PG 13 HAYLEY RADFORD PREVIEWS THE SPRINGâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S BIGGEST PUBLISHING EVENTS
PG 20 author joe treasure knows accepting criticism is hard, but necessary
PG 24 appreciate the good your mum does with the worst mothers in literature
NEW EDITION CONTEMPORARY
ISSUE 32, MARCH 2017
AUTHOR BRIAN PAUL BACH EXPLAINS HOW THE GOLDEN AGE OF FILM INSPIRED THE WRITING OF HIS NEW FOUR-PART EPIC
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HAPPENI NGS March - May 4
News In Brief 5
Welcome to the March 2017 issue of New Edition, our publishing magazine for authors. This quarter, editor and author Peter Salmon asks why we write. Hayley Radford previews publishing events on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Sam Taylor-Pye details the research she did to make 1860s San Francisco come to life in her latest historical fiction. And just in time for UK Motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Day, Kate Appleton takes a look at the worst mothers in all of literature. All that plus Clink Streetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Spring Reads event, learning to take criticism on your writing and much more!
- Josh Hamel,
Ed itor of New Ed ition
HAPPENI N GS March 22-26|
Tennessee Williams Literary Festival
New Orleans, LA www.tennesseewilliams.net/ New Orleans’ ultimate literary gathering commences once again with five days of celebration, bringing more than 130 authors, actors and musicians to the French Quarter in a festival to honour the creative genius of one of the south’s greatest artists, Tennessee Williams. Running at the same time, catch the LGBT literary festival, Saints and Sinners (24th to 26th March), featuring panel discussions and masterclasses.
23-30| Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival
Stratford-upon-Avon, UK www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk/ Now in its 10th year, this eight-day-event has a packed schedule of events for book lovers of all ages. There is the week-long School’s festival, bringing authors into local schools, a whole variety of children’s activities including performances of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant and Horrible Histories, as well as plenty for the adults, too.
Bristol, UK www.crimefest.com/ The international crime fiction festival for die-hard fanatics and for those who like an occasional dip into a crime novel. The programme includes more than 100 participating authors, forty panels, interviews, book signings, a gala awards dinner and the promise of some surprises. Day passes and full weekend passes are still available.
News In Brief
Waterstones criticised for opening three shops with indepenent branding After opening three stores without its signature branding, Waterstones has been accused of attempting to deceive book buyers. The stores, located in Rye, Southwold and Harpenden, have opened with only a handwritten notice in the window with the company's identity. Local competitors have complained that the strategy may confuse shoppers looking for a truly independent experience. “To call themselves Southwold Books is a bit naughty," John Wells, owner of the book shop, Wells of Southwold for thirty years, told the Mail on Sunday. "Locals know what the shop is, but visitors don’t.” Waterstones has denied any wrondoing, arguing that the independent branding helps better integrate the stores into the local communities and motivates employees to behave more like an
independent seller. “The vast majority [of people] have welcomed them greatly. They are very small shops in towns that had independents and very much wish they still had independents but don’t,” managing director James Daunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “We can’t open up great big Waterstones here but we can open up small ones. We are coming into quite sensitive high streets with predominantly independent retailers on them and we wish to behave as they do.” Daunt also said he expects more unbranded stores to open in the coming years. “If you want to enhance a high street you need to act as an independent ... and part of the reason we did it is to convince our own booksellers that they have the autonomy that they do have,” he said.
£2 million of rare books stolen from London warehouse
NYC launches One Book, One New York program
More than £2 million worth of antique books were stolen by a gang of three thieves who made off with more than 160 publications from a storage facility near Heathrow in mid-February. Of the books stolen in the burglary, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium by Nicolaus Copernicus, in which the astronomer presented his theory that the Earth revolves around the sun, is reportedly the most valuable. The book, dating back 1566, is worth about £215,000, according to experts. Also among the books stolen were early works by Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci and a 1569 edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy. “They would be impossible to sell to any reputable dealer or auction house,” a source familiar with the case told The Guardian. “We’re not talking Picassos or Rembrandts or even gold bars — these books would be impossible to fence.... There must be a collector behind it. The books belong to three different dealers working at the very top of the market and altogether they form a fantastic collection.” London police have not yet announced any suspects in the burglary.
New York wants the entire city to read together and has announced the One Book, New York program to make it happen. Throughout February, readers were able to vote on a list of five finalists that included Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The winning book will be announced later in March. “Being that New York City is the epicenter of the publishing industry, it struck me that we should be doing something really significant to support the publishing industry, to promote literacy, and to support independent bookstores throughout the city,” Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment commissioner Julie Menin said.
# NEWEDITION, EDITION,MARCH DECEMBER NEW 20152016 NEW EDITION, JUNE 2016
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The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has sent shockwaves across the world. From his Twitter tantrums to his immigration ban, his influence is being felt far and wide. Josh Hamel looks at how the publishing industry has reacted so far, and ask what the next four years have in store. In the days following Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States, Amazon's bestseller chart depicted a reading public focused on a theme. George Orwell’s 1984, Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here and Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism all received a surge of interest, selling out and leaving publishers scrambling to meet the demand for these classics. Readers were not the only ones nervous about the new president. Before Donald Trump was even elected, many writers were already concerned about the way he was campaigning and the effect his words were having. "As writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power," an open letter signed by more than 450 authors, including Stephen King and other notable literary figures, read. The ghostwriter of Trump’s The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz, was also particularly vocal against his candidacy during the campaign. In the five months since the election, the criticism from much of the publishing world has only become more intense. In a series of emails to the New Yorker, Philip Roth, who wrote about rise to power of a similar political candidate in the 1940s in The Plot Against America, called Trump a “con artist.” Forward to Glory author Brian Bach called his presidency “an error in the American Experiment.” Perhaps part of the concern many have over the new presidency is that while he has a number of bestselling books to his name, he is
not particularly known as a voracious reader. This is a sharp difference from not only his immediate predecessor who left the Oval Office with a New York Times interview highlighting his favourite books from his time as president, but also from every U.S. leader in memory. “All our recent presidents, Republican and Democratic, have been readers,” Aaron Hamburger, leader of a protest that encouraged people to send books to the White House, said to The Huffington Post. “Part of being a leader is knowing what it means to sit in the audience, how to listen, and there’s nothing more humbling and informing than reading, taking in the voice and consciousness of someone else in such a deep way.” This seeming lack of interest in reading and writing is only highlighted by the rumoured cuts to the $146 million budget for the National Endowment for the Arts. Over its 40 year history, the Arts Endowment has sponsored work resulting in more than 2,400 books, including acclaimed titles such as Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex and Alice Walker's The Color Purple. In addition, 83 of the 141 American recipients of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were previous NEA Literature Fellows. While a minor part of the government's budget, a drastic enough cut to the Endowment could have real implications in the cultural make-up of the United States. Even where he is not directly involved, Trump has had an effect on the industry, prompting
