Friday, 18 May 2012

MICHAEL LOGAN - AUTHOR OF 'APOCALYPSE COW'!





APOCALYPSE COW!  Forget the cud. They want blood. An outrageous and anarchic comic take on the zombie apocalypse - and joint winner of the first Terry Pratchett ‘Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now’ prize.
It began with a cow that just wouldn’t die. It would become an epidemic that transformed Britain’s livestock into sneezing, slavering, flesh-craving four-legged zombies.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the fate of the nation seems to rest on the shoulders of three unlikely heroes: an abattoir worker whose love life is non-existent thanks to the stench of death that clings to him, a teenage vegan with eczema and a weird crush on his maths teacher, and an inept journalist who wouldn’t recognise a scoop if she tripped over one.
As the nation descends into chaos, can they pool their resources, unlock a cure, and save the world?
Three losers. Overwhelming odds. One outcome . . .
Yup, we’re screwed
Michael Logan is a writing colleague whose work I first read when I was judging the Fish One-Page Story comeptition back in the dark ages. We ended up working together online for a while, in The Fiction Workhouse - so when I knew he’d won this hugely prestigious competition judged by Terry P, I emailed to say congrats - and natters turned into this natter here. 

VG: So - tell me about this book with one of the best titles I've heard in ages - 'Apocalypse Cow'!  many congrats, and the book has already had some blazingly good reviews and is selling well... tell me, what was your inspiration? 
ML: As you know, literary short fiction was always my thing, but I was struggling to translate my sensibilities to a novel-length work. I was working two jobs as a journalist, and just didn’t have the headspace to work on something that was going to require a serious frame of mind. I needed a light-hearted project. I’ve always loved zombies, given they are this essential distillation of humanity down to basic desires, so I wanted to do something in that field. During a wine-fuelled discussion with some other writer friends in Budapest about what hadn’t been done in the genre, the idea of zombie animals popped up. Cows were the most obvious, since they are large, powerful and spread all over the countryside. From there, the title just seemed obvious, and the plot and characters developed as I sat down to write.

VG: Anything to do with the film? 
ML: Nothing whatsoever, unless you count the use of napalm-style substances to subdue a particularly irked herd of dairy cows.

VG: Will there be a Cow film?
ML: Discussions were started with a major production company late last year, but I’ve heard nothing since. These things take a very long time. A lot of people have talked about how visual the book is and how they can see it as a film, but I suspect real interest would only begin if the book takes off.

VG: Brilliant to know this novel co-won a competition judged by the terrific Terry Pratchett.  Congratulations! Tell me about that comp - how did you hear of it, and what thoughts went through your mind as you considered whether to send 'Cow' off?

The two winners of the Pratchett comp, Michael on the left.
ML: I stumbled across the competition while browsing through a writers’ forum. The book was finished, and I had sent it off to a good half-dozen agents. I was either roundly ignored or sent form rejection letters. That was what I expected, since the idea is a bit off-the-wall. I didn’t really see how I could sell it.
 When I saw the competition, I was unsure if my book fit. While it has fantasy elements, it is primarily a black comedy. Plus, I had absolutely no idea whether it was any good. When you get so close to a piece of work, it’s really hard to judge, and I tend to think everything I write is dreadful. It took my wife to pressgang me into sending off. I’m very glad she did.
VG: You are a journalist, I think... how does successfully writing non-fiction chime with successfully writing fiction?
ML: Ha! Every journalist you meet is also writing a novel, so that tells its own story. I think the two fit together very well. Journalism taught me that every word counts. You often have just 700 words to encapsulate a complex issue in an interesting and colourful manner, and this really creates the focus, on the characters, the issues and the actual prose, that is necessary to produce a novel. The downside is that journalism, particularly hard news, encourages keeping the prose simple, which doesn’t always work for fiction. I managed to get into the habit of switching between the two styles pretty early, though, so I think it works. 

