Tomorrow evening I’ll be reading, once again, from the Iron Press anthology Root, this time alongside writer John Price.
For me reading at B.A.T.H. – Bishop Auckland Town Hall - is like coming home. It’s where my serious writing began one inspirational weekend, in a workshop led by Wendy Roberston and the late Julia Darling. It’s where my first book, The Sweet Track was launched and, long before any of this, it was the place I gravitated to in Bishop Auckland when I first came to live in the North. It was stylish; full of art, music, writing and books – it was not just a library. It was an arts centre conceived and manged by leading light Gillian Wales, who I’m delighted to say is now a great friend.
If you come along I really hope you enjoy the evening and I’d like to thank you in advance as I won’t be posting here for a while. On Thursday I’m having an operation on my right eye – not too serious I hope – I expect to be writing again soon but maybe not on the screen. It’s sooner than expected, but the sooner the better – then on to the left!
I had a great time on Wednesday evening in Corbridge (see previous post). For one thing it’s just so good to meet readers and for another the enthusiastic response they gave to the extract from my story Tough Love took me quite by surprise and was very gratifying. Mostly they wanted to know what happened to Dennis! Had he been buried in a hole along with the birds? What about his wife? Did I have a husband? And if you get to read the story you’ll see why they asked after my spouse!
The venue was perfect -Tea & Tipple cafe – and I was full of admiration for Helen of Forum Books who organised this packed event. I’ll definitely be back to browse the Forum bookshelves.
Meeting other writers like Beda who was also reading from the Root antholgy, was a huge part of the enjoyment- also via Twitter – writers : Mari Hannah, Hazel Osmond, Chris Marples - it was great to meet, have your support and share stories and a glass of wine – such a bonus. Also great to see Ian from my prison days
Of course Peter Mortimer and Kitty Fitzgerald from Iron Press - were behind the whole event – without them the book would not exist – they are just amazing at what they do – if you don’t believe me take a look at the programme for their forthcoming festival in May.
If you didn’t make it to Corbridge but you can make it to Bishop Auckland Town Hall this Wednesday 10th – 7pm – we’ll be doing it again. This time John Price and myself will be reading HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE !
Looking forward very much to meeting everyone at, Forum Books,Tea and Tipple cafe tomorrow evening in Corbridge, when I’ll be reading along with Beda Higgins, from the new Iron Press anthology Root.
Wednesday 3rd April, 7.00 pm
Forum Books at Tea & Tipple cafe, Market Place, Corbridge
Writers, Avril Joy and Beda Higgins
Wine & nibbles | Free Entry | Books available to buy
New from Iron Press, Root is a collection of short stories which re-affirm the North-East’s status as a vibrant area for new writing. The subjects of the 15 stories on show here range from the domestic – family relationships, gardening, bullying, adoption and loss – to the plain bizarre: a circus bearded lady, a woman who morphs into Elvis, and an insight into what God wears to work.
Read an interview in The Journal with the editor Kitty Fitzgerald HERE
I was recently asked by The Journal’s Culture Magazine to take on their April, Readers’ Lives page and write about my five or six life-changing reads. It took a lot of thinking about – there were just so many wonderful books I could have included. In the end I tried to pick the ones that I thought had made a real impact on me. I ran out of the alloted word count for my last choice – Bring Up The Bodies – not exactly life changing – but a book that reminds us of just how good fiction can be and what it is as writers that we should aspire to
If you’d like to read about my choices HERE is the LINK to the Culture mag online. Readers’ Lives is on PAGE 11
I wonder, what would your six be? I’d love to hear all six or even just one….
The Poetry Project brightens my Mondays – and let’s face it the days could certainly do with brightening given the snow and icy winds that have wound themselves around us. So, what is it?
The garden Saturday
‘A poem for a Monday morning…What better way to start the week, wherever you are in the world? Every week, from January 1st 2013, we will be uploading a poem and accompanying video artwork, in celebration of Ireland’s literary and visual creativity.Week by week, over six months, you’ll be able to follow the work of leading, and emerging artists and writers, and discover Ireland through different eyes.Be moved, inspired, enthralled.The Poetry Project is absolutely free, and is presented as part of the Culture Programme of the EU Presidency’
You can sign up to recieve this on the website. This week’s poem is ~ Derek Mahon’s beautiful, Everything Is Going to Be Alright ~ which begins:
How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
Also brightening my Monday is the way my new 3,ooo word story is shaping up, (finished but not edited ) working title (I think there’s a better title in there somewhere) – Behind the Curtain, Behind the Wall and I’m especially happy because at one point over the weekend I thought the computer had swallowed it! It begins:
Sometimes it was the place he blamed. If they’d never come to live in Paradise his son Aaron might not have died and he might not have taken against Fergus, Aaron’s twin. He tried never to show it but it was there in his heart, like a weight that couldn’t be dislodged; a son he no longer knew or wanted. A world poisoned, the air suffocated with the dust from a lifetime of bricks …
In New Writing North’s newsletter this morning ~ Iron Press’ Root anthology launch: Forum Books at the Tea & Tipple Cafe, Market Place, Corbridge: Wednesday 3 April, 7pm
Forum Books and Iron Press present a launch event for the Root anthology with readings by Costa Short Story Award winner Avril Joy and Northumberland poet Beda Higgins. Free entry, no booking required. For full details about Root and further readings across the region, see www.ironpress.co.uk
I’m looking forward to reading in Corbridge very much and also reading closer to home in Bishop Auckland Town Hall on Wed April 10th.
