Monday, 14 April 2014

THE INSPIRATION FOR DELIRIUM - Part One

WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION FOR 
DELIRIUM COME FROM?

I need to go back a long way to find the original inspiration because the seeds of that would have been planted the day I first encountered Rimbaud.

Paul Verlaine & Arthur RimbaudAn exhibition in the foyer of UCL – the story of a house in Camden Town and the two scruffy French poets who lived there for a few months a hundred years before. Rimbaud and Verlaine – what a pair of starcrossed lovers they were.

Without knowing anything much about Rimbaud, and without ever having read a line of his poetry, I fell in love with him. At first it was his life that intrigued me; his poetry came later.



So, thirty years later, having read as many books about him as I could find, having pored over his poetry, having visited his home town of Charleville, the idea for Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion came to me.


It was a What if? story.


The French Poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud lived here May-July 1873.An intriguing aspect of the tale of Rimbaud’s life and works was the reference to a missing manuscript. La Chasse Spirituelle – one of Rimbaud’s best poems according to Verlaine – had been lost for well over a century.

What if someone found it?


This was my starting point. My protagonist, Andrea Mann, goes to Rimbaud’s home town in northern France because she (like me) is obsessed by the boy poet. There she meets a youth who claims to have a copy of La Chasse Spirituelle.

Andrea is intrigued. What if he’s telling the truth?

What if?

And so it began.

I wrote the first chapter of Delirium: The Rimbaud Delusion and the novel was born.

~
 
Next week - Part Two: Where the inspiration for Albert, The Magician came from.


Read more about Rimbaud & Verlaine in Camden Town in The Kentishtowner.

8 Royal (Great) College Street, Camden, London
8 Royal College Street

Monday, 24 March 2014

BLOG TAG


I was invited to join this blog tag by Triskele Books author Catriona Troth. Kat has written two superb books, Ghost Town and Gift of the Raven, and I'm honoured to have been asked by her. 



Here are my answers to the four questions:

1) What am I working on?

This is a bit of a difficult one as I'm what you might call between books at the moment.  I recently finished (apart from the inevitable last minute tweaks,
ARTHUR RIMBAUD
doubts and wobbles) my novel DELIRIUM: The Rimbaud Delusion. Delirium will be published through Triskele Books in late summer 2014, shortly before the 160th anniversary of Rimbaud's birth.

I always find it difficult to categorise my own work - dare I call it literary? I can hardly say commercial fiction and even Women's fiction is a bit of a stretch. Another novel of mine, The Land Beyond Goodbye, has been called Metaphysical fiction and I think Delirium probably fits into that category too, as does my first novel The Man with the Horn.

As well as fiddling with the Delirium manuscript, I am also gathering ideas for my next novel. I don't like to say too much about future projects in case they don't make it past the ideas stage, but I will say that it involves another poet (two poets 800 years apart in fact) and a dead man on a beach.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, if we go with the Metaphysical fiction tag, I would say my work is less fantastical and more down to earth than some other novels that tackle the big questions of who we are and why we are here. There
Dionysos - who features in THE MAN WITH THE HORN
DIONYSOS
is always a bit of a dalliance with gods and epiphanies and such like (sorry, I just can't help it) but I like to couch my novels in some sort of rougher reality.


The endings are not always happy per se, though they do (I hope) provide a resolution that is right for the particular protagonist(s). My Metaphisi-fic (Metaphic?) novels are about finding oneself, not finding the ideal partner; nor are they about religion, New Age or otherwise, though they do touch on spirituality.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Like I said above, I can't help it. I've tried to write other things, honestly - I wrote a crime novel once, but I always come back to this. I have long been fascinated by the ecstatic state and by the glimpses into other worlds, other realities, that it provides. Two thousand years ago I would have been living in a cave starving myself and having visions. Well, I'm not sure about the starving myself, I dare say I'd have found a few tasty locusts to stir fry.

The state Rimbaud called delirium, the disordering of the senses through drink, drugs, staying awake all night, starvation - those hypnotic states that sometimes break down the barriers - the doors of perception - these are the things that get my imagination going. And when those states arrive by themselves, naturally, unprovoked, well, then it's pure poetry.

But - maybe it's all because I'm just an old hippie at heart.

4) How does my writing process work?

I wish I knew. I wrote a blog about this very subject recently. Every time I'm about to start a new novel I panic because I have no idea how I did it last time.

I suppose it starts when I kick a few ideas around - two poets 800 years apart, a dead man on a beach - and start to see the connections between them. I look at images of anything relevant - people, places, artefacts; I read blogs and websites and books and articles and whatever I can find relating to my subjects; and then let it all stew for a while.

If I'm lucky, the stewing process will push some meaty chunks up to the surface where I can skim them off and examine them. Hopefully, some of these meaty chunks will be snatches of conversation, or a bit of description, or a character making him or herself known.