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discussions of free speech and censorship in regard to the books that are being published. After Simon and Schuster announced one of its imprints had signed notorious alt-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos to publish his new book, the company faced a backlash from those in the company and out. Shortly after, author Roxane Gay decided to pull her latest work from the publisher and the editor of the Chicago Review of Books committed to not review any Simon & Schuster books this year. “I guess I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” Gay said. So harsh was the criticism, President and CEO Carolyn Reidy was compelled to make a statement to its other authors reassuring them of the book's content and that the company would not condone hate speech. Even after Simon and Schuster cancelled the book’s publication for controversy over comments Yiannopoulos made, Gay refused to return. Although it’s easy to be immediately offended by Trumps words it is perhaps also his unsophisticated tone that sticks in the craw for many. He is not a man to even try to appear socially empathetic or cultured, so to the book trade and the artistic world at large, there is little to redeem him. But are they right in adopting censorship themselves as a means of defence against the President? These discussions are not exclusive to the publishing industry in the US, but are causing waves across the world. Author Susan Hill recently cancelled an appearance at a UK bookshop because of what she viewed as the shop's anti-Trump views in not stocking titles that were supportive of the president, calling it a form of censorship. “Free thought, free belief, freedom of expression — those are among the most important values of the free world in which democracy holds sway. I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to my death your right
to say it", she said in an article in The Spectator. “What is more, if I am a bookseller I will not agree with many of the views expressed by some of the authors whose books I stock, but if they are legal and legally published, I will not censor those books in terms of not putting them on my shelves. I will not ban — however much you fudge the word, that is what it is — any book because I disagree with its author’s stance on anything at all. I will not discourage my customers from buying such books. If they are not on my shelf I will not refuse to order them." Still there’s reason to suggest the Trump presidency may be good for the industry as a whole, increasing the interest in books targeted at those who oppose him and his agenda as well as authors invigorated with a new sense of purpose. According to Publisher’s Weekly, immediately following the election, at least three publishers rushed just such works to release in time for inauguration day or shortly after. "What I really think will happen is that the book business may do some of its best work in the coming years, as often happens in times of trouble,” literary agent and former bookseller Andy Ross told Publisher’s Weekly. For fiction writers, Philip Roth said the job may be harder as the absurd has now become reality. “It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type— the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist—that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States. Others, like Brian Bach, are more optimistic: “It’s up to us to provide material of quality and purpose, from trenchant exposé to innovative satire, not only as a response to Trumpism’s traction beams – bent on luring people who should know better into the nightfall – but so as to restore our own self worth, which in an ostensible democracy, carries its own sense of justified entitlement."
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NEW EDITION, MARCH 2017
Editor’s Note Why do you write?
You may think it’s a simple question, but that doesn’t mean there is a simple answer. Author and editor Peter Salmon dives into his reasoning and asks other writers to do the same.
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”Don’t be a writer; be writing.” – William Faulkner
n the last issue, curmudgeon that I am, I railed against those who want to write books but who don’t want to read them. Apart from being baffled that they ignore possibly the best toolkits for being a writer – the work that has gone before them – it just seemed to me odd that someone would want to write a book if they have no interest in the things themselves. No one decides to make an album if they don’t listen to music. And, as I noted then, it is usually painfully obvious to any astute reader when a writer is not interested in books. There is a certain dead voice that seems appears in these novels – they aare like a drawing of a house by an amateur, rather than an architect. This, for me, comes back to a more fundamental question, and one I am often asked – why do you write? It sounds a simple question, and there are some simple answers. One simple answer is ‘for money’. This is an absolutely valid answer, and good luck to anyone who a) does this and b) makes money. After all there are a lot more nefarious ways of trying to make a buck, so personally I prefer the idea of someone contributing to the world of art and culture than many other things they could be doing. Another answer, and one that pleases me enormously, is ‘I love books’. It’s the reason I started, after all. As I said on my last article, people who read books are generally more intelligent, more empathetic, more emotionally tuned in, more attractive, and much better lovers. My evidence may be mostly anecdotal on this, but I have had tremendous fun gathering the data, so you’ll just have to trust me. But for me there is a deeper answer, and one that anyone who wants to write good books needs to think about. Why does anyone write books? Or poems? Or plays? Why do humans make any sort of art. What is it for? I’m not going to go into the deep psychology of this – there is plenty out there. We all know that art can be (but doesn’t have to be) healing in some way – to take a banal example, when Diana died thousands of people who had never written a poem in their life were suddenly spirited into verse. Leaving aside whether that is a valid thing to be in grief about, and whether the verse was any good, obviously for large numbers of people the poetic form allowed them to give expression
to something they were feeling, in a way that just saying ‘I’m sad’ didn’t. And I would hope that all of us have, at some point been moved by a piece of art in some way that is difficult to express, be it a piece of music, a book, a painting and so on. Some emotion is captured, possibly one we have no name for, and we feel a resonance that we don’t feel in other situations. Again, this is all perfectly valid. But for me, at this moment in time, where I think it is uncontroversial to say that the domain of art is shrinking (funding continues to be cut; there is less art on television, radio and in print; education about art is being reduced) there is another key ‘function’ of art, and another reason to be getting to the page. Writing – good writing especially – offers a competing narrative to so many of the ways of seeing (to use the late great John Berger’s phrase) the world that are at best narrow, at worst corrosive. To take a random but pressing example, the language of economics, which, at its worst, assigns humans a monetary value. The entirety of our being – our loves, our hates, our tastes, our experiences – is judged against how it contributes to the financial prosperity of the nation, with those things that don’t being held against us. This is a ‘way of seeing’– or of creating a narrative – which says how we should live, and which assigns a value to aspects of how we do so. To take another example, if you’ll excuse the generalisation, science. Science is – as any scientist will tell you, and as many non-scientists don’t realise – simply another way of seeing the world, or creating a narrative. It is one that does have a very specific truth test – does it work? Newton, for instance, came up with a terrific way of describing the world that worked for a long time, until Einstein pointed out that bits of it didn’t, and came up with a story that worked better. For me, this idea was a revelation, and I remember precisely what occasioned it, and I plan now to digress, so hold on to your respective hat. Back in the 1990s, before most people were born, I was in a class at university on the philosophy of science, during which the wonderful and wonderfully named Professor Manfred von Thun set us a test. Newton, he pointed out, argued that everything either stayed still, or moved in a straight line at a uniform speed UNLESS ACTED ON BY ANOTHER FORCE. So, to take a simple example, if something is moving but slowing down, then we need an idea such a ‘friction’ to explain what is happening. That is Newton 101. Professor von Thun, who had a thick German
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accent and had one of those beards with no moustache, both of which gave him an air of gravitas, had his own theory. Everything in the universe moved in a figure 8. If something was not moving in a figure 8, a force was acting on it, for instance ‘griction’. Prove me wrong, said Manfred von Thun. Of course, one can’t. If you pointed to any object that wasn’t travelling in a figure 8, Manfred von Thun could invent – I mean identify – a force that was stopping it. His theory was as sound as that of Newton. Why was Newton’s better? Not by any truth test. It was better because it was simpler, which made it more useful. ‘Friction’ is as invented as ‘griction’ (or ‘gravity’), but it describes the world more elegantly, and so is to be preferred in a world where elegant solutions are generally better for practical sense. Now, I’m a big believer in science – I rely on it when I drive a car, go to the doctor, or fly to the moon. I also think that the big bang and evolution are elegant, coherent and useful ways of understanding how I came to exist, although you may, of course, have other explanations you find
