After a short break, I am back at my desk and online...
A lot of things are happening at the Arcane/ArtPix HQ, and we will be spending the next few weeks plotting our next moves, even though things are still pretty much up in the air with the pandemic...
I am still aiming at completing the first draft of The Right Place in December 202o with a provisional pub date of January 2022.
I have decided to wait until next year before I launch the Arcane Publishing online shop as things are still too vague at the moment with the COVID-19 crisis and Brexit.
More news soon!
Yesterday, we were back in West Dorset, first in Bridport.
It was wonderful to be able to be at the Bridport Saturday market once again (as visitors - we will not be selling at markets and fairs until we feel comfortable to do so)...
This is the first time we were at a market since 20th March and I have to admit to being quite nervous...
But we found some lovely bits and it really made us feel that we were somehow back in business!
We then bumped into the artist Kit Glaisyer, whom we met back in 2011 when we were mere visitors to Dorset!
After the terrible fire which gutted his studio at the St Michael's Trading Estate a few years ago, Kit has purchased a gorgeous house in the town centre and has turned it into the ideal artist studio and gallery space...
He very kindly invited us to visit his new abode and work space and needless to say, we felt really privileged!
His new space is the Bridport Contemporary, an intimate yet light exhibition space in the heart of Bridport...
We then headed to one of our (numerous) favourite places in the area, Symondsbury. I have written about it before on this blog (more recently HERE), as it is the start of a walk which leads to Hell Lane, the intriguing holloway which I will use as a setting in my fourth novel, Hell Lane: a Barton Stacey mystery.
This time, we did not follow Hell Lane but headed north towards Venn farm and North End Farm.
You really get a wonderful view of Langdon Hill (known for its witches' coven and strange goings-on) and the sea!
We also came across the happiest free-range pigs in the whole world basking in the sunshine in the most gorgeous environment...
We've got this thing in our house that if you've had a particularly good day, then you pay later...
So the car swiftly broke down outside the house on our return! A bit of luck would be nice...
Thankfully, we had episode 1 of the fantastic A Wild Year (BBC2) to watch and it did help us feel better.
I highly recommend it! They really should do one in Dorset...
We are really busy here at Arcane/ArtPix towers and are bursting with ideas... The lockdown brainfog seems to have finally lifted and we are planning the next few months...
Watch this space!
Matt ArtPix, who is also the designer and typesetter for all our books, flyers, promo material and more, has just completed his lockdown project: Issue 1 of his very own magazine!
The ArtPix Magazine is a "Vintage-themed magazine by Matt ArtPix, with articles and features including music, classic movies, retro football, plus photos and digital artwork." It's been proofread by yours truly...
Have a Look-see, it's rather fab! The focus of the mag is colourful design, and Matt has designed the pages to all look different, and he has experimented with various styles...
Issue 2 is already being put together as we speak!
It has given me the idea to produce a teaser booklet for my third Arcane publication The Right Place on Issuu, hopefully by the end of August.
Watch this space!
You can read the full magazine for free HERE!
Here's a sneak preview of a few pages...
The landscape north of the A35, one of the main roads in Dorset, is totally unique and always leaves me vaguely breathless with awe. I feel a very strong, almost visceral affinity to it, and I am hopelessly attracted to its ancestral and eerie beauty. Strangely for a writer, I really find it quite difficult to come up with the right words to describe what exactly it is about the place that arises such powerful feelings in me. I hope that it is something I can somehow explore and express in my next two novels, The Right Place and Hell Lane which will address the mystery, history, beauty, wilderness and perhaps the mythical quality of this special landscape.
Eggardon Hill, an Iron Age hill fort with a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside, is a place imbued with history and myth - and a favourite wandering place for many ghostly apparitions.
According to the writer Louise Hodgson in her Secret Places of West Dorset:
Before Eggardon was transformed into a fort there was earlier activity of a strange and intriguing nature [...] Henges denote a sacred area, a temple, a pace devoted to worship and/or regarded as a dwelling place of a god or gods [...] This area was a place of ritual and continuation for a long time [...] Strange occurrences have happened here [...]
I do believe that the ancestral nature of the fort and the surrounding area (Powerstock woodland area, Marshwood Vale...) is what gives the landscape its uncanny power. You feel very far away from today's (crumbling) civilisation and you can let your mind wander through the ages and open up to so many possibilities...
I have pinpointed about four walks to do in the area already, and this will become one of our refuges this summer when the hordes of tourists invade our coast (which we will reclaim of course this autumn).
Interestingly, Isaac Gulliver, the smuggler whom I am using as a reference for Algernon Sinclar in The Right Place, owned the nearby Eggardon Hill Farm and used it as a landmark for his ships approaching the coast.
On the way back towards Dorchester, we stopped off at the superbly named Compton Valence. This could easily be used as the name of an outlaw in the wild west or that of a music hall star... I will no doubt allocate it to one of my characters in the detective novel Hell Lane: A Barton Stacey mystery...