“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates
I’m going to do a Hilary Mantel (what a fantastic role model!) here and I’m not going to apologise for posting a second time about the Costa Awards. This time I’d like to say something about readers.
All writers want to be read. As writers we are nothing without readers and the power of this has really come home to me in winning the Costa Short Story Award. I won because people read my story and voted for it and it would seem, from the things people have said and all the messages I’ve had since, that Millie and Bird really resonated with its readers. Sally Hyman said ‘I read the short stories for our book club and I enjoyed your story the most because you created and drew the reader into a real world and I cared about the people in it…’ There is no greater compliment than one that comes from a reader, a complete stranger who has found your work. I treasure such comments. I remember them. I remember that a reader once told me that reading The Sweet Track had changed her life.
At the Costa Awards I met the lovely Louise the very first reader in the whole process who had picked out my story and sent it winging its way to the longlist. It really did feel as if it was all about the reader.
Thank you Costa; above all thank you for giving writers like me the opportunity to be read.
More about readers and writers in my Free newsletter which you can sign up for on the right…
I have to be honest and say I couldn’t be bothered to get through the first volume of Fifty Shades of Grey, which I downloaded on Friday. More than anything it bored me.
I’ve got to say I’m with Kate Mosse on Woman’s Hour and Pamela Stephenson in the Guardian on this one. FSOG is essentially a harmless bodice ripper. It’s soft core porn masquerading as serious bondage, domination, and sado-masochism, and it’s pretty badly written. The dialogue in particular is highly implausible and it’s a prime example of how not to ‘show don’t tell- ‘ that much quoted writer’s mantra. For me this meant I just couldn’t engage with the characters or the narrative.
But I don’t want to knock it for those reasons, it’s too easy to do that, and after all E L James has sold record numbers – millions of copies – so she’s got something right and my guess is that underneath the thin, often unconvincing, veil of S&M, is an old fashioned romance with sex thrown in. Women want to read about men who want them badly and are prepared to spend a lot of time in foreplay – both of the body and the mind. So if FSOG floats your boat then why not read all three volumes? Personally I think it has a long way to go to match Anais Nin, but that’s another story!
OK, so the whole world, including Woman’s Hour earlier in the week, seems to be talking about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ which in case you’ve been on an extraterrestrial holiday is the 2011 erotic novel by E L James which has sold somewhere in the region of ten million copies! Can you believe it? I’ve had a good day if a sell more than one copy of any of my books on Kindle.
Well finally I’ve given way, bitten the bullet, or perhaps I should say – have entered the red room of pain - downloaded the said novel and will give my verdict forwith – possible even tomorrow..
And I feel well qualified to do so, after all I’ve got form. I’ve written about sex in my novel The Orchid House. In fact when I first gave it to my agent she said the sex was very good and suggested it could be a bestseller if I filled it with sex!
Call me stupid but that wasn’t what I wanted to do (and she, being the person she is, fully respected that). I wanted to write a book that dealt seriously with sexual obsession: the way sex can imprison you, the way it can set you free. Sex is an integral part of life, it’s an important and underwritten subject. At least that’s what I think but I also think there’s nothing wrong with titillation or porn, including S&M, between consenting adults – so I’ll let you know very soon how I get on…
Don’t you just love it when you’re reading a book that you can’t wait to get back to? Well that’s how I feel about Twelve Minutes of Love by Kapa Kassabova, (a recommendation from Kathleen Jones on her great book blog – her review is also on Amazon.) I’m also reading some great poetry but more of that another time. What with everything there is to do after a busy weekend with my daughter there hasn’t been much time for reading and now there isn’t much time for blogging as I need to get back to the book! So I’ll leave you with a quote from this beautifully written homage to tango – passionate, intimate, compelling – like the dance itself. Anyone know where I can learn to dance theTango?
Tango is introverted, brooding, physically controlled, mentally involved, musically complex and emotionally dark. It does for you and to you a number of things that pretty much cover the entire human experience. Here are a few. It sings the passing of time and the wreckage it leaves in its wake. It speaks of home, heartbreak, the city, the drunken night, and your mother.
It’s going to be tough finishing this – any ideas what I should read next????