more elegant, coherent and useful (or explanations that are none of these things, you daredevil you). But while science (be it physics, biology, chemistry, evolutionary theory etc.) is elegant, coherent and useful in saying what I am and why I am, it does not say how it is to actually be me. Nor does economics. Psychology has a stab at it, as does religion. You can add your own. But for me, it is literature that comes closest to capturing the phenomenon of being human. Every person is a unique event, and has the right to describe itself, how it exists in the world, what it is like to be itself. Its loves, hates, tastes and experiences. What literature (and the other arts) do, for reasons that are at times baffling, is find a form to describe these things in a way that both retains their uniqueness and makes them universal. There are endless theories on how it goes about this but in the end it’s the thing itself that matters. For some reason ‘playing with dolls’ as I sometimes describe my own writing, produces truths about being human that no other activity does. So, why do I write? For money, sometimes. Because I love books, definitely. But finally, as an act of resistance. There are a lot of narratives out there that are competing to tell humans what they are, and what they should value. Again and again, for me, they are either inadequate or just plain wrong. And, of course, a lot of them are wilfully wrong, to exert power and limit possibilities. In order to ensure that these narratives are not the only ones out there, and that the ways of seeing that we have access to are not simply those that continue to dominate, I keep playing with dolls. We are still reading Homer 2500 years after the poems were composed. Who the rulers of the time were is lost to us. Why do you write? Peter Salmon is an Australian writer and editor living in the UK. His first novel, The Coffee Story (Sceptre, 2011), was a New Statesman Book of the Year. He has written frequently for TV and radio, and for broadsheets including the Guardian and the Sydney Review of Books.
Come Together Every spring, two of publishing’s biggest shows are held on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Hayley Radford has everything you need to know ahead of this year’s London Book Fair and Book Expo America.
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very spring, two of the calendar’s biggest publishing trade shows take place: the London Book Fair and BookExpo America. BookExpo is a messy, frenetic and rather lowfi alternative to the annual trade shows, despite its vast size; it’s as much about book bloggers and fanatical readers queuing up to meet their favourite famous writers and have a cart-load of copies signed as it is about trading rights and deal-making. The so-called ‘autographing line up’ isn’t something that other book fairs would dream of entertaining but it’s one of the most popular features of BEA, always causing the fair to feel somewhat lopsided as queues of lit-lovers from all over the US form orderly lines that snake across the Javitz Centre, at the end of which sits Elizabeth Gilbert. Armed with a Sharpie. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you love books; there’s a daily litany of special speakers and guest contributors already lined up to talk about their latest books and their respective publishing journeys. This years highlights include an appearance by Stephen King at one of the many well-attended Author Breakfasts, and the children’s book extravaganza. There are provisions for the would-be published author, but these inevitably feel pretty marginalised in the grand scheme of things, and set the knowledge bar low when it comes to informing authors about the publishing process. uPublishU and the Author Market haven’t really evolved in five years of trying. So if you are based in North America and know very little about the trade but want to begin your research, BEA isn’t a bad place to start. BookExpo claims to be a celebration of storytelling in all its forms, but it certainly helps if you’re already a celebrity with a show on NBC. Moving back to March this year (having flirted with April in previous years) the London Book Fair spans three day event and boasts over 25,000 visitors from 124 different countries. This year
Poland’s publishing market and literary output is the focus, introducing readers and consumers to its particular trends and tastes. There’s a litany of events and awards from the 14-16 March, including insights, conferences, tech highlights, seminars, workshops and in-depth profiles, led by and featuring the great and the good of the publishing world today. LBF remains one of the global marketplaces (along with Frankfurt Book Fair ever October and, to a lesser extent BookExpo America) for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels, covering all aspects of the publishing industry, albeit with a resolutely traditional focus, despite its aforementioned efforts to diversify. Still in its temporary home at Kensington Olympia, The London Book Fair still feels very much like an exclusive publishing industry closed shop, despite its well-meaning and concerted efforts in recent years to diversify and refine its offering to cater more inclusively to unpublished and self published writers. Yes, there are events for writers, the green and the more experienced, but these still can’t help but feel like afterthoughts in the grand scheme of things; a token gesture towards the author community, rather than a genuine effort to include writers from all publishing walks of life into the mainframe of the fair. This is likely to be in part down to the sheer force of will exerted by the larger traditional publishers. For them, exhibiting at the fair is an extremely costly business; an opportunity to spend upwards of £40k on a sweeping stand at Olympia in order to show off their publishing wares. They do it very well, and to authors attending the fair, these large publishers embody much of what they themselves aspire to in their own writing careers: wealth, fame and clout. For the big publishing brands, LBF if about selling and securing rights, relentlessly pushing a small number of the most
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high-profile, razzle-dazzle titles they have on their respective horizons. It’s as much about trying to convince the trade that they’re as excited about the latest reality TV/blog artist memoir as they are about the new Paola Coelho novel. Appearing at a trade show such as LBF is, to some extent, an exercise in vanity. This is showboating for the sake of it, albeit to impressive effect. These publishing monoliths carry a lot of weight. It’s not in their interests for self publishing and independent authors to be embraced wholeheartedly by the Fair; they and the organisers would seem to want to continue to marginalise outsider publishing forms, in order to protect their own superior and preserve their positions at the head of the industry table. The main new addition for writers this year is The Author Club, although strictly speaking it’s a membership opportunity - costing £125 per year which then entitles the member to ‘free’ entry to the LBF’s author-focused events during the Book Fair week. If you’re just turning up to LBF on the look out for information, then the Author HQ - originally designed and programmed by Authoright in 2013 to great acclaim - remains the best place to find it. Thousands of authors will flock to overcrowded events at the Author HQ, illustrating just how poor or indeed absent - the offering is for them elsewhere at the Fair. There are seminars, talks and one on ones with industry experts and other writers, covering all aspects of the ‘author-journey’. There are a handle of opportunities to pitch to literary agents, although the slots have long since been booked up, such is the hens teeth likelihood of literary agents accepting submissions from authors at the event. In fact, if you loving reading and hearing your favourite authors talking about their work then you’re likely to find visiting the London Book Fair a far more valuable and enriching experience than if you’re a writer. If you’re going, plan ahead. Do not expect to go armed with questions for publishers or literary agents; they do not expect nor want to take
unsolicited approaches from individual writers they do not represent. If you go to a big traditional publisher’s stand you’re likely to be beaten back by a coven of twenty-something gatekeepers, employed to keep unidentified authors at bay. Only publishers and literary agents are truly welcome here. Browse all the stands at your leisure, take all the literature available, be aware that if something sounds too good to be true it probably is, and hone in on the lectures and popup events that are important to you or fill a gap in your knowledge. Keep an open mind and ask questions to any one you’re speaking to, whatever their background. A lot of the contributors at Author HQ are effectively sponsors, paying for the opportunity to promote their brand or business, so they naturally have a vested interest in selling you their advice and services. Don’t be easily impressed. Wherever possible, ask for examples of successes and quality work, whether its in cover design, production or promotional activities. Scrutinise the stories you hear from other authors; do they represent your experience, could you do - or want to do - what they’ve done in order to sell their books. Visiting the London Book Fair has become something of a rite of passage for authors, desperate for news and guidance, who want to be a part of an industry which seems at face value to reject them. They will find a home there, but it’s a marginalised one, still on the fringes. The golden rule of LBF is don’t take your manuscript with you. No one will want to take it home. Because oddly, selling your book is not what London Book Fair is about. It’s actually about selling itself. The London Book Fair runs from 14-16 March. Book Expo America runs from 31 May to 2 June. For more information go to www.londonbookfair. co.uk and bookexpoamerica.com.