VG: The first work of yours I read was when you won the Fish one-Page Story comp back in 2008. I remember reading it on your behalf at the prize-giving ceremony as you were unable to be there - and the audience fell utterly silent as what was actually happening dawned on them. It had a specific WWII theme - a really unique twist on a well-trodden path. Is that one of your strengths? Do you see the same skills at play in 'Cow'?
ML: I was very disappointed I couldn’t go to the reading, but when I heard the crowd’s reaction to your reading I was glad I didn’t. I’m not sure my nasal Glaswegian accent would have delivered quite the same punch (I’m still waiting for the recording, by the way).
I do like to surprise the reader – either through choosing a theme or angle that has been rarely done or by pulling something odd out of the bag at the end. The whole point of Apocalypse Cow was to do something that hadn’t really been done before, and I think I’ve managed to do that. 
What I find funny is that people think the premise is very far-fetched. Yet is a human zombie any more plausible than an animal zombie? Of course not, but people have had decades to get used to the idea of reanimated corpses shambling around with no apparent fuel source, rotten muscles and brains that have turned to mush. My cows (and sheep, pig, squirrels, etc) are not undead, and can be killed in conventional ways. So I would suggest they are a far more realistic prospect 

VG: So, what's next??!
ML: I have a list of 15 novels to work through, with more being added all the time. I won’t get round to them all, so I’m cherry picking. Right now I’m working on a piece called Wannabes. It’s a satire in the same vein as Apocalypse Cow, also with elements of fantasy as tool for the overarching theme rather than as a main feature. It’s about a lowly demon, a washed-up rock star and an unhinged failed talent show contest all using each other in an attempt to gain (or regain) fame and recognition. It gives a lot of scope to poke vicious fun at the generation of entitlement, in which almost everybody is chasing instant fame rather than artistic success.
After that, I’m considering a follow-up to Apocalypse Cow before working through the rest of my list. I’m going to be busy!
VG: well, congrats again, thanks for dropping by, loads of good luck - and here’s to future mega-stardom! 

Michael Logan is a Scottish author and journalist, whose writing career has taken him across the globe. Apart from his homeland, which he left in 2003 at the age of 32, Michael has lived in Bosnia, Hungary, Switzerland and Kenya, and reported from many other countries. His experience of riots, refugee camps and other turbulent situations helps fuel his writing. 


He wrote his first short story at the tender age of eight, but was distracted by his career as first an engineer, then a journalist for almost three decades before returning to fiction. Apocalypse Cow, which won Terry Pratchett’s Anwhere But Here, Anywhen But Now Prize, is his first novel. His short fiction has previously appeared in literary journals such as Chapman, and his piece We Will Go on Ahead and Wait for You won Fish Publishing’s 2008 international One-Page Fiction Prize.

He currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and is married with two young children. More information can be found on his website: www.freelancelogan.com.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

NATIONAL FLASH FICTION DAY!







Happy First-Ever National Flash Fiction Day!
The story goes like this. A couple of years back I was due to give a talk at the NAWE conference, on flash fiction writing. It struck me that so many of the writing teachers there were no longer writing - because of pressures of work, so I decided to make my session a writing one - an hour or so of returning to our creative roots. 
It went down very well. I used the opening like of ‘Plaits’ one of Tania Hershman’s flashes, as a prompt, for one exercise - and the results were simply amazing.  Several read out their flashes - including a blond bloke sitting by the window.  Amazing stuff. At the end, this blond bloke came up to me to say ta, and he was almost shaking - ‘I havent written for almost ten years..’
That was Calum Kerr. Nuff said! 
Here he is - a man of extraordinary creative energy, who has among other things, and whilst working at his day job...produced '31' a book of flashes  done an amazing flash a day for a year in Flash 365,  and whose work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4... but also, who loves this thing so much he decided to have a liitle celebration, and called it National Flash Fiction Day.   
It kind of caught on! Seems to have grown a bit, with events not only in his home town, but all across the UK, and in Ireland, and even as far afield as New Zealand! 

