tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-77801821745770951972021-01-21T07:30:05.454+00:00An Awfully Big Blog AdventureChildren's authors from the UK discuss books, writing, reading and more.Unknownnoreply@blogger.comBlogger4106125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-701595472381580732021-01-21T07:30:00.005+00:002021-01-21T07:30:05.180+00:00A Shelter for Sadness by Anne Booth<p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p>In October 2017 I wrote a poem about sadness, drawing on my own experiences of sadness, as a child and as an adult, but inspired by &nbsp;the incredibly beautiful and wise words of Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch Jewish woman &nbsp;killed in the Holocaust.</p><p><br /></p><p style="-webkit-text-stroke-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial; font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 12px; font-stretch: normal; line-height: normal; margin: 0px;"><b>'Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that is its due, for if everyone bears grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate. But if you do instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge-from which new sorrows will be born for others-then sorrow will never cease in this world. And if you have given sorrow the space it demands, then you may truly say: life is beautiful and so rich.' (Esther 'Etty' Hillesum (15 Jan 1914 - 30 Nov 1943)</b></p><div><br /></div><p>&nbsp;I heard them first at a talk given at my church, and, four months after my dad had died, they really spoke to me. Some sadnesses can't be fixed, but we have to honour them - we can't deny them or push them away without doing ourselves or others great damage, and this works for peoples and nations who have suffered, and for individuals. &nbsp;I came home and wrote my response, sent my poem/picture book text to my agent, Anne Clark, she sent it to Templar, to Ruth Symons &nbsp;and Templar asked David Litchfield if he would like to illustrate it. He said 'yes', but he had lots of work to do, so I was told it wouldn't be published until 2021! It seemed an impossibly long time to wait, but we all knew that David was worth waiting for.</p><p>And now it is here, at last, published on the 21st January 2021. And David's illustrations are so wonderful.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="A Shelter for Sadness (Hardback)" class="js-open-modal" data-modal-id="zoomModal" data-zoom-src="https://cdn.waterstones.com/bookjackets/large/9781/7874/9781787417212.jpg" id="scope_book_image" itemprop="image" src="https://cdn.waterstones.com/bookjackets/large/9781/7874/9781787417212.jpg" /></p><p>I must also acknowledge the wonderful design of the book by&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: 14.666666984558105px;">Genevieve Webster, and the editor was Alison Ritchie.</span></p><p><br /></p><p><a href="https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/A-Shelter-for-Sadness-by-Anne-Booth-David-Litchfield-artist/9781787417212">https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/A-Shelter-for-Sadness-by-Anne-Booth-David-Litchfield-artist/9781787417212</a></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p>I had no idea back in 2017, that on top of all the other sadnesses in the world, there would now be Covid-19 and all the sadness caused by that, and lockdown and stress and unemployment and being apart from loved ones and bereavement and fear and anxiety, but I am glad now about the long wait for our book's publication, and hope that my words, and the beautiful illustrations by David Litchfield can be a help to children and adults, now and in the future.&nbsp;</p><p><br /></p><p>And I hope that we can all somehow manage to build shelters for our sadness during this time, and find consolation in small joys, and that we can emerge at the end, and, even with our sadness, be happy again.</p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p>Anne Boothhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/17160915179685300264noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-76239113282170489672021-01-20T00:30:00.030+00:002021-01-20T00:30:00.506+00:00On a Scale of Owls ... by Joan Lennon<p>&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-w_QmCLkSwsU/YAb8f2YOn8I/AAAAAAAAIPY/pwEx45Kr5dUzAOfOTmrLgeB2W2syt1HfACNcBGAsYHQ/image.png" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="" data-original-height="820" data-original-width="720" height="400" src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-w_QmCLkSwsU/YAb8f2YOn8I/AAAAAAAAIPY/pwEx45Kr5dUzAOfOTmrLgeB2W2syt1HfACNcBGAsYHQ/w351-h400/image.png" width="351" /></a></div><br /><p></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">If the world really is divided between writers who are larks and writers who are owls, normally I'm a lark.&nbsp; Lately, though, I'd say my larkishness has become a bit more bewildered-by-being-awake-in-the-day owly - I'm sleeping later, starting work later, blinking in the winter light, such as it is, and fantasizing about naps.&nbsp; Maybe it's the time of year.&nbsp; Maybe it's the state of the world.&nbsp; Is anyone else finding their larks are turning owlish, or their owls are becoming larky?</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">And which medieval owl <i>are</i> you feeling like today?&nbsp;</span></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jgD1ONMKg9w/YAcDk7Y3eOI/AAAAAAAAIPk/WdtQSXM8_5gS6P5Uwrb6VAdoMRSSXby-gCNcBGAsYHQ/s2048/IMG_1013.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1536" data-original-width="2048" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jgD1ONMKg9w/YAcDk7Y3eOI/AAAAAAAAIPk/WdtQSXM8_5gS6P5Uwrb6VAdoMRSSXby-gCNcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_1013.JPG" width="320" /></a></div><span style="font-family: verdana;"><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p>(An old photo, but it reminds me that I'd love to do another Falconry Day sometime!)</span><p></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">(Thanks to Michelle Lovric for putting the Medieval Owl Scale up on Facebook.)</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">Joan Lennon <a href="https://www.instagram.com/joan.lennon.359/">Instagram</a></span></p>Joan Lennonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/15763862159032836768noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-1084467093601466392021-01-19T00:00:00.034+00:002021-01-19T13:01:03.669+00:00Tigers and trophies in the African bush – by Joan Haig<p> </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;">One of my pet hates is when tigers in picture books are plonked with zebras or African elephants in a scene vaguely described as ‘jungle’. I know they are stories and therefore it shouldn’t matter – but my annoyance isn’t only to do with factual inaccuracy. It’s more than that. The decision feels like an extension of careless, nineteenth-century attitudes where the ‘exotic’ was constructed and curated for the entertainment of the world’s white elite. Without critical comment, we have extended our blanket ‘othering’ beyond human culture into the zoological realm, ignoring the impact this might have on our toddlers’ developing world views.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;">The word jungle is gorgeous. It comes from Hindi <i>jangal</i>and first appeared in the English language in the late 1770s in reference to the uncultivated forests at the foot of the Himalaya mountains. But along the way, jungle has become synonymous with 'rainforest' and it's also become a place where some European writers and illustrators stick a whole range of wild animals that don't belong there. Although I grew up close to tropical forest, it was in central Africa and we didn’t use the word jungle at all. Our word for the wilds around us – thorny scrubland, thick miombo woodlands, rainforest – was ‘the bush’. With Dutch roots, the term <i>die bos</i> settled into Afrikaans as a way of referring to land more forested than the <i>veldts</i>(or plains), and at some point it shape-shifted into English.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;">About ten years ago I interviewed an American taxidermist living out in the bush in Zambia’s Southern Province. It was for academic research on white minority identity, but most of my questions ended up being about how to transform dead animals (or parts of them) into trophies. The interview took place in his workshop, crammed with stuffed antelope busts, elephant-feet stools and zebra hides. A storeroom to the back housed plastic containers marked flammable, clay pastes, and giant plaques onto which heads of the Big Five would be mounted. Most of the finished work was destined for American and European walls. (I recall an archaologist friend once commenting how difficult it would be in the future to trace the origins of things.)<br /></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;">The taxidermist was working on a buffalo head when I arrived, which took up a vast space in the centre of the room. It was for a Californian client who paid in cash; my interviewee was keen to impress for future referrals. After stubbing out his cigarette, he showed me how to match new glass eyes to the buffalo’s dead ones. He paid a premium for quality eyes, he told me, importing them from Germany (“best in the world” at fake eye production). He saw his work very much as an art form. “You must always start with the living animal,” he said. “Imagine it in its natural environment, alive. Its movements, the sheen on it, the colour of its tongue. The whole time you’re working, it can’t be dead in your mind – you have to keep it alive.”</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;">About five years later, at a worktable shared with fellow writers in the Scottish Highlands, I started my first novel for children and my own taxidermy of a sort. <i>Tiger Skin Rug</i> features a tiger in both rug and living form. The story is not <i>about</i> taxidermy so there was no need to include any gory, technical detail, but my morning in the taxidermist’s workshop proved to be instrumental. My fieldnotes – though off-piste for my research at the time – were rich in detail about how to magic a carcass into a beautiful object.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZGxOl26Wc6c/YAXZ0tbQOpI/AAAAAAAAAVE/xsvXEpI8VdEV3O8623DOkJs8G1OPrObhwCLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/Tiger%2BSkin%2BRug%2B-%2BIllustration%2B07.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1463" data-original-width="2048" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ZGxOl26Wc6c/YAXZ0tbQOpI/AAAAAAAAAVE/xsvXEpI8VdEV3O8623DOkJs8G1OPrObhwCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/Tiger%2BSkin%2BRug%2B-%2BIllustration%2B07.JPG" width="320" />&nbsp;</a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;">© Marian Brown, from <i>Tiger Skin Rug</i> (Cranachan Publishing, 2020)</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;"></span><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;">There’s ongoing and intense debate on the morality of trophy hunting in central Africa, which I’ll save for another time. I have attendant (and strong) opinions about how hunting wild animals for sport in general should be examined through the same lens we use to critique any other outdated and nasty human habit. Suffice to say, the taxidermist and I flew different flags. I did, however, agree with him on one count.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;">I’d asked him what the most memorable animals he’d worked on were. A chameleon was one, for the simple impossibility of catching in chemicals its changing colours. Another was a tiger. When I probed him on where he’d worked on a tiger, he pointed down at his feet. “Right here.” It had been before legislation in the late 1980s banned the trade of tiger parts. He lamented, apparently without irony, “The whole time I was working on it, it didn’t make sense, you know. You have to imagine the animal in its habitat. In mangroves, right? Or mountains, or jungle. But here I am working away at this tiger in the middle of the African bush. A tiger in Africa! It was out of place.”</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;">&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: 12pt; line-height: 107%;"><i>Tiger Skin Rug</i> has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2021 and is a Finalist in The People's Book Prize Winter 2020/21 competition, open to public votes. Please cast yours <a href="https://peoplesbookprize.com/winter-2020-categories/childrens/" target="_blank">here</a>. 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font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} </style><![endif]--></p>Joan Haighttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12318845215046750344noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-21190294656250519842021-01-18T06:00:00.310+00:002021-01-18T06:00:04.334+00:00Small shreds of comfort - by Lu Hersey<p>If you're old enough (which probably most of you are), you'll remember where you were the day the twin towers fell on 11 September 2001. I was working as an advertising copywriter for a small copywriting company, and it was the day of my annual review. We were based in a tiny, open-plan office, so reviews were held in the enormous (and mostly empty) Wetherspoons nearby, over coffee. To be honest, I never really liked the job anyway, but it paid the bills. Copywriting is all about convincing people to buy things they don't need, or that something is good (like new bank charges, or a building development over a green site) when it clearly isn't.&nbsp;</p><p>As my boss droned on about company targets and the improvements 'we' (he meant me) needed to make, I was completely distracted by the vast TV screen behind him, watching in horror as the second plane crashed into the twin towers. I remember nothing about what he said. I was transfixed. In the end, I had to tell him to shut up a minute and turn around to look. Weirdly (in my opinion) he showed no interest, left me sitting there and went back to work. It was several minutes before I realised he'd stopped talking and had gone. Work was more important to him than anything, and I had to admire his focus - even if I thought his priorities were skewed (it tends to happen if you work in advertising for too long). In real time, people were dying in their thousands, but he couldn't bring himself to stop writing the M&amp;S company report (or whatever he was working on) for even a moment.&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rCSK_4z3Ih4/X_8VTkZzNkI/AAAAAAAAe18/d9GGG5fCIsUXUejp42g37fNjBQ8SfW-fACLcBGAsYHQ/s254/download.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="199" data-original-width="254" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-rCSK_4z3Ih4/X_8VTkZzNkI/AAAAAAAAe18/d9GGG5fCIsUXUejp42g37fNjBQ8SfW-fACLcBGAsYHQ/s0/download.jpg" /></a></div><p><br /></p><p>To be fair to him, I was probably a nightmare employee - good on the creative side, but crap on the supreme importance of financial services. I stuck it there for another few years before leaving to work in a library - less money, much nicer people, and ALL THE BOOKS! Like going to heaven after a long period in purgatory.</p><p>Anyway, when it came to writing this month's blog post, it felt a bit like it did that day. I started writing something and then the news came on - it was the day the Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. I can't remember for the life of me what piece of pertinent folklore (or whatever) I was going to spout at you, as it got taken over by events. Instead, I started marvelling that any of us are able to write anything in a hideous global pandemic where life increasingly looks like some kind of horrific dystopian nightmare.&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nyc43oTEOS0/X_8WIOtxCLI/AAAAAAAAe2E/V6UMJWfoUgcW1OvKldC6VHFITnvzG9lXACLcBGAsYHQ/s300/download-1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="168" data-original-width="300" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nyc43oTEOS0/X_8WIOtxCLI/AAAAAAAAe2E/V6UMJWfoUgcW1OvKldC6VHFITnvzG9lXACLcBGAsYHQ/s0/download-1.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><p>If you're currently writing dystopian fiction, you'll be getting more ideas than you need. Or if you write so-called 'issues' stories, this is a time when everyone needs them, as mental health and other problems spiral out of control. But I write about folklore and magic, and I began to wonder if there was any point to my existence. Not a key worker, writing nothing of use to anyone. A few days of deep gloom followed when I watched too much telly and ate the rest of the Christmas chocolate.&nbsp;</p><p>Then I realised. At least half of what I was watching was fantasy. Magic. Superheroes. And looking at the 'most popular in the UK' Netflix chart, seems I'm not alone. And a good 75% of the books I read are also folklore based, magic, or fantasy.&nbsp;</p><p>So maybe there are others out there, children included, who still need that stuff too? People looking for small shreds of comfort at a difficult time. And I've started writing again, because maybe it's important to keep trying.</p><p>Everyone needs to escape from time to time. (Even those who write company reports.)</p><p><br /></p><p>Lu Hersey</p><p><br /></p>LuWriteshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/06793378306766981247noreply@blogger.com7tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-51974225528854695552021-01-17T00:30:00.294+00:002021-01-17T00:30:07.290+00:00How was it for you? by Tracy Darnton<p>This time last year I used my January <a href="https://meubelsmarkt.com/2020/01/buried-beneath-tbr-pile-by-tracy-darnton.html" target="_blank">blogpost</a>&nbsp;to talk about my tottering TBR pile and how I wanted to make more time for reading for pleasure. I said I'd report back.&nbsp;</p><p>I ruled out cutting out TV and setting reading targets to fail at. Instead I decided:</p><p><span face="&quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, sans-serif" style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-size: 14px;">"I’m going to split my TBR pile into little piles so it’s not so overwhelming. (Simple but effective)</span></p><span face="&quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, sans-serif" style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-size: 14px; line-height: 14.98px;">I’m&nbsp;<i>not</i>&nbsp;going to keep a list of books I read.</span><br style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-family: &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" /><br style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-family: &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" /><span face="&quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, sans-serif" style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-size: 14px; line-height: 14.98px;">I’m&nbsp;<i>not</i>&nbsp;going to stop buying books. I love it.</span><br style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-family: &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" /><br style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-family: &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" /><span face="&quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, sans-serif" style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-size: 14px; line-height: 14.98px;">I’m going to get a bigger bookshelf (or two)."</span><br style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-family: &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" /><br style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-family: &quot;Trebuchet MS&quot;, Trebuchet, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" /><p>So far, so good but then...2020 happened.</p><p>Turns out global pandemic anxiety is even worse than all the general existential political despair that drained my mental energy in 2019 and that I've watched more TV than I've watched before working my way through <i>Call my Agent</i> (new series about to stream, everyone!), <i>Hjem Til Jul</i>,&nbsp;<i>Bridgerton,&nbsp;</i><i>His Dark Materials </i>and rewatching<i> The Bridge. </i>But aside from all that, did I read more, in common with the many people who turned to books for solace and distraction? How was my reading year?</p><p>During the first lockdown, my household piled up finished books as we read them, and chatted about them and swapped recommendations. Many of these books were on the TBR pile photo in the January blogpost. I did find stacking them up like this motivational to read more so I will try keeping a list this year.&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Oo73QepkZfI/X_xjioP9gfI/AAAAAAAAWPE/RAYgZ48tSNgRSHyQX-EiVqv2umhoyo1_ACLcBGAsYHQ/s320/lockdown%2Bbooks.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="320" data-original-width="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Oo73QepkZfI/X_xjioP9gfI/AAAAAAAAWPE/RAYgZ48tSNgRSHyQX-EiVqv2umhoyo1_ACLcBGAsYHQ/s0/lockdown%2Bbooks.jpg" /></a></div><br /><p>One of my books, <i>The Truth About Lies</i>, was selected for World Book Night 2020 which meant I had to talk about why reading mattered to me and my favourite books.</p><p>&nbsp; </p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-w0yKNNBV1RQ/X_xEpzbYrnI/AAAAAAAAWO0/A_o7yghCP8gl3k6N9bE-Mfo8-XS6AuROACLcBGAsYHQ/s3072/wbn.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1024" data-original-width="3072" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-w0yKNNBV1RQ/X_xEpzbYrnI/AAAAAAAAWO0/A_o7yghCP8gl3k6N9bE-Mfo8-XS6AuROACLcBGAsYHQ/s320/wbn.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><br />This got me reading lots of classics. I chose <i>The Great Gatsby </i>as my favourite<i>&nbsp;</i>novel&nbsp;<i>- </i>and obviously read it again.&nbsp;<p></p><p><br /></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nnGgwcHgP0I/XVUZvAXRNOI/AAAAAAAAJ5c/fssgZtnob_4ZF-C4pQjH4fmpipUUvJDBwCPcBGAYYCw/s2048/greatgatsby.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1337" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nnGgwcHgP0I/XVUZvAXRNOI/AAAAAAAAJ5c/fssgZtnob_4ZF-C4pQjH4fmpipUUvJDBwCPcBGAYYCw/s320/greatgatsby.jpg" /></a></div><br /><p></p><p>I had a week's holiday in May - in the garden. I sat in my Hay Festival deckchair in the sunshine, 'attended' Hay festival events online, read books and had coffee in the festival café my kids set up. So thumbs up to that as a way to read more. Here's hoping I can go to an actual festival this year...</p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cixDG7ApMy4/X_xmVg-DW-I/AAAAAAAAWPQ/6m5rQtNPKFI70UAQn2UIeEeWDb8QzQ3KACLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/EYyL3X1WsAEz6wS.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1536" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cixDG7ApMy4/X_xmVg-DW-I/AAAAAAAAWPQ/6m5rQtNPKFI70UAQn2UIeEeWDb8QzQ3KACLcBGAsYHQ/s320/EYyL3X1WsAEz6wS.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">My family ordered merch for my staycation festival</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><div><br /></div><p>Another way I've increased my reading is in a book club. With my lovely SCBWI buddies, we started a monthly reading group. It has the added dimension of us all reading both for enjoyment and for a discussion of the craft of the writer. Why did we like the main character (or not)? How did the setting work so well? What would we change as an editor? We alternate between MG and YA and we're about to start reading our fourth book - <i>Bearmouth</i>&nbsp;by Liz Hyder. Can't wait to meet up in a coffee shop one day instead of zoom.&nbsp;</p><p>Lastly, I joined fellow YA writers to form the Edge of the Seat thriller writers' group. This was an excellent excuse to read everyone's latest books and say what we liked about them on Twitter.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><br /></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-C0fNAMW3c48/X_xp6Jd-3eI/AAAAAAAAWPc/MEOILkH687IQwHkD04RwA3TwLepXLeU_ACLcBGAsYHQ/s1080/twitterchat.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1080" data-original-width="1080" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-C0fNAMW3c48/X_xp6Jd-3eI/AAAAAAAAWPc/MEOILkH687IQwHkD04RwA3TwLepXLeU_ACLcBGAsYHQ/s320/twitterchat.png" /></a></div><br /><p></p><p>I'd resolved to carry on buying lots of books and I did so, from high street bookshops, though I missed the whole browsing experience. As I'm moving house this week and will have to buy more bookcases, we have been ruthless about the books that are coming with us. But I like our books to have another life after us. We've donated loads to the primary school on our street which is building up its library. Many older reads have gone to our local reading charity which runs groups in care homes, night shelters and by GP-referral - which makes me think about my own reading habits and how I've realised this year that much of the enjoyment of reading for me is in chatting about and sharing thoughts on the books I've read, and getting friends' recommendations. I like talking about books as much as reading them.</p><p>So I'm going to continue chatting about books as the key to me finding time for reading. I'm so looking forward to getting back into bookshops, libraries, coffee shops and festivals to do just that in person.&nbsp;</p><p>So how was it for you? How was your reading year?</p><p><br /></p><p>Tracy Darnton is the author of YA thrillers <i>The Rules </i>and <i>The Truth About Lies</i>.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Euwbf31kIvc/W1ccvIKuYpI/AAAAAAAAEHY/vQMzpbCHqA0hJURYobGrhx5vjZ952bOmACPcBGAYYCw/s1560/THE%2BTRUTH%2BABOUT%2BLIES.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;">&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;<img border="0" data-original-height="1560" data-original-width="1016" height="200" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Euwbf31kIvc/W1ccvIKuYpI/AAAAAAAAEHY/vQMzpbCHqA0hJURYobGrhx5vjZ952bOmACPcBGAYYCw/w130-h200/THE%2BTRUTH%2BABOUT%2BLIES.jpg" width="130" /></a><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ucpP_4bD9AM/Xm9n0ffn_VI/AAAAAAAAUMo/ePkcH9kYqIoZlUF80nbkRQ76u5J-41cbgCPcBGAYYCw/s2048/The%2BRules_cover.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1334" height="200" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ucpP_4bD9AM/Xm9n0ffn_VI/AAAAAAAAUMo/ePkcH9kYqIoZlUF80nbkRQ76u5J-41cbgCPcBGAYYCw/w130-h200/The%2BRules_cover.jpg" width="130" /></a></div>Tracy Darntonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16326842005003081128noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-7224212561854744362021-01-16T02:00:00.001+00:002021-01-16T02:00:03.968+00:00An Artist In Her Landscape - My interview with Jackie Morris Part Two by Steve Gladwin<p>&nbsp;<span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hcH3f7HbJxA/X9ia5sd4DyI/AAAAAAAAChc/98AmBLJQwtoZlYUsXtQbUp0Em_rCQmudQCPcBGAYYCw/s2048/Kingfisher%2Bdouble%2Bpage.