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…
Today, I am sorting our my study and preparing to get started on Book 3, The Right Place. I will probably start on research and planning around mid-June, after I've finished sorting out a few admin issues... I am still thinking about the ways I could fund this release... I cannot wait to get started as it is set in one of my favourite places, Dorset... An excuse to spend more time in that wonderful county!
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get permission to print the lyrics of PJ Harvey's The Wind in the book (nobody answers... probably not interested in a small imprint!) *sigh*.
Typesetting work on The Book of Thoth should start in June too...
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!
It's been a bit quiet on this blog, I know, but it doesn't mean that nothing has been happening!
Some more freelance work has come to disturb a happily creative flow - I have only managed a modest 2,000 words in about a month on The Book of Thoth! and I have been juggling that with my preparations for the Shorelines festival. I've had to create a powerpoint presentation and try and get the timing right so the pictures correspond to each particular section of my reading...
I might get it right, I might get it wrong... At least I'd tried!
I have also been to a fantastic, inspiring gig this week, more about it on here this weekend, when I have downloaded the pictures (hopefully there are a few I can use...).
Next week is going to be stupidly busy: I have volunteered to work for the Shorelines festival as well as doing my reading, which means that I will be spending four whole days at the Leigh Community Centre surrounded by people... It's going to be a challenging time for me, I am so used to doing my thing on my own in my study!
I will have a notebook and pens as well as my camera, and I intend to write an "insider" report of the festival on this very blog...
I am very pleased to be able to see the "behind the scenes" of this very innovative literary festival...
I'll probably need a whole week to recover!
I can't deny that I am very, very nervous about getting so far out of my comfort zone...
And here's a little Bjork video to illustrate this post...
You know it makes sense!
I was supposed to post a nice, colourful blog on here about my wonderful day browsing the super-busy markets in East London last Sunday - I cannot believe that I haven't been to Brick Lane and the Old Truman Brewery for so long! The place has grown so much, it feels as vibrant and exciting as ever. I am so pleased I have set parts of my first novel in the area. I will have to walk around those streets a lot when I research my fourth book, Anti, set both around there and The City.
I might still manage to post something about it in the next few days if I have time, as I really want to link some of the artists and makers we have found there... It's never too late, I guess.
I haven't been doing any writing over the past week even though my 31st August deadline for the first draft of The Book of Thoth is now looking far too close for comfort! I have some work to do - one has to pay the bills - and I have three music reviews to write!
I am hoping to get started again on the book by the end of next week.
A review of I Am a Muse will appear in a special pocket edition of Level 4 Magazine. This is a mini-magazine that will be distributed at the music and arts festival Village Green that takes place in Southend on 13th July...
I just cannot quite believe it, but yes, I have 100 copies of my debut novel I Am a Muse in my kitchen. They've arrived one day early!
They look absolutely gorgeous.
Thank you to Matt ArtPix, Sabine T, Steve Pottinger and Bell and Bain Limited for making this possible!
Official pub date: 15th April.
More soon about where/how to purchase the books, I haven't worked that one out yet - although I've got some ideas. It will not be on Amazon, that's for sure.
I will be giving away a free bookmark with each book too!
This is just so true. For me, the writing has to be done at the desk, surrounded by books, pictures, pens and paper, and most of all SILENCE.
But the ideas come to me suddenly, usually when I am outside the flat, staying somewhere else, or at the theatre, an exhibition, walking in the countryside, reading an article or a book. I think stability and familiarity are good for the actual writing process, but change, unusual environments and exploration do stimulate the production of ideas.
I call these "brainwaves" because they do come in waves, and I usually get ideas for several books at the same time.
During my recent stay in North Devon, I woke up at 6.30am and thought about the various ways I could sell/promote my books, then several plot lines for The Book of Thoth materialised in front of my eyes, and then some background biography details for some of the characters in The Right Place appeared out of nowhere.
I have two days of writing in front of me this week. Better make the most of it!