Special Pop-up Journal Flash Flood is here! 
 
Then there's JAWBREAKERS!  The first ever National Flash Fiction Day Anthology, and contributors include Ian Rankin and Ali Smith, Tania Hershman and Dvid Gaffney - and moi, natch! The full running order looks like this:

Ali Smith
Jen Campbell
Dan Powell
Laura Wilkinson
Rupan Malakin
Nathan Good
Rin Simpson
Bob Jacobs
Ian Rankin
Mark Sheerin
Nigel McLoughlin
Carrie Etter
L.A. Craig
Kylie Grant
Sal Page
Susan F. Giles
Eli Goldstone
David R. Morgan
Nicholas Murray
Nick Garrard
Jay Barnett
David Gilbert
Simon Thirsk
Sue Walker-Stokes
Erinna Mettler
Jessica Patient
Brian George
Trevor Byrne
Sally Zigmond
Stunning book! Available from NFFD  website - all the links are up there, 

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Victoria Watson is 'Letting Go'!



Victoria
Isn't Twitter simply lovely sometimes? Example: I was panicking about organising a blog tour for the novel, sent out  a 'help!'  tweet, and made several new  writing friends as a result. Meet Victoria Watson, author of the short story collection,' Letting Go', who generously offered to host a blog stop even though she didn't know me or me book! 
So now. My turn to help spread the word about her collection which is now available for download on Amazon.  Good for her. I was allowed a sneak read - and she is here to natter.

So, I started off with a question about one of the choices that face a writer.  


Vanessa G: I very much enjoy stories written in first person - and was glad to meet your characters in this way. Was it a conscious choice to allow your characters to talk in their own voices? Why?

Victoria Watson: I don’t know why but I prefer to write in the first person especially when writing stories that have a twist because the reader then finds out crucial information when the character chooses to reveal it. I think the characters seem so realistic when they’re talking directly to the reader. Despite using the first person for many of my characters, I like to think they all come into their own. I am now trying to write some stories in the third person for my next collection. I’m enjoying experimenting with the voices and narration. I’ve just had a story published in I Am Woman’s first charity anthology and that was written in the third person. 
VG: Many of your characters are somewhat delusional and therefore unreliable narrators - a difficult thing to do. Can you tell me what tricks you employed to create the narrators of “Bye Bye Baby” and “Cry Baby”? 