Once I have a starting place and a rough idea of where I'm going, it's a matter of sitting down every day and seeing where the story takes me. This is always the most exciting part. I don't usually plan much in advance and I am always surprised at the turns the writing takes.

But how I get to that place is the mystery. As far as the new novel is concerned, I'm not there yet.
~

I would like to hand the baton (three of them actually) over to the following writers:

Lorraine Mace

LORRAINE MACE AKA FRANCES DI PLINO
Lorraine Mace’s first love is writing for children. She is the author of Vlad the Inhaler, the first in a trilogy for readers aged 8 to 12. Lorraine is also working on a series of novels for the same age group, featuring Jonas Fry, which could best be described as Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) meets Buffy – but without the vampires!

Visit Lorraine at her website.

As Frances di Plino, Lorraine writes the D.I. Paolo Storey crime series. Find out more at Frances’s blog



Jimmy Bain

JIMMY BAIN WITH MONTY
Jimmy Bain writes The Bumble Books, a series of crime novels featuring the Narrator, Charlie, Priscilla and of course, the Bumble himself. He calls what he writes dark comedy/crime with nods towards Chandler, Bateman and Brookmyre.

Jimmy hails from Greenock, Scotland but now lives in Newcastle where he finds much inspiration from eavesdropping on Geordies.

Find out more at The Bumble Books Blog.


Catherine Hume

CATHERINE HUME
Catherine Hume started out as a writer contributing to the sixth form magazine. From there, she went on to co-edit an award-winning play, write a novel (COMING BACK TO LIFE), co-write comedy sketches, review festivals for music websites and write and perform poetry for different events, websites and zines. 

CATHERINE HUME’S REVOLTING, a collection of poetry, will be e-published in June while she works on another conspiracy novel.
 
Find out more about Catherine on her blog.


~

Lorraine, Jimmy and Catherine will answer the same four questions next week (31 March 2014). Do visit their blogs to discover more about the writing life and the process of creativity.

 ~

Thursday, 20 March 2014

TEN REASONS NOT TO BUY THIS BOOK - The Bumble's End by Jimmy Bain

Today (with some trepidation) I'm giving my blog over to Jimmy Bain and The Bumble.  Leave it clean and tidy, lads!


THE BUMBLE'S END
THE BUMBLE'S END by Jimmy Bain
Imagine Philip Marlowe woke up one day with the mother of all hangovers and discovered he'd been turned into a Glaswegian. And not only that but he's saddled with a partner in the shape of his devious fat friend, The Bumble. Well, that's how our Narrator feels.

After finding a dead man hanging from a door, discovering a stash of Nazi memorabilia, and surviving a run-in with a psychotic hoodlum, the Narrator is in no mood for any more nonsense. The Bumble's explanations involving the mysterious flight of Rudolph Hess to Scotland, a deceased Glasgow car dealer, and a hoard of Nazi gold just don't ring true...

10 Reasons Not to read THE BUMBLE'S END


1. The Bumble is a sleazeball with bad taste in shirts!
 

2. The effin narrator never tells you his name!
 

3. It's sexist, racist, ageist, fattist and foulmouthed. Think Gene Hunt but not as soft and cuddly. 







4. Everybody swears, curses, blasphemes and insults each other. Jeez-Uz!
 

5. The dialogue is Scottish!  Jings Crivvens and Help Ma Boab!

6. Everybody SMOKES! cough, splutter, choke. Or chomps on chocolate digestives.
 

7. It contains a graphic scene of sexual perversion. Near the beginning!
 

8. It mentions a pierced clitoris. Yeeeeugh!
 

9. It mentions bodily functions, sleazy sex and folk you wouldnt want to meet on a dark night. (Or ever!)
 

10. It pokes fun at Rudolf Hess, Hitler and the Nazis. Oh, no, wait. That's a good thing.


There are just as many good reasons not to read the next one in the series as well.

THE LONG DROP GOODBYE

THE LONG DROP GOODBYE by Jimmy Bain 
Are the Nazis on the rampage in Glasgow yet again? It seems a few ghosts have returned to haunt the Narrator, Charlie and The Bumble. Could a transvestite nun hold the clue as to why The Bumble's brother Moose fell from the Scott Monument in Edinburgh?

When things get hot in Glasgow The Bumble decides that it's time to mix business with pleasure and head to the South of France to search for a mysterious Scotsman who might hold the key to a fortune. The only problem is that Glasgow's criminal fraternity have decided to holiday there as well in the search for the lost riches.

Monday, 10 March 2014

The BIG Announcement!

Excited, me?  I should say so.

At last the fantastic news can be revealed: This writer is joining TRISKELE BOOKS!

