Moments in time

Yesterday I received my contract with Tartarus Press for my novel, Hoxton.

Some way to go yet: editing, etc, but I’m thrilled.

So . . . all those years of ideas, tentative attempts, previous try-out novels, and learning . . . well, how to write really – my North London Comp school education didn’t really furnish me with any actual skills in that department.

Over the years I’ve come to view grammar and words rather like paint. You can learn the theory of how to apply it to canvas or wood but it’s through experimenting for hundreds of hours that you begin to see how it works; how it can be smeared, scuffed, diluted, scratched, etc, to form your own style.

The other thing I have learned in long-distance scribing (novels) is the importance of writing everyday. Even if it’s just a couple of hundred words. Keeping the idea moving along, keeping the characters in your mind, and always leave a little thread of plot dangling for the next time you approach the A4/notebook or computer . . .

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Mapco/ David Hale image of the Borough of Southwark – 1775. St Leonard’s Church near the centre of the map. St Leonard’s is the pivotal building in the book (although the story is set in 2072) Mind, it could look rather like this map again . . .

 

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Nearly four months on

Long time no post.

A tricky few months with life-stuff swamping most creative activity but yesterday while sighing over another other small problem that had arisen, an email plopped into my inbox which pushed all frettings aside.

My lovely agent has found HOXTON a book deal. Details still sketchy and a few days to wait to finalise but, Yow, what a difference a few words can make. All the years of writing, editing, culling piles of manuscripts, agent-hunting, receiving rejection letters, starting afresh, crying, raging and laughing are all totally worth it.

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One project that has been a constant over these afore-mentioned months has been getting my other blog – Writing and other stuff – (nearly ten years worth) into BOOKS. Yes, real hardback books . . . A surprisingly easy process – half an hour or so (after all the weeks of editing) and the Blog2Print site showed me a screen mock-up to flip through.

Wondering if the Real Thing might be a slight disappointment, I was utterly delighted with the three beautiful volumes that appeared within a couple of weeks – they had said within a month – even more impressive. Husband Mark commented it was a bit like ‘This is Your Life’ and it is somewhat, but in this age of us no longer making up photo albums, as we did before the digital age, they are a wonderful, and will be, a treasured documentation of our family, dogs, garden, projects and our home.

 

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The small and leaky boat of indecision

I seem to have climbed into it this morning and shoved myself off from the mooring without oars.

That’s what happens – to me anyway, if I don’t write for a few days.

It’s been a long and enjoyable summer with our son being at home from art college; days concerned with running our small bed and breakfast, socialising with family and friends, but always writing, every day. First thing.

I’ve just taken the lad back to college, including a road trip of a few days so the laptop and notebooks got rather abandoned. Now back at home, the other half is back at work and suddenly everything feels very large, empty and a little worrying, with winter jobs looming – stacking wood, organising chimney sweeps, fixing broken guttering, etc etc. I know what I have to do. Start writing again and immerse myself in the next project. Hoxton is with my agent and I have a choice of which way to go next – a follow up? It’s written but as Hoxton has gone through so many changes, the back half is now not relevant. I’ve started re-jigging it but . . .possibly best to wait and see what happens with the first one . . . A follow-up to my other book, The Hundred and Fifty-Eighth book? It’s half-written but until the first instalment gets any sort of OK, it’s possibly not worth pursuing.

On a long hike yesterday, Mark (afore-mentioned other half) suggested I should start something new. I think he’s probably right. There is a story that’s been hovering around my mind for some months, based on a short I wrote called, The Panto-horse End. Like all my tales it will have links to the other books so I’ll feel safe in this new world ready to be created.

Just have to jump into the sea and tow the boat back to land. Starting this afternoon.

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Nothing to do with oarless, leaky boats but I just had to post this beautiful image

Usefulness of Google

While trawling for a cover picture of my back-catalogue kids’ book, Alfi Beasti Don’t Eat That! I found this delightful photo of someone reading to their appreciative offspring. An image like this makes all the process of writing, illustrating, editing, endless meetings, and waiting totally worthwhile.

Thank you, ‘Red Rose Mummy’, for posting that image.

 

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16th August 2018

A memorable day for me as I signed and sent off a contract agreeing to be represented by Sandra Sawicka at Marjacq Scripts in London.

Wheeeeeeeeeee!

After a silence and an occasional tentative email prod from me over the last few months, Sandra wrote to me a few days ago saying she would love to take me on and work with me on HOXTON. There’s still quite a way to go with editing, discussing and finally tidying before the book can be sent out to prospective publishers, but this feels like a massive step forwards.

I was struck by Sandra’s enthusiasm for my work when she first asked me to send her the whole MS, compared to the other replies I received back regarding initial chapters. I had a feeling that she would be the right champion for it, even though at that stage there were many changes to work on for her to truly consider the book.

So, what have I learnt from the process of trying to find someone to take me on, and what could I relay to anyone else involved in this often spirit-crushing task?