VW: A lecturer of mine during my Masters programme told me to let the characters to lead the way. Much of the time, I don’t know myself what’s going to happen at the end of the story – that’s completely up to the character. I think “Bye Bye Baby” was initially going to be a happy story when I first started it but my character led me away from that entirely. “Cry Baby” started off as a writing exercise in the first year of my Masters programme and developed from there. Sadly though, some of that was based on personal experience so I felt I knew the unreliable narrator very well. I listen to music or watch TV when I’m writing. When I’m writing a particularly nasty character, I listen to loud rock music. I have to work myself up into a frenzy to get in that character’s state of mind. After I’ve stopped writing for the day, I sometimes find myself in a bad mood or an emotional state so sometimes have to take some time to get myself into my headspace again. Characters can be quite overpowering at times. I find that, when writing any character, you need to get to know them. You need to know their back story even if you don’t include that in the actual story. You need to know everything about them where possible. And once you’ve taken some time to get to know them, they will lead you wherever they want to go. 
VG: I think it is a very brave thing to do, turning your own negative experiences into fiction - congratulations. Thanks for the insights. 
Several of the stories have a very broad sweep, almost novelistic in approach. Can you see yourself turning any of these into novels? I am thinking particularly of ‘Inside” - in which a building is the focal point of a life - in your words “the place that defines the character”. I can see this as a novel - has that ever been a temptation or do you prefer the short form?
VW:  had some incredible reviews for ‘Inside’, many people who’ve read ‘Letting Go’ have said ‘Inside’ was their favourite story which was a massive buzz for me. When I write, I see the scenes I’m writing in my head as I write, a bit like watching a film in my mind’s eye so I guess that might be why people feel some of it has a cinematic feel to it. I’ve been writing a novel for two years which I started during my Masters degree but I find the idea of writing a full novel very overwhelming. I enjoy writing these short stories because I get bored with the same characters and plot after a while. I think I enjoy writing short stories at the moment because I’m still experimenting with voices and characters. I know a lot of novels that have started off as short stories and have been developed from there so I would never rule out expanding the stories I have written into longer pieces of work. I think with ‘Inside’ in particular, there is so much more I could work on because the building will have experienced so many different occasions and characters. 
VG: In “I Should Have Seen it Coming” you seem to be exploring the dangerous faultline between reality and fantasy. Without giving away the plotline of this (my favourite story!), can you explain how you approached this - did you plot out the story or did you let the character talk it out as you wrote? 
VW: ‘I Should Have Seen it Coming’ came about after I attended a psychic night at a local pub and, being the pessimist I am with a hint of wanting to believe, I found myself thinking how dangerous such a profession could be – for both the “psychic” and the customer. I think a lot of people who visit so-called psychics are looking for something whether it’s a message from someone they’ve lost or because they’re at a crossroads in their lives. In theory, psychics can bring a lot of peace and comfort to people but it could just as easily turn sour. I think some psychics truly believe they have a gift but I also believe that a fair few of them are very cynically preying on people who are desperate to believe. Again, the ending I had in mind was very different to the one that the character led me to. I’m not much of a plotter to be honest; I like to just see where the character leads me. 
VG:The powerful flash piece ‘John: Home Tomorrow’ has such an unlikeable character! I loved it. But at the end, I was glad and thought ‘oh good!’ when the twist came. Was that your intention? 
VW: ‘John: Home Tomorrow’ was written for a competition and it won a place in an anthology in 2011 (‘Home Tomorrow’, published by 6th Element). I wanted to portray a man who wasn’t a particularly nice person who quite evidently thought he would always get what he wanted despite many despicable acts. I think there are many people like John around the world: the kind that think money and power will buy them anything they want and that their behaviour can be as reprehensible as they like as they will still always “win”. My intention wasn’t to ‘wish’ bad things on people like that but I wanted to show that money and/or power can’t always protect you from everything. I love that story because I showed it to my brother, who never  reads and he was really impressed. 
VG: In ‘Keeping Quiet’, I was amazed at the detail and the way the character seems completely in control of this story - running through relationships and names exactly as people do - mentioning family members in passing in a sort of breathless buzz. A whole extended family is created in just a paragraph or two. As asked before, is the detail planned out or do you let the character talk and you write it down? I loved this line - “...now we sit here, staring at each other, grappling for any kind of conversation.” That is so true of so many people - and put so succinctly. In this story, too, the main character never takes the opportunities life puts in front of her, and ends up embittered and unfulfilled. Was this the deliberate ‘message’ here?
VW: The reason I wrote Betty’s story like this was because I imagined it as an internal monologue. I could see Betty sitting in her chair, day after day, regretting the decisions she made. For someone like Betty, I get the impression she didn’t have a lot of time to mull things over a they were happening as she was always so busy – caring for relatives, keeping up a fa├žade that her mother insisted upon and so on – that retirement and subsequent disability was the first time Betty had really had time to consider her actions and decisions. I truly believe that it would be dreadful to be on your deathbed and think “what if” and I think Betty is the living embodiment of this: what if she’d disobeyed her mother? What if she had got married? What if she’d spoken up and not been a doormat to her younger sister? She’ll never know. I think Betty’s ending is possibly one of the first times she’s ever taken control in her life. As the title suggests, Betty has kept quiet all of her life and so I just let her talk. She had plenty to get off her chest! What saddens me about Betty’s story is that there are probably many relationships that end up like Betty and her sister – sitting there with nothing to talk about. This may be a sibling relationship but I think it is representative of many different kinds of relationships including marriages. People rub along together for decades, carrying out chores, doing what’s expected of them but then when retirement comes, they realise they don’t know each other or have anything in common. I didn’t chart any family tree – it all came very naturally to me. Mentioning family members in passing seems to be a common feature of many old people’s speech. They often mention “our so-and-so” without really ever explaining who that person is – they expect the listener to know because they do. 

