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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To throw or not to throw . . .

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Files and rough manuscripts of four books: Trilogy – Going Out in the Midday Sun, and Hoxton.

As I was about to consign all rough drafts of my books to the recycling, my son said – ‘but shouldn’t you hang on to all that? The memories, the work’ . . .

I reminded him that I’d already, about two years ago, disposed of about the same again in paper and files, so therefore if I was to regard it as a complete collection of all prep work I’d ever done, it was already pillaged. So . . . to the bin. But wait. Maybe just a bit of it – the actual first ideas; the first mistake-ridden file of 80,000 words; the coffee stained and dust covered tentative trial pages . . .  Oh, OK, maybe just a small shelf’s worth.

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Big yellow file holding the first draft of the first book – where it all started. Yep, I might keep that one . . . 

So, I’ve rescued a couple of items from each book, plus the actual proof copies and the rest will become an ripping up occupation while half watching a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad (for the second time around) this evening.

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Introduction to Kate A. Hardy

Hello.

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A small biography:

At various times Kate has been a bookshop assistant, DJ, estate agent blurb writer, Mars- Bar factory worker, gardener, sous-chef, barmaid, architectural impressions maker, chip shop worker, and photographic stylist. The latter requires a sub category of just about anything imaginable: detective, taxi driver, model maker, inventor, bullshitter, diplomat, location finder, robber, dog trainer and actor.

She now spends as much time as possible writing.

Work to date:

Mister Mint and the Monster – self published in crayon and pencil in a lined exercise book around 1968

Big gap

‘Alfi Beasti, Don’t Eat That!’ written and illustrated by Kate. Published by Puffin books, 2004

Trilogy of novels: Going Out in the Midday Sun, Staying Out of the Midday Sun and The Mad Dog Café. Started in 2010, finished 1015. Now out on Amazon in paperback and as e-readers

The Hundred and Fifty-Eighth book, The Couch, Rose. Short stories taken for publication by ‘Cracked Eye’ 2015

The Hundred and fifty-eighth book made into an audio-story, read by Anton Lesser

Collection of short stories – Dog, and other tales, completed and will be available as a hardback soon.

Current work:

Series of Novels set in 2090, in ‘Londonia’ Might be classed as Dystopia, but I would like to create a new genre – Dyst-hopia: post-apocalyptic but not utterly doom-laden.

First Book, Hoxton has been completed and is currently being considered by an agency. Second book, Smithi has been finished to editing stage. Another two books are at planning stage.

Sketch from Hoxton

Hoxton cover copy

A couple of comments from readers of Hoxton.

How lovely – how clever! From the quirky title onwards the reader is in for an edgy, spookily realistic adventure set in a dystopian London of the future.
Despite there being many versions of possible future worlds, your vision ranks as one of the best I have come across. It really holds together well, in all its gruesomeness.
You write extremely competently and nothing disrupted the pace and my enjoyable read. You have a solid style, an imaginative turn of phrase and a quietly irreverent sense of humour.
The imagery you conjure is brilliant – rather Joanne Harris in places – and we all admire her writing, I think – and then again a little Cloud Atlas in the use of the altered language in David Mitchell’s dystopian world. But in and of itself, it is very individual, very Kate Hardy!
 
 
Liked this very much indeed. It’s very hard to put a new slant on dystopia and at the same time not stretching credibility too much. Excellent work.
I like the originality, the new vocabulary, the general thrust of the plot, the realism, the stuff about IKEA and Thirty Shades.
This is really something else. No surprise to see that you’re a published author. If your agent doesn’t get you a TV or film deal for this . . . get a new agent!

Peer reviewing sites

My last post here was about Youwriteon, and this one is about Youwriteon.

I suppose most of us writers have gone through this route; or if we haven’t, we should.

When I had finished ‘Going out in the midday sun’ I was happily sending out the first three chapters to agents, vaguely keeping an eye on the rejections and wondering what to do next. Then I discovered a whole other world out there, totally by chance. The peer reviewing sites. Youwriteon looked quite friendly with its pink and beige site, so I duly loaded up the first seven thousand words, not really knowing what the site was about. Amazing . . . people read the words and sent back reviews: some pathetic, some enlightening.

A couple of weeks later I logged on and found I was in the Top Ten; I hadn’t even noticed there was one. Then I was hooked. It became a sort of neurotic game: logging on rather too often to see if someone had ‘booked out’ my chapters, and doing rather too many reviews in an addicted fashion. The book hovered around in the top ten for a couple of weeks and then someone ‘sunk it’ with a very good, probably accurate in many places, review, and I was mortified. Then comes the point where you have a lot of reviews and the annoying pointless sniper attack ones start to weigh against the good ones, moving the book down the charts.

This is probably the time to re-load the book with its alterations and get new reviews, or forget it and take the advice and suggestions that were valuable. Easy to say . . . just another — shit, a stupid write up where someone has filled their statuary hundred words and given you two’s out of five’s.

