Website

Working on it . . . My dear brother came to stay and spent about 80% of his break making me a site. Now I have to work through the very long list he’s left me, and that’s fine. It’s making me step back and look at all the stuff, not just the books but the paintings and photographs that are part of what makes up my fairly visual way of writing.

I would never have thought of including the art but he just went ahead and put it up there and I’m now very glad he did. It’s part of who I am, how I record the everyday and the unusual – sketches, snaps, thoughts scribbled down.

So, website to appear in the near future featuring my books, my scribbles, paintings and photographs. Back to the things to do . . .

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Corner of my writing room (bedroom) and a painting from my ‘Train Window’ series

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Sixth review for the Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Book

Katherine has read, I think, everything I have written and is always generous with her time, giving very useful feedback and writing reviews for me on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. I still use her early reviews for ‘Alfi Beasti, don’t eat that!’ and the ‘Going Out in the Midday Sun’ trilogy, and in fact for most of my books as she has a knack of, without waffle, creatively encapsulating the elements of the writing.

 

“If you found a book that contained your entire life from beginning to end, would you read it?”

Such is the dilemma, one of many often posed on the internet, which is faced by the protagonist in ”The Hundred and Fifty – Eighth Book”.
 
Hamish, a Bloomsbury bookseller, stumbles upon the red leather bound volume during a quiet morning at his shop. On opening the first chapter it seems that the narrative bears an uncanny resemblance to recent events in his life.  From this mysterious beginning, the reader is propelled into a fast paced and curious romp through 1980’s London, where it soon becomes clear that there may indeed be more than one version of this book.
 
Hamish’s adventures are deeply rooted in the era and place.  The sights, sounds and smells of 1980’s London are beautifully evoked by an author who clearly knows her patch and the setting is further enhanced by her own atmospheric drawings. Ms Hardy has a strong eye for detail, for the small everyday things that are easily overlooked but are very evocative of a time or place.
 
The characters are so affectionately depicted that one feels they must be at least partly based on real people of Ms Hardy’s acquaintance! I particularly liked Hamish’s mother and Evan, the Yorkshire chapters in which they feature forming a poignant contrast to the rest of the narrative.
 
This is a cleverly woven and most enjoyable tale. “To whoever picks this up” hang on to your hat!  You are in for a colourful and intriguing ride!
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Giveaways

Is it worth doing? I dread to imagine how much money I must have spent over the years handing out various tomes in the hope that people would read, enjoy and give (hopefully) constructive criticism. Yes it is worth doing – essential to my mind, and as much as possible. How else can you glean information as to whether you are rowing down a flowing river of possibilities or stuck in a swampy ditch with a defunct outboard motor?

So, what about throwing stuff out there into the wider world: not just friends and acquaintances? Goodreads Giveaways . . . having thought about it a few times I decided to give it a go with Hoxton – a tad stupid as these are hard-backs and the outlay of sending five out there was not inconsiderable – at all. I did it, received an email disclosing the fact that over a thousand folk had bid (quite encouraging in itself) and then the addresses of the winners. After reading a forum or two, I had pressed ‘worldwide’ including Tibet, Siberia, the Congo et al, (you never know, could be an English speaker keen to read about Dystopian London, in Tibet). Three winners were in the UK and two in America . . . one of the profiles revealing the somewhat invisible person had marked something like 8,000 books to read, no stars and no reviews. I protested in an email to Goodreads but it was just ‘luck of the draw’ and that copy is probably in a boot-sale pile – shit; the rest? God knows, but, yesterday I checked the site and there was a lovely review from a young woman ending with ‘It is an amazing book and I loved it’.

So, worth it for one review? Possibly not but that one review has prodded me into doing something with Hoxton – currently rather abandoned on the writerly back-burner. Cover to be done, corrections to correct, self-publish and promote.

 

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rough for a cover

 

 

 

 

Fifth review for the 158th book

Penny avidly read my first books – the trilogy, Going out in the Midday Sun, and loved them. Less keen on the futurist duo of books – Hoxton and Smithi, and always honest if something doesn’t work for her. Along with other friends she has been generous with her time: checking endless synopsis attempts, agent grovel letters, etc etc. Critical but always positive, and as a photographer she appreciates the visual slant to my books. I was so happy when she responded this way after she had read the book.

I can best describe this novel is a quirky page-turner. It took me a moment to care about Hamish, but once I did, I was hooked. The book is full of odd but believable characters. The descriptions so deftly bursting with detail – at times poignant, and others downright hilarious –  that I found it to be far more than the holiday read I expected. Towards the end I couldn’t put it down. I’d love to see it turned into a TV film.

From the many extracts I’d like to quote, here’s one.

