Guess what, there are going to be several book bloggers reviewing The Draftsman. Here are the details:
Daniel Kehlmann and Ross Benjamin have together created an updated version of the tales of Tyll Ulenspiegel, trickster. There is a long line of retellings of this man’s story. He first appeared in print in a pamphlet published in 1515 which has Tyll born in Brunswick in the 1300s and dying of the plague inContinue reading “Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann (translated by Ross Benjamin)”
The Draftsman – Synopsis Martin Cox left school at 16 with stellar grades. But too traumatised to progress any further academically, he instead took a low-paid, low-skilled job in a local drafting office. Over the course of a couple of years Martin progresses in skill and appreciation of design and structure. He is an engineeringContinue reading “The Draftsman will be launched 29th April, 2021!!”
He’s a man who is always alone and who functions mostly in his head. For him sex belongs in an abstracted part of his psyche, a need rather than a dimension of his identity.
The world is awash with writers, fitness trainers, dog walkers, chefs and book bloggers. And around each of them is a web of service providers, sales channels and even sometimes paying customers. As a début author (#The Draftsman) I am totally drowned in an ocean of other writers and overwhelmed by the expectations of what one must do to stand out and build a following in the wild, wild world of XXX where XXX means whatever you want. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with the work, the actual book, but everything to do with how skilled you are at managing the online channels, from Amazon to Wattpad (don’t ask). And I am absolutely crap at it. I don’t want a relationship with algorithms or the XXX anons.
I was reading somewhere that authors like to have a particular playlist running in the background while they are working. I cannot imagine anything more annoying or likely to mess up what I am trying to write. But perhaps it depends on the type of music you like and if you like super samey blandContinue reading “The Draftsman’s playlist: music and a novel”
Lenny the Lion Cat was cross. He had been sitting outside the place where he knew the mice had their burrow for nearly an hour. And yet not a single mouse had so much as shown its nose. Lenny could hear them though, whispering under the grass. “Shhhh” “Don’t you shhh me” “Nanna please, there’sContinue reading “Lenny & the Mouse King”
The credit card companies had cancelled all his cards. His wife was degenerating rapidly and he couldn’t pay the carers, and the signs of dereliction showing in the house were too many to ignore. The post didn’t bring bills any more. Those had stopped coming and now it was just legal letters, angry letters fromContinue reading “A Little Black Book”
The whisper went around the classroom, every time Miss turned to the board. Fight. They’re going to get him. After school. That’s what John Carter said. Little new boy‘s gonna get it. But Mrs Vurley didn’t hear it as she turned back to her year 9s and reminded them of the homework. Pointing to theContinue reading “Delete #2 New Boy”
The morning seemed to start later than it should – that meant it was probably a Sunday or maybe a Saturday or maybe one of those weird random days, the ones that followed no clear pattern. These random days were the days Hotpot most dreaded. The Sundays and Saturdays, as far as the sheep couldContinue reading “The Sheep & the Grey Horse – Ruby”
Meredith March studied the wreck peering at her from the mirror and added a touch more mascara to already overly mascara-ed eyes. She is always heavily made up, having never fully recovered from her Dusty Springfield circa ’69 phase. She’s sitting at a mock rococo dressing table wrestling with hair tongs. The dressing table’s gotContinue reading “Delete”
After his rapid and highly effective escape from the new field, Hotpot decided he needed to find his own kind. Frantic calls to the neighbourhood friends and farms came up with the same theory, although it was fundamentally flawed: “he’ll seek out other sheep, don’t you worry, he’ll turn up”. But of course Hotpot wasn’tContinue reading “The Sheep & the Grey Horse – Hotpot Comes Back Home”
The sheep sighed. Off in the near distance they were coming. He turned to the small Shetland pony grazing idly nearby: “here they come again Max, only this time there’s more of them” he said, barely moving his black sheepy lips. The pony looked up with mild interest and blew a lazy breath, soft andContinue reading “The Sheep and the Greyhorse – Hotpot Comes Home”
They sat on the stoop watching lazy crows hopping along the furrows. Occasional seagulls floated above the flat brown, fading into the clouds. The white gates were closed. No one was coming. It was just them. Beatrice poured another glass of warm Chardonnay and lit another cigarette. “Fifteen years we’ve been coming here and forContinue reading “The White Gates”
There are rumours of another Bourne outing, but no word on the script yet. Persuading the lead players to get involved might not be that hard. But what to call the films?