The lovely church is dedicated to Thomas a Beckett and was refurbished in the 19th century, only leaving intact the 15th century tower.
Also from the original 15th-century building is the brass on the floor, depicting the parish priest Thomas Waldon who died in 1437. The latin inscription apparently explains that he had rebuilt the church, and was responsible for constructing the tower.
I also took some pictures of lovely wooden doors - I love old doors!
As I am starting to introduce Sir Ron Sinclair's ancestor Algernon Sinclar to the potential future readers of my third novel The Right Place, I have been looking around the internet today for several strange items:
images of smugglers' tunnels, historic maps of Abbotsbury (preferably 18th century), and, possibly, hand-drawn maps showing a network of smuggling tunnels, potential hideaways, etc. - no success here, I'm afraid, so I'll have to completely make it up...
I am quite excited as I have found an article pointing at a possible link between British smugglers and the French Revolution, so will probably add this to an already complicated mix...
The writing is progressing slowly, but surely...
More news as I go...
People who don't write or have never suffered from writer's block do not know how much of a relief it is when things actually unblock themselves.
I am a satisfied writer tonight as I have added over 1,000 words to The Right Place today.
I have introduced my "King of the Smugglers" to the reader, Algernon Sinclar (1745-1835).
His story is one of rags to riches and will have an impact on the present-day characters of the novel.
Fingers crossed for another 1,000 words tomorrow.
As I type the rain is falling on the county of Dorset... This is much needed rain - the fields had started to look parched - but it makes me even more glad that I did my research walk yesterday.
As I have mentioned many times on this blog, my third novel, The Right Place, will be mainly set around the small hamlet of Abbotsbury.
Sir Ron Sinclair's estate, with his house, Genius Loci, at its centre, is located behind the coast road and Ridgeway, the very same place where I went yesterday for my walk. It is a beautiful and ancestral landscape with its very own elusive atmosphere... I went back to the secret chapel in the woods (Chapel Coppice) which always has an impact on me - a pagan past permeates the whole place, which was abandoned by its Christian founders many centuries ago.
I only caught a glimpse of Ashley Chase, the house build in the 1920s. I had blogged about this specific location back in January 2016, when I was still living in the South East and was at the end of my second one-month residency at Norburton Hall. If you compare the pictures below with the ones from 2016 (Find the blog HERE), you will notice the massive difference the seasons can make! Also, the very thick fog we encountered on our walk back in 2016 has already inspired one of the scenes I have written for the novel! (And yes, four years ago, I was already working on my third novel and still haven't finished it, but many, many things have happened since then, including our move to Dorset!).
Yesterday, it was sunny and dry, and we were able to enjoy the glorious landscape. Alas, my pictures do not do justice to the sheer beauty of the landscape and the variety of the flora. I find the mixture of so many types of trees - some of them looking more like fantastical beasts than actual trees - thrilling and rather artistic.
The two photographs below were taken from the South Dorset Ridgeway, which runs parallel to this section of the coastal road. Once again, all I can say is that nothing beats actually being there: the view literally takes your breath away, and acts like a drug, making you slightly euphoric.
After over two months of writer's block, my brain has started functioning again and I have been desperate to make progress on The Right Place. This novel is really proving particularly difficult to write, and I sometimes lose faith in it, only hoping that I could just drop it and move onto the fourth one, which I think will be much fun to work on.
But "NO", I tell myself, "DO NOT GIVE UP, NOT NOW!"
And I know I won't, because I have invested so much time (and, if I am honest, money) into this that I owe it to myself to actually finish it and somehow get it published.
So my forthcoming blogs will not be wordy - I keep words for my novel!
Here are pictures taken on two separate walks. These walks are necessary for me to find an inner balance between my pessimistic nature and the need to make oneself believe that one's work is not in vain... Something not quite so easy when we look into our present and immediate future...
The Right Place, draft 1: 13,792 words so far.
There are many places in Dorset that have some kind of ancestral beauty, an edgy, vaguely eerie tranquillity...
Some of the paths around the Hardy monument do have that very quality.
Once again, I am in the middle of a media blackout... I avoid the news and only go to social media to post links to the items I am selling on Arcane Publishing and to my blogs.
I am working on the first draft of my third novel The Right Place and enjoying the company of my partner.
We only go out to the areas of the Dorset countryside where we know we will encounter only a few people.
In late August, we will take stock and make some decisions about how to go forward... In the meantime, we make sure to avoid human beings...
Yesterday, we went for a walk in the Langton Herring area - such a beautiful village and peaceful countryside!
The trees, hedges and meadows are full of life. We didn't hear any human-made sound, even in the village.
We even stumbled upon beautiful bee orchids and met a super-cute terrier puppy we wanted to take home with us!
Today, I am working on The Right Place, as my brain has finally started working properly again...
Fields full of daisies... I have never seen that many!
The Feet lagoon behind Chesil Beach.
I think therefore I write.
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