VG: Tell me about the 'twist in the tail' - there are several examples here - notably ‘The Waiting Game’ - I was heart in mouth, and then... (!!) 
VW: I’m glad ‘The Waiting Game’ had your heart in your mouth; that was my intention! I wanted to build the tension up, have the same feeling of dread the protagonist is feeling so that the audience could feel the same emotions as the character when the big reveal happened. Since I was a child, I’ve loved the stories of Roald Dahl. I’ve read every single one of his stories at least once and I adore his ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ where the twists are very intelligent. I read those when I was twelve and I still remember those stories. There’s no way I could ever compare with Dahl but he has definitely been a massive influence on my writing. I do enjoy lulling the character and the audience into a false sense of security and then twisting the story. It keeps me on my toes. 
VG: And it certainly kept me on mine!  Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Victoria - and loads of good luck with the book. 


Well - there you go. If that has whetted your appetite, Victoria's collection 'Letting Go' can be downloaded from Amazon here.  






Bio: Victoria Watson achieved her BA (Hons) in Media, Communication and Cultural Studies from Newcastle University in 2008. She was awarded 'Young Reviewer of the Year' in 2009 and completed a Masters degree in Creative Writing in 2010. 
Victoria has contributed to publications including 'True Faith' (Newcastle United fanzine), NCJ Media's north-east titles The Journal, Evening Chronicle and Sunday Sun. She has also reviewed for Amazon, Waterstones and Closer Magazine.
Victoria had a story published in the 'Home Tomorrow' anthology published by 6th Edition Publishing in 2011. Her work is also featured in 'Off the Record: A Charity Anthology'. She published a collection of her short stories entitled ‘Letting Go’ in February 2012. Victoria writes a blog at http://elementaryvwatson.wordpress.com 
As a survivor of domestic abuse, Victoria is proud to be a founding member of I Am Woman. Victoria’s interests lie in women’s issues, particularly in the Middle-East. She is a supporter of the Women 2 Drive campaign in Saudi Arabia. 
Victoria currently lives in the North-East of England and dreams of living somewhere hot and sunny, paying the bills with her writing. 
Victoria loves nothing more than settling down to read a good book. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

TEACHING, NATTERING, TIGHTROPE WALKING...


(Oh OK, I fibbed about the tightrope...)
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday the week before last - four reading/nattering/teaching appointments - and interesting for the differences, and similarities. 
Pic by Sarah Salway
On the Wednesday, I gave a short talk and reading at an event for writers in Eastbourne, organised by writer and life guru Brigitte Sumner. this was  a first - why wasn’t writing and reading part of this town’s celebration? Good for her. Bring it on, I say! Waterstones supported, and brought a whole pile of books.
A lot of organisation had gone into the event, and the line-up was broad-ranging and inclusive.  However - It hadn’t been well-publicised by the festival, sadly, so didn’t seem that well supported, although things might have picked up after my stint - the first, from 1 to 2 pm. I had an audience of ...well - I had an audience! Sales, - none!
The venue, an open-plan sports clubhouse, was not ideal, to be honest.  Open to the tea hatch with constant nattering and coming and going, and only divided from the bookselling and public meeting area and the doors, by a low divider.
Still - it’s a start, and I take my hat off to Brigitte and her team for doing this, and for inviting me to come along. I was delighted to do so, didn’t charge and they paid my travel costs. Thanks all!