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1396" data-original-width="2048" height="272" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hcH3f7HbJxA/X9ia5sd4DyI/AAAAAAAAChc/98AmBLJQwtoZlYUsXtQbUp0Em_rCQmudQCPcBGAYYCw/w400-h272/Kingfisher%2Bdouble%2Bpage.jpg" width="400" /></a></span></span></div><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><br /></span></span><p></p><p><br /></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">In our last interview, Jackie, we spent the majority of the time talking about a specific project, or projects; the need that led to&nbsp; your collaborations with Robert Macfarlane, and how that project just took of, leading to two very different books and a CD. This month we can talk much more about what led you to that stage and time.</span></span></i></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">You've already told us a a little about your early life, as well as describing it in details on your website, but I wonder if you could take us back to the actual moment when you decided you wanted to draw?</span></span></i></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></i></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">I was watching my dad. He was hunched over a piece of paper with a pencil. He was drawing. He made a bird land on that paper using a pencil. It was like watching a spell, a magic spell. I wanted to be able to do that.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><i>As we've begun with a bird, it might be nice to pursue the theme of animals, not just as part of your work, but what they mean to you. When I first contacted you many years ago, you kindly sent us some paintings of a white egret and a raven, as well as the&nbsp; story you'd written about the white raven on Ramsey Island. Apart from having a house full of pets, which are the animals that have accompanied you on your journey, and how</i>?</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">I've lived with many animals in my life. A great many cats have measured out my days, and some dogs. And always birds, wild in the garden. Foxes at night, singing in the hills. I love the shape of horses too, and there's some wild ones around. Seals now, they sing on the beaches in autumn. When my children were young we would go to watch porpoises rise at the change of the tides, through the skin of the sea. And I love butterflies and moths.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"></span></span></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mwomcjB8xNI/X9ia9myyUNI/AAAAAAAAChc/3ZsRmAk7HDosFPzETe3-uNCyISjxGd_ygCPcBGAYYCw/s2048/Otter%2Bdouble%2Bpage.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1396" data-original-width="2048" height="272" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mwomcjB8xNI/X9ia9myyUNI/AAAAAAAAChc/3ZsRmAk7HDosFPzETe3-uNCyISjxGd_ygCPcBGAYYCw/w400-h272/Otter%2Bdouble%2Bpage.jpg" width="400" /></a></span></span></span></div><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><br />&nbsp;</span></span></span><p></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">You've talked about how you accidentally fell into children's books. At the time you had a series of 'respectable jobs', How did you make the big change?</span></span></i></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></i></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">I'm not sure what you mean by 'respectable jobs'. I had part-time jobs until I was twenty seven, to pay the rent. But when I was 27 I quit to do some work, thinking I would pick up another when the work dried up. Fortunately it didn't, though there have been some lean times. I did have an unrespectable job once, working for a strip show in Australia, handing out tickerts to pull in an audience on the Gold Coast ----</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">These interviews start with the idea of landscape and its various different meanings. You chose Pembrokeshire to live, and in 2007 I walked 49 miles of the coast path as a sort of memorial walk for my late wife and the times we had spent there. Before I went I was told it could be a very healing landscape. Is that a statement you agree with?</span></span></i></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">I think if you take the time to give yourself to a landscape all landscapes are healing. It's that coming out of yourself which seems to help. But there's no healing from grief, is there, just a learning of how to carry it and not break. That's ok. I think 'society' or the myths we make suggest that time heals, that we should get over things. But that's not for everyone. Each person copes in the best way they can and there's no right, no wrong. But to step, one foot&nbsp; in front of another with eyes filled the colours of the land and sea here, yes, that's helps.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"></span></span></span></p><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0ABrQM6fm_o/YAAs3Pta30I/AAAAAAAACj8/ABkVT1ln3EU755DpnDhSjq6kAA-l2N7gACPcBGAYYCw/s331/index.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" data-original-height="152" data-original-width="331" height="184" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0ABrQM6fm_o/YAAs3Pta30I/AAAAAAAACj8/ABkVT1ln3EU755DpnDhSjq6kAA-l2N7gACPcBGAYYCw/w400-h184/index.jpg" width="400" />&nbsp;</a></span></span></span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></div><div style="text-align: center;"><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></div><p></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">Do you feel that your work has changed depending on the places that you've lived in? You have said that early on you knew you could never be a city dweller. Is it more the lure and particular feel of the country, or more about not being able to create in the same way in a town or city?</span></span></i></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">I love the liminal spaces, the long lines of the peninsula on which I live. But mostly the distance is between my dreams and those of others. Cities are so filled with other people's voices and dreams.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">On of the last themes we explored last time was the form of books themselves. It seems to me that we live in a perfect age for experimentation, where everything has been tried and often repeated with many art-forms, but the possibilties of what constitutes a book are still being explored. Interestingly, in your books, the question of what is possible with a book artistically and design wise, seem to be important. Is that a fair assessment?</span></span></i></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></i></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"></span></span></i></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4nYNrnkbDz8/YAAsuuaDbdI/AAAAAAAACj0/IecdY55ZlV4pvG4Kp-zD9_6JlHErzt6WQCPcBGAYYCw/s500/51wzxVk0k1L._SX401_BO1%252C204%252C203%252C200_.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="500" data-original-width="403" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4nYNrnkbDz8/YAAsuuaDbdI/AAAAAAAACj0/IecdY55ZlV4pvG4Kp-zD9_6JlHErzt6WQCPcBGAYYCw/w323-h400/51wzxVk0k1L._SX401_BO1%252C204%252C203%252C200_.jpg" width="323" /></a></span></span></i></div><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><br />&nbsp;</span></span></i><p></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></i></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;I love design, beautiful design. I love thinking about a book and giving words and images enough room to breathe. I guess I chose a landscape to live in that allows me to breathe and that's what I want my work to do. And also, to leave enough space, give enough respect. for the reader themselves.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">What about the timeline of your artistic life? For example, you didn't always write the stories to accompany your pictures, but clearly storytelling is something which you're now very happy with.</span></span></i></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">I didn't think I could write. I was slow to learn to read and all my writing at school came back heavily edited with the red pen. To be 100% honest I began writing partly because I had a story to tell, but partly because if you write and illustrate you get paid twice as much money, and I was a single parent with two children and a mortgage. Luckily I then discovered I enjoyed playing with the patterns and sounds of words, as much, if not more, than I love playing with paint.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"></span></span></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FyIN4nMT0XM/YAAsgD13FgI/AAAAAAAACj0/Q3ZKv3QhYzQzTxIO-rdZf43WOVlolTUtACPcBGAYYCw/s499/51LyK2R%252BW7L._SX370_BO1%252C204%252C203%252C200_.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="499" data-original-width="372" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FyIN4nMT0XM/YAAsgD13FgI/AAAAAAAACj0/Q3ZKv3QhYzQzTxIO-rdZf43WOVlolTUtACPcBGAYYCw/s320/51LyK2R%252BW7L._SX370_BO1%252C204%252C203%252C200_.jpg" /></a></span></span></span></div><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><br />&nbsp;</span></span></span><p></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">Let's talk about your working methods. You showed us a picture of your desk last time, but having recently seen the film you made to accompany the 'Feather, Leaf, Bark and Stone' project on Unbound, its just as clear that Pembrokeshire is just as much your working space, and what you find in the countryside and by the sea your inspiration. How much of your time do you actually spend outside?</span></span></i></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">Never enough time, if I'm honest. I promised myself when I had finsihed The Lost Words that I would spend time watching the sea come in, go out. Now here I am deep in another book., with another deadline, promising myself the same thing. One day.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><i><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">Finally, Jackie, you talked last time about the difficulties of last year and Covid particularly, and the losses involved. There are an awful lot of people at the moment, especially maybe in this country as we begin the post Europe era, feeling real uncertainty and loss of hope. Where should hope lie, do you feel, and where is the best place for people to find it?</span></span></i></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">I think hope is something you have to work towards, like happiness. It is hard and this year harder than ever. But we owe it to those who come after us to look for it and work towards it and I hope so very much that we can, together, learn from the massive errors we have made, led by the greed of a few, towards a more heartful, soulful way of living. As a nation we seem so divided at the moment. What hope do we have for the future when we create false hierarchies within our own species? We need to learn to understand each other and also learn from the wisdom of the wild around us.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">We are an arrogant species, but I do believe that when I look at our young people, that things are changing. At least, I hope so. I'm so very proud of them, and of how beautifully and creatively they stand up to power, chellenge, push, call to account. So proud. My hope is that we stand beside them to ensure they are kept safe, empower them, listen to them, learn from them, grow and change.</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;">&nbsp;</span></span></span></p><p><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"></span></span></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="color: #3d85c6;"><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3uTbgtldlAw/YAAsx8rVPUI/AAAAAAAACj4/ZhsHfHYjXz4hU06BxUVMnw9BiQE7LCWMwCPcBGAYYCw/s499/517Mnv3xzVL._SX368_BO1%252C204%252C203%252C200_.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="499" data-original-width="370" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3uTbgtldlAw/YAAsx8rVPUI/AAAAAAAACj4/ZhsHfHYjXz4hU06BxUVMnw9BiQE7LCWMwCPcBGAYYCw/w296-h400/517Mnv3xzVL._SX368_BO1%252C204%252C203%252C200_.jpg" width="296" /></a></span></span></span></div><p></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><i>Thanks, Jackie, for being so honest and generous with your responses. </i><br /></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><br /></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><span style="font-family: georgia;"><br /></span></span></p>Steve Gladwinhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/01809330248051701869noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-14747141849161844042021-01-15T01:00:00.013+00:002021-01-15T01:00:05.731+00:00A theory of life, the universe & writing. 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Name="List Table 7 Colorful Accent 6"/> </w:LatentStyles></xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]><style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman",serif; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} </style><![endif]--> </p><p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Fifteen years after starting to write fiction seriously, I’ve at last come up with a rough model of how the creative process sort of works for me, a theory that excludes the word writing– an absence that may explain why the work-in-progress largely remains a work-in-imagination (plus reams of notes) umpteen years after the idea for the story first grabbed me.</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">There are four elements to this model: research, planning, drafting and editing. They’re not discreet stages.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>In fact, there’s nothing linear about this method: it’s fluid and iterative – to use a favourite word. </span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">You could describe it as an inverted pyramid, with the research layer at the top, offering the broadest range of creative options, narrowing down through the planning and drafting layers, until the pyramid reaches the final, narrowest editing stage where all (autonomous) creative decisions have been made. </span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">In reality, a pinball machine might be closer to the truth, with every creative decision pinging more questions into the game, with the answers to be researched afresh, planned for, incorporated into drafts or discarded as irrelevant and/or tosh. </span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">To work in such a fluid (not to mention slow) way, you have to be free to move between each layer at will, revisiting plans and drafts, going deeper into the research, and revising the entire story as and when necessary. </span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Booker prize-winner George Saunders likened his writing technique to turning the course of a super-tanker one incremental shift at a time. At first, I didn’t think it would be this way with historical fiction, even though Mr Saunders was talking about his nineteenth-century novel <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Lincoln</i><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">in</i> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">the</i> <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Bardo</i> at the time. </span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">My WIP is based on real events, so a lot of the plot is pre-determined, but inspiration and influences about the characters and their motivations are arriving from all sorts of sources – music, chance encounters, a radio interview, art criticism, a fierce, feminist argument about trans rights – as well as more formal research and planning. </span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">So yes, he’s right. The creative process is incremental, too.</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">To date, the main stumbling block to the kind of research I’d like to do for the WIP has been travel restrictions due to Covid19. The story is set in 17<sup>th</sup>century Lancashire and London, and while you can do a lot of desk research these days, you can’t know what it feels like to stand on a particular hill, in a particular month, during a specific phase of the moon, unless you go there and climb the hill yourself. </span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Getting this kind of subjective sense-perceptions of place – its heat, light, wind, sounds, scents, the steepness of a hill, the damp of a dungeon – has, hitherto, been my first step when starting a story.&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">This time around, I told myself I was just making excuses about not being able to travel, but then I learnt that neuroscience says a deliberate opening up to subjective, unexpected experiences is a precursor to creativity, enabling that part of the brain which makes original connections and creates ‘eureka moments’. </span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">So I’ve stopped beating myself up about being a ridiculously slow fiction writer, and will this year simply snatch whatever inspiration comes along from wherever. </span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">One piece of inspiration I’ll certainly take forward into 2021 is author Hisham Mattar’s advice on creative openness, delivered during his Arvon Foundation writing masterclass last July.</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">He said that without it, writers risk getting trapped by their original intentions. To access our deeper levels of intuitive invention, he advised against planning the first draft at all. While that seems a step too far into the unknown, it’s all grist to the mill.</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Meanwhile, it will be fascinating to hear Max Porter’s take/s on the subject of how to approach fiction in his Arvon masterclass on 21 January, given the title of his talk is: <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span></span><strong><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi;">Think like a publisher/Don’t, whatever you do, think like a publisher.</span></i></strong><strong><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi;"> Should be good!</span></strong><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;"></span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">@HouseRowena on Twitter</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">Rowena House Author on Facebook</span></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">rowenahouse.com</span></p><p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;"></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QF1sYUy4JkU/YAB12gVLpyI/AAAAAAAAAd0/PXYfhc1U_Csq38cDRzEFXoKUFSYlHyuEQCLcBGAsYHQ/s499/51ODMz01DYL__SX324_BO1%252C204%252C203%252C200_.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="499" data-original-width="326" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QF1sYUy4JkU/YAB12gVLpyI/AAAAAAAAAd0/PXYfhc1U_Csq38cDRzEFXoKUFSYlHyuEQCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/51ODMz01DYL__SX324_BO1%252C204%252C203%252C200_.jpg" /></a></div><br />&nbsp;<p></p> <p class="MsoListParagraphCxSpLast" style="line-height: 115%; margin-bottom: .0001pt; margin: 0cm; mso-add-space: auto; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: &quot;Times New Roman&quot;;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-family: &quot;Georgia&quot;,serif; mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt;">&nbsp;</span></p> Rowena Househttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11548957772863528477noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-69379021676387313862021-01-14T02:30:00.004+00:002021-01-14T02:30:03.084+00:00Deadlines by Lynne Benton<p>&nbsp;Every month, as the 14<sup>th</sup> approaches, I become increasingly concerned that I won’t think of anything to write about, especially when I read what others have written in the preceding days.&nbsp; Other people’s blogs always seem to be so very erudite/knowledgeable/entertaining/full of excellent ideas etc., that all my ideas seem very dull or trivial in comparison.&nbsp; I had thought of writing about New Year Resolutions, only I notice that the blog on the 11th was&nbsp;about New Year Resolutions, so I can’t do that one!&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal"><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">So instead I’ve decided to write about Deadlines - a subject that’s always going to be topical, whether they are deadlines for getting your book finished, or sent out, or a deadline for fulfilling some other obligation, or for doing the dreaded Tax Return before 31 January (yes, that comes next, after I’ve finished and posted this blog!)<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">So – first, getting my book finished.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Yes, done, read by various Beta Readers and adjusted accordingly.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Ready to get it out there as soon as possible, especially since having discovered that there is a wonderful window of opportunity in 2022 for which my book would be just right!<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>(My book is set in 1953, at the time of the Queen’s coronation, and I now discover that in 2022 there are to be great celebrations of her Platinum Jubilee – which could give my book an excellent hook, if someone would publish it at the right moment!<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Fingers crossed for that one! And it’s another deadline, of course…!)<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Anyway, in order to get my book out to a mainstream publisher, I could do with finding a new agent to represent me – my previous agent, who was lovely, had to give up the agency some years ago due to ill health, and since then I’ve been going it alone. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;Self-publishing is fine, except that unless you're already famous, sales are not great!&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Obviously it wasn’t sensible to start the hunt for a new agent just before Christmas, so it meant starting the ball rolling in January…<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">As anyone who has tried agent-seeking lately will know, all agents want you to send them different things: one wants the first three chapters, one wants the first 30 pages, another wants the first 3000 words, while yet another wants to see the whole manuscript.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>And they all want synopses of different lengths too – anything from one paragraph to two pages!<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Of course it’s important to find the right person to represent you, and obviously you can’t just send out exactly the same letter to several agents at once, but it all takes rather a long time.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>As I’m finding.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>But although I’ve applied to three so far, I aim to approach two more before the end of the month.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Yes, a deadline, even if it’s one of my own making!<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">I’m also kept very busy planning, writing, recording and sending off my monthly Music programme to Local Radio, as well as reading the next part of my book for Local Radio which goes out every week.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>These both have to be sent a week before they’re due to be broadcast.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Thankfully I’ve just sent off the music programme which goes out next Sunday, which is a relief!<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>I reckon each one takes me three days to put together: one day to come up with a theme, think of the music to go with it and find the relevant CDs (from several rather large piles…!), one day to play the pieces I’ve chosen and time them – some CDs, irritatingly, fail to tell you how long a piece is, which is vital to know when you’re planning an hour’s programme! – and another day to write the script, including doing whatever research is needed, time it and then do all the technical stuff: recording the script, followed by all the CD tracks, and then sending them all to the radio station.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Then the tech guy adds the signature tune and puts all the pieces of music in the order I want (the computer arranges them differently, which I can’t do anything about, so I have to send him a list of the correct order with the recording!) Then he sends it back to me to check that it’s all okay.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Listening to it takes another hour, but I’m glad he does, because then I know it will go out all right on the day.<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">When my husband does his music programme, at least he does all the choosing, timing and writing the script, but I still do all the technical stuff: the recording of script and music tracks and sending them all to the radio station, and then checking them afterwards.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>So I reckon when he’s doing it, it still takes me at least one day, if not two, to do my bit.<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">And when it comes to reading the next part of my book for radio, the first thing I have to do is write a “The Story so far” piece to read at the beginning.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Then I have to record that, followed by the next two chapters of the book (the whole episode takes about half-an hour, but I like to check it’s recorded all right before sending it off to the tech guy, who again adds the signature tune and sends it back to me to check.)<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>And that happens every week, a week before it goes out on air.<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">So although we are both still enjoying putting together our music programmes, and I’m still enjoying reading my book on air, it’s beginning to feel a bit relentless! <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Deadlines are always looming.