Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A busy month!

I see I last posted on 8th March - goodness. A lot has happened since then:

From 7th to 17th  March I was at Anam Cara, my  (I wish it was 'my - I mean it's where I go...) wonderful retreat in West Cork, Ireland, where I managed to push the word count of the next novel to 92000 wds. No - it's not 'nearly there' as my husband brightly suggested... but it is going in the right direction.

Then there were a couple of visits to some more rather wonderful places - slightly different -and  for different reasons:
18th March, the Mayor's Parlour in Brighton, where a fab tea was served, and I met the Mayor's chauffeur. Good guy - he explained all about the mace - a vast thing which has to be carried upside down if the Queen visits.
19th March, another tea, this time at the House of Lords. This was a fundraising/profile-raising event for the Post Adoption Centre (PAC), a charity that is both wonderful and close to my heart. The tea was punctuated by bells calling the great and the good from their cream scones, to vote.

Then, some food for the soul - an evening with wonderful poet Sasha Dugdale, thanks to The Lewes Monday Literary Club. Sasha read from her moving and wonderful Bloodaxe published translation of the Russian poet Elena Shvartz. She also read from her own collection The Red Book, and from some new work. I now have The Red Book, a new favourite  on my poetry shelf...
Sasha Dugdale, who read from her translation of Russian poet Elena Shvartz
Sticking with poetry - I am tweaking the manuscript for The Half Life of Fathers, which ought to be out in September, ready for the Glad Lit Fest ... see below.

I've been blogger in residence for the Bridport Prize website for three months and have enjoyed that enormously.I'll do another post linking to all the articles and discussions in due course.

Some Coward's Tale news - it seems a long while since the novel came out, and it is still giving me surprises. It has been absolutely wonderful to receive letters and emails for readers who have loved it. Give me love and/or hate over 'It's OK' any day! And thanks to all who give up a few precious hours to read my work.
It was particularly lovely to hear from a US reading group who had been meeting for years. The Coward's tale was voted one of their all time favourites, and they took the trouble to send me a picture, with Welsh flag, singing map, and all. That makes all this worth while!

The Coward’s Tale was longlisted for The Waverton Good Read Award http://www.wavertongoodread.org.uk/longlist-2012.html I was really delighted - didn't know about this award, which is purely reader-led. Good stuff. So here's the info on the award. http://www.wavertongoodread.org.uk/story.html

Recommended in the St Albert Gazette, in Canada http://m.stalbertgazette.com/article/20130227/SAG0308/302279965

Recommended for Spring and Mum’s day gifts on  the Australian website Books and Music: - http://www.bookandmusic.com.au/images/catalogues/April_13.pdf

Other stuff:

In September, when I'm writer in residence at Gladstone's Library, they have decided to have a literary festival! I am absolutely pixillated and hope to reassemble myself in time to appear alongside luminaries such as Damian Barr, Wendy Cope, Stella Duffy and Sarah Perry.

Short Circuit, Guide to the Art of the Short Story - is to become even bigger and better - with the inclusion of new chapters - either penned by or interviews with the following: Scott Pack, Tom Vowler, Professor Patty McNair, Stuart Evers. And more... It’s due out in August... watch this space! 
The gorgeous new Short Circuit cover...

 On 19th April, last Friday (phew, nearly there...) I read at the event flagged in the last post here - at The Word Factory,  in Sutton House, Hackney, in the excellent company of  poet Katy Evans-Bush, writer Tom Lee and singer/song collector Sam Lee. The best moment - when Sam responded to Silver Leaves for Judah Jones (an early version of part of TCT) by singing an impromptu, very beautiful song. 
Reading in the Elizabethan Chamber, Sutton House

I taught on Saturday 20th April for London's Spread the Word, at Toynbee Hall.  The day was on refreshing your writing, returning to when it was just fun, exciting stuff. Much enjoyed by the tutor, who shared some favourite writing games and exercises...

Finally - here's a brilliant article sure to get your blood either fizzing with recognition or boiling with indignation!   Dont let me know which, just enjoy. Or not. http://www.salon.com/2013/03/29/most_contemporary_literary_fiction_is_terrible/

I think that's enough...
Happy writings!


  1. Gosh, you've been busy. How did you find the retreat? Does it really help with your writing? I have been considering it for a while. Congratulations on your longlisting and all the interest in Cowards Tale. I am looking forward to reading it. Great Salon article. Thanks for sharing. Fiona

    1. Hello! Thanks for commenting! Oh Anam Cara is my second home - I go there several times a year, and have one most of the work I'm most proud of over there. been going since 2005. I have also been to a closer retreat which is also lovely - Retreats for You, in Sheepwash, Devon.

  2. It's good to hear that your Saturday 20th April workshop for Spread the Word, at Toynbee Hall was 'Much enjoyed by the tutor...' I'd like to reciprocate those sentiments on behalf of the attendees. No. Wait a mo... That's way too posh. Let's make it: Thank you for a cracking, reinvigorating writing day, Vanessa. :)

    PS Now do stop yomping around the country get on with that sequel, please.

  3. Oscar, it was great to see you. Glad you got lots out of the day - that was the intention!! I will stop yomping soon enough, at my age, so long live the yomping writer!

  4. You never stop, Vanessa - just as it should be!

    1. I seem to waste a lot of time too.. maybe I just work fast when Im in the mood!

  5. So glad to see it all going so (deservedly) well. Photos of Anam Cara make my heart sing :-) I don't know if I'll get there at all this year and that would be horrible,

    1. It's going OK, Sue... I do hope you get over there, who knows, might come too...

  6. It was lovely hearing you read your story at Word Factory. I was so moved. I can't wait to read your novel. Hope we can see another play together sometime? :-)

    1. Thanks Paul, it was terrific to finally meet you properly, and I loved the play and the pizza! Great stuff - and the invite still stands to natter about 'stuff', on here...

  7. How busy you are ! And lovely that the novel is progressing swiftly. I did enjoy the article - even if I'm not meant to say so! I love J. Robert Lennon's books. Ciao cat