What the site, and presumably others are good for:

Totally and unbelievably useful as a sounding board and general leveler: is your stuff as good as you think? How can it be improved? People out there don’t know you — EXPOSED, you are; how does the work stand up to public scrutiny?

I found it to be an inspiration to write more, push myself, experiment. Also, critiquing other people’s work is useful: annoying sometimes, but on the whole, rewarding, inspiring and a great learning curve. Without the site I probably never would have found the enjoyment in writing short stories which are to my mind such a brilliant tool for playing, trying ideas and prodding the grey matter.

I’ve learned SO much about grammar — a weak point for me having fallen into the 1970’s comprehensive system. Still learning!

My short story that was at number one, did make it through into the ‘best seller’chart and at that point I did breath a small sigh of relief, so perhaps the competitive thing would still be there if it hadn’t have gone through — difficult to say.

What they are not so good for:

Well nothing really; it’s just how YOU use them. Load up the stuff, take the useful crits (sometimes fantastically detailed, thoughtful and SO valuable) ignore the stupid ones (I just had one that praised me very highly, then said at the end, ‘I wish I had given you higher marks as you are obviously a very good writer’ then proceeded to award me dismal marks — useless on all counts.) celebrate if you get high up in the charts, but remember it’s not the reason you have put the stuff up there.

Just once more

Ed-ited /checked by Kate and Mark 15/1/2012

Re-checked by Ruth, corrections made 19/02/2012

Re-checked by Kate and the computer 21/02/12

Re-checked by Kate 26/08/2012

Look for Claire’s corrections.

Re checked by Kate 16/09 2012

Rechecked by Kate and partly Ed 2/11/2012

Rechecked by Kate   30/10/2012

Rechecked by Kate  5/11/2012

Edited with Gill   2/2013

Final Edit 17/3/2013

Further final edit 20/3/2013     81,472 words.

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It’s incredible: I just thought I would take one final little tiny look . . . just to check the margins, and there was a word, a smallish word. Susan. Who the Hell’s Susan?. When I had I ever put Susan in the book? Never that I could remember. Margaret had briefly become Susan.

I changed it and had another quick scan.

He walked over window. WHAT? Don’t you mean: He walked over to the window? But of course I did. How many times have I, (and countless other extremely kind and patient) people, read that sentence and not noticed the absence of those two words?

Maybe just once more — tomorrow.

Last edit

  Going out in the midday sun

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Holly saw the yellow blur through the slanting rain. Her heart sank. Forth time that month — what was the point of clamping anyway? The car was still there causing an obstruction.  Towing was worse, the body chill on seeing the space where the car had been, followed by the sickening knowledge that there would be a trip to the car pound. The shouting mob of car owners, the thump of fists hitting shatterproof glass, handing over another heard-earned 150 quid, and then the trek back over the Acton flyover to be late for another meeting.

Mmm, it seems mightily complicated to load my original word documents into the blog . . . Anyway, above is a patched version of the first paragraph of book one, with it’s chapter illustration. Maybe I’ll figure it out later, but things outside the writing bubble are calling.

Today I finished the final (possibly) edit, now into the unknown world of self-publishing and all the technical frustration that will no doubt be thrown up . . .

The signpost

East, West, love, intrigue, crime: what does the cover need to say. Mmm, very difficult. I tried something that would put across in a fairly literal way, what the story is about. So . . . four characters in front of a view of London. Some kindly folks said ‘that’s nice’ some more frank characters including Mark, my husband, said ‘berk — very nasty, boring’ and other gut reaction words. End result, a painting of mine that I made a few years back, called ‘Lifemap’ which is fact about being in and leaving London. It possibly could lose out on the visual impact in some ways, especially when reduced to the size of a large-ish peanut on the internet, but it feels right.

What books have I picked up and got as far as the till with, on account of a cover. Not many.The only one I can think of off hand was ‘Keep the aspidistra flying’, it was just such a lovely painting of the said plant in a suitably shadowy front room. A cover might intrigue for a moment: turn the book over, scan the blurb then open the book and read the first few lines: is there an impulse to continue, or not. ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949) — that’s a good one: read on . . .why were they?

Looking on the internet is a different process. The cover intrigues. You click and are invited to LOOK INSIDE, but for me anyway, there are things missing. The smell of ink, the feel of the pages, the type style used. I don’t actually buy books very often, (Mark compensating for that) but when I do, I wait for the bookshop. Preferably a small one without a chain coffee shop lurking in the corner.

Oh, I’ve just thought of another favourite cover. Will Self’s ‘Book of Dave’ Cleverly printed as if it has faded scumbled edges, in an aged pinky-red colour as if left on the back shelf of a car in the sun.                                                                                                  images

Looks rather more orange here

IMG_0052 Here’s mine, without the text yet.