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From Screen to Page Screenwriters are known to steal from the literary world for the next big blockbuster, but film often inspires authors right back. Brian Paul Bach writes on the classic Hollywood era that influenced his writing and the crafting of his new four-part saga.
hen I was a kid – and it doesn’t really matter how long ago – I was a big Tolkien fan. I gobbled up The Hobbit, and after it, The Lord of the Rings was the biggest thing I’d taken on since Don Quixote. (Inspiration for tackling the latter came from watching Mr. Magoo in the title role, from his Famous Adventures series.) As an aspiring filmmaker, J.R.R.’s works seemed tailor-made for the screen, so I was determined to film every page of that best-selling saga – in 8mm. Fortunately, many years later, Peter Jackson & Co. relieved me of that rather ambitious selfassignment. I mention this obscure trivia because, now that I think of it, perhaps a subconscious notion was planted in my mind when I read the first words of The Lord of the Rings foreword: “This tale grew in the telling, until it became...” Looking back, it’s almost like an invitation to start something – anything creative – and keep going with it, until it is done. It’s just occurred to me that, like Tolkien, I’ve produced a four-part saga, Forward To Glory, set in a fancifully-created world, ostensibly based on quasi-reality, with invented terms and fantasy elements, plus, scholarly bonus materials in the final volume. Fine then, Middle Earth was one of many inspirations, but I’ve always endeavored to fashion my own worlds, based on my own preferences. Instead of medieval-ness, I wound up with the movie world to dive into. This made complete
sense, as I’d long been an avid reader of the ‘showbiz bible’ Variety, which not only informed the reader what was going on in the Industry (as it was styled), but as a trade paper, it plainly demonstrated how said Industry actually worked. And the best thing about Variety was that the presentation was inclusive, invitational. So, I could be goofing around (with serious intent, and having a blast) with tiny-scale filmmaking, in a small nonHollywood town no less, and still feel like I was one of the gang of professionals who supplied we movie nuts with an incredibly rich treasury of meaningful entertainment, running a gamut from the sublime and profound to the schlocky and goony. Thus, crafting some kind of saga out of this surging, never-quiet, always-bubbling kettle was for me, pretty easy. Granted, in Middle Earth, they didn’t have movie theatres, sleazeball agents, or apparently, any sex. Conversely, Hollywood has it all, baby, and I relished the possibilities. I don’t wish to imply that writing such a work was particularly easy, but conceptualizing it, referencing it, and playing around with what I know of it facilitated concocting episodes within Shakespeare’s ‘big three’ regions: comedy, tragedy, and history. I’m a fan of most movie genres, and to me, epics are among the most impressive. Epics proclaim the pageant of history. Tragedy naturally covers a wide range of drama, and the film noir style is irresistible. Noir presents drama which is
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inevitably, though not exclusively, tragic. Needless to say, comedy is always welcome, and satire is one of its best manifestations. As a result, while my own tale grew in the telling, it automatically (and perhaps mindlessly) morphed into what I call an EPIC-NOIR-SATIRE. Like Shakespeare, like the theatre in general, and like the cinema, these three are always interacting, even though they may stand alone for a time. But of course, with such a saga, these convenient summaries could only be made after this 3+1-headed monster was put to bed. Especially at the start, episodes were written in bits and pieces, for my entertainment, mostly. I’d already had three nonfiction books published, all
dealing with the Indian subcontinent, which for me is a passion equal to that which I have for the cinema. Well and good, but fiction, which I’ve wended in and out of all my creative career, was especially attractive after a lengthy spell of documenting, corroborating, and fact-checking. Admittedly, in the brutal world of publishing, works of fiction, until they are fortunate enough to prove as good little – or tyrannosauruslevel – earners, are weirdos on the fringe, always wanting in, before succumbing to creeping obscurity. Well, whatever the case, I embarked on this project as an entertainment of sorts, and entertainment should be mostly enjoyable, or perhaps fulfilling, or even edifying. If obscurity awaited, I at least wanted the saga emergent to be significantly obscure. Assuredly, the composition of this quartet was protracted, and at times unnecessarily stressful. It was supposed to be fun! But the adding, always adding, was addicting, and ultimately vital in rounding everything out. A few times I was almost hallucinating in the depths of the late-night grinds. Perhaps such over-extension heightened a few scenes, but mind-alteration has never served me well as a creative agent. The bottom line is that Forward To Glory began as a lark. And, as if it flew through some mysterious force of shakti, or worse, a suspect force field from some Planet X, it grew inexorably, relentlessly, mercilessly... into a pterodactyl.