On the Thursday, an invitation to teach at Wellington College. A long train journey, a meet-up at Blackwater station with the Headmaster’s wife - a friend, and this...
Photo of Wellington College from Newman Family Tree website
Gorgeous! The English Dept is hidden away in the woodland, and we met up with eight eager students ranging from 14 to 17 years of age, most of the creative writing group - two were ill and couldn’t make it. One hour, eight sparky hungry minds! Word cricket first, and in fifteen minues, of the eight, six had stories or part-stories to work on later. Then a fab exercise first aired in Tania and Vanessa’s Art and Science StoryGym last Saturday - lines of Yeats plus incomprehensible scientific jargon equals... well. Great results! Much natter about listening to our own processes, being aware of how writing ‘feels’. And the delighted feedback "I've never written anything like this...!" was wonderful.
Wellington is famed for its extra-curricular life. So - a reception for the writers and a few teachers, followed by a candle-lit dinner at the Master’s Lodge (some lodge - palace??) and Cam, a charming sixteen year old read out a short piece from my next novel - extraordinary experience for me. 




Then, Friday, I was here..
that’s right, on the phone. I was in my sitting room, being one end of a masterclass on writing competitions, for  Suzy Greaves School of Writing.  - although actually the discussion ranged widely. 










Pic from Jerwood Space website










And Saturday - something I had been looking forward to for a long time - my workshop for Spread The Word, in London, ‘Competition-Fit Fiction’ - now there’s a challenge!  This took place in a very modern room at the very top of the Jerwood Space in London. The workshop was a sell-out, and some very focussed and interesting participants learned as much as I could tell them about what goes on behind the scenes at the best comps, how to maximise your chances of catching the eye of the readers in the best way possible, and which competitions are to be avoided! 







Four very different places - a sports hut, a top public school, a telephone and a snazzy space in London - but no difference in using them all as places to share this thing I love doing! 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

"The Divorced Lady’s Companion to Living in Italy" is here!


I am rather delighted to welcome Catherine McNamara to the blog, to talk about her novel, just out, all new and lovely! I love this bloggy thing - you get to meet and natter with writers from all over. Catherine lives in Italy and that inspired the novel. We decided to have a natter via email, and I started by zapping straight into the rather obvious issue of ageism in the world of publishing.  Strikes me that our age shouldn't matter. But it seems to...and we can do not a lot about it.




 I am beginning to recognise ageism in the system. Are you, and if so, how does it look?
Catherine, at the London launch
In my twenties I wrongly assumed I would be a feted literary novelist after I did well in a major Australian competition, but then I went to Africa as a young diplomatic wife and had babies! At that stage I didn’t realise how much editing and determination were required to follow through with a book, and sort of left off. This was also pre-internet, years ago, when any sort of isolation hit hard. When I came back to writing as a forty-year-old woman it used to chafe that I would no longer be the next-bright-thing, and I was quick to realise that the market does court young beautiful men or women with a gifted stage presence rather than mothers – goodness anything but mothers!
It is possible to suffer the effects of ageism and feel jaded and left aside, but I believe in turning things around in a big way. Women while under-represented in all areas of literature are still the greatest readers and buyers of books. Women possess different receptors, women blog more, women belong to book clubs. Women are more agile communicators and used to operating on the diverse levels that reflect our multi-layered lives – motherhood, academia, literature, gossiping, shoes, politics. Sure there are lots of lovely lasses and lads out there with fresh young coming-of-age books, but we have lived longer, dug deeper, honed our skills.   


