Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bookshops I Love: Waterstone's Gower Street

When I was in London last week I happened to be passing Gower Street Waterstone's and popped in, and lookey-here! So there's one place you can get The Birth Machine, if you happen to be passing too...

Thank you, Gower St W!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wisewords reading - how it went

Well, it was great! Great to get away from the desk and the WIP on Wednesday - even if it did feel like pulling off a big sticking plaster - to actually wash my hair and put on some togs other than the writing gear (which consists of my grandmother's old jumper [as featured on Dovegreyreader] and the kids' cast-off jeans and tops), and get on a train and actually WHIZZ down the country (a countryside wreathed in mist all the way, which was both disorientating and mightily exciting for your necessarily agoraphobic and home-stuck writer), and actually WALK DOWN SOME LONDON STREETS FILLED WITH PEOPLE! and GO IN A PUB! and meet up with two great writer friends!! Honestly, the headiness of it all!

And The Luxe in Spitalfields, where we were doing the reading, turned out to be just that: a really plush space. And what a great evening it turned out to be - a great audience and superb readings from the talented bunch of women writers I was lucky to be joining. Jay Merill, who organized and presented the whole event, kicked off by reading 'Little Elva' from her great Salt story collection, God of the Pigeons:

 She was followed by Catherine Smith who read us a striking story about an unusual house-hunter, from her new collection , The Biting Point, published by Speech Bubble. After a short break, Sarah Salway read from her wonderfully wry story collection 'Leading the Dance':

 and then Tania Hershman read us a series of her amazing science-inspired flashes, some from The White Road and Other Stories (Salt) and some new and unpublished:

In the final third, Susannah Rickards read beautifully from her Scott Prize-winning collection Hot Kitchen Snow (Salt):

and, since the event was part of a women's arts festival, I read my story about two sisters, 'Holding Hands', from Balancing on the Edge of the World:

And then I had a fabulous chat to the others and all the lovely audience members who included writers Debi Alper, Emma Darwin and Judith Amanthis.

Thank you to the others for their great readings, to all who came and made a great audience, to Jay especially for organizing and inviting us, and to the Wisewords Festival.

Next day I actually had a DAY OFF (in London)!!
Weird. (But fabulous.)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wisewords reading

Sorry not to be blogging much at the moment: I'm very immersed in my WIP and hardly able to hear what people are saying to me, leave alone finding enough mental and creative space to do any other kind of writing!

This week I'll be having a break, though, as I'm off to London to read at an event organised by Salt author Jay Merill, which I'm really looking forward to: five exciting other short-story authors are also reading: Jay herself,  Susannah Rickards (recent winner of Salt's Scott Prize), Tania Hershman, Sarah Salway and Catherine Smith.

Wednesday 16  March 2011, 6.30pm FREE
The Luxe Spitalfields 020 7101 1751
109 Commercial Street, E1 6BG Liverpool St tube
One of the Wisewords Bookclub series of events and part of the Wisewords Festival 

Friday, March 04, 2011

World Book Day and Save Our Libraries at Crystal Peaks

I was delighted to be invited by Claire Molinari, Chair of Sheffield's Local & Live Community Theatre, to read and talk yesterday, World Book Day, at Crystal Peaks Library. I felt a bit agoraphobic about leaving my novel (I'm in that stage now where it's like a cocoon) but it was lovely to have a change and drive out with John in beautiful sunshine and over the frosty Pennines. When we arrived at the library, retired policeman Martyn Johnson, author of 'What's Tha Up To - Memoirs Of An Attercliffe Bobby' was holding his audience spellbound, and he told how, after its huge local success, the book has now been picked up by a bigger publisher.

The day-long series of events was also part of the Save Our Libraries campaign, so I talked about what libraries had meant to me as a child and the part they had played in the making of my books. As I've said before, I find libraries very inspiring for writing - often when I've got a general idea for a story but can't find the starting point I'll wander down to the library, and sure enough a first line will come to me - it's as though they're there waiting for me, somehow nurtured by the library! This is what happened very startlingly with Too Many Magpies: the first line just seemed to drop down to me from the domed ceiling of Didsbury Library (photo below by Gene Hunt).

Didsbury Library, Didsbury Village

The Birth Machine couldn't have been written without the help of the library in Chorlton, where I was living at the time: there was a big Obstetrics book in the reference section which I constantly referred to for the sections set in a maternity ward.

(Thanks to Paul Ashwin for this photo of Chorlton Library)

And my story 'Glossary of Bread' (included in Balancing on the Edge of the World), which is structured around dictionary definitions of bread (and the changes over time of those definitions) was written using the 1933 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary ranged at the time around the reference shelf walls in Didsbury Library.

Anyway, I had a lovely time yesterday, and thanks so much to those who came and to Claire for inviting me to join in the day.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The other World Book Night

If you don't already know about it, do go on over to Nicola Morgan's blog to read about her great idea for contributing to World Book Night. Essentially, having had some doubts about the wisdom of the WBN project to give away 40,000 copies of each of 25 books (doubts I share), she has thought up the notion of buying a book between now and Saturday (5th March) and giving it away with an inscription marking WBN and stating where the book was bought. I'm definitely in, for one!

Since the official WBN is concentrating on books already well known, I suggest too buying from a small publisher and a less hyped author - and you couldn't go wrong with my own publisher, Salt!

EDITED IN:  Here's a great suggestion from the comments on Fictionbitch, made by Nicola Morgan herself:
I'd love if people who did go for my Buy-and-give-a-book idea would add a comment here: to say what they bought and who they gave it too. 
Crossposted with Fictionbitch.