Here are some suggestions, depending on when the films come out and how the script develops:
• Bourne in the USA (Springsteen soundtrack)
• Bourne to be Wild (Animals soundtrack)
• Bourne on the 4th of July (lots of red, white and blue, pies)
• Bourne on Christmas Day (thanks Matilda)
• Bourne Aloft (with bit parts for the Borrowers)
• Bourne Lucky (Kylie Minogue love interest)
• Bourne Free (opportunities for lions and locations in Africa)
• Bourne Vita (much hot chocolate consumed)
Kevin Crokesmith and his assistant, stood patiently in the reception area. The Crematorium people slid about with subdued faces in a monotony of black. “Well, Wendy are we early or are the girls late. She’ll be arriving soon.” His face was a slightly pinker version of the grey of his shirt and his too-wide black tie made him look like a lollypop. Wendy Boilings gave him a nod as she watched the Crokesmith girls tumble through the door, the taller one breathless the rounder one even more so. “The hearse is just coming.”
It isn’t keeping his job or not that matters, but what happens next for Donald Trump. A divorce filing is coming closer, the date likely to be nearer to the 20th January than not, when eyes will have shifted to the incoming president. His third divorce after a fifteen year marriage to Melania will be an expensive business for Mr Trump. How expensive depends on the terms of the prenuptial agreement Mrs Trump will have signed.
When he woke up Curly was extremely cold, much colder than he had ever been before. Alone and on the edge of being able to move he was afraid. But he could feel the rising sun warming the wall of the hive and slowly he found he could move a little bit, then more asContinue reading “The Three Bees Chapter 8 – And then the cold came”
Prologue “What do you mean?” Hotpot stopped chewing for a moment to consider what he meant but he couldn’t remember. “She’s the one who knows” said Hotpot staring out of the field shelter at the gate where a middle-aged woman was fiddling with the latch. “And the others, the one she calls William and thoseContinue reading “The Sheep & The Grey Horse”
Looked up at the squeak. The door opened: grey eyes brimming soft as she said: “Have you got everything then?” Stuffing socks in corners, books between the layers, a muddle of colours in the frame of bluegrey and we two looked together at the open jaws waiting gently to close and shut the things away.Continue reading “Short Story (1982)”
Getting through the publishing process, or not? It’s taken weeks to get over the trauma of the structural edit of the Draftsman. And in between then and now, life and the outside world have weaseled their ways into brain and heart to make it even harder to think fiction.
It’s only a pony, but only a pony is so much more.
Trepidations aside I did really enjoy this book. It helps that technology plays a big part and although there were a few holes, for the most part the technical stuff’s convincing. More significantly this book exploits everything it’s possible to do with digital technology for page layout, composition and printing. Hughes uses typography and exploits the precision of inkjet digital printing to convey the characters’ experiences, often in ways not possible in the pre-digital imaging age.
Whether you’re a writer or not, sometimes doing the same old same old day after day can get a little dreary, tedious even. And you find the contact problem gets harder and harder to solve. Much as you want to, you just can’t seem to keep your bottom in contact with the chair. Any excuse will do: answering emails even the really uninteresting ones, checking to see if the postman’s been, having yet another cup of tea and having to go to the loo even more often. You start to wonder if you should rearrange your knicker drawer, or straighten your speaker wires, maybe colour code the food in your freezer. In extreme cases, even the hoovering is irresistable. And the contact problem isn’t just about making contact with the chair. How often have you decided that your keyboard, screen and mouse need a thorough clean or at least a good scrape around with your fingernail or the scissors?
Years ago I read pretty much all of Vladimir Nabokov’s novels and short stories. Stray words and phrases from his work have stayed with me and might be why reading Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte reminded me of those years.
There are plenty of references in Quichotte to chew on, from Nabokov, Shakespeare and Homer to US soap operats. It’s a multilayered story blurring various narrators’ identities and the boundaries between parallel and increasingly porous stories.
There’s not much for me to add to the Biden-Trump conversations, because Trump leaves me speechless. But I have been pondering the things he can look forward to hopefully starting in November, worse case in four years time.