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4. Appendix: What This Particular Novel Is About: Book Cover Blurbs Postscript Bibliography
Well, that’s one goofy way of putting it. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to defend Forward to Glory. It just seemed like it needed defending. And to no one in particular. But in case someone showed up, I had to be ready. So I tacked on an appendix to my recent ebook, Busted Boom: The Bummer Of Being A Boomer, a trenchant (more like scathing) appraisal of mine own generation: Appendix III: Critical Mess: In Defense of FORWARD TO GLORY Argument Preamble 1. Style 2. What This Particular Novel Is 3. Bittergate
Perhaps the contents listing was a little too doom-laden. The italics were for emphasis! At any rate, Busted Boom won me no friends, but sticking in an advertisement for fictional episodes (instead of painful reality) did no harm. After these bouts of nonfiction and social criticism, I wanted to write about things I liked, loved, and lived for. Most aspects of the movies fall into such categories. I gravitated to Hollywood’s Golden Age (its high point generally acknowledged as the year 1939), because there are so many appealing qualities associated with it. However, there was no reason to make this saga a period piece. I would have to qualify every reference for genuineness, and with audiences today, you don’t want to cross them by placing, say, a 1937 Chrysler Airflow into a contemporary scene as if it were brand new. (It came as a shock when I read that Mervyn Peake introduced a sports car into his otherwise ‘medieval’ saga, the Gormenghast trilogy, but that detail only enhanced the most ingenious explosion of pure inventive brilliance I’ve ever read.) But that’s exactly what I did: open the hopper, assemble all the settings, timings, objects, and characteristics I’m partial to – the things I and I alone want in my story – and mix ‘em in, so as to propel and embellish the story, and not to simply prove how plausible it’s supposed to be. This quartet is an entertainment, not a documentary or a social criticism (well, maybe a little). But as Tolkien insisted with The Lord Of The Rings, my
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saga is not an allegory! Boy, I’m sort of getting into a defensive mode about Forward to Glory, aren’t I? No need. What’s done is done, and I’ll leave it at that. Like all writers today, any external resources needed can be accessed via many forms. I have a pretty decent library of film-oriented books, gathered through the years. And like everyone else, I access online sites for info, accuracies, and researched items, often because I’m too damn lazy to reach for the tome just across the room. Pathetic, huh? But I have to say, I don’t think the convenience of such resources affected the storytelling, except to add more referenced bits and pieces than would’ve appeared otherwise. Again, an influence from Variety, as each issue, from 1905 to the present day, is packed with names, dates, running times, studios, trends, plans, proposals, and deals. That’s the nature of the biz, and Forwart to Glory explores many of the currents that immerse its cast of thousands. Like those sometimes valuable and sometimes annoying extras available on DVD and Blu-Ray editions of movies new and old, I added a sort of ‘making of ’ feature at the very end of the fourth volume of Forwart to Glory: Notes On Sources: A Concluding Essay Proem
3. At The Fringes Of The Fleet 4. A State Of Mind – And Beyond 5. Persons Of Some Consequence 6. Variety Is The Spice Of Showbiz Wrap-Up For we cinephiles, yakking about film is pure pleasure. So, in order to bring at least a semblance of plausibility to the fore, I thought I would lay it all out in this essay, as far as my appreciation, inspiration, and love of the movies is concerned, and why that led to making my own saga – or mini-series, or cycle, or trilogy+one=quartet, or... Forward to Glory! Brian Paul Bach is a writer, artist, filmmaker and photographer; he has worked across the entertainment business, in theatre, music and as an academic. He now lives in central Washington State with his wife, Sandra. His previous works include The Grand Trunk Road From the Front Seat, Calcutta’s Edifice: The Buildings of a Great City, and Busted Boom: The Bummer of Being a Boomer. Forward to Glory I: Tempering by Brian Paul Bach (published by Clink Street Publishing March 21st 2017) will be available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores.
1. Primed For Picture Shows 2. Seminal Texts, Seminal Sites
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2017
GETTING I NAKED IN MALIBU Constructive feedback early in the writing process can often make all the difference in the quality of the final product, but that doesn’t make hearing it any easier. Author Joe Treasure describes his time in writing group and how he learned to take criticism.
t isn’t easy to get the kind of supportive criticism that will help you improve as a writer, particularly if you’re unpublished. People don’t take you seriously, or just say nice bland things, or try to undermine you for weird reasons of their own. A good writing group can help, but not all writing groups are good. When I gave up my full time teaching job in Wales and moved to Los Angeles, I was able to give more time to writing. I was missing regular contact with literary friends, so I joined a writing group just up the coast in Malibu. I went to my first meeting, taking a piece I had written on that week’s theme. We gathered in the home of the group’s leader, Suzi, in a room overlooking the ocean. The meeting began with a guided meditation. Then we got to work. First to read was Ira, a retired attorney. He gave us a glimpse of himself as a teenager on the subway from the Bronx with his immigrant mother to buy shoes on a meagre budget. His ogling of the bosomy blond across the aisle earns him a cuff across the head. Ira’s mother, with her habit of reverting to Yiddish in moments of stress, was clearly known and loved by the group. Suzi marked her approval with a throaty hum. “So rich,” she said, tilting forward in her rocking chair, “so rich and so true.” Jim was next. Jim’s father, a Texan car mechanic who finds Jim looking at gay porn and humiliates him, was also greeted as an old acquaintance. “Jim, Jim, such pain in this story,” Suzi said, with her eyes squeezed shut as though she felt the pain physically. And Jim was commended by the group for dealing so frankly with such difficult material. Then it was my turn. A disturbing childhood event was the topic Suzi had set. I’d chosen as my subject an occasion when I’d watched another boy being caned in my Catholic primary school. I’d done what I could to seat the experience in the body of my eight-year-old self, to give a sense of fear and helplessness. I was prepared for criticism. As I read my elaborate sentences out loud, I felt I’d laid it on a bit thick. When I’d finished, Suzi began by saying it was beautiful. “Yes, beautiful,” she repeated, with a little shudder of appreciation. “Beautiful, but evasive. It hints at more than it’s willing to commit to.” Lynnette, who was chronicling her depression, raised a tentative hand. “I think, you know, you’re holding something back. You’re not letting us see the whole you.” “Exactly,” Ira said. There were murmurs of agreement. It was Jim, in his southern drawl, who delivered the knock-out blow. “Seems to me we all need to hear more
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about those sado-sexual feelings you developed in childhood.” I waited for someone to laugh. No one did. The looks were earnest, sorrowful. As my wife commented later, I should have known better than to use the words groin and priest in the same paragraph. That week’s homework was to capture a memory of happiness in childhood. The instruction was greeted with a communal groan. “I know, I know,” Suzi said from her rocking chair. “Not an easy topic, but see what you can do with it.” Unlike the others I was glad of the opportunity to keep it light. I decided to follow Ira’s example and introduce a lovable family member. I would write about my older sister Mary, our reluctant but creative child-minder. I would describe the distractions she organized as a teenager to keep me and my younger siblings busy. I thought first about the tasting game, when she would sit us in the kitchen wearing blindfolds and put food on our tongues for us to identify – margarine, honey, mustard – but ruled it out as too risky. Instead I chose the walk up the lane to smell the pigs, the scruffy farmyard, the sudden darkness of the pigsty, the scuffling, grunting noises, and that unmistakable stink – the reason we were there – then out again into blinding sunlight. Some bodily references were inevitable, but I’d be careful to avoid erogenous zones.