Number one – you have to be able to bin large chunks of script that you may have felt perfectly happy with, and feel able to take a lot of constructive criticism from someone who knows a lot more than you do about how the industry works. Of, course this may not be the same for everyone but I feel I am continually learning by taking on big edits and re-writes, and cannot imagine the process ever being very different.

Number two – Hone and hone and hone the letters and synopsis, synopsises? synopi? to be sent out. I cringe now when I look at my early attempts. – far too much waffle about my past, typos, badly-summed up plots, etc , etc . . . it’s worth taking the time and it can become enjoyable (!). A few posts back when I was attempting to approach agents with an earlier Hoxton version I turned the whole process into a sort of art-performance piece, complete with dropping off hand-inked, tea-dipped letters off to my chosen ‘prey’ before sending the chapters out. It was an interesting exercise but failed utterly – one response being ‘I don’t know why you authors go to all this trouble and expense. We don’tappreciate it’.

Number three. Never give up – if you feel writing defines who you are and what you want to be.

So, his morning, I will slip my agent-contacting book away on a shelf, clear up my writing corner and start editing with a feeling that my efforts have been validated – officially. Feels . . . great.

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Book recycling

Having received my latest edit copy of HOXTON through the post yesterday, I decided to landmark it by creating a hardback cover for the floppy thing with its present nasty shiny encapsulation. Two agents are thinking about the tale at the moment so no point getting any further with a cover, until anyone says yea or nah.

So, down to the local up-cycling place, found an old red-covered book almost the exact dimensions, sliced out the old narrative and stuck Hoxton in its place. Black and gold paint added, various bits of old map and text added inside and it looks the part. The part being my idea that the reader is holding an ‘old’ book made in 2072 on the Sureditch Press that has somehow made its way back in time. If/when, this project ever gets to a publishing house, that’ll be an interesting discussion point.

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Triple happiness

 

I opened my mail a couple of days ago and was delighted to find, amongst all the ‘dear friend I am writing to you from Botswana’, your dropbox has expired’, Amazon suggests from your profile that you would like this CD of German experimental jazz’, and all the other stuff, these wonderful reviews from Ruth Angell.

Review for The One Hundred and Fifty – Eighth Book by Kate A Hardy.

After devouring two of Kate’s other novels Hoxton and Smithi I couldn’t wait to read this book. I wasn’t disappointed. Her style is exciting, involving, humorous, gritty and beautiful.

Kate’s imagination and descriptions of character, place, smell, form, colour, language, relationships and emotion are utterly wonderful. I was transported deep in to her interesting and compelling world and lost until the very last word. I wanted to dive in and be in the guts of the story with the characters and experience all they were experiencing.

I love how this story is almost unbelievable and yet I found myself finding similarities in my own life and hooking elements from the characters experiences into my own. The places that Hamish finds himself on his journey are so familiar, some because I have been there myself others because of how familiarly they are described to me.

The cliff hanger ending made me shout out and wish for some resolution, I couldn’t believe I would never know, genius.

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Review for Hoxton by Kate A Hardy.

This is the first of Kate’s books that I have had the pleasure to read. I consumed this book within a day, no one could get through to me.

From the first opening paragraph to the last word I was wrapped in her fantasy. Kate’s imaginary world of our apocalyptic future set in Londonia is so real that you are swept along in it’s wonder and wish you were there.

I felt like the places and people were so real that I must know them already. The depth and detail in each character brings them to life on the page. The intricacies of each place, event, custom, costume, sound and so much more mean that you are left in no doubt as to where the action or non action takes place. The cultural references are perfect, the sage/ olive green bath, clothes from every era, silvers, Ikea furniture, music, a

good wine or the design of a bed throw keep linking back to what we already know or have known in our collective past.

The challenge is how to describe Kates writing without saying I am literally her biggest fan. I want to spend more and more time lost in my imagination with the wonderful creations from her head.

Review for Smithi by Kate A Hardy.

As with Kate’s other novels this one is a page turner and really had me gripped from start to finish. I love the greenness in this novel. Lots of country side, fresh air and elemental happenings.

The main character of Smithi is beautifully drawn, I found myself relating to him in his desire to escape from the city life in Manchestershire full of technologies and disconnected robotic beings to the green, fresh air and a life in the countryside. His journey takes him through such beautiful and for me familiar countryside that I found this rather an emotional read.

I think deep down we all can connect with Smithi’s longing for something better and Kate has captured that perfectly in this story in her wonderful futuristic world.

I love the darker side of Kate’s writing, her analysis of human behaviours when in difficult circumstances, situations not yet encountered by us in 2018 but so very possible in her 2070. How death is part of survival and always very near and most likely violent.

My thoughts can hardly describe or do justice to how brilliant Kate A Hardy is at engaging the reader and bringing them into her wonderful world.

I will read her novels again and again.

Ruth Angell 2018