Milestones and impulses

I’ve had a reasonable amount of them: Certificate for best swimmer in my junior school, first boyfriend (oaf) degree, first real job with scary responsibility, getting married, producing an infant, kids book publishing deal, moving to France, finding an agent for my novel, finding a publisher, and the final book arriving on a memorable day: first February 2020.

This milestone was a particularly vivid one, partly as it was marked by the mother-ship (UK) deciding (or some of its inhabitants deciding) to become a small leaky boat de-moored from the safety of the European landmass, and partly as the book was so extraordinary.  I knew it would be beautiful as I had seen the artwork, but . . . well, suffice to say I spent most of the day getting on with stuff but just sidling up to the stack of books just to check they were really there, and that my name was indeed printed on them.

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And impulses.

A friend asked me the other day about what inspires or drives me to write in a particular genre. An interesting question and one that I never considered when I started writing, or even now. I just write about things that seem important to me. I can’t imagine setting out to write a crime story, or a historical romance, and I feel that only when being true to yourself can the work be satisfying to push uphill, follow around winding paths or wherever it takes you.

A couple of times when faced with rejection I have thought: Okay. What would work . . . Hm, Vampire Western ? interplanetary detective agency? but in the end my genre seems to be human relationships within a dystopian/speculative/futurist setting; often London as it’s where I feel fictionally most comfortable. I suppose my concerns lie with where are we heading, and what can we do about it? I do listen to a great deal of collapsology podcasts, along with videos on food production, sustainable living, recycling, alternative architecture, possible future societies, etc, and have always been interested in such subjects. It’s a challenging time to be alive in, but one where we still have choices we might take now to avert whichever apocalyptic scenario is likely to occur first. Cheery stuff . . . So, my genre . . . Dyst-hopia. Yes, that sounds about right.image001.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landed safely with only a few bruises

So . . . the moment arrived, the one I had let wander about in my head a few hundred times: my novel, Londonia, listed on a real PUBLISHER’S site. The publisher being Tartarus, producer of ‘strange literary fiction’ with an impressive catalogue of titles all encased in their signature cream jacketed hardbacks . . . Oo, that’s a nice thing to read out loud: cream-jacketed hardbacks.

It’s been a long journey from initial idea to finished tome with valuable input from so many readers, and several re-writes, but I think that’s what it’s about – learning on the job, so to speak. I was listening to Will Self speaking about his work at Politics and Prose bookshop earlier and he said something along the lines of ‘creative writing’ courses being a load of bollocks and that all you need is to live and read a lot. I think he’s probably right (to a certain extent) in that you have to be in it for the long-haul and accept there is no magic injection of inspiration and skill. Storing up life experience, observing and listening seem to be the tools, the mistakes one’s chance to do better. My knowledge of grammar was zilch at the outset, and I’m still not sure about commas after but, and many other things. I suspect that grammar is like paint: you have to learn the basics about colour but then spend a Hell of a long time getting splashed, mixing bit all up and finding your own style.

There’s still uncertainty of course – will people buy the book? I hope so; will the sequel see the light outside of my USB key? that would be great (,) but I’m thrilled to have reached this point. Really thrilled.

Londonia can be pre-ordered from Tartarus – link below, and a sample chapter is available on their site.

Link to my book at Tartarus Press

dickensian_london_by_karlfitzgeraldart_d96bxjd-fullview.jpgThe book cover from a painting by Karl Fitzgerald

Moments in time

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

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 . . .