I sat through the next meeting with more confidence. I was the last to read. When I’d finished there was silence followed by a collective sigh. The others glanced at each other, and at me, and at the floor. It was Jim who spoke first. “It seems to me that we really need to know what all went on in that pigsty.” “Exactly,” Ira said. Lynnette stirred herself to agree. “I think, you know, you brought us out of the pigsty too soon. I mean, if you want to write, you have to ask yourself, are you ready to get naked?” Later, as the meeting was breaking up, Ira approached me. “About Suzi,” he said, and he glanced across at her as though not wanting to be overheard. For a moment I thought he was going to confess doubts of his own. But he went on, “She could really help you with your writing if you could just… open up to the process.” I thanked him. He seemed like a nice guy. That was part of the problem. It’s what kept me going back for longer than was good for me. They were all nice people. And I really wanted to be receptive to criticism, however clumsily expressed. And writing sometimes leads you to uncomfortable places – they weren’t wrong about that. On the other hand, they were following a set of unspoken rules that I hadn’t signed up to. If I asked about technique or voice, they would smile knowingly at my reluctance to shed the mask. In the end I saw that what they were doing was therapy, and they weren’t good at it. It was an important lesson. When someone criticizes your work, it’s good not be defensive. But you do need to filter out the harmful stuff. Names and other identifying details have been changed. Joe Treasure currently lives in South West London with his wife Leni Wildflower. As an English teacher in Wales, he ran an innovative drama programme, before following Leni across the pond to Los Angeles, an experience that inspired his critically acclaimed debut novel The Male Gaze (published by Picador). His second novel Besotted (also published by Picador) also met with rave reviews. His latest novel, The Book of Air (published 4th April 2017 by Clink Street Publishing) will be available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores. For more information please visit www.joetreasure.com
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2017
Mining for Gold
Truth is often stranger than fiction, but when writing a novel set in the past, even farfetched authenticity is more believeable than common invention. Author Sam Taylor-Pye illustrates the research
process she had to undertake to make 1860s San Fransciso feel real to readers.
oldsmith Jones is a gay teenage boy who turns to sex work to survive living on the streets of San Francisco, 1863. Writing him is on the one hand easy - he is an unreliable narrator, which means the truth can be bent in and out of shape, on the other hand it has been very difficult. His historical time and place requires extensive research, as does his role as a teenage sex-worker, a 19th century gay individual, and a person of mixed racial background living in the context of a white ruling environment. The historical background into 1860s San Francisco history is widely available for research. Online resources provide writers with everything from old maps to photographs, countless newspaper and diarist accounts of the period, as well as excellently researched non-fiction books, which provide historical, cultural, and political information in context. Urban legends and other alternative facts found amongst these recourses add to the colourful and inexhaustible treasure-trove of ideas for fiction writers of the period. The challenging part is how, when, and if, to incorporate the info into the story, and how to make the solid facts bend out of shape to fit the narrative. I can give a very practical example of turning something reshaping something solid to fit with what you want. In a middle chapter our hero, Goldsmith Jones is standing in Union Square with Sweet Virginiathe man he considers to be his boyfriend. In the scene, the gold mint and the Well Fargo bank are within eye of where the two characters are standing in the square. In reality, they are located a street apart, either way. The mint in particular is an overbearing granite structure. But its grandeur takes away form the larger figure of Sweet Virginia, whom Jones worships, and tries to imitate. Thinking of the scene in a theatrical sense, as if you had to set it up on the stage, I chose
to reconfigure, replace, and rename buildings in order to fit the context of what I thought was most important to the audience - Sweet Virginia’s power over young Jones. These are the kind of choices writers of historical fiction need to consider, when trying to tell their ‘truthful’ story. Researching sexuality and sex work is quite the same, but the further back in time you go, the harder it is to find the information. The time period I was working in, didn’t offer a lot in terms of definitive answers. Jones is a boy whose samesexuality is absolute. The rest of his world is chaos, and the people around him are mostly confused.
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Time and again he finds himself paying the price for their confusion, not his. He anxiously looks to boys and men for affection, comfort and security, and that also makes him vulnerable. Especially as puberty takes hold, his sexual desires kick in, and at the same time becomes desperate to escape from the life he’s living. Today we can find all sorts of information to help understand what emotional conflicts Jones might be experiencing. But, in researching the time and place, I could see nothing that told me that Jones would be confused or feel guilty about same sex feelings the way people might in our century. There was no identifiable label attached to a boy or man in terms of contemporary gay culture. The term, ‘homosexual’ is a late 19th century creation. The horrors and injustice of the 20th century, which that word associates, had not happened. And would not begin to happen until late in the 19th century. What I did see was a needy struggle between acceptance and rejection of masculinity and feminity. I decided to focus on Jones inner battle with his own gender, and concerns over where he fit into the world around him, especially when left vulnerable, alone and exposed. One of the issues Jones has in the novel is with a character called Violet, whose dual sexuality frightens him. She ‘appears’ womanly and is accepted as such by Jones best friend Raccoon. But is rejected by ‘the boss’ Saul, who keeps her locked in the attic until she chooses to become masculine again, and therefore acceptable as a man. This idea, about a struggle between masculinity and femininity has strong ties to the next bit of study. That of Jones sex work. The research into male youth sex work, proved fruitless in terms of 1863. I eventually decided to make assumptions that it would have proceeded more
or less unchanged from the late 19th and early 20th century, when official records on the matter began. It seems it was at that time common for ‘working’ girls to be hired out by family members. Boys, it’s been recorded, often formed gangs, led by a masculine hierarchical figure amongst them, followed by a pecking order of subordinates. The boys hustled in the bright light parts of town, where clientele were known to frequent. As the boys become men, and their social position is elevated, sexual submission to other men becomes a thing of the past, and women become an important commodity, for showing off the young man’s masculinity. Fairies, or feminine male sex workers, usually worked alongside working girls/women, bossed by pimps. Their position as an ‘other’ female commodity made the boys very vulnerable to abuse. A chapter in the novel called ‘The Gold Daddy’ was based on a transcript from a London court case that involved a ten-year-old boy hired to play the ‘female’ role during sex. The boy had agreed to go to a hotel room with a client. He was then cheated out of the money that had been agreed. The boy became angry at being swindled, and in revenge went to the police to have the man arrested on the charge of ‘sodomy’. By using the ‘sodomy’ law of the time, the boy had some means of getting justice, although his own motive was revenge. But, in 1863 California, there was no law against an adult having sex with a child. The age of consent for children in 1880 is ten years old. Before that there appears to be no legal protection for a child. In the case of my main character Jones, living in 1863, and being 14, he would have had no legal authority to turn to. This is his reality. Collecting information for a historical based fiction is fascinating and requires some long study and good detective work. What pieces to use, is a matter to consider, as is the context, and how much you think you can bend the truth. In the end, it’s the best version of the truth that you’re looking for. Sam Taylor-Pye grew up on the border between Washington state and British Columbia, Canada and currently lives in Kent in the UK. This is her first published novel. The first in her historical fiction series, Goldsmith Jones by Sam Taylor-Pye (published Clink Street Publishing 9th February, 2017) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores.