I’m not much in the habit of writing book reviews. There are so many people much better at it and far more committed to it than me. And anyway I am not really sure how to go about it. And I’m lazy too which doesn’t help. Most of the book reviews I read by onlineContinue reading “A Country to Call Home – a Review”
The same’s true for peep holes in apartment and hotel room doors. We need a chair to use them, or once again must jump. Discrimination in shops is common because we’re below most people’s sightline and justifiably ignored. The counters in chip shops and bakeries and the like are always too high to see, or be seen, over.
Let’s ignore the dramas of writing, rewriting, fear of writing, panic when your brain is just not up to the task. And especially let’s not talk about the contact problem, the one where your bottom refuses utterly to make contact with the chair. Let’s assume you’ve safely gathered in all the words you need andContinue reading “The trials of getting your novel published part 1: The journey so far.”
0ooh it’s going to be just so fab!!!
The light was pushing in far too brightly thought Curly, as he turned away from the morning. Gentle murmuring sounds and tiny whistling snores told him that his brothers were still asleep. As he turned to shade his large eyes from the sunrise Curly was aware of a draft coming from the other side ofContinue reading “The Three Bees – Chapter 3: Three Bees and the Giant Grub”
Now that we are all getting comfortable with using online video software, there are certain do’s and don’t’s that we really should all be following. Online you can find dozens of Zoom etiquette guidelines. They’re couched in earnest helpful tones; they tell you stuff that’s basically obvious, common sense so they’re sort of useful. ButContinue reading “Fourteen tips for getting the most out of your Zoom time”
It’s a peculiar sensation to see first cover visuals for your first novel. They’ve got the story’s title and your name – your name – writ large. And one of them is a perfect expression of what the book’s about. It jumps at your throat, it’s gorgeous, professional and an image that you couldn’t ever thinkContinue reading “Picture this”
In light of the corona virus pandemic, governments around the world have got together and made an important declaration. The Coordinated Global Governmental Announcement (CGGA) is being made in response to the rapid spread of the virus. The devastating contagion has caused a variety of national lockdowns, forbidden civil sniffling and coughing in public, bannedContinue reading “Global corona virus suspension order”
On the 6th March, 2020 Alex Clark, a journalist and broadcaster, interviewed Hilary Mantel live on stage at the Royal Festival Hall. The two discussed Mantel’s the Mirror & the Light, the final part of her Cromwell trilogy that began with Wolf Hall. The conversation held an audience of some 1500 people absolutely spellbound. ImageContinue reading “Hilary Mantel at the Royal Festival Hall”
Without discontent there can be no progress, which is probably how I have ended up here, doing this, writing blogs about writing and fiction. Not that life’s been an endless series of gloomy torments, because it hasn’t. But discontent is a powerful driver borne of dissatisfaction and suffering. I did all my suffering a very,Continue reading “Discontent leads to progress”
Obviously with writing the thing in the first place. But then what? Most first time wannabee authors, me included, haven’t a clue about the publishing business. We all think that the most important thing of all is the manuscript, but that is naïve and foolish. Very foolish. It’s foolish because the most important thing aboutContinue reading “Where does getting your novel published actually start?”
Last week seemed overrun with other peoples’ work, technical stuff, reading fiction (a 723 page work of historical fiction completed over an immersive four days), wrestling with social media and of course keeping the website alive and active. There was also a bit of helpful wrestling with a fellow author at Unbound whose book, Draca,Continue reading “The trials of getting your novel published part 2: Some more of the journey”
Yes, unless it’s dangerous an idea does not really deserve to be called an idea. But these days where every little thought gets shared online and shredded, most new ideas are about as dangerous as a small and rapidly evaporating puddle on the pavement. Why is that? Is it because all the exciting ideas haveContinue reading “Dangerous Ideas”
Not really a blog and with apologies to Robert Burns, here is my take on the reply to Toasting the Lassies for Burn’s Night 2020. The Lassies’ Reply
In reading and critiquing Best First Novel Award contenders it occurs to me that I am too harsh, too demanding and way too mean to these brave writers. It makes me wonder what would I say about the Draftsman if Unbound puts it forward as a candidate? There is certainly lots to say about thisContinue reading “Invention is the mother of necessity”