Thursday, 26 May 2011
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Monday, 23 May 2011
Okay, so I'm back at home and very much back to reality after my time in Guernsey. Or should that be "on" Guernsey? How big does an island need to be before you are in rather than on it?
Castle Cornet. The castle is one of my favourite "touristy" things to do on the island, and the novelty of visiting it in the evening added an extra level of enjoyment. Particularly in that it meant I could watch the sun set over the town of St Peter Port, which - it has to be said - is a very attractive place (although my phone's camera struggled to do it justice).
Saturday morning kicked off with a very interesting talk and reading from author Tim Binding. Tim has written several novels, both for adults and children, but the talk I went to focused on his Guernsey-set work, Island Madness. I started reading the novel a couple of weeks before I went, and even now I'm only about halfway through it - I'm just not getting enough time to read any more than a few pages at once. It's very good, and conjures up the atmosphere of Guernsey during the Nazi occupation extremely well. Tim talked about his inspiration for writing the book (essentially the photograph that now serves as the book's main cover image), the research involved in putting it together, and some of the perils of writing fiction. The main example he gave was in the opening chapter, where he talks about the damage caused to the Major's lawns by the local moles. Several years after the book came out, a Guernsey girl working at his publishing house calmly informed him that there are no moles on Guernsey. It's risky taking anything for granted, it seems.
Next up was a dash to the cake shop and then back to the Hub to catch a poetry reading from Richard Fleming and Peter Kenny. The two of them go by the name "A Guernsey Double" and offer two different perspectives on island life. Richard is an Ulsterman who moved to Guernsey, and Peter was born and grew up on Guernsey and moved away. Their poetry revolves around themes such as the concepts of home, safety, travel, and many more. They have a book out, a back-to-back anthology of poems called The Boy Who Fell Upwards / The Man Who Landed. From the snippets they read and the reviews the book has garnered, it sounds well worth investigating. I'm hoping to pick up a signed copy next time I'm over, which should be later in the year.
The last engagement of the day was an evening performance in the town church. Here, Olivia Chaney performed a fantastic set, showcasing her beautiful voice and musical talent on the piano, guitar, and harmonium (I think - it was something like an accordion, but more of a box). Olivia plays a variety of styles, from folk to operatic, traditional and more contemporary songs. She writes her own songs, too, and said she was putting an album of her work together. It should be worth tracking down. In addition to Olivia's songs and music, the winning writers from Guernsey's "Poetry on the Buses" competition read their work. I struggle a little with poetry sometimes; it's not a form that always 'clicks' for me, but most of the work was accessible even to a dullard like me, and it was great to hear the poets read their own work in the impressive setting provided by the church.
I've run out of time now, so I'll leave Sunday's details for another day. I'll try not to leave it too much longer.
Monday, 16 May 2011
(This post was delayed from Friday due to some sort of problem with Blogger. I'll post an up to date report later.)
So, here I am in the first full day of the literary festival. It's a pretty quiet one for me, most of the events I'm going to are happening tomorrow. I attended the sponsor's reception yesterday evening, which was a new experience for me. One of the first people I met was Annie Barrows, co-author of the massively best-selling The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society, and the top celebrity author here at the festival. She was very friendly and down to earth, and we talked about the strange leap of faith it takes to start calling yourself "a writer". It good to know that even hugely successful authors struggle with that one from time to time.
Today's main task was to deliver a stack of my books to the Luna, an inflatable pod thing in the Market Terrace. It was a slightly surreal experience to see copies of it alongside other books, but hopefully people browsing the stall will be sufficiently intrigued to pick up a copy.
If you're in the neighbourhood, why not go along and take a look?
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
But, happily, the end product exceeded all my expectations. The cover image is crisp and clear, and the overall effect is just what I was aiming for. Inside, the text looks great and, in my opinion at least, presents the stories in a very professional-looking way.
It's been great revisiting these stories, and an interesting insight into how my writing has changed over the last couple of years. But, more than that, it's rewarding to see my work in a fresh light, particularly those stories that were published online a while ago and had faded a little from my memory. Here, assembled and lined up together, it's almost as though my stories have gone on parade in full dress uniform, primped and polished and keen to impress new readers (hopefully!).
There is something undeniably special about paper. Although I was excited to find a half-dozen or so e-books pre-installed on my new mobile phone, I'm yet to fully embrace the concept of electronic fiction. I do read short stories online, and appreciate the accessibility and variety the internet provides both readers and writers. But I'm not going to be giving up my coveted bookshelves just yet. The sensory, tactile elements of printed matter are something that I associate so strongly with reading it's hard not to miss them when they're not there.
Perhaps the printed book form is even better suited to short story collections than novels? It's so much easier to pick up a book, flick through it until a title or first line catches your eye, and then settle back with your mug of tea and a biscuit or two for a well-deserved bit of escapism.
I hope people will be inclined to pick up "Somewhere to Start from" when it makes its début appearance on the booksellers' stall at the Guernsey Literary Festival. I'll also have a few copies with me at the Flash Fiction Workshop, just in case anybody fancies a signed copy. I'm looking forward to seeing how new readers respond to these works and I hope people will get in touch to let me know what they think.