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2017
Mothers of Mayhem To honour this year’s Mother’s Day we decided to do something a little different and delve into the murkier world of bad mums. Embarrassing, terrible, absentee or just plain evil, Kate Appleton reveals those matriarch’s we just love to hate. 24
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Mrs. Bennett Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Although you could argue she is well-meaning and her heart is in the right place, Mrs. Bennett is by and large, a humungous embarrassment to her two eldest, modernthinking, daughters. Thanks to her voracious and shameless drive to find them wealthy husbands, she frequently brings social shame crashing down on their heads. Not to mention her penchant for a tipple and frequent bouts of nerves collapse in the face of resistance to the aforementioned matchmaking.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov She is despicable. Craving a life of extravagance, and the finer and more sophisticated things, Charlotte Haze is the epitome of a terrible and thoughtless mother. Although, we only ever see her through the eyes of Humbert Humbert, who shows her initially as a vaguely repulsive obstacle to Humbert’s advances on her young daughter, her behaviour is impossible to forgive. After offering board to Humbert, Charlotte subsequently manipulates him into marriage all the while willfully ignoring his pedophiliac desires on her young daughter. Instead of protecting her daughter, she sees her as competition, vying for Humbert’s affections and treats her daughter worse than ever before.
Mrs. Wormwood Mathilda by Roald Dahl
hardly knows at the end and drives off into the sunset without glancing back. Although, to be fair, it’s probably smiles all around with this family solution.
Mrs. Greco Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
The books are written from the viewpoint of growing up in the 1950s in a suburb of Naples within a relatively poor family, granted. However, as the relationship between Elena and her mother develops — from one of Elena being used as a maid, babysitter and verbal punching bag as a young girl to seething resentment, bitter put-downs and financial dependency into her adulthood — it’s hard to understand why Elena doesn’t start talking back and resisting the abusive behaviour that becomes synonymous with their relationship.
Holly Golightly Breakfast at Tiffanys by Truman Capote
So this list couldn’t really be complete without a shout out to stepmothers, and our crown goes to the charming and whimsical protagonist of Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffanys, Holly Golightly. At one point during her teenage years, Holly married Doc Golightly and became the muchloved stepmother to his children. So it shouldn’t come as a huge shock that when she suddenly disappeared to start a new socialite life in the big city, she left a trail of tears and confusion in her wake.
Prioritising Mathilda’s bullish and lazy brother, a flash life and her dodgy car salesman husband over the love and care of her youngest child — whose headteacher is the devil incarnate — is a far cry from being a great mum. Especially *spoiler alert* as she allows her to be adopted by a teacher she
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2017
Through the Fourth Wall What if the characters you wrote about could come to life and spring right off the page? In Italian author Giuseppe Cafiero's new novel - which Clink Street is publishing in its English translation - it's not just any writer who has to answer that questions, but Gustave Flaubert. Cafiero discusses his motivations for choosing the iconic author as his protagonist.
laubert is a unique writer, sublime in his stylistic perfection. Flaubert is a writer so infallibly perfect that he aroused in me the necessity to investigate him more closely. An exploration of him in his entirety was necessary, which involved his life but also – something very important – the characters he created. An arduous but rewarding journey because Flaubert, over and above my literary game, remains unrivalled in the creation of a myriad of planned and created characters whom he then left to continue living their own lives. Therefore, I found it very stimulating to write a story that involved the characters of Flaubert’s books, making them live a fascinating tale that arose from Flaubert’s unintentional carelessness on the evening of 29 March, 1862 when, while conversing with his friends the De Goncourt brothers in their elegant salon at 43 rue SaintGeorges, he reported his intention to write a novel about the East. A novel that was to have as its protagonist an Arab named Harel Bey. From there the inspiration for my book, in which it was necessary to use a literary form that would allow me to create such a story involving real characters and unreal characters. In addition to Harel Bey, the protagonists had to be Monsieur Bouvard and Monsieur Pécuchet, protagonists of a famous novel penned by Flaubert, as well as Flaubert’s niece Caroline Commanville, his former lover Madame Louise Colet and his close friend
Monsieur Maxime Du Camp. Characters who necessarily begin to argue among themselves, reproaching each other for ignoble sins, brazen acts of spite and awkward secrets among disconcerting gossip and an intricate game of prevarications. Returning to the evening of 29 March, 1862 at the home of the De Goncourt brothers, Flaubert had unwittingly given life to a character, he had outlined his facial features, the characteristics of his life, his way of being; in short, he had made him live only then to abandon him to a fate without fate because he would never write a novel with Harel Bey as its protagonist. Yet Harel Bey, at the very moment in which Flaubert hinted of his existence, had virtually come to life with his own human experiences, with his own existence, even if fictitious. Harel Bey was born, therefore, in the salon of the De Goncourt brothers on 29 March 1862. Slowly but inexorably Harel Bey became for me an obsessive presence that began to haunt me, to enervate me, to cohabit with me, because I had sensed the drama of this character created and abandoned with impunity. Hence it was necessary that I seek a solution in order to be able to truly give life to him, since his creator, Monsieur Gustave Flaubert, had lost interest in his fate immediately after giving birth to him, albeit merely in the literary world. Moreover, if one wished to write about Flaubert, who better than this character could know Flaubert,
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the man who had created him and then abandoned him within his memory? Thus a showdown was necessary. A showdown between Harel Bey and Flaubert. A showdown that also involved others of Flaubert’s characters, because each of them knew the secrets of the others. Secrets that were mentionable or unmentionable, real or false. Therefore, what great intrigue could I come up with, rendering Harel Bey alive and making him conduct an intricate game of vendettas and fictitious realities, to become almost a dark avenger and to meddle in the life and works of Gustave Flaubert, his putative father? Thus began a literary “divertissement” between truth and untruth in a sort of literary ambiguity and inventive veracity. Hence each narrative passage becomes false reality and real falsehood, which should engage the reader who is, in the end, the only true protagonist able to solve this narrative enigma. It is necessary then that the reader have the desire and the will to solve the enigma in order to satisfy his curiosity and thus to know the end of the story, assuming that he wishes to know the end and assuming that there is a real end. It is important that, in this way, it is the reader himself who to grants Harel Bey a new life and allows him to become, exclusively for the reader, a real character. It was also necessary to follow a path rich in lexical nuances by means of different languages: dialogue and correspondence. Thus not only
written words but also the representation of physicality consisting of breaths, of timbres, of vibrations, of noises. Almost a phonetic music which had to pass through the narrative, amplifying it and modifying it as necessary, determining the boundaries between the characters and the images that had to be sought to give life to a story that had, in spite of everything, Monsieur Gustave Flaubert as its protagonist. Giuseppe Cafiero is a prolific writer of plays and fiction who has has produced numerous programs for the Italian-Swiss Radio, Radio Della Svizzera Italiana, and Slovenia’s Radio Capodistria. The author of ten published works focusing on cultural giants from Vincent Van Gogh to Edgar Allan Poe, Cafiero lives in Italy, in the Tuscan countryside. Gustave Flaubert: The Ambiguity of Imagination (published Clink Street Publishing 9th February 2017) is available to purchase from online retailers including Amazon and to order from all good bookstores.