I have long been a fan of the Triskele ladies and their work - Jill, Gill, Kat, Liza and Jane produce excellent content in packages to die for.  Take a look at their website to see just how wonderful they are.

I can't wait to see my book, DELIRIUM - The Rimbaud Delusion, wrapped up in one of their delicious covers.


Read more about it HERE.

And now I'm going off to swoon quietly for a bit.


(I was so excited that when I typed 'excited' above I wrote 'executed'. Well, dangle my legs over a drop and call me Stretch - what do I care? I'm a Triskele lady!)


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Selling ebooks without promoting - Karen MacLeod tells how she did it.

My Guest Blogger today is novelist Karen MacLeod. Karen has been successful at selling her novels as ebooks with virtually no promotion or advertising. Or maybe that should be no 'virtual' promotion or advertising. 

I asked her to tell us how she achieved this without tweeting, blogging or promoting on Facebook.


Karen, you write mainly historical novels set in the 16th century - tell us a little bit about them and why you are attracted to this particular period.
 
I have three historical books - the Warbeck Trilogy. The first, Doubtful Blood, is a lengthening of a novella I wrote years ago from my own research and the other two followed naturally out of my protagonist’s life, unplanned. 

Cover of Doubtful Blood
I’ve been fascinated by the sixteenth century since I was a child. I had knowledge and heaps of books on the period already, so it was only a case of buying a few more particular ones (and I still do – can’t go past a bookshop…) 
 

Why did you decide to self publish your books? What has your experience of self publishing ebooks been like?

I had submitted novels and had compliments from publishers and agents, but no one was taking and the difficulties for unknown authors were getting worse in the economic downturn. Barbara, who had put her books onto Kindle, suggested I might like to too. She did the technical bit and the fabulous covers. 


It’s very exciting, but varies so much. If I have a good sales day, it’s brilliant. A bad day makes me think that the publishers who rejected me were right. I can’t tell whether the readers are reluctant or the sales reports are slow in coming through. 

All I know is that readers who like my type of books also like tennis. Televised tournaments reduce sales. Last Wimbledon was wonderful in terms of Andy Murray and depressing in terms of sales. I got my first double figures in a fortnight on the day it finished, so that seems conclusive. 

 
Are you pleased though, with the number of sales you have achieved?

My last day without a sale was in September 2012 and I’ve had thirty plus sales on several days, so yes. My best ever month was last August, presumably due to holiday reading. 

It took sixteen months to reach my first thousand but accelerated so I've now had over six thousand sales. Kindle authors don’t have the publicity department of a publishing house behind them so every sale is precious. And the idea that my work might be distracting people from their worries is very satisfying


Many writers believe it's necessary to constantly promote, to blog and tweet, to be active on Facebook and suchlike. How much of this, if anything, have you done?

Cover of Deverell GatehouseVery little, despite Barbara’s urging me. I work full time, so don’t really have the opportunity. Plus I want my work to be well known, not me. 

 
So, are you a technophobe? Do you think you could reach more readers by more promotion, advertising etc? Or do you think it's a waste of time?

Not a waste of time; one blog reader might tell lots of others. I just have a feeling that most of my readers are older and wouldn’t be reading blogs. Or I might be making two incorrect assumptions in one sentence. 
 

So what's your secret? How do you account for your success with almost no online promotion? Did you do any other advertising and was that successful, worthwhile? And did the discovery of Richard III's bones help do you think?

The discovery helped; the month it was confirmed was my first to reach three hundred sales. 

The e-books carry blurbs for my other books. A work colleague kindly created a website for me off her own bat but my only formal advertising was for my trilogy. 

My protagonist is the grandson of Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be the younger of the Princes in the Tower supposedly murdered by Richard III. If Perkin was the prince, then Richard III could not have murdered him as the Tudors alleged.

I put an advert in the Ricardian Bulletin, the magazine of the Richard III Society, of which I’m a member. It got straight to people who already knew who Perkin Warbeck was and were fascinated by his claims and by the period.

Another Society member, a complete stranger, wrote in to a subsequent Bulletin saying she hadn’t read such good fiction in many years. At that point, eleven months after the trilogy went online, the sales began to climb and continued to do so, I assume by word of mouth to readers who are not Society members. 

So yes, that advert was worthwhile. There’s nothing like an unsolicited testimonial. I’d love to meet that lady some day and thank her. 
 

Tell us something about your current writing project. Do you have a deadline? Do you intend to submit to agents or will you self-publish again?

I’ve begun a second timeshift/ghost story. My first timeshift novel Deverell Gatehouse was inspired by a stay in a haunted medieval gatehouse - we didn’t know it was haunted until we stayed there or I don’t think I’d have gone, but I got a book out of it. 

This second ghost story is about James IV of Scotland, the king who died bravely at Flodden. I’ve no deadline and think I’d self publish rather than submit to agents. 