<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Not to mention totally unrelated deadlines due to the ongoing Covid restrictions – working out when I want my next supermarket delivery, finding a slot and planning the food I’m going to need, what needs using up first etc. etc.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>(I know most people are facing this one at the moment, but it all takes time, and if you need to add/subtract to your order you have to meet another deadline, ie 12.00 the day before the delivery is due!&nbsp; Which I forgot about this week until 1.30, when it was too late to add things!)<o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">So even if some of my deadlines are of my own making, they are still deadlines and I fully intend to meet them all, no matter what.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Especially the deadline for my Tax Return.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>And for this blog!<u style="text-underline: double;"><o:p></o:p></u></p><p class="MsoNormal">Website: <a href="http://www.lynnebenton.com">www.lynnebenton.com</a></p>Lynne Bentonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14412874594191347503noreply@blogger.com6tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-35370287942761415592021-01-13T04:30:00.028+00:002021-01-13T04:30:00.513+00:00Whoops - I did it again! Sheena Wilkinson<p><span style="font-family: arial;">I don't seem to learn. Eight books&nbsp;published and it&nbsp;doesn't get easier. What am I moaning about this month?&nbsp;About&nbsp;myself and&nbsp;how s-l-o-w I seem to be to catch on.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial;">Back in June I&nbsp;talked to Sophia Bennett for her wonderful podcast Prepublished (and if you like Awfully Big Blog Adventure you're&nbsp;pretty much guaranteed to love Prepublished). I was being terribly frank about the big mistake I'd made when&nbsp;writing my novel <i>Hope against Hope, </i>which was published&nbsp;last year. Can you&nbsp;believe it, I told Sophia and all the listeners -&nbsp;because one thing about me, I do <i>own </i>my mistakes -- I wrote the whole book -- four drafts of it! -- from a completely wrong point of view! The story was there, the setting was there -- but the main character was all wrong. I had to rewrite the book from scratch,&nbsp;from a completely new point of view.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: arial;">What an eejit I was!</span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial;">Well, I&nbsp;remember thinking at the time, I&nbsp;won't make THAT mistake again.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial;"><br /></span></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QABIA1obim4/X_2CyazUG9I/AAAAAAAACDI/an33Uc7QJbotf0Fmx0cZ3taMOUcBoAsrACLcBGAsYHQ/s279/Hope%2Bcover.jpeg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="279" data-original-width="180" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QABIA1obim4/X_2CyazUG9I/AAAAAAAACDI/an33Uc7QJbotf0Fmx0cZ3taMOUcBoAsrACLcBGAsYHQ/s0/Hope%2Bcover.jpeg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><span style="font-family: arial;">Except I did. </span><i style="font-family: arial;">Exactly </i><span style="font-family: arial;">the same mistake. I wrote a book. I thought it was&nbsp;pretty good. I sent it to my agent. She disagreed. I was upset. I showed it to a trusted writer&nbsp;friend (Thank you, Keren David, I owe you!). She said ... your agent was right. And she told me why. She&nbsp;didn't say You've written it from the&nbsp;wrong point of view, but she&nbsp;helped me see that my main&nbsp;character&nbsp;wasn't doing the book any&nbsp;favours. As&nbsp;soon as I imagined a new heroine &nbsp;I could see at once how&nbsp;much&nbsp;better the book could be.&nbsp;</span><p></p><p><span style="font-family: arial;">The thing was, I was&nbsp;using a&nbsp;character I knew and loved, Stella, the heroine of <i>Star by Star </i>and a&nbsp;character in <i>Hope against Hope. </i>I had this idea for what she might do in the 1930s. And it was a good idea, but it&nbsp;wasn't for her.&nbsp;&nbsp;I was trying to make her fit a world that&nbsp;wasn't right for her. And she became grumpy and&nbsp;twisted and lost all the&nbsp;characteristics that made me love her as a heroine. It&nbsp;wasn't her fault; it was mine.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial;"></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-biZkFldHq38/X_2DdUpoGLI/AAAAAAAACDY/7J77Xkn4U9A91j6UnuMS8ZMzC78myR1yQCLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/Star%2Bby%2BStar%2Bhigh%2Bres.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1334" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-biZkFldHq38/X_2DdUpoGLI/AAAAAAAACDY/7J77Xkn4U9A91j6UnuMS8ZMzC78myR1yQCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/Star%2Bby%2BStar%2Bhigh%2Bres.jpg" /></a></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><br /></span></div><p></p><p><span style="font-family: arial;">I&nbsp;started this book back in April 2020. I hadn't written since the start of the pandemic. I was&nbsp;blocked and scared and aimless -- like&nbsp;pretty&nbsp;much everyone I knew.&nbsp;Writing a new book seemed to ground me. This was&nbsp;something I could&nbsp;control; this was something I could do. The words mounted up giving me a sense of achievement and relief -- the world had&nbsp;become unfamiliar, but this, this making up stories, this was an old&nbsp;friend; this was what I did.&nbsp;Except, in&nbsp;literally using an old&nbsp;friend, Stella -- which, I can see now, I might have done&nbsp;because I was too&nbsp;anxious (or lazy?) to make up a new one, I scuppered my book.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial;">It's OK. I&nbsp;have a new heroine. I took my time&nbsp;getting to know her and I'm&nbsp;confident this time that&nbsp;she's the right person in the right story. She's new and&nbsp;shiny and&nbsp;doesn't trail backstory with her. A new heroine for a new year.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial;">You'd think I'd&nbsp;learn.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: arial;">(If you&nbsp;want to hear me talking about this and other stuff, or hear other&nbsp;writers talking about&nbsp;their&nbsp;processes, do check out&nbsp;<a href="https://www.prepublished.net">https://www.prepublished.net</a></span>)</p><p><span style="font-family: arial;">As for me, I'm getting back to my new heroine. See you next month.&nbsp;</span></p><p><br /></p>Sheena Wilkinsonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13847659993713606837noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-63405192999196564222021-01-11T08:00:00.001+00:002021-01-11T08:00:02.292+00:00The subtle art of goal setting - Kelly McCaughrain<p class="MsoNormal"><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings></xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves/> <w:TrackFormatting/> <w:PunctuationKerning/> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas/> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF/> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-GB</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables/> 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Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="List Table 5 Dark Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="List Table 6 Colorful Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="List Table 7 Colorful Accent 4"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="List Table 1 Light Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="List Table 2 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="List Table 3 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="List Table 4 Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="List Table 5 Dark Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="List Table 6 Colorful Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="List Table 7 Colorful Accent 5"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="46" Name="List Table 1 Light Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="47" Name="List Table 2 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="48" Name="List Table 3 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="49" Name="List Table 4 Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="50" Name="List Table 5 Dark Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="51" Name="List Table 6 Colorful Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="52" Name="List Table 7 Colorful Accent 6"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Mention"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Smart Hyperlink"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Hashtag"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Unresolved Mention"/> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Smart Link"/> </w:LatentStyles></xml><![endif]-->Made some New Year’s resolutions? Failed already? </p><p class="MsoNormal">I love New Years Resolutions. I make loads, knowing I won’t keep them, just for the fun of making them. It’s like getting to reinvent yourself without the hassle of having to actually be that person.</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YZ4RnAvEfYk/X_s1Ec0i_wI/AAAAAAAAIEQ/f4h9xzPXvFMp7t8hojK_2IvmtI6rRythACLcBGAsYHQ/s355/world%2Bpeace.gif" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="200" data-original-width="355" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YZ4RnAvEfYk/X_s1Ec0i_wI/AAAAAAAAIEQ/f4h9xzPXvFMp7t8hojK_2IvmtI6rRythACLcBGAsYHQ/s320/world%2Bpeace.gif" width="320" /></a> <br /></p><p class="MsoNormal">But last year I had a bit of a revelation because I actually did NaNoWriMo (or a mini version of it) and it went well and was fun and now I’m a reformed character determined to honour NaNo in my heart and try to keep it all the year.&nbsp;</p><p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;<a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vjHSyBEyRXg/X_s1DeBXqjI/AAAAAAAAIEM/b_VNmnKdgC07Db4UKMt6mHEczBYCqKO1QCLcBGAsYHQ/s752/tenor-3-752x501.gif" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="501" data-original-width="752" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vjHSyBEyRXg/X_s1DeBXqjI/AAAAAAAAIEM/b_VNmnKdgC07Db4UKMt6mHEczBYCqKO1QCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/tenor-3-752x501.gif" width="320" /></a></p> <p class="MsoNormal">It helped to have an almost completely empty diary for November and that’ll probably never happen again, but still. I’ve decided to embrace my love of planning.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">To that end, I read some articles about setting goals. <a href="https://www.writing.ie/resources/setting-writing-goals-that-actually-work-really-useful-links-by-amanda-j-evans/" target="_blank">You can find them all here</a>, but I’ve summarised the points I found interesting and helpful in case you’re reading this in between keeping your own jogging/writing/sourdough-baking resolutions. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Make monthly goals. This seems much more manageable than a resolution for a whole year. And if you totally fail your January goal, you get to set a new one for February instead of writing off a whole year on January 13<sup>th</sup>. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Make a plan every night for the next day. I find this really helpful. I keep a notebook on my desk and at the end of the day I make a note of what I did that day and what I plan to do tomorrow. It completely eradicates the nervous dread I feel about coming to my desk. And it doesn’t have to be complicated, it can just be ‘write the scene where…’ or ‘make some notes about X’s character’. And you don’t even have to stick to it, if you change your mind that’s fine, it’s just to get you to the desk without panicking. And it’s great to be able to look back and see how much work you’ve done this year. I think we worry that we’re not working hard enough because (much like positive vs negative feedback) we don’t notice the hours we put in as much as the hours we take off. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Keep a note of your progress and reward yourself for it. This is as much about noticing you’ve achieved something as it is about motivation. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Analyse your own goals the way you would your character’s. Is what you think you want what you <i>really</i> want? Is it what you <i>need</i>? Are you lying to yourself in some way? If this was a novel, how would this goal turn out? Are you at the end of the story where you’ve achieved wisdom and know what’s important in life? Or are you still at the beginning? (you can go mad with this. Who’s your antagonist? Your mentor/guardian character? Love interest? What’s going to happen at the midpoint!!!)</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Devotion works better than discipline. Goals should be things you actually want to do, not things you think you should do. I know this is obvious but it actually came as a revelation to me. How much easier would it be to keep a goal you actually want to do! If you’re failing in your goal, maybe it’s <i>not</i> because you’re a weak and terrible human being, maybe it’s just because you’re not that interested in it and might be happier doing something else. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">You can include goals related to other things in life. Apparently there <i>are</i> other things in life. E.g. fitness and hobbies and Netflix. I have millions of hobbies but it’s never occurred to me to set goals for them. Possibly because of the point above about goals being things you think you <i>should</i> do rather than things you <i>want</i> to do. If I was setting goals for my hobbies I’d be acing this resolution schizz all over the place!</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Your goal can be to quit something. Like trying to achieve a goal that makes you miserable. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Don’t give yourself time to procrastinate. As Leonard Bernstein said, “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” It’s probably better to aim for 3 things and fail by only achieving 2, than only aim for 1 and succeed. You just have to adjust your mental attitude to failing.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Decide on consequences if you fail. And make them worse than doing the work. The writer of this one suggested writing a cheque to a politician you hate which your mate will mail if you fail your goal. That may be a little too scary for me, but you see my point. You’d work <i>really</i>hard on that goal. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Tiny goals and small steps are still good because they encourage good habits. It’s better in the long run to become a person who’s in the habit of writing for an hour every day, than one who wrecks herself getting through NaNo once a year and has to take December off. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Your goal can be to nurture a habit rather than produce something in particular. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Have a ‘bad day’ goal. This is something you can achieve even on bad days. E.g. 30mins of revision or getting through some admin or making notes on one scene or something. Something small that you can still do when you’re having a crap day, so you still feel like you’re working and on track. Accept that there will be days like that and plan for them as you would for the good days. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Have a long term goal but don’t set a deadline for it, just use your short term, monthly/weekly deadlines to work up to it in bite-sized chunks and don’t think beyond this month’s deadline. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Think about what success means to you (as opposed to Amazon/your publisher/your mother/your bestselling best friend).</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">So Happy 2021 everyone. So far it looks strikingly similar to 2020, but if we can’t improve the year we can at least improve ourselves! Happy planning!</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-x3okl4hSTFg/X_s1Daqjl5I/AAAAAAAAIEI/WZgz99Hk4usBnopVwEUB_0XkmCBKAGw9wCLcBGAsYHQ/s245/NzXI.gif" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="171" data-original-width="245" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-x3okl4hSTFg/X_s1Daqjl5I/AAAAAAAAIEI/WZgz99Hk4usBnopVwEUB_0XkmCBKAGw9wCLcBGAsYHQ/s0/NzXI.gif" /></a></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://kellymccaughrain.com/" style="background-color: white; color: #5f5f5f; font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot;, trebuchet, sans-serif; font-size: x-small;" target="_blank"></a></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-NYumTZrcTRA/X_s2TlpJA_I/AAAAAAAAIEg/UvyBLJFjDXkpjr_3LNGNw3fuF8tTjVVsgCLcBGAsYHQ/s1167/Flying_Tips_For_Flightless_Birds.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1167" data-original-width="760" height="200" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-NYumTZrcTRA/X_s2TlpJA_I/AAAAAAAAIEg/UvyBLJFjDXkpjr_3LNGNw3fuF8tTjVVsgCLcBGAsYHQ/w130-h200/Flying_Tips_For_Flightless_Birds.png" width="130" /></a></div><br />Kelly McCaughrain<span face="&quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , sans-serif" style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-size: xx-small;">&nbsp;is the author of the Children's Books Ireland Book of the Year, </span><br /><p></p><div class="MsoNormal"></div><div class="MsoNormal"><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flying-Flightless-Birds-Kelly-McCaughrain/dp/1406375659" style="background-color: white; color: #5f5f5f; font-family: &quot;trebuchet ms&quot;, trebuchet, sans-serif; font-size: x-small;" target="_blank">Flying Tips for Flightless Birds</a><span face="&quot;trebuchet ms&quot; , &quot;trebuchet&quot; , sans-serif" style="background-color: white; color: #333333; font-size: xx-small;">.&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-size: xx-small;"><br /></span><span style="font-size: xx-small;">She is the Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland #CWFNI</span><br /><span style="font-size: xx-small;"><br /></span><span style="font-size: xx-small;">She also blogs at</span><a href="https://theblankpage.kellymccaughrain.com/blog/" target="_blank"><span style="font-size: xx-small;"> The Blank Page</span></a><br /><br /><span style="font-size: xx-small;"><span style="font-size: xx-small;"><a href="https://twitter.com/KMcCaughrain" style="color: #5f5f5f;" target="_blank">@KMcCaughrain</a></span></span></div><p></p> Kelly McCaughrainhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/00394786612163256164noreply@blogger.com6tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-62496356014950801652021-01-09T09:44:00.008+00:002021-01-09T14:11:47.904+00:00The literature curriculum in the age of #metoo (Anne Rooney)<p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-O8bm22FIsCU/X_mqPQ3rsII/AAAAAAAADRk/MdBjCQotvYceKU4-lNIivjlhuT6_wcONACNcBGAsYHQ/s778/Screenshot%2B2021-01-09%2Bat%2B09.21.25.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="778" data-original-width="478" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-O8bm22FIsCU/X_mqPQ3rsII/AAAAAAAADRk/MdBjCQotvYceKU4-lNIivjlhuT6_wcONACNcBGAsYHQ/s320/Screenshot%2B2021-01-09%2Bat%2B09.21.25.png" /></a></div>Christmas, with dodgy post and Tier-4 lockdown coming on Boxing Day. I needed something to read and picked up <i>Of Mice and Men</i>. I'm not a great fan of Steinbeck but I'd not read any in decades. Perhaps&nbsp; I'd been unfair to him and should give him another chance. And it's short. It's also recently been a set text for GCSE English literature and as I sometimes write York Notes study guides, it's useful to keep abreast of what else the students are being encouraged to read. I soon came to the conclusion that it's insane to set this book for GCSE.&nbsp; There are spoilers here — if you haven't read it, or <i>To Kill A Mocking Bird</i>, you might want to scroll on by to someone else's post.<br /><p></p><p><i>Of Mice and Men</i> is promoted as a book for young people to engage with because it takes a liberal and compassionate look at how criminal responsibility and mental disability intersect. We know from the first time Lennie accidentally crushes and kills a mouse how the story is going to turn out; it's just a matter of waiting for it to do so. This, as it happens, chimed really well with reading in a pandemic that was quite obviously on the brink of hurtling into the abyss of unmanageability. I was reading OMAM as we approached that eventhorizon, and am writing this as we cross it. For Lennie, the eventhorizon was always in his DNA. In its inevitability, his fate has Aristotelian tragic hero written all over it&nbsp; — except for the outmoded requirement that tragedy deal with 'great men' (meaning socially elevated and powerful). That all sounds like good GCSE material, even without the context of a pandemic to provide empathetic engagement with impending and unavoidable doom.&nbsp;</p><p>But. The instrument of Lennie's undoing is a person and that person is, inevitably, a woman — the woman he kills, 'Curley's wife' as she is always called. 'Curley's wife' is a possession of Curley. She is 'trouble'; her attractiveness is a trap, her desire to talk to the men on the farm something to be avoided. She is a typical siren, luring them onto the rocks and the other men won't be sorry to see her gone. Steinbeck gives her a tiny bit of space in which to lament her position: "Ain't I got a right to talk to nobody? Whatta they think I am anyways?" But this is squandered by making her laughable — someone who believed she could have been a great movie star but was cheated of her destiny. (I have to admit, I might have been more sympathetic to this 'I was robbed' narrative if it hadn't come in the middle of Trump's stolen election nonsense.) The book generates no sympathy for Curley's wife; the verdict of the men is a not-quite-spoken 'she had it coming' and of the book is that she was the instrument of Lennie's unfair downfall. Lennie doesn't rape her, but it's a rape scene anyway. The novel is complicit in making what happens, her death and Lennie's death, the fault of Curley's wife. Is that a message we want to promote to teenagers? Especially as OMAM is a curriculum choice intended to appeal to boys who, it is well know, don't want to read long, nancy books about marriage like <i>Pride and Prejudice</i>. Aka books which explore the predicament of women in an unequal society.</p><p>OK, so maybe OMAM isn't a good choice. What about <i>To Kill A Mocking Bird</i>, that other stalwart of 20th century American literature, dragged in to do its jury-duty on literature curricula? This has long been popular because of its apparent (to white curriculum-designers) support of the Black man accused of rape. I'm not going into the issue of race in TKAMB here, and plenty has been said about it already. But it's another book in which a 'white trash' girl 'causes' the death of a marginalized character. Mayella accuses Tom of rape and that is his downfall. There is a lot to focus on in the power a white woman's word has over a Black man's fate. Mayella has no power in her own social group; she can only punch down. Mayella is an evil temptress. Mayella is the archetypal womann who cries rape. Mayella needs a #metoo t-shirt and a chance to opt for a different role, because enough already of getting teenage boys to read books in which the woman lures them to doom and it's All Her Fault.</p><p>What else could a student read if their teacher decided OMAM wasn't a good idea? There's been a lot of (quite right) publicity about the under-representation of BAME characters in the curriculum. But it turns out the representation of women is pretty bad, too, given they represent more than half the people sitting literature GCSE. Different exam boards specify different texts. Here's the list for 19th century prose:</p><p>Dickens, <i>A Christmas Carol </i>— by a man, about only men</p><p>Dickens, <i>Great Expectations </i>— by a man, about mostly men, but with a woman who is ridiculed for her loss of her only reasonable place (as a wife) in a society of men<br /></p><p>Shelley, <i>Frankenstein</i> — by a woman, about men (and monsters), except for a couple of female victims thrown in for good measure (Justine, executed for a crime she didn't commit, and Elizabeth, murdered)</p><p>Brone, <i>Jane Eyre</i> — by a woman with a woman protagonist! yay! <br /></p><p>Austen, <i>Pride and Prejudice</i> — by a woman, about women!</p><p>Conan Doyle, <i>The Sign of the Four </i>— back to men, with added colonialism</p><p>Stevenson, <i>Jekyll and Hyde</i> — by a man, about men; and a monster(ish)<br /></p><p>Eliot, <i>Silas Marner </i>— by a woman (but disguising her identity as a man) about a man and a female child who plays a redemptive role. The man gets the title, the girl is interesting only in her impact on him&nbsp;</p><p>Wells, <i>War of the Worlds</i> — by a man, about men (and monsters)</p><p>There are as many books about monsters as about women. Hmmm.</p><p>I'm not going to do this in depth for the other parts of the curriculum as it gets too long. Note that the Shakespeare options includ the entirely male-oriented <i>Macbeth</i> (boring men fighting, has a female psycho), <i>Othello</i> (has a female murder victim), <i>Julius Caesar</i> (boring men fighting), <i>Henry V</i> (more boring men fighting). <i>Romeo and Juliet </i>and <i>The Tempest </i>are the sops to teenage girls who want some romance and fairies (<i>Midsummer Night's Dream</i> is furloughed), but <i>The Tempest </i>is still really about a middle-aged man and his career disappointments. <i>Merchant of Venice</i>: woman as traded commodity, otherwise about men, with added anti-semitism. Then the transgender <i>Twelfh Night</i>. (OK, this is a fairly flippant paragraph. You have to work with what there is for Shakespeare.)</p><p>Modern prose includes, besides OMAM and TKAMB, <i>Lord of the Flies</i> (all male), T<i>he Power and the Glory</i> (male), <i>Animal Farm</i> (male). It would be nice to have used the 20th century to make up for the lack of women with agency. It would have been particularly nice to have used the 20th century to reduce the number of women-blamed-for-men's-crimes and women-just-as-vehicles/victims. Obviously, a good teacher will challenge the presentation of Curley's wife and Mayella Ewell, but not all kids get a good teacher. In an age of rape culture and normalizing of sexual crime, is it really a good idea to set teenage boys reading 20th-century books in which women are first victims of male power and secondly blamed for male violence? What if your teacher doesn't call out Steinbeck on this? What if your teacher focuses only on the racsist aspect of TKAMB? A book that deals with an issue is one thing, but a book that perpetuates a troubling trope without challenging it needs careful treatment. Imagine if instead of a woman, Lennie had killed a Black or Jewish character and it had been portrayed as All Their Fault? Would we set that book for GCSE? I think we wouldn't (thank God).