An Accidental Destination

I’m over at Nik Perring’s blog today, talking about For The Asking.

I’ve never considered publishing and author development as mutually exclusive to each other. However, I never considered myself a mentor even though I was a publisher! As a destination, it has come about as an organic, hit-and-miss, lead where my heart follows kind of journey. Like a road trip where sometimes you decide where you want to go and other times roll a dice. This is latest detour and pit stop on the ‘path less trod’ as a publisher, editor and writer.

I’ll be back later to expand on the details.

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Beautiful Trees Pre-Order

I was very excited this morning to see in my inbox, news of the up-coming release of Nik Perring’s new book Beautiful Trees

BeautifulTreesCoverRoast Books has this to say about the up-coming release:

Combining brevity with an overarching narrative, Nik Perring’s unusual storytelling is touching and captivating. His Beautiful series follow the lives of Lucy, Lily, and Alexander through words, trees and shapes.

In the second edition of the series, Beautiful Trees, the narrative continues to unravel amidst the branches of some of our greatest trees, brought to life by the rich and playful illustrations of Miranda Sofroniou.

You can read my review of Beautiful Words here for an appreciation of what is to come in Beautiful Trees.

Pre-order are available now via the Roast Books website. Release date is 5th November. I’m happy, because that’s Christmas taken care of for at least two dear friends who were recipients of the first book for birthday presents last year!

Coming Soon… Tincture 11

A sneak preview of what lingers in the wings as the release of the next Tincture draws closer.
Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 7.33.57 pm At Arm’s Length is a magical realism slice of domestic obscurity and invisible love with nods of the head to the work of Dan Powell and Nik Perring.

Tincture Literary Journal’s 11th issue is released September 1st.

NEW PUBLICATION: “No Love Lost” anthology

Last year I got to celebrate my first poem in print with the publication of “Paper Mâché” in Slim Volume’s No Love Lost. The anthology collects together anti-romance poems and flash fiction.

Editor Kate Garrett has this to say in the preface:

When I put the call out for anti-romance poetry and flash fiction, I wasn’t looking for anti-love (though it’s fine that some writers interpreted it this way). What I wanted was varying and realisitc approaches to writing about love and lust rather than cliché and sentimentality. If we are honest with ourselves…we all know love in real life isn’t love as represented in the latest feel-good romcom.

Love, according to our first Slim Volume, includes disappointment and deceit, elation and lust. It spans lifetimes, ends unhappily, is shared between sailors and the open seas, is always two minutes late, sometimes politically advantaeous and not in the heart, but in the eyes….every single one speaks of love in a unique way , with nary a Manic Pixie Dream Girl or floppy-haired English gent in sight.

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PAPER MÂCHÉ

“Paper Mache” was the first poem I wrote ‘seriously’. I still have the very first ideas scribbled in my note book, put down just after I’d finished Nik’s Not so Perfect (and mid Facebook conversation with Adam) on the last Sunday in November 2013, as I sat in an indoor playground. It was also the first poem I performed–that was last year at Tom’s spoken word event, at The End, in West End. Before I’d taken the mic at SpeedPoets.

With a string of firsts already stitched between the words, it feels right for it to be the first to appear in a print book. And as a former angst-ridden teenage poet, who wrote of nothing but love, it also seems right, for the first print poem to be one that celebrates the imperfect and unpredictable nature of love. Especially when you are trying to create it from scratch!

A GIVE AWAY

I have a copy of No Love Lost to give away to one lucky reader. To enter, you will need to write your bio (and no, you do not have to be a writer to enter!) infused with the theme of ‘romance’ (either pro or con) as we had to do for the anthology. In fact, the anthology is worth the cover price just to read the bios.

To get those creative juices gurgling you will find me listed as:

JODI CLEGHORN suspects true love is much like the Snow Queen’s mirror: invisible shards waiting to pierce the hapless.

My favourite though is:

KATE WISE’s first dance at her wedding was to 10CC’s “I’m Not In Love”. Yes, really.

I look forward to reading your romantic, or not so romantic, takes on yourselves in the comments. Winner will be announced Saturday night and where applicable, winner contacted for a postal address.


No Love Lost is edited by Kate Garrett. Slim Volume is a Pankhearst title and published by Starshy. You can find the paperback here and the ebook here.

BOOK REVIEW: Beautiful Words by Nik Perring

BEAUTIFUL WORDS: some meanings and some fictions too by Nik Perring is unlike anything I’ve ever read.

beautifulwordsIt is not a collection of flash fiction, though the story of Alexander and Lucy runs through the heart of it. Nor is it a dictionary, yet it’s arranged alphabetically and includes definitions. It’s not a journal of reflection, though the reader finds out along the way, what brings each word to this publication. And it’s not an art book, though it’s lushly illustrated.

When handed around literary-minded friends it was the catalyst for much ooo-ing and ahh-ing. Shared with old friends it was concluded to be better than chocolates for a birthday present.

It looks, feels and smells like a picture book (minus the smears of snot and vegemite). It’s also a little like the TARDIS! But it’s neither of these either.