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2017
The Great Divide I
’ve been coming up with stories since I was young. I found writing a series has always been a worthwhile and fun challenge. For writing a single story for me often isn’t enough and I fall for the plot and characters of my stories and feel there is so much more I can do with them. But over the years I have also learned a lot on when to stop with certain characters and plot lines before they become too stale and tedious. I originally started on making stories when I was a young teen and learned many things about storytelling back then, but more importantly I learned what not to do. With my current series I have taken everything I have learnt over the years and found the story itself
While telling a story over multiple books often allows a writer to explore characters and plot more deeply, it can also present some challenges. JC Norman reveals what he has learned so far over the course of three books in the Sphere's Divide series. has evolved as I have as a writer. For I feel with every book I write my experience as a writer improves and the story itself changed as I matured. The first book in the Sphere’s Divide saga is a very simple idea because it started off as a very similar idea to my previous unwritten stories I came up with as a youth. But it wasn’t until the second in the series that the story began to change. I myself realised a terrible truth and suffered a great heartbreak and it was only then that I realised I felt I should use my experiences into making Sphere’s Divide a story with emotion. There the story twisted and darkened as I fell into depression but I personally felt it gave the story flavour and depth. After I released the second book and started straight on the third I now felt I had a better direction of where I wanted the story to go and what to concentrate on. Concentrating less on action but more on the characters themselves, as well as learning much more about writing itself. This did however mean that I had to look back at my first book and rewrite the story since I now felt I had a much better understanding on writing, thus making the first in the series a much better read. Having worked on a single idea for so long however has meant that certain parts of the story constantly change or are scrapped altogether. My notebook beside my computer will prove that names have changed, segments and paragraphs have been altered and tweaked and some characters, places and ideas never made it in the story at all. Since I still know the main points of each book in the series I have a mental map of key
parts of the story and link them together so the main plot will not be altered but I allow myself with some level of leniency to change some ideas if I feel it either doesn’t work or can think of something better. This can be the last minute added character and story ark that is useful for the progression of other characters or re-writing whole chapters after I felt it doesn’t flow as the others around it and sets itself up better for the next key part of the main plot. Whatever the change I learned past the second book to ask myself with every character, chapter and story ark, “Why is this here? What does the scene do for the story? What emotions are being portrayed? Am I portraying them properly and painting the picture I wish the readers to see? How does the chapter read? What can I do to improve it and keep the story fluent?” Also I find writing a series needs change. To read one book and like it is one thing but soon readers will tire of the same old thing repeated in different ways. I try to see past this by changing the characters via their relationships towards one another, by not being afraid to kill off characters and welcome in new ones and changing the tempo of the story itself. While centered around a cast of characters I can jump from character to character, each with their own personalities, goals and stretch their resolve and push them further in different ways emotionally and psychologically. This gives each chapter a different flavour depending on the characters, making sure the story itself doesn’t dull. From what first started as an exciting story with a single protagonist where almost each chapter found a different location and inspired heavily on my love of anime and video games, Sphere’s Divide has evolved to a large and diverse story with as much romance between different relationships as fastpaced action, set in a world that has come away from it’s inspirations and found its individuality among other fantasy/science fiction titles. But still working on the fourth book, I can happily say that my experience as a writer and story-teller is flourishing. My series still has a few more volumes to go before I will put it to rest
and concentrate on other series and ideas I’ve been keeping on a small shelf in my mind. J.C. Norman grew up and currently lives in Milton Keynes Village in the UK where he works in the food industry. He has studied martial arts all his life and has worked to incorporate this experience into his writing. The first book in his Sphere’s Divide series was re-published by Clink Street Publishing in 2015 and the second was publishing by Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd. Sphere’s Divide III: Tragedies of Emotion by J.C. Norman (published by Clink Street Publishing 7th February 2017) will be available to purchase from online retailers including Amazon. co.uk and to be ordered from all good bookstores.
NEW EDITION, MARCH 2017
New books from
Clink Street this spring The Cubit Quest
Arch villains, a mind-reading lunatic and the hunt for a highly covetable mythical object, follow the exciting escapades of Charlie Watkins in this fantastic new YA adventure series.
Follow the daily adventures of Angelique, and her nursery pupils, at her school set amongst the French Alps in this charming children’s book.
By Trevor Leck
2nd March, 2017 RRP £9.99 paperback, £2.99 ebook
By Mark Carrington Honest and hopeful reflections of a son navigating the complex emotional and bureaucratic challenges of caring for his mother in her final days. 14th March, 2017 RRP £6.99 paperback, £2.99 ebook
By Malcolm Howard, Illustrated by Steve Harrison
2nd March, 2017 RRP £7.99 paperback, £2.99 ebook
Two Voices, One Story By Elaine Rizzo & Amy Masters
Mother and daughter each share their side of their adoption story, charting the difficult journey from a China orphanage to a loving family home in the UK in this moving memoir. 21st March, 2017 RRP £8.99 hardback, £3.99 ebook
Forward to Glory I: Tempering
By Brian Bach The rise of an actor from total obscurity to worldwide fame has grave consequences in this, the first cinematic entry in a new fourpart epic-noir-satire. 21st March, 2017 RRP £9.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook
The Parent’s Guide to the Modern World
By Richard Daniel Curtis Internationally renowned behavioural expert is back with two indispensable guides to both navigating the difficulties of raising and being a teenager 30th March 2017 RRP £7.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook
The Book of Air
By Joe Treasure
Stunning story of survival, the shaping of memory and the enduring impulse to find meaning in a turbulent world, from acclaimed author of The Male Gaze. 4th April, 2017 RRP £8.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook
The Young Person’s Guide to the Modern World
By Richard Daniel Curtis Internationally renowned behavioural expert is back with two indispensable guides to both navigating the difficulties of raising and being a teenager 30th March, 2017 RRP £7.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook
Predator or Prince By Dilys Sillah
Identify the warning signs of dangerous, and controlling, behaviours before you enter into serious romantic relationships, with this sensitive guide from experienced female life coach. 27th March, 2017 RRP TBC
The Horse’s Arse
By Laura Gascoigne Fakery, fraud, kidnap, murder and the Russian Mafia are all part of the picture for the innocent artist-hero of this delightful crime caper. 21st March, 2017 RRP £8.99 paperback, £3.99 ebook
NEW EDITION CONTEMPORARY ISSUE