&nbsp;</p><p>And your homework this week: compare the presentation of Mayella Ewell, Curley's wife and Desdemona.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.annerooney.com" target="_blank">Anne Rooney</a></p><p>Relevant book:<br /><i>Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: York Notes for GCSE (9-1)<br /></i>Pearson, 2015</p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jjG2N8yZU_E/X_mqmCA_6dI/AAAAAAAADRs/LDbkUbQDukQBCr1LlglsLK7wniP-aTZiQCNcBGAsYHQ/s596/Screenshot%2B2021-01-09%2Bat%2B09.42.02.png" imageanchor="1" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="596" data-original-width="426" height="147" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-jjG2N8yZU_E/X_mqmCA_6dI/AAAAAAAADRs/LDbkUbQDukQBCr1LlglsLK7wniP-aTZiQCNcBGAsYHQ/w105-h147/Screenshot%2B2021-01-09%2Bat%2B09.42.02.png" width="105" /></a></div><br /><p></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p><br /><br /><br />Stroppy Authorhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16560035800075465845noreply@blogger.com9tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-19467468377093284862021-01-08T00:55:00.004+00:002021-01-08T07:57:39.606+00:00My 'issue' book, by Keren David <p>&nbsp;I have written an 'issue' book, and it is being published on January 21.</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HSePcEldeoc/X_ef8ycsZ8I/AAAAAAAABnE/wuDiHBJ2WZ0I7nOUBvcLcJc24KQO0UKmwCLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/What%2BWe%2527re%2BScared%2Bof%2BCVR%2BEDIT%2B3.jpg" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1335" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HSePcEldeoc/X_ef8ycsZ8I/AAAAAAAABnE/wuDiHBJ2WZ0I7nOUBvcLcJc24KQO0UKmwCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/What%2BWe%2527re%2BScared%2Bof%2BCVR%2BEDIT%2B3.jpg" /></a></div><br /><p></p><p>Normally, I'd do anything rather than describe it as such. I'd talk about 'themes' and 'ideas' and insist that story, characters and plot matter far more than anything else, no matter how weighty the topics discussed.&nbsp; I know, you see, that 'issue' books are often mentioned in a less than respectful tone. I know that many in the world of children's literature prefer books which are escapist and imaginative, in which information about our world is prettily disguised in fairy costumes, universal truths are spoken by talking dogs and there's a hopeful, happy ending in which the shy, bookish child finds a trusty friend.&nbsp;</p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>Not this time. Not this subject. Not this week.&nbsp; I have written an issue book, and although I have furnished it with (I hope) engaging characters and an exciting plot, I do not care about those half as much as I care about the issue I am writing about.&nbsp;<br /><br />My book is about antisemitism -&nbsp; my 'issue'. It's about an ancient hatred that murdered my great-grandfather and all his family, including a little girl that my grandmother told me about when I was a child. They'd visited my great-grandfather in Warsaw, in the 1930s, and they were begged to take the girl home with them to Wales. They refused: 'How could we take her?' She had no papers to come to Britain,' my grandmother explained, still haunted decades later by the sure knowledge of that child's fate.&nbsp;<br /><br />This is a picture of my great-grandfather, with his first wife, and his two daughters (taken in about 1913, we think).By 1940 the women had all died, and he was an old man. His sons lived in Wales&nbsp; and he had married again and had a new family. Step-children and step-grandchildren and maybe even step-great-grandchildren.&nbsp; They all died, murdered for being Jewish. I used to think their stories were far away in the past. Now it feels horribly close.&nbsp; His name was Abraham Buznic. I can only hope that he died before he reached Auschwitz.&nbsp;<a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-KJ5T-yS2qrs/X_emnAsdnFI/AAAAAAAABnQ/IjaBSNz2lKw-kYTBaGeku0iJA_K1ky43ACLcBGAsYHQ/s1280/family.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1280" data-original-width="960" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-KJ5T-yS2qrs/X_emnAsdnFI/AAAAAAAABnQ/IjaBSNz2lKw-kYTBaGeku0iJA_K1ky43ACLcBGAsYHQ/s320/family.jpg" /></a><p></p><p>There are many children's books about the Holocaust (and one famous one that shamefully buries its truth in a 'fable'), but my book is about modern day antisemitism as well. About hate that flows through the open sewer that social media can become. About nasty girls making snotty, hurtful remarks about their classmates. About tropes and fantasy and denial, conspiracy theories and lies. And bricks through windows, assaults in the street and&nbsp; attempts to murder Jews in Jewish places.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>When I was thinking about the book, I wondered if I could find enough to write about. I sat and made a list of all the ways that antisemitism could affect my characters and their friends. I didn't lack examples. I ended up leaving things out.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />For two chapters towards the end of the book, I commit the ultimate crime against fiction of handing over to a real person, telling her absolute truth. Mala Tribich, who is now 90,&nbsp; shared her story with me, a story of hiding, of surviving again and again against all the odds, of the terrible murders of her mother and little sister, of what it was like to be a child slave labourer, and to arrive in Belsen, where bodies lay in piles all around and the air smelled of rotting flesh.&nbsp;<br /><br />I'm possibly not selling my book very well, so let me assure you, there are plenty of laughs as well, because comedy is a time-honoured way that Jews deal with the trauma of generations of persecution. And Mala and I would break off our conversations and talk about haircuts and clothes, families and friends, because everyday life is the best antidote to hatred and murder. It's no accident that the traditional Jewish toast is 'l'chaim' -&nbsp; 'to life'.&nbsp;<br /><br />It was not easy, writing this issue book. It was not easy because antisemitism is not an issue to me, it is my greatest fear, the monster in the forest in my worst nightmares, the subject that for most of my life I have tried to avoid thinking about. To write this book-&nbsp; <i>What We're Scared Of </i>- I asked myself again and again, what are we scared of? And I tried to answer it, as best I could.&nbsp;<br /><br />People sometimes try and separate different sorts of antisemitism.&nbsp; There's 'left' antisemitism, and&nbsp; 'right' antisemitism. There's 'mild' antisemitism and 'serious' antisemitism and then there's anti Zionism, which some people love to assure me is not antisemitism at all. But for me -&nbsp; and for many Jewish people -&nbsp; there is really very little to choose from in the toxic chocolate box of hate. The flavours may be different but the poison is the same.&nbsp;<br /><br />Among the mob that charged through the Capitol yesterday was a man wearing a shirt that read 'Camp Auschwitz' . Another was a podcaster infamous for Holocaust denial. America's alt right hates Jews alongside Black people. (Of course, you can be Black <i>and</i> Jewish). It's absolutely no surprise to see Jew haters among the fascists that assaulted American democracy this week. 'The Jews will not replace us' the white supremacists chanted at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Neo-Nazis are on the rise across the world, and the shocking scenes at the Capitol were part of that narrative. But there are other sorts of fascists as well as white supremacists, and frankly, I am scared of all of them.&nbsp;<br /><br />Normally, I hold back from the hard sell when it comes to my books. I have proper British reserve, I don't like to push myself forward (Actually, forget British reserve, I have a&nbsp; cringing, choking fear that you're going to think I'm pushy and greedy and money-grubbing, because that's what internalised racism does to you) But this time I am forcing myself. This time I am giving you a link, (<a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Were-Scared-Keren-David/dp/1407196448/ref=sr_1_1?crid=15EWXJ13N82W1&amp;dchild=1&amp;keywords=what+were+scared+of&amp;qid=1610064953&amp;sprefix=what+were+%2Caps%2C158&amp;sr=8-1">HERE</a>, or, if you are not in the UK <a href="https://www.bookdepository.com/What-Were-Scared-Keren-David/9781407196442?ref=grid-view&amp;qid=1610066532075&amp;sr=1-7">HERE </a>) and I am asking you to please, buy or borrow my book. Read it yourself, give it to young people, give it to old people, tell people about it.&nbsp; Review it, teach it in your classrooms, hand sell it in your shops. The 'issue' is pressing and important, and urgent and terrifying.&nbsp; The book may help people understand why antisemitism is frightening and wrong. It's tragic that I need to say that, but I do.&nbsp;</p><p>My hope is that this 'issue' book will help young Jews feel proud and strong. That it will create allies in the fight against hate. That it will help people think about fear and the part it plays in fueling prejudice, anger and anxiety. That it will combat racism of all sorts, against all groups. And then I will feel that I have done something to&nbsp; -&nbsp; as Mala puts it - 'not be a bystander'.&nbsp;<br /><br />Perhaps next time I will write a book about an enchanted prince and his talking bear. Perhaps I will clothe my imaginings in fantastical garb. But this time, I could not. I wrote an issue book, and all I want from you is that you read it.&nbsp;<br /><br /><br /><br /></p><br /><br /><p><br /></p>Keren Davidhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13121027210783177857noreply@blogger.com14tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-85736357733605295872021-01-07T07:00:00.003+00:002021-01-07T07:00:04.447+00:00What fresh hell is this? The B-word and creative freelancers by Dawn Finch<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-S7dZJGlBM10/X_XKh-d8ONI/AAAAAAAAB-4/Nu1z1DBQQL4F-eFB8-R4gmcMGrLkYHNHACLcBGAsYHQ/s960/5b525b10-162f-11eb-bf57-9ec53df1e7ad.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="640" data-original-width="960" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-S7dZJGlBM10/X_XKh-d8ONI/AAAAAAAAB-4/Nu1z1DBQQL4F-eFB8-R4gmcMGrLkYHNHACLcBGAsYHQ/s320/5b525b10-162f-11eb-bf57-9ec53df1e7ad.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><p>I have always held the opinion that it's probably best not to express too many opinions. This means that I have usually opted to not say anything at all about Brexit preferring to wait for people to tell me just one positive fact about it (still waiting, by the way...). Facts - love those, but like all of us, I'm drowning in opinions right now and those are not always the same as facts.</p><p>Most of us are already feeling the negative impact of changes that restrict our freedom of movement and impede our ability to see Europe as our wider work-space, but for most of us, we simply feel so overwhelmed by the whole thing that it just feels like a massive dog-pile of opinions. Picking the facts out of this dog-pile is becoming increasingly difficult and it is with great relief that I read the latest piece from the <a href="https://societyofauthors.org/News/News/2021/January/The-SoA-View-on-the-Brexit-deal" target="_blank">Society of Authors.</a> I say "relief" but I should stress that's not relief about the content, but about the fact that the details her are at least clear and understandable.</p><p>The end to Freedom of Movement means that many creatives will have to negotiate complicated visa and work permit regimes before travelling to EU27 countries and we'll all need to be aware of the extent of any potentially varying exclusions that may apply to us. Authors travelling to an EU country for research or work should remember from now on to check with the UK consular office or embassy, and this is not always going to be as simple as it sounds. There is a significant risk of backlogs, and of paperwork delays as even the embassies try to set into place how this will all work.</p><p>Some things are clear, such as the fact that we should still be able to work in France for up to 90 days without a visa, but we will need a work permit. Sadly the details for other countries are still up in the air and awaiting conditions based on reciprocal arrangements that have yet to be agreed.</p><p>There is, of course, a huge amount of confusion and uncertainty about the emerging rules, but what is clear to the Society of Authors is that it will "present a costly and complex barrier to thousands of freelancers working in the creative industries". The Society draws attention to a <a href="https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/563294" target="_blank">petition calling for a Visa-free work permit</a> for touring creative professionals that has already gained well over 200,000 signatures.</p><p>I would strongly recommend reading the <a href="https://societyofauthors.org/News/News/2021/January/The-SoA-View-on-the-Brexit-deal" target="_blank">Society of Authors' article</a> and following them on social media for regularly updated information. With so many opinions flying around it is refreshing to have a source of information tailored to my needs as a freelance creative European.</p><p>Access the latest news from the Society of Authors via their website, and the article referred to in this piece can be found <a href="https://societyofauthors.org/News/News/2021/January/The-SoA-View-on-the-Brexit-deal" target="_blank">here.</a></p><p>Dawn Finch is an author and information professional.</p><p>www.dawnfinch.com</p><p>@dawnafinch</p><p><br /></p><p><br /></p>Dawn Finchhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16806534007750892638noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-21886586630496516182021-01-06T07:00:00.008+00:002021-01-06T07:00:02.667+00:00What IS a children's book anyway? by Paul May<p><span style="font-size: medium;">While I've been reading Carnegie Medal winning books I've found this question popping into my head occasionally. Usually I think about it while I'm digging on the allotment and then decide it's not worth writing about. Or rather, I decide that it's too complicated to write about and I'm not really sure what I think.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5dmYXGqrpNI/X_SEP4o3BhI/AAAAAAAAFtw/FG-65GRQ5OkO_y-1v87uEa1s_Sr8u-zGwCLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/IMG_3203.jpeg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="2048" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5dmYXGqrpNI/X_SEP4o3BhI/AAAAAAAAFtw/FG-65GRQ5OkO_y-1v87uEa1s_Sr8u-zGwCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_3203.jpeg" /></span></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;">The allotment. Plenty of digging,<br />&nbsp;plenty of thinking</span></td></tr></tbody></table><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p><span style="font-size: medium;">But in the past few weeks I've read a series of historical novels and one non-fiction history book, and that question has kept nagging at me because the books I've read range from one which is definitely written for children to one which, although marketed to children, seems to me to deal with themes which are almost exclusively adult.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;">I suppose the first thing to say is that, speaking (as Noel Streatfeild might have said) as a children's author, all my own books have been written for children, and the subject-matter, style and vocabulary have been carefully adapted to my target audience. To be sure, I always hoped that adults would read at least some of those books too, and not only professionals like teachers and librarians and maybe even reviewers, but parents too, and friends and family. But, in the end, my children's books are written for children.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HwN00Sb_21U/X_SFEK1_ipI/AAAAAAAAFt4/RcHU5N9p6sQf2151eigblWRkhgVE53TLgCLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/A%2Bvalley%2Bgrows%2Bup.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1506" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HwN00Sb_21U/X_SFEK1_ipI/AAAAAAAAFt4/RcHU5N9p6sQf2151eigblWRkhgVE53TLgCLcBGAsYHQ/w294-h400/A%2Bvalley%2Bgrows%2Bup.jpg" width="294" /></span></a></div><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p><span style="font-size: medium;">A Valley Grows Up by Edward Osmond won the Carnegie in 1953, the year I was born. Osmond was a teacher and artist who was encouraged by a children's editor at OUP to turn his idea for a series of wall-charts depicting an imaginary valley at various points in history into an illustrated book. His paintings had originated as blackboard drawings used to teach students after World War II. No question then that this is a children's book. Like many early winners it has a definite 'teachery' feel to it in the voice of the author. Given its origin as a series of talks based on a series of paintings this is not surprising, and it is the voice of an interesting teacher. It's also the voice of a man with his own prejudices which he makes no attempt to conceal. The earliest 'real men' to come and live in the valley are described as 'grotesque and primitive' and in the 17th Century the 'Roundheads' get a very bad press. After successfully attacking the castle 'the Roundhead army moved on to other acts of destruction elsewhere . . . During the dull years of the Commonwealth, after King Charles had been captured and executed, few changes were made because there was no feeling of enterprise in the country.'</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;">The book is a curious mixture of fact and fiction. Osmond describes events in his imaginary valley as though they really happened, which does feel confusing at times. I was a little surprised at the poor quality of the reproductions in my copy of the book, and I wondered if I had a duff one, but then I found this from Marcus Crouch: 'It was unfortunate, if inevitable, that in reproduction &nbsp;the original pictures lost much of their definition and their detail. The reader sometimes looks in vain for a feature mentioned in the text but reduced into invisibility by the block-maker.' I find this very odd as my copy has an ad on the back flap for The Map That Came to Life by H J Deverson and Ronald Lampitt. <a href="https://www.maproomblog.com/2016/10/the-map-that-came-to-life/" target="_blank">You can see this wonderful book in full online and the illustrations are beautifully clear.</a></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="900" data-original-width="1195" height="301" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SLbdWNyD-e8/X_SFWzIaVpI/AAAAAAAAFuA/Dima4QonkSM2y2QJaqE4pwgOQgNvSBCwACLcBGAsYHQ/w400-h301/20.jpeg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" width="400" /></span></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;">A spread from The Map That Came to Life</span></td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-SLbdWNyD-e8/X_SFWzIaVpI/AAAAAAAAFuA/Dima4QonkSM2y2QJaqE4pwgOQgNvSBCwACLcBGAsYHQ/s1195/20.jpeg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a></span></div><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p><span style="font-size: medium;">In 1954 the Carnegie was won by a very different kind of history book - Knight Crusader by Ronald Welch. If you did not know that Ronald Welch (real name Ronald Oliver Felton) had seen service during WWII (in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, from whom he took his pen-name) and then become headmaster of a boys Grammar School, I think you could have guessed. This is a book in which the protagonist is a boy on the threshold of manhood. What kind of a boy? &nbsp;This kind:</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;">'The robber flung up his arm helplessly, his face a mask of fear and snarling fury. But there was nothing he could do to ward off this thunderbolt of sudden death that had swept upon him. He went down with a strangled scream as Philip's sword caught him full across his turban, and split his skull with a sound like that of a hammer smashing down on a length of thin planking.'</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QYePd8JVelU/X_SFpU-flXI/AAAAAAAAFuI/grvxZwtISQ4HUpgbDLKHQLFe51ZYhTTuACLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/knight.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1268" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-QYePd8JVelU/X_SFpU-flXI/AAAAAAAAFuI/grvxZwtISQ4HUpgbDLKHQLFe51ZYhTTuACLcBGAsYHQ/w248-h400/knight.jpg" width="248" /></span></a></div><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p><span style="font-size: medium;">There is a LOT of fighting, some tournaments (where people get seriously hurt), a couple of major battles, and a siege of a Welsh castle. The body count could rival that of a modern Hollywood action movie. The story is set in the Crusader realm of Outremer in the late 12th century, and place and time are brought vividly to life, but the characters are more than a little two-dimensional. The first female character makes her appearance on page 234. Here she is:</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;">'Philip [sat] with the Lady de Clare on his other side. She was a dark-haired, imperious-looking woman, most magnificently dressed, and by her manner fully conscious of her position as the leading lady of the Marches.' (That's all you see of her.)</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;">The second woman appears just a few pages later: 'The Lady Anne de Chaworth was a tall, spare lady with a determined chin and a rasping voice. Her eyes missed nothing as she watched her servants, and even her mournful husband obeyed her instructions with a meekness that made Philip smile. Perhaps this explained Sir Geoffrey's gloom, he thought.' (That's more or less it for her, too.)</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;">And there you have the whole female presence in the book, apart from a short scene where a gruff old soldier teases a couple of children, one of them a girl (the only real children in the book). This is, essentially, a book about men fighting and killing each other in a meticulously researched and realised 12th century world, and yet it is distinctly NOT a book for adults. No women or children to speak of, a bunch of men fighting and killing each other, and yet it's a children's book. 'For readers of eleven and over.' says my Puffin edition.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xmIICoYVFiY/X_SF031Oc_I/AAAAAAAAFuM/ufPFwKCjFKcG0t8WWY0z7LNzSQY48KfogCLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/knight%2Billus.jpg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1240" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xmIICoYVFiY/X_SF031Oc_I/AAAAAAAAFuM/ufPFwKCjFKcG0t8WWY0z7LNzSQY48KfogCLcBGAsYHQ/w242-h400/knight%2Billus.jpg" width="242" /></span></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Illustration by William Stobbs</span></td></tr></tbody></table><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p><span style="font-size: medium;">I know just who this book was written for. It was aimed squarely at Ronald Welch's grammar school boys and I'm sure many of them loved it because it's rather like an extended version of a war story in a boy's annual of the period. What character development there is consists in the protagonist getting better at fighting. But, given that this is a book entirely about adult men I had to wonder what was missing that would have turned it into a novel for adults. The quality of the writing is <i>better</i> than that found in many thrillers: perhaps a star-crossed romance woven into the story would have done the trick? Character development is not essential to an adult novel either though - look at Jack Reacher or James Bond. Is it just that the book doesn't have enough to <i>say</i> to its readers? Is it not subtle or complex enough to be marketed to adults? Is it, perhaps, a little <i>childish</i> in its simple,&nbsp;gung-ho revelling in violence; childish in a way that The Borrowers, for example, is not.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;">You will have to forgive the randomness of these thoughts. I'm hoping that by writing them down they might become clearer. My next random thought is that maybe children's books about adults are acceptable when they are <i>distanced</i>, either by history or fantasy or maybe by space. The Hobbit, for example, is about a group of fairly elderly dwarves and an adult hobbit on an often violent and dangerous quest. The Wind in the Willows may be about animals, but it's about adult animals with their own homes and lives. I'm struggling to think of a realistic children's novel with a contemporary setting that is entirely about adults.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6hRQL2ydMrA/X_SGC0YCPYI/AAAAAAAAFuU/bFAHoEhsOaMyOjEPyU42pWsXiHNCpBpuACLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/Lantern%2Bbearers.jpg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1329" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6hRQL2ydMrA/X_SGC0YCPYI/AAAAAAAAFuU/bFAHoEhsOaMyOjEPyU42pWsXiHNCpBpuACLcBGAsYHQ/w260-h400/Lantern%2Bbearers.jpg" width="260" /></span></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Cover by Charles Keeping</span></td></tr></tbody></table><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p><span style="font-size: medium;">And so to Rosemary Sutcliff. I'm leaping ahead in the Carnegie winners list to 1959, and I want to write more about Sutcliff later, but The Lantern Bearers, which was the 1959 winner, is a book about adults in which the chief themes concern the struggles of the central character, Aquila, to come to terms with the savage murder of his family, the kidnapping and probable rape of his sister, and his own problematic relationship with his son and wife. The bleakness of Aquila's despair after he finds his sister (after several years as a slave himself) married to a Saxon and with her own child and a new life is brilliantly portrayed as a kind of bereavement and a betrayal. I really can't think of any reason to call this a children's book, other than that it was published and marketed as a children's book, oh, and it has pictures - wonderful illustrations by Charles Keeping which make this one of the most beautifully produced books I know.