So what is Beautiful Words?

Beautiful Words is a literary installation that inhabits the space between the reader’s hands, heart and head. Because of this it can’t help be bigger on the inside (and grow with each immersion). It’s less something you want to read (see Dan Powell’s review) and more something you want to imbibe, slowly, over and over again. Or perhaps be wrapped in, like your favourite set of cotton sheets.

It is ambitious, audacious and absolutely engaging.

There are the 26 words—lexigraphical gems—accompanied by their meanings: crazy words ‘wiffle’, every-day words ‘clasp’, exotic words ‘effleurage’ and totally left-of-centre-words ‘Dravidian’. They are attended by Perring’s explanation of why they are beautiful to him. Riffing off, and woven through, this is the unfolding story of Alexander and Lucy. And better than six steak knives to round out an impossibly good deal, there is Miranda Sofroniou’s vivid, bold and sumptuous artwork. Each element combines to create a multi-layered tapestry that asks you to curb the impulse to race through it (like resisting the packet of Tim Tams in the freezer!); to read, pause, savour and re-read before turning the page.

The inconsistent application of the narrative POV, swapping between Perring’s, Alexander’s (in first and 3rd person) and Lucy’s (in the 3rd) adds a unique and undeniable momentum. It keeps the book from becoming formulaic and repetitive while creating delicious space for expectation and uncertainty. Who is actually narrating… and, does it actually matter?

Breathless in its brevity, the power of Perring’s writing is not just in the economy of language or the stripped back nature of the narrative, but in the hardwiring of anecdotal glimpses (and often nothing more) that tremble with Universal resonance: misunderstandings, love, loss, longing, perfect snapshot moments. His writing breaks all the ‘show don’t tell rules’, yet reveals the narrative arc in such a way the reader is certain they were only ever shown it. Perhaps watching on, in person, as it unfolded on the airplane, in the garden center or the wine bar that night.

Perring mainlines emotions in a way that compels the reader to open their heart to weep bittersweet tears into. He delivers with such ease single sentence gut-punches then switches back to offer promises of love when all hope has fled.

And all this in just 2000 words (give or take)!

The best thing about Beautiful Words… there is more to come with the release of Beautiful Trees and Beautiful Shapes later this year.

**Five perfectly-shaped obcordate leaves**

Beautiful Words is released Monday and available via publisher Roastbooks, Book Depository, FishPond and where all good books are sold.

– – –

nikperringwords2Nik Perring is a short story writer and author from the UK. His stories have been published in many fine places both in the UK and abroad, in print and online. They’ve been used on High School distance learning courses in the US, printed on fliers, and recorded for radio. Nik is the author of the children’s book, I Met a Roman Last Night, What Did You Do? (EPS, 2006); the short story collection, Not So Perfect (Roastbooks 2010); and he’s the co-author of Freaks! (The Friday Project/HarperCollins, 2012). His online home is www.nikperring.com and he’s on Twitter as @nikperring

2013: As It Was Read

IMG_3821Regular readers will know that I am a bit weird. I don’t run my writing year as per the Gregorian calendar, but instead by the Chinese calendar. For convenience sake, I’ve been using the standard year as my goal posts for reading (simply because it is easier and I am lazy!)

Despite the shit fight that was 2013, I managed to keep a comprehensive list of the books. I read 34 books (2 short of what I had been aiming for – with 3 books a month). November was pretty much a write-off for reading, as I poured 79,000 words out in four weeks for NaNo.

FAVOURITES

I’m picky with my books, so it’s often hard to pick a best of. This year, THE SHINING GIRLS by Lauren Beukes stood head and shoulders above everything else I read, both in storytelling and in writing. Filling out the rest of the top five in no particular order were:

THE WASP FACTORY Iain Banks
CLOUD ATLAS David Mitchell
WARM BODIES Isaac Marion
THE LAST BANQUET Jonathan Grimwood

Honourable mentions:

PERFECTIONS Kirstyn McDermott
PATH OF THE NIGHT Dirk Flintheart
NEUROMANCER William Gibson
WORLD WAR Z: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE ZOMBIE WAR Max Brooks

Best anthologies:

YEARS BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY V 5 ed. Bill Congreve
     – this came out before I was even writing again!
MIDNIGHT AND MOONSHINE Lisa L Hannett and Angela Slatter
NOT SO PERFECT Nik Perring

THE FULL LIST

Re-Reads (6)

THE GREAT GATSBY F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE RED TENT Anita Diamant
THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE Audrey Niffenegger
THE BOOK THIEF Marcus Zusak
ROIL Trent Jamieson
WHEN WE HAVE WINGS Claire Corbett

Anthologies and Collections (8)

IN FABULA DIVINO Ed. Nicole Murphy
BLOODY PARCHMENT: HIDDEN THINGS, LOST THINGS AND OTHER STORIES ed Nerine Dorman
YEARS BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY V 5 ed. Bill Congreve
THE TURNING Tim Winton (Re-read)
LIVING WITH THE DEAD Martin Livings
MIDNIGHT AND MOONSHINE Lisa L Hannett and Angela Slatter
NOT SO PERFECT Nik Perring
NEXT eds. Simon Petrie and Robert Porteous