Anything but mothers? How about grandmothers? heavens. I ought to be in my bath chair knitting and drooling. Not writing novels.  Hee!  Ahem. On with the questions. You have this great book out, just, with Indigo Dreams.  A collection of short stories on the chocks too. Congratulations. And I read on your blog that you write both commercial and literary work. How does that happen? How do you know what a piece of work is going to be when you are just setting out?
Thank you! I’ve been publishing short stories on and off for years, mainly because I love the pace and cadences of a short story, and a novel requires commitment and completely different wiring. Everything I have written except ‘The Divorced Lady’s Companion to Living in Italy’ has been ‘serious’ if you like, whereas when I thought of the title and the first line of this unashamed ladies’ book, I really wondered what would come next and just ran with it. I sat in my chicken shed with green tea and my laptop for four or five months and the story just became crazier and crazier, as many of my frustrations with Italy came to the surface. I so much wicked fun with my characters. Short story writing, however, comes from a different place and involves a different sort of story-weaving. The trigger is still there but I feel a driving pressure, with the resolving of the story’s issues paramount and looming ahead.
With DLC I enjoyed the idea of making people laugh though it felt very unnatural at first. I never imagined I would be writing comedy and had to understand what I was trying to achieve. We all thrive on laughter – and in Italy there is just too much subject matter to ignore – and yet as the book came out in a hilarious flow (there are passages that still make me smirk) I had to overcome a feeling of uncertainty in leaving off with ‘literary’ writing and entering the ‘mature ladies’ chicklit’ category, even though I’ve been told it’s not exactly this. I think for a minute I thought it might be easier to publish a women’s commercial book rather than the unwieldy literary novel I had been peddling (or worse, a book of short stories) but it proved to be an incredibly competitive field with thousands of excellent books out there.
You are living in Italy - which sounds wonderful (to those of us stuck in English villages looking out at the grey sky, not an Italian in sight) - How did this come about at the start? What have you learned? Is it as you imagined it would be? And what are the best and worst things about being displaced, speaking from a writer's perspective?
Pic from Catherine, specially for us!
I was married to an Italian economist for many years so Italy has been in my life for a long stretch. I grew up in Australia, came to Paris, then disappeared to Africa for over a decade. I came back to Italy to raise kids in the countryside where I had a house. Writing in isolation can quickly lead to depression, although for me the internet has provided new reference points and allowed me access to others in the same boat, instant information, networking possibilities, publishing contacts. Sometimes I wish I had a writing group but I realise I am also quite solitary. I love the divide between speaking Italian and writing in English. And yet now that I my novel has been released I find that I am restricted in organising readings and promotional events, so – turning this around – I have decided to tap into the substantial expat market in Europe (international bookshops in Milan/Florence/Rome) and I’ll be catching a few cheap flights to the UK this summer. I was able to organise my book launch by phone, a festival appearance via email, and possibly a trip to Indonesia next year for a joint Australian-Indonesian festival!

A lot of my book is about taking the mickey out of Italian women who age so uncomfortably (read Botox) and often have short bald partners. The nation is like a Fellini film set! And yet in the country here I have great cherry trees and am surrounded by vineyards and villas. Even the foggy winter has its charm and we have the Dolomites up the highway for skiing.
Ha! Sounds great fun. So, what are you working on now?
Currently I am working on promoting ‘The Divorced Lady’s Companion to Italy’ in the UK, and am preparing for launches in the US and Australia. I’ve waited a long time to have a novel published so am throwing myself every which way and enjoying every moment.
I do miss the thrill of writing a new story and feel like an internet hustler most days, but until I understand what goes on with book promotion I’ll keep trying. In the near future I have to begin editing the short stories and this will be pure joy – my dream has always been to publish a book of short stories!
Thank you Vanessa for having me here and the best of luck with your work! Catherine


My pleasure - and peeps can find out a lot about you and the book by reading this  post from your blog. And here is a link to  the novel's Amazon page.  Good luck with the book - enjoy the ride!




CATHERINE MCNAMARA grew up in Sydney and studied visual communication and African and Asian modern history before moving to Paris. She worked in pre-war Mogadishu and later lived nine years in Accra, Ghana, where she ended up running a bar and traditional art gallery. She moved to northern Italy several years ago, where her jobs have included translating welding manuals and modelling shoes. She has impressive collections of African sculpture and Italian heels.

Her book ‘Pelt and Other Stories’ will be published by IDP in 2013.