a movie, a documentary, or were we taken to the theatre (Shakespeare only existed on the page...). As to having writers and other speakers come and talk to us... I'm not even going there...
I had to look for them myself, as I had always done... But in the 90s in France, it was not exactly that easy. Boohoo.
At the time, I had wanted to be a writer for years and years; I would have cried of joy if I had been offered the chance to attend a talk about self-publishing - which admittedly was probably still pretty rare at the time.
Anyhow, the students who attended Ignite Books' publishing talk should be incredibly grateful to have been given such an opportunity.
They were also lucky to have Steve Pottinger and Joolz Denby on hand to explain self-publishing to them: two genuinely passionate and driven people just telling you how it is, why and how and when they set up their own small publishing company, Ignite Books.
It was also important, I think, that Steve and Joolz were not your average "publishing" individuals (and believe me, I work in publishing, thankfully freelance now, and there IS a "publishing type", and, well, hum, what can I say... It is good for young people to know that you don't need to fit a certain profile (i.e Oxbridge, a publishing degree/internship, nicely ticking boxes and obeying the rules, being and looking awfully nice, etc.) and generally please others all the time to be published. That if you believe in what you are doing and work hard at it, then you too can become who you want to be: a writer, a publisher with as little compromising as possible.
But you won't be doing it for fame and fortune, that's for sure. It's all a matter of CHOICE.
I am no longer a student, but I was there and walked away with my belief boosted and punching the air: yes, that's the way I've always wanted to do it, and that's the way I'll be doing it.
Ignite Books has been an inspiration to me, and will continue to be so.
Let's hope the young people in the room will treasure those ideas and build on them.
This was QMU's very first Spoken word and live poetry night and they were very brave indeed to invite Steve Pottinger and Joolz Denby as their first guests of honour. They could have gone for a blander and safer option from London, but no, they chose two talented and abrasive poets from the North - maybe Joolz could have done one of her new poems, Barbarians, just to make a point "We are the barbarians from the North", it goes...
Certainly, they brought a very northerly weather with them on the day!
The audience was small - entrance was free for students, and there were a lot around outside in the bar... Let's hope that the word will go around and that more students will come and enjoy those evenings in the future.
Five brave young people opened the proceedings, and I was in quiet awe, to be perfectly honest. As a student, I would rather have DIED than stand in front of a small (or medium, or large) audience and read my writings.
It is only in October 2012, years and years after having left university, that I did my first two readings in front of an audience, a strange sensation at the pit of my stomach the whole time. Oh yes, you would have thought that having spent several years as a teacher, standing in front of classes of 30-odd semi-feral teenagers would have cured the shyness, but when you are reading your own words, your very own creation... It's quite something else.
Therefore, well done to the five students below who did their bit in front of an attentive audience that included two veteran poets and artists and a rock star. Beat that!
There was some quite brilliant stuff there, actually.
Steve Pottinger and Joolz Denby were fascinating, as usual. The - apparent -ease with which they come up with those emotionally charged poems of theirs is quite beyond me, a non-poet.
Steve Pottinger has a new collection of poems, Island Songs, out now.
Watch Steve read his rather fabulous poem: No-one likes an angry poet HERE
Joolz Denby has a new CD out - a collaboration with Mik Davis from the dreamy outfit Utopian Love Revival - The Black Dahlia (which will be reviewed before the end of this month on this very website.)
Today, I will be making my way to the Queen Mary, University of London in Mile End to attend a talk on independent publishing with Steve Pottinger and Joolz Denby from Ignite Books. Then afterwards, it will be an evening of poetry readings. And I am going to purchase some more books, of course! I am hoping to have pictures to post on here over the weekend.
I think therefore I write.
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