</span></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8KaW5SX64AQ/X_SGO-i7R_I/AAAAAAAAFuc/Nd6gs8IU3mswdjjm4i33kmlOBB1tAji9gCLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/keeping%2Bspread.jpg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1524" data-original-width="2048" height="297" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8KaW5SX64AQ/X_SGO-i7R_I/AAAAAAAAFuc/Nd6gs8IU3mswdjjm4i33kmlOBB1tAji9gCLcBGAsYHQ/w400-h297/keeping%2Bspread.jpg" width="400" /></span></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Spread by Charles Keeping</span></td></tr></tbody></table><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p><span style="font-size: medium;">It's interesting to compare The Lantern Bearers with its sequel Sword at Sunset which was published for adults in 1963. I haven't finished this yet, but there are already some obvious differences. The story is told in the first person by Artos, who we know as King Arthur. It is wordier than its predecessors, there is a sex scene early in the book and there are <i>no pictures. </i>There are&nbsp;also many long paragraphs unbroken by dialogue. And the stylistic devices that occasionally irritated me in Sutcliff's 'children's books' are even more in evidence here - notably her tendency to make characters speak in a slightly stagey archaic manner, especially if they are 'tribal'.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gFvgTJB446w/X_SGaafLe7I/AAAAAAAAFuk/DjogMb1UTtYwrx529jxMQiMEfr0IDoYCgCLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/sword.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1388" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gFvgTJB446w/X_SGaafLe7I/AAAAAAAAFuk/DjogMb1UTtYwrx529jxMQiMEfr0IDoYCgCLcBGAsYHQ/w271-h400/sword.jpg" width="271" /></span></a></div><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p><span style="font-size: medium;">And so my thoughts circle back to the place they always end up when I'm out there digging. Do I really need to know what a children's book is? I'm not so sure I even know what a child is. I suppose the bottom line is that I wouldn't want any child not to read an 'adult' book simply because it was not written or published for children, and I wouldn't want an adult reader to miss out, say, on The Lantern Bearers for the same reason.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;">I believe - I know - that it is possible to write for children in simple language and still tell a story that is rich and complex, and to do so without talking down to the children; without sounding like a teacher or a dotty old uncle. I thought that kind of thing was disappearing from the Carnegie winners until I reached C S Lewis (1956). I have plenty to say about him, but before that we have Eleanor Farjeon (1955) who occasionally wrote stories that defy any kind of categorisation and who definitely deserves a whole post to herself.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;">All of Ronald Welch's historical novels about the Crecy family are in print, with the original William Stobbs illustrations, available from Slightly Foxed magazine. Hazel Wood found more to like in Knight Crusader than I did, and her piece in Slightly Foxed magazine (No 39) will tell you why, and why she was inspired to republish the books. Slightly Foxed also have their own edition of the Rosemary Sutcliff Roman books with the Keeping illustrations, but for my money you can't beat the original OUP ones if you can find them.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><a href="http://www.paulmay.co.uk" target="_blank"><span style="font-size: medium;">Paul May's website.</span></a></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><br /></p>Paul Mayhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09499442738041701791noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-59056022587024239612021-01-05T11:15:00.001+00:002021-01-05T11:15:43.749+00:00CREATIVE SELF-HELP THREE WAYS: Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Currey; Ten Things About Writing by Joanne Harris and The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. Reviews by Penny Dolan.<p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">One day, I will set aside my addiction to books about writing and creativity but for now, </span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">I'm dabbling in:and among this</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> trio. <br /></span></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: arial; margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Daily Rituals: Women at Work - Pan Macmillan AU" class="detail__media__img-highres js-detail-img js-detail-img-high" height="406" src="https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.biblioimages.com%2Fmacmillanaus%2Fgetimage.aspx%3Fclass%3Dbooks%26assetversionid%3D637347%26cat%3Ddefault%26size%3Dlarge%26id%3D44258&amp;f=1&amp;nofb=1" style="display: block; height: 470px; width: 310.2px;" width="310" /> <br /></span></div><p></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"></span></p><p><b><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">&nbsp;DAILY RITUALS: WOMEN AT WORK by Mason Currey.</span></span></b></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">After a friend mentioned reading a few pages of <i>"Daily Rituals"</i> each morning, when I came across what seemed the title on Audible, I downloaded it. Unfortunately, the longer I Iistened, the less fond I felt if</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> Currey's American accent, and the more annoyed with example after example of another male writer, artist, philosopher or so on lounging in their bath or secluded in their library or off on solitary walks while servants and wives brought coffee and meals and kept children quiet and out of the way.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">I was still quiet cross when I spotted Currey's more recent title</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> </span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">displayed in my local independent bookshop<b>:</b></span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> <b>Daily Rituals: </b></span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><b>Women at Work.</b>. This was the book my friend had mentioned.<b><br /></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">&nbsp;Currey begins with a long, extremely apologetic chapter about the lack of&nbsp; women in his first book, He has also created new classifications for his wide-ranging examples, using titles like <i>The Vortex; Pure Neglect; A Subtle and Well Ordered Plan, Deadly Determination.</i> Some names I knew - again, often chosen from a US perspective - but others I did not. For example, in the last chapter,</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><i> </i></span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> <i>From Rage To Despair and Back Again,</i> along with Djuna Barnes, Jean Rhys, Doris Lessing, Natalia Ginsberg he offers three fairly names: the artist Kathe Kollwitz, the playright Lorraine Hansberry and the poet Gwendolyn Brooks.<br /></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">Currey's three hundred or so women are spread across time, place and race. He offers glimpses of creative practice and habits, from painters, sculptors, writers, photographers, fashion designers through to musicians and scientists and more. Many seem just as focused on getting their work done as the men in the earlier book, and, so far, are not necessarily kinder to their servants or lovers.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">At the moment, as I'm unable to go anywhere, <b>Daily Rituals: Women at Work</b> does give glimpses of other working lives, some more interesting than others. It is very much a printed book to dip into, a title to feel nosey and curious about and to have on a bedside shelf for a moment's reading when insomnia starts nagging.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">The double straplines are</span> </span><i><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">How Great Women Make Time</span></span></i><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> and</span></span><i><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> </span></span></i><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><i>Find Inspiration and Get to Work. </i>I am not sure that I'd follow any of the life examples I've read so far, but the women within these pages do make an interesting company.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><br /></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"></span></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: arial; margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: arial; margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="Buy Ten Things About Writing 9781912836598 by Joanne ..." class="tile--img__img js-lazyload" data-src="//external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.uzASfRRjDmYg1qYoU-ui2QAAAA%26pid%3DApi&amp;f=1" height="424" src="https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.uzASfRRjDmYg1qYoU-ui2QAAAA%26pid%3DApi&amp;f=1" width="290" /></span></div><p><span style="font-size: medium;"></span></p><p><b><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">TEN THINGS ABOUT WRITING by Joanne Harris.</span></span></b></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">I have this title on my kindle, but the book - now published - looks boldly attractive, practical and accessible. <i>"Build Your Story One Word at a Time"</i> is the strap line.<br /></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">Six years ago, in response to questions </span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">about writing, Harris posted occasional hashtagged threads on Twitter: Ten Tweets about this or that </span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">particular aspect of writing, </span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">noted down in the hope she might "help, encourage or motivate" people eager to improve their writing skills</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><b>TEN THINGS . . .</b> is that advice, collected together in book form as requested by her many tweetlings, where the prose, though expanded, retains its</span> <span style="font-family: arial;">succinct, easy "Ten Things" </span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">style. </span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">Harris moves swiftly through a range of topics: writing habits and headspace; the essentials of creating a story; the deeper issues of structure and pacing as well as advice on the whole editing, agenting and publishing scenario, together with a valuable final section for the times when things don't go right.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">This is what I'd call an encouraging book. Harris</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> writes in a</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> friendly and positive tone, but there is </span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">a sound teacherly</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> structure and purpose to her suggestions.</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> Though there was little that was new or surprising,<b>TEN THINGS . . .&nbsp;</b> felt the kind of book to open when one is in need of a bit of brisk chat with a writing chum and there isn't a real-world one to hand.&nbsp; <br /></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><i>&nbsp;"Every act of creation brings hope; every little thing you build lifts you a little higher."&nbsp; </i><br /></span></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: arial; margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img alt="The Creative Habit | Book by Twyla Tharp | Official ..." class="tile--img__img js-lazyload" data-src="//external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse3.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.dpDOxlxxgLIWRwdtUUjUfAHaJh%26pid%3DApi&amp;f=1" height="410" src="https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse3.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.dpDOxlxxgLIWRwdtUUjUfAHaJh%26pid%3DApi&amp;f=1" width="319" /></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><b> <br /></b></span></span></div><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><b>&nbsp;THE CREATIVE HABIT: Learn to Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp</b>.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><i>"An exuberant, philosophically ambitious self-help book for the creatively challenged."</i> <br /></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">I cannot dance or play musical instruments or pot, or paint beautifully but I have always been fascinated by the creative life of artists. In this title, the dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp offers a rigorous analysis of what the making of art needs and demands.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">I heard the book as audio first too, but this time all was perfectly matched. Tharp's brisk determined American voice left one in no doubt as to the material being covered, the contemporary examples she referred to, nor her own work-ethic and intentions. Nor, as Ilstened, was I left in much doubt as to the kind of task master she would be to anyone involved in her productions. I'm sure I stood up straighter as I listened to Tharp's voice.</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"><b>THE CREATIVE HABIT</b> is an attractive and spacious book that makes stylish use of layout, typography and white and grey pages. (J</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">ust riffling through the pages, one</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> feels a little more artistic!)&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"></span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">The chapters have intriguing titles like "<i>I Walk into A White Room", "Rituals of Preparation";"Harness Your Memory"; "Before You Can Think out of the Box, You Have to Start with the Box" </i>or<i> "Ruts and Grooves." </i></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">Within these, Tharp offers accounts of her own and other artist's practice - musicians, photographers, painters and so on - but she interweaves these examples with questions, inviting the reader to try out some thoughtful exercises and examine their own practice and behaviour.</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">&nbsp; An early task is the writing of one's own creative autobiography, answering such questions as<i> What was the first creative moment you had? Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it? How do you begin your day? What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?</i>"&nbsp; and so on. Throughout her book,Twyla Tharp</span></span><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;"> suggests that the knowledge and the use of sound, creative habits can support an artist during good and difficult times and into the future.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">As an awkward non-dancer, I'd worried that Tharp's thoughts would be irrelevant to my writing self. However, turning the pages and hearing someone speaking so strongly from within a different creative tradition and practice was both refreshing and inspiring.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">Good luck with your own year ahead.<br /></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">Penny Dolan</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: arial;">@pennydolan1<br /></span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p>Penny Dolanhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16386668303428008498noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-41747133803686017572021-01-04T03:30:00.129+00:002021-01-04T11:36:00.226+00:00Kids TV in the time of Covid, a success story - Ciaran Murtagh<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><p>Being a writer, the logistics of how I do my job in times of Covid doesn't change that much. Sure I might drink more Coke Zero and stay in my shed longer than is healthy, but I still use my brain and my computer to try and find funny things for people to do.&nbsp;</p><p>The same cannot be said for everyone else who helps make TV. While I don't have to do anything different,&nbsp; they've had to reinvent their entire jobs.&nbsp;</p><p>Given that some of the TV shows I contributed to over lockdown are starting to see the light of day, I wanted to give a shout out to those unsung, gunge splattered heroes of kids TV who have done everything <i>Eastenders</i>&nbsp;and <i>Strictly</i>&nbsp;managed to do only quicker, funnier and with about an eighth of the budget.&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-doG_Gm865gQ/X_IaztVHZuI/AAAAAAAAAgY/X-fVUGhBKpEA029mHT7yx1iaFntkqN6lQCLcBGAsYHQ/s1200/p090ttnw.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="675" data-original-width="1200" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-doG_Gm865gQ/X_IaztVHZuI/AAAAAAAAAgY/X-fVUGhBKpEA029mHT7yx1iaFntkqN6lQCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/p090ttnw.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><p>First up -Crackerjack. There's a whole new series on the way and all of it was filmed back in October in a time of great uncertainty. The Christmas special aired on BBC One over, well Christmas, and you can still see it <b><a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000q5nj/crackerjack-series-2-1-christmas-special" target="_blank">HERE</a></b></p><p>Not only was it filmed in Manchester, at a time when Manchester was facing flip flopping restrictions, it is a show that relies heavily on a full studio audience bellowing it's catchphrase repeatedly at the top of their voices - not very Covid compliant. There's also lots of slapstick and non Covid compliant gunge with kids battling against each other in a series of silly games.&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-eLLbMNLpSbk/X_IbHBvcoeI/AAAAAAAAAgg/tHDSm5VWJtEWHAGpeX6HYX5IcxcuHwDHgCLcBGAsYHQ/s1200/Eo9BAW2WMAEsu0z.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="799" data-original-width="1200" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-eLLbMNLpSbk/X_IbHBvcoeI/AAAAAAAAAgg/tHDSm5VWJtEWHAGpeX6HYX5IcxcuHwDHgCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/Eo9BAW2WMAEsu0z.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><p>Almost everything had to change.&nbsp;</p><p>The studio audience went and games were made socially distanced. The presenters Sam and Mark were put in one bubble, the sketch cast in another and all the kids on the show had to maintain social distance from each other while doing very silly things. The crew had to work differently too. The only time anyone got close to the kids they had to be in a full body suit costume - the frankly terrifying cabbage monster - but it was the only way they could make Double or Drop work.&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lfXS3SMsVk4/X_IbYpl1cgI/AAAAAAAAAgo/CHJ7TEaClRsNkLhqqFLeDITFfwC3ZJQjwCLcBGAsYHQ/s590/Naga-Munchetty-and-Charlie-Stayt-appeared-on-Crackerjack-2823191.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="563" data-original-width="590" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lfXS3SMsVk4/X_IbYpl1cgI/AAAAAAAAAgo/CHJ7TEaClRsNkLhqqFLeDITFfwC3ZJQjwCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/Naga-Munchetty-and-Charlie-Stayt-appeared-on-Crackerjack-2823191.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br /><p>They got ten episodes made, the very least you can do is check it out! I bet you won't even spot the joins, which is testament to the work that went in to making it happen. Take a bow.&nbsp;</p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-g1rywTwWUqU/X_IbrkzW4dI/AAAAAAAAAgw/12Tt1HHgc-kldLJWUHbaxjOMhLfXFgEGQCLcBGAsYHQ/s289/EnVUH2sXYAAX3s6.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="170" data-original-width="289" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-g1rywTwWUqU/X_IbrkzW4dI/AAAAAAAAAgw/12Tt1HHgc-kldLJWUHbaxjOMhLfXFgEGQCLcBGAsYHQ/s0/EnVUH2sXYAAX3s6.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>Big Fat Like began a few weeks ago. This show was filmed on location and is a parody of the internet - no pressure then.&nbsp;<p></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Y_YssS90Uhk/X_IbxvwbE2I/AAAAAAAAAg0/PkbnOn0l_LEd949O9rZVGXKUNVKChUhRwCLcBGAsYHQ/s1200/p08yr8s7.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="675" data-original-width="1200" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Y_YssS90Uhk/X_IbxvwbE2I/AAAAAAAAAg0/PkbnOn0l_LEd949O9rZVGXKUNVKChUhRwCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/p08yr8s7.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>It was filmed over the summer as areas went in and out of lockdown. To find a location that they could definitely use for the duration of the shoot took a number of tries and a lot of patience. The cast were in a bubble in the location house, and the production crew were kept outside in a van, filming the whole thing as if it were an Outside Broadcast. Sketch shows are notoriously difficult to get right at the best of times, to film one while the majority of the crew aren't even in the same building is a stroke of genius. To make it funny to boot - take a bow! Catch up <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m000pqw6/big-fat-like" target="_blank">HERE</a>.&nbsp;<p></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="BLOG_video_class" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AZeSaftra9I" width="320" youtube-src-id="AZeSaftra9I"></iframe></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>Danny and Mick began filming on the 9th March. They then stopped filming pretty quickly afterwards and started again in the summer. They have just delivered two series worth - or nineteen episodes -&nbsp; of top quality laugh out loud telly and it all starts on CBBC TODAY.&nbsp;&nbsp;<p></p><p><span style="font-family: inherit;">Now if that isn't something to shout about I don't know what is. Filming on location in a leisure centre is hard enough. Continuing to film while it pops in and out of lockdown and customers are allowed in and out of the venue is insane!&nbsp;</span></p><div style="text-align: left;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-qIQoJyy3pWQ/X_IcxTQQRaI/AAAAAAAAAhE/TC5KyQKuN4I4z6o34AjowSJyBDrJH5bLwCLcBGAsYHQ/s700/webANXDannyandMickSer.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="422" data-original-width="700" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-qIQoJyy3pWQ/X_IcxTQQRaI/AAAAAAAAAhE/TC5KyQKuN4I4z6o34AjowSJyBDrJH5bLwCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/webANXDannyandMickSer.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="background-color: white; color: #141414; font-size: 16px;"><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="background-color: white; color: #141414; font-size: 16px;"><br /></span></span></div></span></span><div style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="background-color: white; color: #141414; font-size: 16px;">The cast had to isolate for two weeks before filming started and then they remained in cast and crew bubbles throughout as they shot all 19 episodes for the series in under three weeks during August and September.&nbsp;</span>To have finished filming in September and have it all ready to go by the first week in January demands a medal. They won't get one so this'll have to do.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Please check it out. I genuinely love this show. In a parallel universe it's on BBC One every Saturday. In this one you can find it <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000qzrg">HERE</a></div></div><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-v7Nn2DLNMoQ/X_IdBhpC0WI/AAAAAAAAAhM/xieqNlClHTQm4uMiiZJYZfLgKL9uPUQEQCLcBGAsYHQ/s1280/maxresdefault.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="720" data-original-width="1280" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-v7Nn2DLNMoQ/X_IdBhpC0WI/AAAAAAAAAhM/xieqNlClHTQm4uMiiZJYZfLgKL9uPUQEQCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/maxresdefault.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><p><br /></p>Those shows were all live action, which posed a certain set of challenges, Dave Spud is a cartoon and that posed a whole load of different ones.&nbsp;<p></p><p>We started writing this one in January 2020 and the first episodes hit the screen right after Christmas. You know the long list of names you see at the end of a cartoon? They all worked on this show without ever being in the same room. Some of them weren't even in the same country. The voice talent often recorded their parts remotely, sometimes in makeshift home studios with direction being given over a video link. Once again, I have no idea how they did it, I just know they did. Dave Spud is a quintessentially British cartoon. If you haven't seen it please do have a look - Basement Jaxx did the theme tune. It is THAT good.&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" class="BLOG_video_class" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/L3-t_n3iMEs" width="320" youtube-src-id="L3-t_n3iMEs"></iframe></div><br /><p>That's a small selection of what's been coming through, but by no means everything I - and many others - have worked on. All have kept going with a cheery disposition despite massive and varying disruption, making television for children because it's what they do best.&nbsp;</p><p>I hope you enjoy watching it when it comes out and if you do, this year, of all years, take the time to watch the credits - these guys deserve every single one.