New Reads (18)

CLOUD ATLAS David Mitchell
LETTERS FROM SKYE Jessica Brockmole (E)
AMERICAN GODS Neil Gaiman
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD Richard Yates
THE MACHINE WHO WAS ALSO A BOY Mike McRae & Tom Dullemond
BETWEEN TWO THORNS Emma Newman
WARM BODIES Isaac Marion
SCARE ME Richard Jay Parker
THE WASP FACTORY Iain Banks
AURORA: DARWIN Amanda Bridgeman
WORLD WAR Z: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE ZOMBIE WAR Max Brooks (E)
PERFECTIONS Kirstyn McDermott
PATH OF THE NIGHT Dirk Flintheart (E)
PIG ISLAND Mo Hayder
THE LAST BANQUET Jonathan Grimwood (E)
NEUROMANCER William Gibson
RYDERS RIDGE Charlotte Nash
THE SHINING GIRLS Lauren Beukes

Novellas (2)

WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE Shirley Jackson
DARK RITE David Wood & Alan Baxter

12 Days Later

Number 12It’s been twelve days since I completed my novel.

In that time I have ridden a roller coaster of amazement and joy served with a side of absolute bewilderment at having finished, and the adrenalin burn out that came afterward with the yawning black hole that desperately wanted to swallow me. I’ve felt utterly lost, adrift, and thought I might never again be able to front up to the page (how is it possible that I can feel that way after achieving something I said I’d never do – write a novel?!) I’ve missed my characters with a bone aching longing that had me (almost) returning to the page to begin a second draft — but held off! It’s only in the last few days that I realised I managed to write my first novel before I turned 40 (not that it was the intention when I set out to write).

I’ve walked the puppy on the cusp of the suburb turning into Schwlatzmas-land with all the lights, at all hours of the evening: at midnight to the dulcet beats of homemade reggae rolling down off the hills at Holland Park and early enough to smell the lingering deliciousness of other people’s dinner. And the most telling bit of it all (other than some random poetry downloads) all the voices in my head have been quiet.

POET-TRY

I’ve written poetry (add one ‘almost-hangover’ from too much sangria, Nik Perring‘s Not So Perfect, a loose end of a Sunday afternoon, a random conversation with Adam Byatt and observe part of your brain break and poetry pour out). Two of those poems been through the critiquing process. If you think it hurts to have your short stories or novel critiqued, have a crack at someone tearing lovingly through your poetry! I’ve also attended my first Speed Poets to support Stacey in her first public reading (she was awesome!)

BETWEEN MINUTES

I’ve had a bunch of conversations with people about Between Minutes since I finished, all of which astound in the support and interest the novel garners (and the fear that comes with the fact I will never artfully articulate it on the page to make up for the blab-factor in person). These conversations have ranged from support at the end of the process to find a publisher and/or an agent, and other conversations with have accidentally broadened my understanding of the characters and their interplay.

SCHMINGLING-DINGLE-DOO

I’ve schmingled the QWC Christmas party and again, missed the hangover bullet. Had impromptu writerly drinks at The Fox on a Sunday afternoon (oh how I miss Sunday sessions – they are the perfect antidote for Sunday Melancholia!). Met with Helen to move forward my next part of The Gold Coast anthology amid chatter, coffee and good food (the best way to work). There have also been important and frivolous conversations in Stacey’s kitchen.

RETURN OF THE BIRTH BUNK

BirthpunkAt Dave’s Christmas party a bunch of his co-workers were asking me about my writing (the blush-worthy moment when someone says: So I hear you published a book? What’s with that?) I somehow got to talking about how I was going to write birthpunk and several really interesting conversations came out of it. Most of which ended with “You have to write this. I want to read it now!” So I knew the tide was turning and I was fighting a losing battle by trying to run away from it.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to catch up with Lois Spangler, not once but twice. The breakfast catch made my brain ‘splode with possibilities: a stage play of Between Minutes, additional novellas for Elyora, a grindhouse style script for Elyora but, most importantly, the undeniable push forward to finish the first birthpunk novella.

Lois has very graciously and generously offered to look at it when it is finished. I believe the date for ‘submission’ is mid-to late January. Knowing the pace with which I can knock out words, that won’t be a problem. My new creative year begins on the 31st January so it’s all keeping to original time frames written down in late September. With the extra bit of time – I might even get a second draft revision done on it.

My head is finally in a place where I think I can write for fun, rather than for intent. With Between Minutes behind me (for now) I have the confidence to tackle the ‘big project’. And with a new opening I think I can quickly gain the momentum needed to move the story where it needs to go (which has been the problem to date – I’ve been writing the end of one of the other novellas in the cycle!)

So I guess this is my way of saying after a mini break I’m ready to start again, and that’s a good thing.