 

The young woman eyes me with a smirk. “Didn’t quite do the job?”

“Sorry?”

“The lilies – half an hour ago. Or . . . is it for another lady?”

Suppressing an urge to make the flower shop assistant into a sculpture of buckets, moss and delphiniums, I smile serenely.

“Yes, it is for another lady – the one I will make crazed, sticky and overheated love to after I have presented her with the bouquet that you will fabricate for me from those pink roses over there.”

She stares at me for a moment – which I would have done too.

 

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Fourth review for 158th book

From Ruth, great friend, grammar expert and reader of my stuff from the first early drafts. If she winced at my terrible comprehensive school English she did it internally, and kindly steered me in the direction, along with other generous friends, of communicating what was in my head onto screen and paper.

A roller-coaster of a read with never a dull moment. Life mirrors fiction in this fantastical novel; at least it does if you start reading one of the five copies of the novel ‘Five’. Each has a different ending, so, as our hero discovers, best to avoid owning or reading a version with a not-so-good ending. The twists and turns chart his progress from when he first realises that what he reads in ‘Five’ will happen to him. The action is set against an atmospheric backdrop of 1980s’ London – Liberty’s, Muswell Hill, Chelsea, the East End – and Yorkshire too – pubs, beer and dramatic landscapes.

Descriptions of places and settings are keenly observed: colours, smells, décor and scenery flow from the text like a film.

The fantastic elements of the novel can be wonderfully crazy: our hero – broke, but given money by a dear elderly friend to spend on something frivolous – does just that: a Citroen DS (opal green). These are the details I particularly love.   Who buys an Armani suit in a Bond Street store when facing bankruptcy? Our hero does. To block out worries of losing his shop and his home, he reads more of ‘Five’. True to the text, he falls in love, immediately!  The story dips in and out of his relationships with friends, his mother (and her new man) and sister, his ex, and –  of course –  his new love.

It’s an entertaining read – great fun and wonderfully romantic!

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Overlooked stuff uncovered . . .

by my wonderful and dynamic brother.

A few months back I started wondering about whether I should get a website done – to consolidate all the wandering threads of writing: published stuff, work in progress and first jottings. I asked a few folk, reeled away slightly at the cost and decided to wait until I had a really good reason for doing such a thing – like landing an agent . . . I’d also mentioned it to my brother but knowing how incredibly busy he is, I’d put the idea firmly to one side and got on with everything else.

An email appeared one morning: ‘Hi, did you get the mockup?’ No I hadn’t; he sent it again and the result was the start of the website he is building now and of which I will be linking to this blog as soon as I’ve done all my allowed homework for the site – files of it. I don’t know how anyone goes about doing anything as seemingly complex as this. He’s showed me all the various stages from a neurone cluster-like diagram to the beautiful pallet of colour and script he has devised. I shut down mentally after about three minutes of how-it-all-works explanation, and I wish I didn’t. Could be the Luddite in me, or maybe I just don’t have that sort of a brain. Anyway, I can certainly appreciate the result, and his generosity!

I mentioned overlooked stuff in the blog-post title. It refers to the other art things that I do – photography and painting/illustration. I haven’t made any paintings for a while as the writing has taken over; the illustration continues in my books in the form of line drawing and inky experiments but the photography is a continual process – I just never considered it to be an art form, just something I do all the time, like a diary. My brother has decided otherwise and has, under his marketing hat, put it all on the site. It’s a revelation to me, and something I wouldn’t have considered but he’s so right. It’s all part of my writing progress: visiting places, observing, recording and storing away visual images to use at a later date.

Thanks Adrian. You are the most marvellous being!

Site is live at kateahardy.com if you want to have a peep but lots still to do so excuse the (creative) disorder.

 

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One of many, many visual recordings . . .

Third review

For the 158th Book from supportive friend Claire who has both liked and sometimes disliked my work and is always reliable for the truth. She had handed the MS back to me with a smile and had said: “That really works. Loved it.”

 

Kate transports us, once again, into an intimate and quirky world, mostly of the mind, but also filled with piercing physical details, whether these be poignant period references or seductive descriptions of, er… seduction!
Hamish, the awkward, prickly, but utterly endearing and reluctant bookseller, is a well-drawn character, whose wild, unpredictable story helps us to empathise deeply.  The premise of the story line is brilliant – just the right side of fantasy, but imbued with the unexpected at every turn.  It is impossible not to want to turn the page.
The complexity of the plot and the links between characters makes for much fun, and a very pleasant “need” to keep up with what is going on.  At the end, you will find yourself wanting more, and it is to be hoped that Ms Hardy will give us just that sometime in the near future!
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