Tomorrow, I am off to France for my annual one week visit to my parents. I'm not gone and I already miss England - don't ask...
I am a bad traveller and loathe long journeys on public transport. Eurostar is quite stuffy - but National Express' Eurolines are so dreadful that I prefer to put up with the snobs (and it looks like Eurostar have put the ticket prices down from last year!). I beat them (the snobs) by being a dreadful snob myself! Hide the tattoos, put nice dress on - oh well, I wear nice dresses all the time anyway - and they don't look at you weird. I'll be burying my face in The Crimson Petal and the White to make it go quicker!
The worst bit is the 20 minute Metro ride I have to do in Paris. It's smelly, people look super miserable and aggressive... Eeeek. Thankfully, I am getting picked up and driven to my destination afterwards, and therefore I do not have to add any frightful 2 hour train journey through France - it's quite something, let me tell you. *shudder*
I will have to force myself to read some French language magazines so as not to lose the language entirely, after all, most of my (small) income comes from the fact that I am fluent in both languages!
I will be taking my manuscript of The Book of Thoth and hope to add a few words to it... Let's see what a different environment does to my inspiration!
November has been a very good writing month. I love Autumn and Winter, so it must be the season that inspires me! I get the opposite of SAD (or rather, I get SAD in Spring/Summer).
Since I started writing again on 21st November after a long-ish work stint, I have written 7,600 words, but the whole of November accounts for 12,200 additional words, which is rather good! The story is slowly moving forward towards the climax, then hopefully the conclusion. It would be wonderful to start 2013 with a completed manuscript, then I can start on the second draft right way. An autumn 2013 publication would be marvellous!
When I come back, I will be putting my Arcane Publishing hat on to work on getting I Am a Muse published as early as possible in 2013.
So there. I have done it! I have survived my first creative writing course. And to be perfectly honest, it will probably be the last. No course could be better than this one. This was pretty special.
Last week, I had to get into the habit of going off to work somewhere outside of my flat again – something that hasn't been happening for the past three years exactly – I left my last full-time position on 23rd October 2009! I also had to get used to being around a group of people day in and day out again. I have grown incredibly fond of my hermit life, alone in front of my laptop…
I am a loner by nature, and being around people – especially people I don’t know well – emotionally exhausts me… Interacting with other people makes me be on my guard all the time. The reasons for this are numerous and would take too long to explain. Let’s just say I am extremely weary of people in general. Going to exhibitions, the theatre and gigs doesn't really count, I guess, as one can still remain in one’s own little bubble, even though it gets reduced a great deal.
There was also the fact that I have never shown my work to anyone else. My work in music journalism was of an entirely different nature, and a lot of people read my articles and reviews, but that didn't bother me. I knew I was good at it and I was talking about other artists’ work, not mine. Fiction writing is completely different: you disclose your inner world to others, whatever comes out of your imagination is part of you and it can feel intimidating.
Metal’s Lab: On writing fiction wasn't full of pedantic self-aggrandising wannabe authors who, having paid good money to get a place on a course, feel entitled to behave like the customer they are; after all, “the customer is King”. They expect to be told how to become a famous author in 10 steps, just because they’re worth it – or at least they are worth something because they have paid.
All the people on last week’s course had been invited to attend after a rigorous selection process, and all 9 of us felt very thankful and privileged to have been picked.
One thing was immediately obvious: there was passion in there. We all had very different personalities, backgrounds and life experiences. But we also all had a passion for books, for the written word, for our writing. Chalkwell Hall was filled with energy the whole week; you could feel the subtle power of creative brains at work.
There was also a lot of talent. I was absolutely amazed at the quality of the work produced by the other participants and their knowledge of literature – and of a lot of other subjects too!
Nobody was dabbling; we were into serious writers’ territory, there.
It was a humbling, inspiring, energising experience.
The staff at Metal were absolutely wonderful: friendly and genuinely interested, they listened and observed without dictating.