&nbsp;</p><blockquote style="border: none; margin: 0px 0px 0px 40px; padding: 0px;"><blockquote style="border: none; margin: 0px 0px 0px 40px; padding: 0px;"><blockquote style="border: none; margin: 0px 0px 0px 40px; padding: 0px;"><p style="text-align: left;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wrDNZwqEqLA/X_Idy8ea8gI/AAAAAAAAAhY/PKJjXjzNbqUOaruM8zo-mEzdr5b4DU43wCLcBGAsYHQ/s620/hot_shots_credits-1.jpg" style="clear: left; float: left; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em; text-align: center;"><img border="0" data-original-height="349" data-original-width="620" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wrDNZwqEqLA/X_Idy8ea8gI/AAAAAAAAAhY/PKJjXjzNbqUOaruM8zo-mEzdr5b4DU43wCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/hot_shots_credits-1.jpg" width="320" /></a></p></blockquote></blockquote></blockquote><br /><p><br /></p>Ciaran Murtaghhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09489512904306022126noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-16203583432216873022021-01-03T01:00:00.001+00:002021-01-03T01:00:04.856+00:00My intriguing Christmas gift book. by Sharon Tregenza<p>&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="color: red; font-size: large;">THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-m8bb63pYxn4/X_Ch8Sxf8LI/AAAAAAAAkjw/--hiNmjSoOEJb_00r3aOzP_hNi9cWCfmgCLcBGAsYHQ/s270/download.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="270" data-original-width="187" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-m8bb63pYxn4/X_Ch8Sxf8LI/AAAAAAAAkjw/--hiNmjSoOEJb_00r3aOzP_hNi9cWCfmgCLcBGAsYHQ/w222-h320/download.jpg" width="222" /></a><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="color: red; font-size: x-large;">by Brian Selznick</span></div></div></div><br /><p></p><p><span style="font-size: large;">I was lucky enough to get this book as a Christmas gift. The friend who bought it for me had worked on the film version by Martin Scorsese (which she says is nowhere near as good as the book, by the way).</span></p><p><span style="font-size: large;">I've heard of it, as a Caldecott Medal winner, but know nothing about the story so I thought I'd give an overview of the actual book and then post a review next time.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: large;">Firstly, I love the heft - it's a big ol' brick of a book. Then when you look inside...</span></p><p><span style="font-size: x-large;"><br /></span></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zZBrYCpeyVs/X_Ciz-iGrPI/AAAAAAAAkkI/rzzuWMSMQnIjBgVLYV63cuj0ikQkeNQ1QCLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/IMG_7546.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1634" data-original-width="2048" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zZBrYCpeyVs/X_Ciz-iGrPI/AAAAAAAAkkI/rzzuWMSMQnIjBgVLYV63cuj0ikQkeNQ1QCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_7546.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-X3iECVMP6oU/X_Cj9j6csfI/AAAAAAAAkkY/wBTcDO9Zdkgwaov2T59v_d2kQ_NmGbR-ACLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/IMG_7545.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1449" data-original-width="2048" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-X3iECVMP6oU/X_Cj9j6csfI/AAAAAAAAkkY/wBTcDO9Zdkgwaov2T59v_d2kQ_NmGbR-ACLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_7545.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><span style="font-size: x-large;"><br /></span><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vDUu14rRc0k/X_CkGFf25II/AAAAAAAAkkg/-jXc23iWDswVoCNQXLhjbSMcH2kEALB2wCLcBGAsYHQ/s2048/IMG_7543.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1758" data-original-width="2048" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vDUu14rRc0k/X_CkGFf25II/AAAAAAAAkkg/-jXc23iWDswVoCNQXLhjbSMcH2kEALB2wCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_7543.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;">It's crammed full of stunning illustrations. Even the print pages have a black border which makes them look precious and special. It looks like a picture book/chapter book amalgam which is interesting in itself.&nbsp;</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;">If the substance is anywhere close to the style, I'm in for a massive treat. The blurb says...</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><i>With 284 pages of original drawings, and combining elements of picture book, graphic novel and film, Brian Selznick breaks open the novel form to create an entirely new reading experience. Here is a stunning cinematic tour de force from a boldly innovative storyteller, artist, and bookmaker.</i></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;">I expect loads of you have already read it and possibly seen the film too. I'd be interested to hear what you think. Book? Film? Both?</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;">Anyway, a lovely, lovely gift and I can't wait to dive in.&nbsp;</span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Kjml-7N8AnM/X_CqS26ev2I/AAAAAAAAkks/9ImDn1xmkhcJsAMYoEvqeeJGMbdgDQ7wgCLcBGAsYHQ/s483/images.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="104" data-original-width="483" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Kjml-7N8AnM/X_CqS26ev2I/AAAAAAAAkks/9ImDn1xmkhcJsAMYoEvqeeJGMbdgDQ7wgCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/images.png" width="320" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="color: red;"><a href="http://www.sharontregenza.com">www.sharontregenza.com</a></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="color: red;">Email: sharontregenza@gmail</span></div><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></div><br /><p><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span></p>Sharon Tregenzahttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16416280455028255181noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-48765466179675013542021-01-02T04:00:00.001+00:002021-01-02T04:00:05.614+00:00Adventures with languages. Part One; Welsh by Steve Way<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Thinking about how our blogs are generally about how we use language, predominantly in our case to bring stories and situations to life, I thought it would be interesting to write about my experiences and musings about other languages.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">My first girlfriend was Welsh and when it began to look as though our association was going to become serious, she decided that she would like me to learn her mother tongue. At the time, back in the early 80s, a series of books, a precursor to the <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">[Difficult subject you want to learn about] – for dummies (who aren’t really dummies)</i>&nbsp;range, called <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">[So and so] made simple</i>, such as <i>E</i><i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">instein made simple&nbsp;</i>or <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Genetics made simple, </i>seemed to be very popular. All of these tomes alleged to make the complex comprehensible and were of a reassuringly consistent length – or outer thickness at any rate. (I certainly never read the contents other than a few pages of the forthcoming example.) They were all just under an inch wide. The only exception was <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Welsh made simple,</i> which was nearly two inches thick. Einstein eat your heart out.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Despite the daunting thickness of the tome I volunteered to master this apparently straightforward language. I sat outside her parents’ house on a sunny afternoon (it wasn’t raining!) and began wrestling with Welsh. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">As luck would have it the first chapter taught how to say, 'I like coffee' or for the truly ambitious, 'I like tea'. Despite the wrestling match taking a couple of hours or so, with the Welsh language definitely winning, I did manage to absorb the knowledge, made simple in this beginning chapter – the only one I was ever to read. Just as my head had stopped spinning, by remarkably brilliantly timing, my girlfriend came out and asked if I might like a cup of tea.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Dramatically I slammed the book shut as though I had fully absorbed the contents of <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Welsh made simple</i>&nbsp;and boldly declared, ‘Rwy’n hoffi te’. She nearly fainted.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">I learned a few more words and phrases, such a ‘good morning’ (‘bore da’) etc but the only other sentence I acquired from my book was, ‘Rwy’n siarad Cymraeg’ i.e. ‘I speak Welsh’. It occurred to me that on its own this is a profoundly useless sentence to learn in virtual isolation from the main body of the language. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Imagine the scene. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">An accident has occurred; several of us rush over to the injured party. The first to reach the victim looks up at us and declares, ‘I think he’s Welsh. I think he’s trying to tell us something… does anyone speak Welsh?’ Instinctively I cry out, ‘Rwy’s siarad Cymraeg!’ Everyone turns to me hopefully, even the injured party raises his head a little. I back off slightly… perhaps the only useful contributions I can make at this point is tell the victim that I like tea… and possibly, though not completely truthfully, that I also like coffee. Let’s hope the accident occurs in the morning or conversation will soon run dry…<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">~~~~~<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">A couple of times we visited the ancient welsh capital proudly bearing the name Machynlleth. I have a sneaky suspicion that the ancient warriors of Wales, so often at odds with the English, created this name in an act of genius. It’s pretty much as sword in the stone scenario. Unless you are truly Welsh – and even then, it’s not a guarantee – you <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">definitely</i>cannot pronounce that name.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Imagine another scene. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">The English King’s tent on the border of Wales. Inside, the king and his generals are pouring over a map of Wales.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">King: So where be the capital of this rebellious nation?<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Norfolk: (Pointing) It be here my lord…<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">King: Situated where it be, it should be an easy target. What name have the revolting natives given the place?<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Norfolk: I believe it be called ‘Mac on Leith’ M’Lord.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Northumberland: No, I was told it be ‘Mick un Luff’.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Essex: My noble lords ye both be in error, it be ‘Mick in Leaf’ I believe.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">The king’s generals begin quarrelling.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">King: Forget it we’ll invade Wrexham.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Norfolk: Be that not ‘Wrecks ‘em’ M’Lord?<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">King: Shut up and raise the army!<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">~~~~~<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Happy New Year everyone!<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Or as Google Translator would have it (I definitely wouldn’t know) Blwyddyn Newydd Hapus pawb!<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">~~~~~<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">Recent publication <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">‘I’m going to be a Computer Programmer (Careers in STEM)’</i> One of a series of books for children exploring careers in STEM subjects <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span lang="EN-GB" style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 107%;">ISBN 1910828904<o:p></o:p></span></p>Steve Wayhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/14732531368216927208noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-50505691642754427702021-01-01T06:00:00.004+00:002021-01-01T06:00:03.393+00:00AWFULLY BIG BLOG ADVENTURE'S NEW YEAR 2021 QUIZ by Penny Dolan<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-family: verdana; margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="color: red;"><img alt="Free Clipart Of A bell hourglass and happy new year banner" class="tile--img__img js-lazyload" data-src="//external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.c8xTwJeUqImJUPSvNziDoAHaDj%26pid%3DApi&amp;f=1" src="https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.c8xTwJeUqImJUPSvNziDoAHaDj%26pid%3DApi&amp;f=1" /></span>&nbsp;</span></div><p><b><i></i></b></p><p><span style="color: red;"><b><i><span style="font-family: verdana;">It's the first of January 2021 and the beginning of a new year. Let's hope it will be better for many than the one that came before.</span></i></b></span></p><p><span style="color: red;"><b><i><span style="font-family: verdana;">Right now, a post about New Year Resolutions or Inspirational Goals doesn't seem to fit my mood, so here - instead - is the Awfully Big Blog Adventure New Year Quiz instead.&nbsp;</span></i></b></span></p><p><span style="color: red;"><b><i><span style="font-family: verdana;">Appropriately, the twelve questions are about Beginnings found in well-known Children's Books. I wonder which ones you'll recognise? <br /></span></i></b></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><span style="color: red;"><b><i>Are you ready? Found a pen and a scrap of paper? Or shout them aloud over your mince pie, along with "Easy Peasy." And you don't need to fill in any deletions. Steady? Go! With no Googling either!<br /></i></b></span></span></p><p><span style="color: red;"><b><i><span style="font-family: verdana;">Wishing you Good Luck! </span></i></b><span style="font-family: verdana;"><b><i>&nbsp;</i></b></span></span></p><p><span style="color: red;"><span style="font-family: verdana;"><b><i>And even more Good Luck and Better Times for the year ahead too.&nbsp;&nbsp;</i></b></span></span></p><p><span style="color: red;"><span style="font-family: verdana;"><b><i><span style="font-size: x-small;">(nb Answers can be found below the second set of New Year Bells)</span><br /></i></b></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><span style="color: red;"></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">1. The Sun did not shine, it was too wet to play so we sat in the house on that cold, cold wet day.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">2.&nbsp; In a hole in the ground there lived a _____________</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">3. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of&nbsp; The Adventures of ______ __________ but that ain't no matter.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">4. One sunny Sunday the caterpillar hatched out of a tiny egg.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">5.&nbsp; It was Mrs May who first told me about them.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">6 . There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">7.&nbsp; </span><span style="font-family: verdana;">"Where's Papa going with that ax?"</span><span style="font-family: verdana;"></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">8.&nbsp; Mrs _________'s Academy for&nbsp; Witches stood at the top of a high mountain surrounded by pine forests.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">&nbsp; <br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">9.&nbsp; When ________ _______&nbsp; was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">10. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it.<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">11. <span style="font-family: verdana;">It was a dark and blustery afternoon in Spring and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried out bed of the old North Sea.</span><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">12. The first place I can well remember was a large, pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="color: red;"><i><span style="font-family: verdana;"><b><span style="font-family: verdana;">That's it! Well done, probably, and hooray!&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></b></span></i></span></p><p><span style="color: red;"><i><span style="font-family: verdana;"><b><span style="font-family: verdana;">And e</span></b></span><b><span style="font-family: verdana;">very good wish for your year ahead.</span></b></i></span></p><p><span style="color: red;"><i><b><span style="font-family: verdana;">(With Impressive Resolutions or Without.)</span></b></i></span></p><p><span style="color: red;"><i><b><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></b></i></span></p><p><span style="color: red;"><i><b><span style="font-family: verdana;"></span></b></i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">Penny Dolan</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">@pennydolan1</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;">&nbsp;</span></p><p></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="color: red;"><img alt="Free Clipart Of A bell hourglass and happy new year banner" class="tile--img__img js-lazyload" data-src="//external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.c8xTwJeUqImJUPSvNziDoAHaDj%26pid%3DApi&amp;f=1" height="293" src="https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.c8xTwJeUqImJUPSvNziDoAHaDj%26pid%3DApi&amp;f=1" width="597" /></span><span style="font-family: verdana;"></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;"><u>Hello Again. Here's the Answers!</u><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">1 The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">2 The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">3 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">4 The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">5 The Borrowers by Mary Norton<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">6 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">7 Charlotte's Web by E.B.White<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">8 The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">9 The Secret Garden by F. Hodgson Burnett<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">10 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S.Lewis<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana; font-size: xx-small;">11 Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve<br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><span style="font-size: xx-small;">12 Black Beauty by Anna Sewell</span><br /></span></p><p><br /><span style="font-family: verdana;"><span style="font-family: verdana; margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><span style="color: red;"></span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-family: verdana;"><span style="font-family: verdana; margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></span></span></p>Penny Dolanhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16386668303428008498noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-82066752287163706742020-12-25T09:21:00.002+00:002020-12-25T09:21:24.859+00:00Extra, extra, read all about it!<p>&nbsp;Many thanks to Dianne Hofmeyr, who bravely and boldly ventured forth into Tier 4 London to take these pictures for us of some of the Christmas window displays in some of the splendid independent bookshops in the city.</p><p>Let's hope it's not long before they can open their doors again, and welcome back their enthusiastic and book-loving customers to browse freely!</p><p><br /></p><p>Happy Christmas!</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Ab6H-YDtNvU/X-Ws26meBMI/AAAAAAAAKto/UDz9zNSLBa4XuG1Ztl6LnwI6Gt1CjPgkwCLcBGAsYHQ/s1500/Daunts%2BMarylebone%2B2.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1500" data-original-width="1500" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Ab6H-YDtNvU/X-Ws26meBMI/AAAAAAAAKto/UDz9zNSLBa4XuG1Ztl6LnwI6Gt1CjPgkwCLcBGAsYHQ/w400-h400/Daunts%2BMarylebone%2B2.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FtuMMxZNRb4/X-Ws23Wuq_I/AAAAAAAAKts/2-pfZRAUC4QXFew08vH59bwX1rbnnpeMwCLcBGAsYHQ/s1500/DAUNTS%2Bmarylebone.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1500" data-original-width="1500" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FtuMMxZNRb4/X-Ws23Wuq_I/AAAAAAAAKts/2-pfZRAUC4QXFew08vH59bwX1rbnnpeMwCLcBGAsYHQ/w400-h400/DAUNTS%2Bmarylebone.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">These first two are of Daunt Books.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-h8bkVpe069Y/X-Ws2vie6NI/AAAAAAAAKtk/WMv7mvRtBPErjr5K1wGkZwCrd5a8GOZXQCLcBGAsYHQ/s1500/Nomad%2BBooks%2Bthe%2BFulham%2BRoad.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1377" data-original-width="1500" height="368" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-h8bkVpe069Y/X-Ws2vie6NI/AAAAAAAAKtk/WMv7mvRtBPErjr5K1wGkZwCrd5a8GOZXQCLcBGAsYHQ/w400-h368/Nomad%2BBooks%2Bthe%2BFulham%2BRoad.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Nomad Books in Fulham.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Qz87k1a5u4E/X-Ws3XW4n8I/AAAAAAAAKtw/MpVBEgx_vYUQL2Mlh1RDI7NK-M79ZPZmACLcBGAsYHQ/s1500/South%2BKensington%2BBooks.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1500" data-original-width="1500" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Qz87k1a5u4E/X-Ws3XW4n8I/AAAAAAAAKtw/MpVBEgx_vYUQL2Mlh1RDI7NK-M79ZPZmACLcBGAsYHQ/w400-h400/South%2BKensington%2BBooks.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Above and below, South Kensington Books - note Dianne's own latest book, Paris Cat, illustrated by Piet Grobler, at the top right.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2UoGYjIlZrA/X-Ws3i8GDkI/AAAAAAAAKt0/-qPr1Us94CEEIaeSWNaekTSFmlCmDXFVACLcBGAsYHQ/s1500/South%2Bkesington%2Bbooks2.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1500" data-original-width="1500" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-2UoGYjIlZrA/X-Ws3i8GDkI/AAAAAAAAKt0/-qPr1Us94CEEIaeSWNaekTSFmlCmDXFVACLcBGAsYHQ/w400-h400/South%2Bkesington%2Bbooks2.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><p><br /></p>Sue Purkisshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09084528571944803477noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-38355680222645164642020-12-20T06:00:00.004+00:002020-12-20T06:00:11.853+00:00Merry Christmas! - Sue Purkiss<p>This is the last post on ABBA for this year; we'll be back on 1st January.</p><p>A huge thank you to you, our readers, and to all our contributors, who have provided such a mix of entertaining and informative posts: I hope they've helped to lighten up this strange year. I think next year is probably going to have a pretty shaky start, but let's hope that it gets into the swing of things as spring brings hope and light back to us.</p><p>I'm going to leave you with some images of Christmas at the Bishop's Palace in Wells, near where I live. It's always a very special place, surrounded as it is by the most beautiful and peaceful gardens, and with, of course, the cathedral itself next door - if you haven't visited, and you get the chance, you really should come and see it.</p><p>But there was something particularly special about the decorations this year. The tables were set in the style of different periods from the cathedral's long history (800 years this year), and you really felt as if you were moving through time, in company with friendly ghosts. And the exhibition of trees made by local schools from recycled materials was wonderful, showing such creativity and imagination.</p><p>So there we are. See you next year!</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VzcebmGARNw/X94lXbpttFI/AAAAAAAAKsc/xGPMNFWwhhEGB62fBT2s3C5QCiPLoOQNQCLcBGAsYHQ/s640/IMG_0003.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="640" data-original-width="480" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VzcebmGARNw/X94lXbpttFI/AAAAAAAAKsc/xGPMNFWwhhEGB62fBT2s3C5QCiPLoOQNQCLcBGAsYHQ/w240-h320/IMG_0003.jpg" width="240" /></a></div><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8DpZlphH1hw/X94lXUpu5kI/AAAAAAAAKsk/l3UIsMzg6Hwbt-sRn1NepMz79lJ8o7XTACLcBGAsYHQ/s640/IMG_0004.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="480" data-original-width="640" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8DpZlphH1hw/X94lXUpu5kI/AAAAAAAAKsk/l3UIsMzg6Hwbt-sRn1NepMz79lJ8o7XTACLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_0004.jpg" width="320" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">A mediaeval setting.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wqNp4GST2jo/X94lXW6AaLI/AAAAAAAAKsg/DVO3Za7IjwA4GRbGvVFGReszPbZ5c0w0wCLcBGAsYHQ/s640/IMG_0006.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="640" data-original-width="480" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wqNp4GST2jo/X94lXW6AaLI/AAAAAAAAKsg/DVO3Za7IjwA4GRbGvVFGReszPbZ5c0w0wCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_0006.jpg" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6IZfHKZJNak/X94lXjkoBAI/AAAAAAAAKso/drDSbNUdrLwGZZPzZJjt4fPkEnTnMPn1QCLcBGAsYHQ/s640/IMG_0007.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="640" data-original-width="480" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6IZfHKZJNak/X94lXjkoBAI/AAAAAAAAKso/drDSbNUdrLwGZZPzZJjt4fPkEnTnMPn1QCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_0007.jpg" /></a></div><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-IMz42x3Hp_A/X94lX4O9xNI/AAAAAAAAKss/9FV39comIXk9b_GWBVf4Zk-7ckJcxrlgwCLcBGAsYHQ/s640/IMG_0008.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="640" data-original-width="480" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-IMz42x3Hp_A/X94lX4O9xNI/AAAAAAAAKss/9FV39comIXk9b_GWBVf4Zk-7ckJcxrlgwCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_0008.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">I think this was 19th century, but it may have been 18th.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_FAG9fzDEzM/X94lYJ379TI/AAAAAAAAKs0/7vjtVgaXcQE_HgdbbeTxGuOpKLnGFu5nwCLcBGAsYHQ/s640/IMG_0012.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="640" data-original-width="480" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_FAG9fzDEzM/X94lYJ379TI/AAAAAAAAKs0/7vjtVgaXcQE_HgdbbeTxGuOpKLnGFu5nwCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_0012.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Some of the trees created by schoolchildren.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yXcxIobakc0/X94liFVmHHI/AAAAAAAAKs4/GiwJr5CaGr47_V4FX8J-DitewDjtFbykQCLcBGAsYHQ/s640/IMG_0017.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="640" data-original-width="480" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yXcxIobakc0/X94liFVmHHI/AAAAAAAAKs4/GiwJr5CaGr47_V4FX8J-DitewDjtFbykQCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/IMG_0017.jpg" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">The cathedral itself, seen from the gardens. The stream at the front comes from one of the wells from which the city takes its name.