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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Second review

For the Hundred and Eighty-Fifth Book.

I was delighted to receive this review from Andrew, avid reader, and book-obsessive – (biggest personal library I have seen yet, I think.) I asked him if he could name another book or author that the writing reminded him of and he said: ‘No, not really, but that was why it was so good.’ Encouraging for me in one way, but difficult when agent-hunting as they invariably wish to know where to place the book – fair enough but I don’t know either. I can see a tad of Iris Murdoch, perhaps . . . he mentions Laurence Durrell; my ‘other half’ suggested Calvino.

 

The Hundred and Fifty Eighth Book.  Kate A Hardy.

The Hundred and Fifty Eighth Book is actually a book called ‘Five’, which mysteriously appears on the shelves of second-hand bookseller Hamish, back in 1985. Hamish himself is working hard, most of the time, at being a writer, having started sixteen years previously with a collection of poems, much derided by his father,’a disgruntled gangly hornet with an ever ready sting’.Nevertheless it is his father’s library that forms the basic stock for Hamish’s shop.

The parallel literary world of second-hand book selling in 1980’s  Bloomsbury [almost]’, is a world where a struggling author could feel trapped. The small cafes, pre-cappucino yuppy world is well defined with plenty of tea and toast. A comfort zone frequently subverted by the chain of co-incidence relentlessly bowled along by Kate A Hardy’s seemingly innocuous prose. In reality a density of quotidian details which seep into the reader’s consciousness by stealth.

Hamish has no sense of smell, a serious condition for second-hand booksellers and bibliomaniacs.

‘Five’ is dedicated ‘To whoever picks this up’,and almost the first co-incidence, in a book of co-incidences, is the revelation that its’ protagonist has just been cured of his own lack of the sense of smell.From here on in Kate A Hardy structures her novel with generous helpings of chance, pre-destination and synchronicity. A layer cake of intrigue and complexity which compels the reader to continue to the very end, which, of course may not actually be the end.Along the way, an assortment of memorable friends and relations, and chance meetings reinforce the structure of Hamish’s journey.

With a Durrellian sense of different views of the same events, all, or none of which may have been precipitated by the appearance of ‘Five’ in Hamish’s world, our sense of reality is cannily manipulated by the author.The author being possibly any one of at least four candidates on offer.

Read this new novel from Kate A Hardy, guaranteed to intrigue, entertain, and install a nuance of unease which will keep you going to the end, and beyond. A follow up is surely necessary…

So what do we have here? Certainly a mystery story. A closely observed period piece. A well written

and imaginative take on the issues of self determination vs the blind watchmaker. A really good read from the outset.

Enjoy!

AWGilman

UPM

 

First review for the 158th Book

as a novel.

I had many for it as a short story, and nearly all of them enthusiastic, which then spurred me on to write it up into a novel. Actually, for me anyway, it’s a great way of commencing a book – launching off into an unknown sea of imagination but with distant landmasses of information all around as reference points.

After receiving two copies of the second edit from Lulu-publishing, I had a quick check through to make sure chapters hadn’t slipped out from the process somehow, and gave them away to be read. I’d like to feel the book could be enjoyed by any age-group from young adult to vintage adult, and was delighted that Bill, (in the latter category, although to speak to him you wouldn’t know it) an avid devourer of novels, was willing to read and give his opinion.

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“It was a first-class read from start to finish. I marvel at your imagination and ability to constantly put everyone, especially the reader, in a whirl. I must now read your other volumes and am, of course,  looking forward very much to your next book.”  

The tricky art of synopsis writing

It’s the worst bit. Book finished, many edits done, rough copies printed, agent research done, presentation chapters duly spaced correctly, checked for typos, letter written . . . synopsis.

How to distill down 90,000 words or so into a page? My latest technique is to write out exactly what happens in each chapter then keep whittling it down, jam it all together, hone it until it makes sense and then give it to long-suffering friends for their comments. Luckily I have quite a few who are willing to scan through and add their thoughts whether it be on structure, grammar or whether the thing is dull, interesting, could be better, etc. Maybe everyone does this, or maybe not. I certainly used to spend little time, wanting to get the job out of the way as quickly as possible. But what’s the point unless it’s done as well as can be? Putting myself in an agent’s chair, staring at yet another badly constructed synopsis, yes, I’d just slide it into the ‘thanks but no thanks’ bin.

For this current book, (The Hundred and Fifty-Eighth Book) I have gone through many, many sheets of paper, over several days gradually adding and subtracting words until the page felt ‘done’. Someone came back to me yesterday when I thought I’d nailed it only to say, ‘Hmm, but what about this’, and they were totally right. A few hours more work and the few paragraphs were so much more succinct, the plot so much more strongly outlined. You know it all in your head, and everyone out there, doesn’t.

One more check though, letter thoroughly investigated for stupid errors and I’ll strike out once again into the ocean of ‘well, you never know, this could be the one . . .”

 

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Shiiit.

Two rejections in a morning. I’ve just spent an hour wandering about the house, absent-mindedly doing chores, feeling a tad crushed and talking to dogs – “Why? Am I no good? Well obviously not . . . so, what now? What’s it all about?” What would it feel like to just say, ‘I don’t have to do this’. I could stop now, go shopping, worry about what my nails look like, hunt down a normal job . . .” Etc. But my soul would fall out of my person somehow and be left sulking, sitting on a bench in a dismal park with not even pigeons to talk to.

So, how do we deal with rejection? Me, personally, I usually have a few hours mentally kicking cans about and saying Shiiit a lot; then something generally occurs to make me feel me-normal again. In fact while writing this an email has plopped into the inbox saying ‘Hm, can’t find your chapters, please resend’.

Probably now’t but it’ll be enough to bale the water out of my own small, temporarily sinking boat of creativity today.

As other writers have done, no doubt, I just had a quick scan through the internet to see which now-famous authors had been rejected – or rather, how many times had they been rejected. Just about everyone, so it seems. Stephen King apparently received so many R.Letters that he speared them all on a spike in his bedroom.

Onward.

 

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