A special thank has to go to Syd Moore, our “tutor” and “team leader” for the week, for her guidance, expertise and encouragement.
I love listening to other people and absorb information like a sponge, and therefore that’s what I have mainly done: I listened, and I learned a lot.
On Monday and Tuesday, we had special guest speakers, all seasoned authors in their own right.
I was particularly thrilled to be able to listen to Christopher Fowler, whose books I have been reading on and off since 1998, and whose fab blog I have been following for the past three years. He was absolutely fascinating, as was the mesmerising Cathi Unsworth – what a charismatic personality!
Julie Myerson was the most famous speaker of the three – her and her husband form one of London’s cultural power couples. I was very impressed by her self-confidence and her strong opinions on writing, even though as a person and a writer, I feel closer to Christopher Fowler’s and Cathi Unsworth’s world(s).
I actually spent one day and a half working on the top floor of Chalkwell Hall on my own work – what will become my third novel, The Right Place. When I started off, I vaguely knew in which direction I was going: my third novel would be set in Dorset, would be inspired by the landscape, the history and the very special, quasi surpernatural atmosphere of the county; I also wanted to use PJ Harvey’s song “The Wind” as inspiration, and I kept the printed lyrics in front of me while I viewed my holiday pictures of St Catherine’s chapel and Chesil Beach, two of the most important locations in my novel. And suddenly, it all started to pour out, all those ideas… A few hours after having set up on the table, my notebook was covered in Post-its and scribbles.
By the end of the day, I had written half a tempestuous scene which I then finished off the following morning. I genuinely surprised myself! I had so little when I had first arrived! It usually takes me a good six months to plan a novel, and I had done the equivalent of a month work in a day!
I am quite happy with that scene and will post it in The Right Place section of this website when I have done the small amendments that need doing.
On the Friday, when I finally stood up in front of the small, intimate audience to read an extract of the piece I had produced earlier in the week, I thought I was going to faint; I was so very nervous! I could swear small silvery stars momentarily danced in front of my eyes – for a whole second, and I forgot to breathe. It was a very different feeling to the one you have when standing in front of a class of 30 attention deficit disorder-riddled teenagers - I am an ex-teacher.
This was just so much bigger.
But I did it, and I think this first time was very very important. I believe I was the only participant who had never read to an audience before…
So now it’s a year to Metal’s Shorelines Festival – the literature festival of the sea – and we have all been invited to participate… I already have an idea about what I would like to do, but it is a whole year away and therefore I will not dwell on it…
I have gained a lot from this intense week, and I know that from now on, I will be approaching my writing in a slightly different manner. The instinct needs to be supported by more craft, and this is the recipe I will be using.
I have been thinking about revising my (hopefully) about to be self-published novel I Am a Muse before publication, but I am now running out of time.
I will be doing a quick read through this week but will leave it as it is: rather raw and incredibly imperfect, a naïve and probably not fully formed first novel.
I am absolutely thrilled to have been selected as one of the participants to Metal Culture's LAB: On Writing Fiction.
If I am being honest, I am still pinching myself and will be for quite a while.
One of the guest speakers is one of my favourite writers, Christopher Fowler. Also invited to speak will be the awesome Cathi Unsworth, whose new novel, Weirdo, I am currently reading - it's fabulous and some of the themes feel so very familiar.
I have long resisted creative writing courses, but I think this one will be different. It is a professional, intensive course.
As someone who enjoys nothing more than working in my little corner on my own, this will be a challenge - and I haven't spoken in public since I gave up teaching yeeeears ago!
This is perfect timing as I am leaving for Dorset tomorrow. During the week-long course, I will be working on what I hope will be my third book, The Right Place, inspired by St Catherine's chapel in Abbotsbury and PJ Harvey's song The Wind. I will be doing some research and I will be taking yet more pictures that I will bring with me to the course for inspiration.
My intention is to keep a diary of the course here on my blog, with thoughts and comments.
I am very very excited.
I think therefore I write.
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