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><p><br /></p>Sue Purkisshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09084528571944803477noreply@blogger.com6tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-38694505380022934092020-12-19T06:00:00.001+00:002020-12-19T06:00:05.970+00:00Off with the Faeries again by Steve Gladwin<p><span style="font-size: medium;">A reappraisal of <i>Faerie Tale,</i> by Raymond Feist</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">You know how it is? At a certain point in your life you read a book that later, you vaguely remember might have been an influence on your life and creativity? And so you choose to go back to it to see what all the fuss was about. Quite often, of course, it proves to be a damp squib, a shadow of what you remembered.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: medium;">But there are those times when the sheer thrill of the first read comes back to you all over again. Not only is it all there as you remembered, but there's so much more - so much so that you want to tell everyone about it.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: medium;">So here goes!</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">Imagine the dark woods. Imagine the creepy house with a history of bargains and secret cults. Imagine the company of the fey waiting at the top of Erl King Hill, and imagine that they are soon to leave, as their season once more comes to an end. The fair folk make rare appearances nowadays, maybe once or twice in a hundred years.<o:p></o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">But there is a treasure buried on the land, one of gold coins so valuable that a few of them alone are worth a small fortune. How did they come here?<o:p></o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">Deep within the cellars of the house is a secret room, which, when opened, reveals a safe full of seemingly indecipherable documents, some in languages so ancient they have almost been forgotten.<o:p></o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">Despite the presence of two rival courts of faerie and the traditional opposition of the good queen and the evil king, all might have been well if the secret room had been left untouched by the new owners of the house.<o:p></o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoListParagraph" style="margin-left: 21.75pt; mso-add-space: auto;"><i><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">--or if they had not destroyed an old pledge by digging up the hidden treasure. <o:p></o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">But there is a spirit out in the forest who wants the treasure to be dug up, and who wants the old pact to be broken. To do that, he makes sure that the hidden key to the locked room – is found.<o:p></o:p></span></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;"><i><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></i></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><i><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-l1kM537Cv_4/X9neIMbvmfI/AAAAAAAAKsQ/irEyyyMkH-gSO5wTvCZNfP29ki8lwzuKACLcBGAsYHQ/s500/Faerie.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="500" data-original-width="311" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-l1kM537Cv_4/X9neIMbvmfI/AAAAAAAAKsQ/irEyyyMkH-gSO5wTvCZNfP29ki8lwzuKACLcBGAsYHQ/w249-h400/Faerie.jpg" width="249" /></a></span></i></div><i><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><br /></span></i><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">So far, so trope, you might say, and turn to something you like the sound of more. But then you’d be missing out on two things; an astoundingly good book - which just keeps on surprising and manipulating the form - and the fact that it is written by a hugely respected writer of fantasy fiction. This book, then, is a one-off, in more ways than one.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">The simplicity of the title, <i>Faerie Tale</i>, belies the book’s depth and complexity, let alone the fact that it was written by renowned fantasy writer Raymond E. Feist, author of the classic ‘Rift War’ saga and much more besides. Feist wrote it in 1987 and he has never written anything else remotely like it since.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">Sometimes writers take a leap into the dark and experiment with something new. Quite often, depending on how satisfying they might find the experience, or how well it might be received, they may never choose to leap in the same direction again!<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">But, for me at least, if you decided to write a one-off novel about faerie, you’d be pretty hard-pressed to better this. Here are a few reasons why.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mQgDLqyhnJ8/X9IinAGApUI/AAAAAAAACgQ/qByDQ2sCyJMxRc937ozVrfax2uQwLluZgCPcBGAYYCw/s612/istockphoto-172851771-612x612.jpg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="391" data-original-width="612" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-mQgDLqyhnJ8/X9IinAGApUI/AAAAAAAACgQ/qByDQ2sCyJMxRc937ozVrfax2uQwLluZgCPcBGAYYCw/s320/istockphoto-172851771-612x612.jpg" width="320" /></span></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;">A few nice gold doubloons&nbsp;</span></td></tr></tbody></table> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><br />*Faerie Tale is a genuinely scary novel, which treats its subject with great respect. It has believable characters caught in impossibly deadly situations, having no idea at first why this has happened and how it can be resolved.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">*The location, especially the house, <i>Erl King Hill</i>itself, and the <i>Troll Bridge, </i>under which the terrifying ‘Bad Thing’ lurks, are powerful, eerie and evocative and in the case of the bridge, make you want to hurry your steps over it as possible.</span></p><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: medium;"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="line-height: 107%;">*’Faerie Tale’ is based on already powerful old tales, which include the warring faeries of Shakespeare’s <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span><i>A Midsummer Night’s Dream’</i>, the chilling tale of the <i>Erl King</i> himself, the border ballad of&nbsp;<i>Thomas the Rhymer</i> and the Norse tale of <i>Wayland Smith. </i>At no point does the author show any sign that he doesn’t know this material absolutely and has full control of it.</span>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</span></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Kl3nnnNoS0M/X9IiqDMOHbI/AAAAAAAACgY/4iCtotT7omAsz240kPDEC0bxNE5AOxN-wCPcBGAYYCw/s889/1461355458.jpg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="889" data-original-width="640" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Kl3nnnNoS0M/X9IiqDMOHbI/AAAAAAAACgY/4iCtotT7omAsz240kPDEC0bxNE5AOxN-wCPcBGAYYCw/w289-h400/1461355458.jpg" width="289" /></span></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Arthur Rackham's&nbsp; 'Titania Asleep', (but it's the fact that Puck is lurking in the background with the 'Love in Idleness' juice that really matters!)&nbsp;</span></td></tr></tbody></table><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">'&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</span><o:p></o:p></span><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">*Of the many similar books that I have read, <i>Faerie Tale</i>&nbsp;carries an almost constant creeping dread entirely in keeping with its subject and plot - a combination of foreboding, but also foreshadowing. The sense of foreboding initially grows over it like a shadow, one which which eats gradually at the characters, their grasp and understanding of what is reality. The second acts more like a future ghost haunting the reader with what might be to come.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><i>*Faerie Tale</i>&nbsp;is always asking questions of us as readers, as well as its characters. It is a novel which encourages questions, but especially on those subjects about which we know next to nothing - the morality and amorality of the faeries and their different factions, the reawakening of ancient enmities, the legacy of betrayals and corruption so old they are only just within the memory.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XLuUagTRNu0/X9eYXV8kcAI/AAAAAAAAChE/6xtSBFVbfBg4aEG73h7aE4pwST1f_GtDACPcBGAYYCw/s1044/800px-Image-Dadd_-_Fairy_Feller%2527s.jpg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1044" data-original-width="800" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XLuUagTRNu0/X9eYXV8kcAI/AAAAAAAAChE/6xtSBFVbfBg4aEG73h7aE4pwST1f_GtDACPcBGAYYCw/s320/800px-Image-Dadd_-_Fairy_Feller%2527s.jpg" /></a><br /><br /></span></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Richard Dadd - Fairy Feller's Masterstroke - Public Domain</span></td></tr></tbody></table> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><br />*It also understands the world of faerie. I can’t pretend to have ever been there, although I’ve written about it plenty of times, but Raymond Feist<i> </i>does two rather incredible things in this book. First of all, he manages to bring together the once popular discredited flower faerie version of faerie, as seen most memorably in <i>Arthur Rackham’s</i> illustrations for <i>A Midsummer Night’s Dream</i>, and combine it with something far more Brian Froud and Alan Lee, or – should you have had the chance of reading- Terry Pratchett’s wonderful <i>Lords and Ladies</i>. One minute it’s as if you’re diving full pelt into the famous mad English artist Richard Dadd’s <i>Fairy Fellow’s Masterstroke</i>, which – part English pastoral and part Hieronymous Bosch - has a very disturbing feel if you look at it for long. The next you’re deep in the gloom of the forest from which the great European fairy tale collections of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm originated. The fact that Raymond Feist manages to marry the two and make it work so well is a true testament to both his craft and knowledge, and makes you wonder how he did so, so well.</span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="text-align: left;">*</span>Secondly however, there is the rather tricky problem with sex, and particularly with the amorality of the faeries. For me, the author’s true mastery of the faerie world is shown in two early uneasily and erotically charged sequences with the legendary figures of Puck and Wayland Smith and our screenwriter hero Phil Hasting’s daughter Gabrielle, either one of which could have turned into either rape or consensual sex, and neither of which do.</span></div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">*But it’s the final extended sequence, when Phil’s two eight-year-old twins Sean and Patrick are the pivotal figures in a race against time as the more timid Sean attempts to save his brother Patrick from a fate worse than death, that Feist is truly able to unleash the wonders of faerie. The depictions of the contrasting Fairy courts of Queen and King are portrayed in a quite masterly fashion.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"></p><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pTRHQdVhRus/X9j1YcgC1HI/AAAAAAAACiQ/Uwwas9Q0qwUbKpNP5YtphGhRyLoBuOSZwCLcBGAsYHQ/s590/troll-bridge.jpg" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><img border="0" data-original-height="393" data-original-width="590" height="266" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pTRHQdVhRus/X9j1YcgC1HI/AAAAAAAACiQ/Uwwas9Q0qwUbKpNP5YtphGhRyLoBuOSZwCLcBGAsYHQ/w400-h266/troll-bridge.jpg" width="400" /></span></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: medium;">villagephotography wordpress.com</span></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="MsoNormal"><br /></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">*Finally, there are the characters of Sean and Patrick themselves. There is an unwritten law in Middle Grade Fiction that the main actions must be both led and performed by the young characters. In contrast, in Young Adult fiction, the hero or heroine often acts more like a pseudo adult, than a middle grader on whom adult situations are suddenly forced.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">For me, Sean and Patrick are both the best and the best-drawn characters in the book. Because they are twins, they feel things together, like when one is in danger etc. Without giving away any spoilers, it’s the twins who perform the pivotal actions that enable things to be resolved to some degree at least, and it’s clear the author is with them all the way, as he trusts them with a good chunk of the narrative, steering us regularly away from the complicated, often strident world of adults in peril, to the quieter, but often far more immediately horrific closed-in world of the boys, who know that things are wrong from the start.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">It’s the boys and their journey which make the novel tick, but uniquely, this is done without us ever feeling as if we’ve been robbed of the adults, their feelings and problems, their burgeoning sexuality, rows and insecurities. If I was to take one thing from the novel that is different from the usual fare, it would be the characters of the boys, our twin narrators to the inconceivable. For all the worries which accumulate around the adults, and Gloria and Phil Hastings’ daughter Gabby in particular, it is the boys, and Sean, in particular, who lead us on this incredible journey into darkness and back out again.<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">So, as I've made abundantly clear, 'Faerie Tale' - should dark horror/fantasy be your thing, (and I have to say that nowadays it's very rarely mine), is not only well worth rediscovering thirty years later, but infinitely worth the read at any time.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><i>Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist is published by HarperVoyager, (now with a brand new cover) and is also available on Kindle, You'll find copies in all the usual places. Enjoy.</i></span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;">&nbsp;</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span face="&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif" style="font-size: medium; line-height: 107%;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><br /></p>Steve Gladwinhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/01809330248051701869noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-85678797426682465432020-12-18T06:00:01.313+00:002020-12-18T06:00:05.219+00:00A load of old baubles - by Lu Hersey<p>People have been celebrating the turn of the year at midwinter for thousands of years. Originally marking the winter solstice, people decorated their homes with evergreens and fir branches as a reminder of the coming spring. The Romans celebrated Saturnalia over the solstice period, with decorations to honour the god Saturn. With the coming of Christianity, the evergreens came to represent the promise of everlasting life with God.&nbsp;</p><p>Christmas trees came much later, an idea thought up by either Estonians or Latvians (they're still arguing about who thought of it first). Either way, they first appeared in town squares thanks to the Brotherhood of Blackheads. I went down a google rabbit hole to find out more about the Brotherhood of Blackheads, so to save you a bit of time and effort, they were a group of Christian merchants (male, single) who banded together to put down an uprising by the indigenous pagan population of Estonia, who wanted to get rid of Christians and foreigners. The Brotherhood then started an annual Christmas celebration, dancing around the fir trees they put up in the centre of town.</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DV6X5-WUuJA/X9v5GAwkeOI/AAAAAAAAeJA/dNJv3II5pBIzISRqtIcM2GhsNhozBncmACLcBGAsYHQ/s225/download-1.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="225" data-original-width="225" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-DV6X5-WUuJA/X9v5GAwkeOI/AAAAAAAAeJA/dNJv3II5pBIzISRqtIcM2GhsNhozBncmACLcBGAsYHQ/s0/download-1.jpg" /></a></div><p>The first indoor tree we know about was erected in in the guild house in Breman in Germany in 1570, and decorated with apples, nuts, pretzels and paper flowers. It possibly wasn't the very first indoor tree, but it's the first one someone took the trouble to make a note of in the town records.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>There are various legends as to why the people of Germany started bringing fir trees into their own homes. The most popular is that Martin Luther was gazing up at the stars sparkling through the trees one night, and thought of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas. Luther brought a small tree indoors to tell the story to his children.&nbsp;</p><p>Whatever the truth of this legend, indoor Christmas trees soon became popular throughout Germany, and were decorated with lighted candles (to represent stars), edible treats and roses made of paper or gold foil. A figure of the baby Jesus was placed on the top, later replaced with either a star, to represent the Star of Bethlehem, or an angel, who brought the news of the birth to the shepherds. Glass makers started making tree ornaments, and the Christmas tree bauble was born.&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-H7bNwsO_oIE/X9v5esDIMYI/AAAAAAAAeJI/o-fzfS21SEYdpJem4mAnjfIkll1e845_gCLcBGAsYHQ/s304/download.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="166" data-original-width="304" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-H7bNwsO_oIE/X9v5esDIMYI/AAAAAAAAeJI/o-fzfS21SEYdpJem4mAnjfIkll1e845_gCLcBGAsYHQ/s0/download.jpg" /></a></div><p>Tinsel also started in Germany, originally made from beaten silver. The idea behind tinsel is connected to traditional folktales about the Christmas spider. All versions of this folktale centre on a poor family who can't afford to decorate their tree and leave it bare on Christmas Eve. Overnight a spider covers the tree in webs, and on Christmas morning the family awake to find the webs have miraculously turned to silver or gold. To this day, spider ornaments and silver webs for trees are popular in the Ukraine and over much of northern Europe, as they are considered lucky.&nbsp;</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nM3-vnIXoC0/X9wEvKkufSI/AAAAAAAAeJg/R5RtKiL87s4b_X8PQTVepF82PnN_6ne9wCLcBGAsYHQ/s259/download-2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="194" data-original-width="259" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nM3-vnIXoC0/X9wEvKkufSI/AAAAAAAAeJg/R5RtKiL87s4b_X8PQTVepF82PnN_6ne9wCLcBGAsYHQ/s0/download-2.jpg" /></a></div><p>Christmas trees were unknown in Britain until Queen Charlotte (the German wife of King George III) had one set up in Windsor Lodge in 1800. The idea caught on fast, and by Victoria's reign, anybody who was anybody had one in their home. All the first Christmas trees were decorated with lighted candles - which led to rather a lot of house fires. Fortunately someone invented strings of electric lights sometime in the early 20th century, and so these days few of us still run the risk of lighted candles. (Though I know one German family who do, and only put the tree up on Christmas Eve - and have to admit, candles look AMAZING)</p><p>Everyone has their own decorating preferences for Christmas trees. Some go for glittering white lights and themed baubles, which look tasteful and classy - and some don't. Our family always has coloured tree lights, for sentimental reasons - my grandmother loved coloured lights and she lived with us when I was a child. Every year, she'd repeat the story of how they reminded her of her honeymoon, which she and my grandfather spent visiting the Blackpool illuminations. Apparently they'd never seen anything so magical. (Of course it was a very long time ago, and neither of them had electricity at home back then). Anyway, our coloured Christmas tree lights remind me of her, and the warmth and love she brought into my life.</p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RFk0Jpc4mkM/X9v8hqeJNOI/AAAAAAAAeJU/923u2UV-dzg7VJNpausk0sLrjZlLPIThwCLcBGAsYHQ/s600/Blackpool_postcard___Tuck_postcards.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="380" data-original-width="600" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RFk0Jpc4mkM/X9v8hqeJNOI/AAAAAAAAeJU/923u2UV-dzg7VJNpausk0sLrjZlLPIThwCLcBGAsYHQ/s320/Blackpool_postcard___Tuck_postcards.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><p>My mother aspired to white lights because she thought they were much more tasteful and had real class. But being a child of the war generation that wasted nothing, she could never bring herself to spend money on new white ones until the old ones broke. Unfortunately for her, my grandmother's coloured lights proved immortal (well, allowing for the odd blown bulb every year that my father painstakingly replaced - checking every single bulb until he found the faulty one) and somehow she never managed to achieve her white light goal.&nbsp;</p><p>I often look wistfully at the beautiful white tree lights sparkling in other people's windows, and think of my mother. Perhaps one day I'll get some like the ones she aspired to and put them round the tree in memory of her - and that will tell a different story. And I will wish she could see them, along with the family she didn't live long enough to meet.</p><p>Our tree baubles are a hotchpotch, a family history of the last 30 years in bauble form. Some brought back from travels abroad, some given by friends, some chosen in shops, some handmade. Everyone has their personal favourites, and there's an annual squabble about which ones hang nearest the front (though this year, thanks to Covid, I got to dictate. But I missed the squabble. It's part of the tradition).&nbsp;</p><p>If you have a Christmas tree, it probably tells your own story. But whether you do or not, I hope you have a peaceful and stress-free festive season, after what's been a very strange and difficult year for us all.</p><p><br /></p><p>Lu Hersey&nbsp;</p>LuWriteshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/06793378306766981247noreply@blogger.com6tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-923057995733110582020-12-17T01:00:00.019+00:002020-12-17T01:00:06.297+00:00Dear Santa Booklist by Tracy Darnton<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I love receiving new books for Christmas but I'm usually too busy with house guests to sit down and read them. But this year is panning out rather differently. One of the few upsides is that this is going to be a </span><span style="font-size: 18.6667px;">cosy</span><span style="font-size: 14pt;">&nbsp;Christmas with only my household and so, for the first time ever, I will be sitting on the sofa with a tin of Quality Street and a stack of books. I may or may not change out of my pyjamas.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5KEkAoEW28I/Xqav4EzJIQI/AAAAAAAAVLU/-y4tdKc6wx0IVHMbfiGthmaORDis8-A4QCPcBGAYYCw/s320/book%2Btree.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="320" data-original-width="256" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5KEkAoEW28I/Xqav4EzJIQI/AAAAAAAAVLU/-y4tdKc6wx0IVHMbfiGthmaORDis8-A4QCPcBGAYYCw/s0/book%2Btree.jpg" /></a></div><br /><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;">So here’s my list to Santa of most wanted books to find in my sack on Christmas morning:<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1rBTRUMxtx4/X9otRdZsSWI/AAAAAAAAWNM/i2USdWzw-akDsQTqtoi-BhmibU6Fpex8QCLcBGAsYHQ/s293/harris.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="293" data-original-width="191" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1rBTRUMxtx4/X9otRdZsSWI/AAAAAAAAWNM/i2USdWzw-akDsQTqtoi-BhmibU6Fpex8QCLcBGAsYHQ/s0/harris.jpg" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 14pt; text-align: left;">&nbsp;</span></div><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;">I follow Joanne Harris on Twitter and find her threads on writing and being an author very helpful. These have been collated into a just published book: <i>Ten Things About Writing</i>. I’m particularly looking forward to the chapter – <i>Why am I doing this, again?<o:p></o:p></i></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_DaSyVRFp0c/X9otQzN848I/AAAAAAAAWNc/unLarlYL3VIR5VW4h6zPlsl6CvvbyJduQCPcBGAYYCw/s1800/BROD_Save-the-Cat.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1800" data-original-width="1200" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_DaSyVRFp0c/X9otQzN848I/AAAAAAAAWNc/unLarlYL3VIR5VW4h6zPlsl6CvvbyJduQCPcBGAYYCw/s320/BROD_Save-the-Cat.jpg" /></a></div><br /><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;">I am guilty of stacking up writing guides on the shelf which I dust but never open. One of the few I really like for its relatable simplicity is the screenwriting guide <i>Save the Cat</i>by Blake Snyder, famed for its beat sheet. Sadly it hasn’t made me a planner rather than a pantser, but I do like its sections on how to give your main character more oomph, and the Pope in the Pool trick to hide exposition and many other quirky revelations that will help your writing or at the very least change how you watch movies. So I’d like to see how this is applied to novel writing by author Jessica Brody in <i>Save the Cat! Writes a Novel</i>. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VHCbpDjdtxk/X9otQq4WrkI/AAAAAAAAWNc/CPAEDc4D6qAoEYkamQGvXsWCWmGYieZJwCPcBGAYYCw/s400/hamnet.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="400" data-original-width="250" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VHCbpDjdtxk/X9otQq4WrkI/AAAAAAAAWNc/CPAEDc4D6qAoEYkamQGvXsWCWmGYieZJwCPcBGAYYCw/s320/hamnet.jpg" /></a></div><br /><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;">My concentration for reading has suffered this year, what with one thing and another. So I need a must read which everyone has loved.&nbsp;<i>Hamnet</i> by Maggie O’Farrell seems to fit the bill and if it’s OK with you, Santa, I’d like the Waterstones special edition. It’s their book of the year, so that’s good enough for me. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-M0GyHTCnSco/X9otRw4nPrI/AAAAAAAAWNg/t7LysbvJ-C8VxtKQcJSYxQRTJunzh0vVACPcBGAYYCw/s500/wes.