 
And anything else you'd like to add?

I’ve just brought out an omnibus version of the Warbeck Trilogy and am holding my breath for the effect on sales. Self doubting as ever! 

Cover of the Omnibus Edition of The Warbeck TrilogyLastly, I like to thank my husband, Alan Richardson, who understands why I write since he’s a playwright himself, my fellow members of Visible Ink Writing Group, who also understand, Flora for her website and, most of all, Barbara, for her kindleship/script reading at short notice/nagging and general encouragement.


Thanks for the kind words, Karen. I hope sales continue to rise - and good luck with the Omnibus.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A RIMBAUD FOR ALL SEASONS


Rimbaud is many things to many people. He has been claimed by mystics, revolutionaries, feminists. He is a gay icon. He is a pagan. He is reformed Catholic. He is the first punk poet.

While he was still alive, though having abandoned poetry and buried himself away in Abyssinia, he gained a cult following of young poets. He was the icon of the Symbolists who hailed him as their own.

Since then he’s been a beatnik, a punk, a rock star. He’s been depicted in jeans; with a backpack; with a guitar.

He was the Dylan of his time; or the Patti Smith. He disappeared into Africa like Jim Morrison is alleged to have done – Jim supposedly following the trail of his hero and not dead at all.

For me it went like this:

Firstly, fascination with his love affair with Paul Verlaine. The story had everything: passion, poetry, violence, an abandoned wife. It had drink and drugs and degenerate behaviour. It had unwashed poets struggling to survive, living in squalor, welcoming their degradation, refusing to labour for an honest day’s pay. Their story involved knives, punches, wife-burning, baby battering – and it ended with a bullet in the wrist.

Rimbaud in modern dress
Secondly, he was the hero of my heroes. Bob Dylan read him, wrote a song mentioning him and Verlaine. Jim Morrison acted like the uncontrollable Rimbaud – unwelcome in polite households. 

Patti Smith wrote poetry and songs inspired by him. Van Morrison was a Rimbaldian too. I saw him everywhere – on record sleeves along with scattered Tarot cards and mystic symbols, graffitoed on walls, on the covers of books. 

He was the bliss that I was feeling.

He was influenced by his reading of mystic and occult books – Eliphas Levy, kabbalists, alchemists, Edgar Allan Poe, Eastern religions. I went to his source material and tried to see things how he saw them.

He tied in with my obsession with Dionysos. The Greek demi-god with a human mother and divine father. Dionysos is the Lord of the Dance. The bringer of thrilling music and wailing. The enticer of women, who enchants his Bacchantes and exhorts them to wildness and rapture.

Rimbaud, like Dionyosos, provided an entry point to the mystic realm: The words he used. The images he conveyed. The way he reached for something beyond – and seemed to grasp it.

He made me feel it, see it, understand it.

And that’s why I wanted to write about him.

DELIRIUM or The Rimbaud Delusion will be available as a paperback and ebook later this year.


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

FEAR OF THE NEW NOVEL


Now that DELIRIUM is finished and about to go through the pre-publication neatening up process, my mind is turning to ideas for a new writing project. But though I have ideas kicking around, I find I’m experiencing the same bewilderment that I always experience once a book is finished.

I realise I have no idea how to write.

Or rather, I completely forget how I wrote the last novel and can’t imagine how I can ever write another one.

At this stage, the whole process baffles me. Even though I’ve done it before, several times, I can’t see how I can possibly write another 80,000 or more words because I simply can’t remember how it happened last time.

I know it did happen. I have the words in a digital file to prove it. But how did they get there? Who wrote them? How come there are so many of them?

Of course, I know deep down that I will be able to do it again – if I want to. But I always seem to have to add that proviso. If I want to, I can write another novel – but I can’t be forced to do it. I have to let it sneak up on me.

It’s a bit like washing the dishes.

Free Stock ImageI say to myself, ‘I’ll just put the plates in hot water to soak and I’ll do them later’ and then I say, ‘Well, I may as well add some washing up liquid.’ After that it’s a small step to: ‘Since I’m here, I might as well do them while the water is hot.’ And so, by sneaking the idea up on myself, the dishes get done.

And that’s how novels happen. A snatch of conversation gets written down – may as well save it as I might need it later. A couple of characters start forming – might as well jot down some notes, just in case. A few ideas float up from the unconscious. Better write them down or else I'll forget them.

And before I realise it, I have what looks suspiciously like a pile of freshly washed chapters.


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

FLASH500 HUMOUR VERSE WINNERS





The FLASH500 HUMOUR VERSE competition winners are up on the website.

Winning entries will also be published in WORDS WITH JAM magazine.

Once again judged by me - and I had a great time reading all the poems.

Get your entries in now for the next competitions for humorous verse, flash fiction and novel opening chapters.