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="500" data-original-width="406" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-M0GyHTCnSco/X9otRw4nPrI/AAAAAAAAWNg/t7LysbvJ-C8VxtKQcJSYxQRTJunzh0vVACPcBGAYYCw/s320/wes.jpg" /></a></div><br /><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;">I’d like to look at pictures. Preferably beautiful, unusual ones. So the <i>Accidentally Wes Anderson</i> book, please, which I’ve already bought for two other people and had a sneaky peak. Made for me, as it combines my interests in photography, Wes Andersen movies, travel and idiosyncratic places and architecture. Perfect.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nNxxAz7FJw8/X9otQqvpfFI/AAAAAAAAWNU/rCblfahUvV8vyynY5YvYlW717djZKDh9ACPcBGAYYCw/s287/gatsby.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="287" data-original-width="220" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nNxxAz7FJw8/X9otQqvpfFI/AAAAAAAAWNU/rCblfahUvV8vyynY5YvYlW717djZKDh9ACPcBGAYYCw/s0/gatsby.jpg" /></a></div><br /><p></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;">In lockdown one I reread one of my all-time favourites – <i>The Great Gatsby</i> by F. Scott Fitzgerald. There was something very comforting in dark times in revisiting a book which I knew inside out from pre-Covid times. I have several copies already but as I’m a bit geeky about covers of my favourite books, I see there’s a new illustrated edition out in January which I’d love to coo over. Thank you. <o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;">So that’s my list. Which books are on your Christmas wish list?<o:p></o:p></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;">Tracy Darnton is the author of YA thrillers <i>The Rules</i> and <i>The Truth About Lies. </i>Please feel free to mention them to Santa.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"><span style="font-size: 14.0pt; line-height: 150%;"><br /></span></p><p class="MsoNormal" style="line-height: 150%; margin-bottom: 0cm;"></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ucpP_4bD9AM/Xm9n0ffn_VI/AAAAAAAAUMo/ePkcH9kYqIoZlUF80nbkRQ76u5J-41cbgCPcBGAYYCw/s2048/The%2BRules_cover.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1334" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ucpP_4bD9AM/Xm9n0ffn_VI/AAAAAAAAUMo/ePkcH9kYqIoZlUF80nbkRQ76u5J-41cbgCPcBGAYYCw/s320/The%2BRules_cover.jpg" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vK8Vxp_-0Vs/WxlnzZ-v-YI/AAAAAAAADAU/gVeLAJGQVYk2o9M2klN6Rlkrm0DEGFmTwCPcBGAYYCw/s1560/TAL%2BCOVER.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1560" data-original-width="1016" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vK8Vxp_-0Vs/WxlnzZ-v-YI/AAAAAAAADAU/gVeLAJGQVYk2o9M2klN6Rlkrm0DEGFmTwCPcBGAYYCw/s320/TAL%2BCOVER.jpg" /></a></div><br /><p></p>Tracy Darntonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16326842005003081128noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7780182174577095197.post-41231930292312276192020-12-16T02:00:00.009+00:002020-12-16T09:24:24.830+00:00Artists in their Landscape - My interview with Jackie Morris by Steve Gladwin<p><br /></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>In the summer of 2007, I was completing a pilgrimage memorial walk by doing 49 miles of the coast path, following a route from areas new to me, beginning in Sandy Haven, and then walking to Marloes, Broadhaven, Solva, and ending up at St Justinian's. A short bus - of which there are conveniently many on the coast path, took me back to St David's and the part of Pembrokeshire we had known very well.<p></p><p>On my last day there, I went in search of something hare-connected, because Celia and I have a big connection with hares. I looked and looked - including in the cathedral shop - and found nothing suitable. After a sit-down and a snack, instinct took me back to the cathedral shop in case I'd missed anything. I don't know whether it had been hiding, but almost the first thing I saw was a book of poems for children illustrated by Jackie. The connection was welcome because we'd once or twice corresponded with Jackie and she'd sent us several things, including her story about the white raven of Ramsey island and pictures of king raven and a white egret.&nbsp;</p><p>All that there was left for me to do was to open the book.</p><p><br /></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xubh7sKVA1Q/X9jb2hKhx2I/AAAAAAAACiE/jZh72-TYoUgDfQROYdOQJpZ75-acKbN1ACPcBGAYYCw/s2048/IMG_0090.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1530" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xubh7sKVA1Q/X9jb2hKhx2I/AAAAAAAACiE/jZh72-TYoUgDfQROYdOQJpZ75-acKbN1ACPcBGAYYCw/s320/IMG_0090.jpg" /></a></div><br /><p><br /></p><p><i><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: large;">First of all, Jackie, thanks for agreeing to talk to readers of An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.</span></i></p><p><i><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: large;"><br /></span></i></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">I'm happy to do so.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>We've decided to spread this interview over two months, which gives us plenty of facets of your work to explore. However, while we're going to go back to your early career in the second part, I'd like, if I may, to concentrate here on both the theme of landscape and how important it is to you, but also on your recent collaborations with Robert Macfarlane.</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>But let's start with landscape and the one in which you live. If you open your front or back door, whereabouts are you standing and what can you see?</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">A garden path snakes away through a disheveled space to an old ash tree, past an old rose that in summer scents the air. There's a fire basket hanging on a tripod. The tree is often peopled with birds, and always, somewhere, is a wren.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">To one side the land stretches out towards the sea. To the other the fields lead up to&nbsp; a rocky outcrop where I go for shelter from storms, (in the head) and also to sit and think.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">At night the Milky Way stretches high overhead and birds migrate and bats fly. The light from Stumble Head lighthouse sweeps the sky and the quiet feels like a texture.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>Thank you. That's a lovely comment about 'texture', I'd imagine this is an idyllic place to live and give birth to so much in. How important would you say that is - for an artist to have some kind of landscape on their doorstep? There is clearly such a thing as a landscape in which you feel settled; and hopefully one that's conducive to work.</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">There's always landscape. It might be city scape, town scape, or wild. I feel happier in wild. And even in cities it's what I seek.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-G-dHXbuPBYs/X9jZshpJyXI/AAAAAAAACh0/LGGu5Y9CRrs7y57TZS9IhzGjef0vvZG2wCPcBGAYYCw/s2048/IMG_0084.jpg" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1530" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-G-dHXbuPBYs/X9jZshpJyXI/AAAAAAAACh0/LGGu5Y9CRrs7y57TZS9IhzGjef0vvZG2wCPcBGAYYCw/w299-h400/IMG_0084.jpg" width="299" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>So, let's return to your childhood. Can you describe where you were born and the places in which you walked. How important was this environment for your life as an artist?</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">I was born in Birmingham, grew up in Evesham, was drawn to the riverbank and bank voles and swans. As I was a child it was the only thing I knew and I made the best of it.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>For the remainder of this part of our interview, Jackie, I want to concentrate on your on-going creative collaboration with Robert Macfarlane. There must presumably have been a point where you both became aware that familiar and beloved words were in danger of disappearing from the dictionary, and therefore from children's knowledge - a truly worrying state of affairs, which I could hardly believe when I first heard it. You decided to work together to do something about this. How did it come about?</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">The story of how <i>The Lost Words</i> came into being is a long one. It began with the realisation that a decision had been made by a children's dictionary to replace some very common natural words with new and more technological, possibly transient words, (at least this is how they justified their decision). What this highlighted was a lack of awareness of the wild world. A study in Cambridge showed that children knew the names of Pokemon characters, but not common wildlife. (It is a lesser known fact that Macfarlane knows more names of Pokemon characters than I!)</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">To address this I thought it might be an idea to take the 'refused' words and make a dictionary that honoured them. I wrote to Doctor Macfarlane with a request that were this to happen he might write an introduction. Our book grew and changed from this small seed. And over time we have become good friends. Our collaboration on the books is such that we email each other constantly, back and forth, constantly with ideas. Rob sends me words, I send him sketches. If I have concerns I will take photos, ask. If things are going well I photograph work in progress. And now and again we meet.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-j-QxdH79QMg/X9eSWb4pfjI/AAAAAAAACg4/cGgDAlULQz8s9D7lTyXGNxv959MUkovPwCPcBGAYYCw/s640/IMG_8864.jpeg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="480" data-original-width="640" height="300" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-j-QxdH79QMg/X9eSWb4pfjI/AAAAAAAACg4/cGgDAlULQz8s9D7lTyXGNxv959MUkovPwCPcBGAYYCw/w400-h300/IMG_8864.jpeg" width="400" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>From your side of things, Jackie, how do you approach such a big project - although clearly from what you've said it's the growth and the back and forth between the two of you which matters in your collaboration with Robert Macfarlane. But presumably from your side there must be similarities and differences to other work and projects?</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">I approach all the work I do with the fiercest open- heartedness I can. At the moment my head is father-filled. What's hard is, being so immersed in a new book and having to go back and talk about a previous work that is maybe a year old. The Lost Spells is different. This time last year I was half way through. It was an astonishing amount of work to produce in a short and difficult time.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>Now clearly The Lost Words was well-received, and it's clear to see why. For me it's just the sort of book I'd love to have found rummaging through the shelves at primary school. Tell us about the reaction of teachers and everyone else.</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">I can't really talk about this, other than to say the word 'overwhelming' seems inadequate. Children have produced the most amazing work inspired by the book. Teachers have given us astonishing feedback. And now children are learning the spells by heart.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">I love seeing their drawings they do inspired by mine. And love to see and hear them finding their voices and learning about the wild with enthusiasm.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Z-V0DL4cjto/X9jZw5Ci-FI/AAAAAAAACh4/Fa49dA6zVPEwfa3saQ67pGKiP8bFjI40gCPcBGAYYCw/s2048/IMG_0085.jpg" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1530" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Z-V0DL4cjto/X9jZw5Ci-FI/AAAAAAAACh4/Fa49dA6zVPEwfa3saQ67pGKiP8bFjI40gCPcBGAYYCw/s320/IMG_0085.jpg" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>What about the decision to produce a CD next? How did that all come together? Did you have individual singers and musicians in mind, or a specific mix, and how easy was it to persuade them?</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">That's not how it happened. At the Winter Weekend in Hay, Caroline Slough of Folk by the Oak was in our audience. We began the event with a setting of the wren spell by Kerry Andrew. She is an amazing writer and musician. This seeded the idea with Caroline with a project with her, and Adam, her husband, approached our agents for the licence to work with our book. They curated this astonishing super group of folk musicians who wove together music that takes the message of The Lost Words deeper into the soul. I think some of the musicians, Karine Polwart and Julie Fowlis, had already approached&nbsp; Rob about musical settings for the words. Kris Dreyer drew on the images to find music.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">We've other music also, from Jamie Burton and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Wonderful choral pieces for young voices, (google Jamie and the Tanglewood festival).</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">There are beautiful audio books, downloads and CD versions with the spells being read by diverse voices and illustrated by the wonderful sound landscapes of Chris Watson.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hcH3f7HbJxA/X9ia5sd4DyI/AAAAAAAAChc/98AmBLJQwtoZlYUsXtQbUp0Em_rCQmudQCPcBGAYYCw/s2048/Kingfisher%2Bdouble%2Bpage.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1396" data-original-width="2048" height="272" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hcH3f7HbJxA/X9ia5sd4DyI/AAAAAAAAChc/98AmBLJQwtoZlYUsXtQbUp0Em_rCQmudQCPcBGAYYCw/w400-h272/Kingfisher%2Bdouble%2Bpage.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>And so, to your latest collaboration. the new book, The Lost Spells. The moment I opened it I immediately thought that what you had done was to create something a bit more manageable in size, but that you'd also played with the form - especially the poetry, with the wonderful added bonus at the back of the book.How did you go about re-inventing and re-visiting a success like The Lost Words? Was there a conscious feeling of wanting to do something both different and similar?</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">The same but different..... this one grew organically. Rob had been writing new spells and I had the idea of working them in to an exhibition with Rob writing on my paintings. Red Fox was commissioned for The Lost Words Prom at the Albert Hall.... that's when the spells transformed into the idea of a small, talismanic spell book that was easily portable. The size requires the spells to move through pages in a different way and the puzzle of the glossary came towards the end as I realised that I was treading through so many species and people might not know the names of them. So it became a curious poetic field guide.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HllOFR6eRbY/X9jZ0gGZRdI/AAAAAAAACh8/kP6YehKRH5I4Qpyo6fg3U2EcRfJl8uNxwCPcBGAYYCw/s2048/IMG_0088.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="2048" data-original-width="1530" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HllOFR6eRbY/X9jZ0gGZRdI/AAAAAAAACh8/kP6YehKRH5I4Qpyo6fg3U2EcRfJl8uNxwCPcBGAYYCw/s320/IMG_0088.jpg" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>Finally, Jackie, we've been avoiding any talk of all the changes we've had to cope with for most of this year. Has any of your recent work been informed or affected by Covid 19, or indeed by anything else? Do you have any new goals.</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">I have been asked this question several times but never given a true answer. This is because it is very difficult. In some senses Covid's restrictions have not affected me. I like to work alone, at home, in solitude, in peace. But in other ways it has.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">My father died just before lock down. Days after he died I had to paint the cover if <i>The Lost Spells</i>. How to push past the grief barrier and paint? That is one of the hardest things I have done, but how the echoes of what was happening formed into the wings of an owl, and how owls in mythology are caught up with the space between this life and after, well, there's poetry as well as grief in that.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">I've talked about this in public before. What I haven't talked about about was living through the suicide, in the same week, of a close family member, the grief and the turmoil that arose from that. It's something I want to talk about, when I can, as suicide and the chaos that ensues around it, the heartbreak, heart ache and inhumane bureaucracy, all need to be dragged into the light.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">And later a good friend who I'd not been able to see because of&nbsp; lockdown etc, died. Judy Dyble and I often talked, and our communications inspired each other's work and we tested out on each other. None of these deaths were covid related, but it impacted on how the rituals of mourning took place.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">So, burying three close people during covid, that is hard. I hadn't really realised how life continues around death and now have a deeper understanding of the 'stop all the clocks' poem. There were times during those months when it was hard to breathe, let alone paint. But creativity is both my work and my sanctuary. All my work is always informed by my life. The two are tangled and entwined.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">My main goal remains the same. To live as well as I can, to speak out against injustice, and to do no harm.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p></p><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-w4aKCvcVG9g/X9ia0_UOLeI/AAAAAAAAChc/AOd_HapZoos1oJqLIx_YYjqWkwyEmRFKQCPcBGAYYCw/s2048/Dandelion%2Bnew.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="1396" data-original-width="2048" height="272" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-w4aKCvcVG9g/X9ia0_UOLeI/AAAAAAAAChc/AOd_HapZoos1oJqLIx_YYjqWkwyEmRFKQCPcBGAYYCw/w400-h272/Dandelion%2Bnew.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span><p></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>Thank you so much, Jackie. It occurs to me that this blog began with the subject of loss and ends with it. My experience was all about how I should celebrate and commemorate my wife Celia. Now people will be able to see and hear you describe below and eventually find their way to the other project which has come out of these difficult experiences. So, with grateful thanks to Unbound and you - I'm going to allow your own words to describe the ideas behind The Space Between.</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i><br /></i></span></p><p style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: #282828; font-family: brown; margin: 0px;"><i><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box;">The Space Between</span>&nbsp;is a quiet creature of a book that grew from the silence of lockdown from a desire to play, to see what happens if you type with a typewriter onto gold transfer leaf.</span></i></p><p style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: #282828; font-family: brown; margin: 1rem 0px 0px;"><img alt="" class="img-responsive" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/media.unbound.co/p/images/14540/medium/Typewriter.JPG?1598531600" style="border-style: none; box-sizing: border-box; display: block; height: auto; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; max-width: 100%; vertical-align: top;" width="" /></p><p style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: #282828; font-family: brown; margin: 1rem 0px 0px;"><i><span style="font-size: medium;">Small, to fit in the hand with ease, or be carried in a bag or a pocket, it is a natural successor to&nbsp;<span style="box-sizing: border-box;">The Unwinding</span>. Here, words revert to their natural form, becoming images, ink on gold, in their islands of leaf. Each sheet is a breathing space. The image on the cover is the Japanese symbol – 間-&nbsp;<span style="box-sizing: border-box;">Ma</span>&nbsp;- roughly translated as ‘gap’, ‘breath’, ‘pause’, and essential to all forms of art - negative space made positive.</span></i><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" /><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" /><img alt="" class="img-responsive" src="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/media.unbound.co/p/images/14539/large/Pages3.jpg?1598531494" style="border-style: none; box-sizing: border-box; display: block; height: auto; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; max-width: 100%; vertical-align: top;" width="" /></p><p style="background-color: white; box-sizing: border-box; color: #282828; font-family: brown; margin: 1rem 0px 0px;"><br style="box-sizing: border-box;" /><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>The book may settle into sections – Birds, Hares, Hiraeth, Land, Sea, Sky, Dreams – but some sheets will stand alone. Again, as in&nbsp;<span style="box-sizing: border-box;">The Unwinding</span>, these can be catalysts for dreaming, a focus of vision, a small prayer to the wild. Some connect like a trail of pebbles through a forest. Some might be short stories told in gold pages. Through others, I explore my grief for my father who died last year and left me his vintage typewriter. The act of using a typewriter also hones my writing. Each word earns its space (which is what all writing should be).</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>And here is the link to Unbound, where you can also see Jackie's beautiful and personal film about this unique book, and - should you wish - pledge in order to help the fledgling take flight in the wider sky.</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i><b><br /></b></i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia;"><i><b>https://unbound.com/books/the-space-between/</b></i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><i><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">If you wish to buy any of Jackie's books, her site,</span><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: large;">&nbsp;has information&nbsp; about how to do so, as well as a fascinating biography page, information about future projects, and of course lots of her art work.</span></i></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia;"><b><i>https://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/</i></b></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>Finally, if you are one of the few people who haven't discovered the film about the making of The Lost Words CD, look no further. I'll guarantee you'll be singing this as you catch up with household chores.</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><i>This version is one of many, but the covers of this song alone are growing, and you can find most of the other spell songs too on youtube.</i></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia;"><b><i>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg1xFYpXuWA</i></b></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">Next month I will be continuing my chat with Jackie, where we will be discussing a\ great deal more of her career, inspirations and enthusiasms, especially those of the animals.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">And in February I'm pleased to announce that I will be interviewing one of the participants in The Lost Words CD, the Gaelic folk singer Julie Fowlis.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">Until then, and with thanks for sharing a quite wonderful year of interviews with me, my thanks also to Jackie Marchant, Sue Purkiss, Kit Berry, Scott Telek, Elen Caldecott, John Dickinson, Hugh Lupton, Kevin Crossley-Holland and Jackie Morris, and anyone I've forgotten. Thanks all, and have a magical solstice, a merry Christmas and I look forward to seeing you in the new year.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">Coming up next year.</span></p><p><span style="color: #6fa8dc; font-family: georgia;">Folk Singer Julie Fowlis on The Lost Words project, the landscape of home and singing in her native language.</span></p><p><span style="color: #6fa8dc; font-family: georgia;">Storyteller Nick Hennessey on the landscape of Finland and the Kalevala</span></p><p><span style="color: #6fa8dc; font-family: georgia;">Writer and folk-lore expert Katherine Langrish on the road that began with Narnia and led all the way to her new book.</span></p><p><span style="color: #6fa8dc; font-family: georgia;">Celtic expert and writer John Matthews discusses the Celtic landscape and its perils with me.</span></p><p><span style="color: #6fa8dc; font-family: georgia;">And at Beltane, a special between-the-worlds discussion on the figure of the magical Selkie and its many and varied inspirations, where I will be joined by writers, musicians, artists and storytellers who have a special connection with it.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;">And that's just the first four months!&nbsp;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><div><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><div dir="ltr"><b><span face="verdana, sans-serif" style="color: blue;">Steve Gladwin - Stories of Feeling and Being</span></b></div><div><span face="verdana, sans-serif" style="color: #6aa84f;">Writer, Drama Practitioner, Storyteller and Blogger.</span></div><div><span face="verdana, sans-serif" style="color: #6aa84f;">Creation and Story Enhancement/Screen writing.</span></div><div><span face="verdana, sans-serif" style="color: #6aa84f;">Author of 'The Seven', 'Fragon Tales' and 'The Raven's Call'</span></div><div><span face="verdana, sans-serif" style="color: #6aa84f;">01938 500728/01485007189/<a href="mailto:imagepoet7@gmail.com" target="_blank">imagepoet7@gmail.com</a>/<a href="mailto:mrwilliamsromance@gmail.com" target="_blank">mrwilliamsromance@gmail.com</a></span></div><div><span style="color: #1155cc;"><a href="https://www" target="_blank">https://www</a>.</span><span style="color: #1155cc;"><a href="http://storiesoffeelingandbeing.com/" target="_blank">storiesoffeelingandbeing.com/</a></span></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><div><div><span face="verdana, sans-serif" style="color: blue; font-size: xx-small;"><br /></span></div><div></div></div><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p><p><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: medium;"><br /></span></p>Steve Gladwinhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/01809330248051701869noreply@blogger.com1