Friday, 20 April 2012

Edits and Twists

It's been a long week of editing Coalface, my YA Victorian adventure; but at the end of it, I'm left with a lovely unexpected twist - that isn't in Coalface...

I've just been told by the BBC my short story is on the longlist for the Radio Four Opening Lines series - brilliant news!  I'm really pleased to get such positive feedback on my work, and it's come at the perfect time.

This morning, I passed the halfway mark on editing Coalface.  It's been a bit of an uphill climb to this point - as some of the edits have become rewrites, which have then become edits.  While part of me daydreams of hitting the save button for the last time, it's all part of the process, the nuts and bolts of making a story fly across the page.

I remember going through the same process (on a smaller scale) with my Opening Lines short story- after my good news this morning, it was worth the extra effort to turn a good story into a great one.

Right - time to celebrate - posh sandwich from the shop down the road, then back to the desk; the other half of  my action-packed adventure waits...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


So, a busy weekend - Nottingham looked splendidly Victorian (sort of) from the fourth floor of Waterstones on Friday evening, where Gail Carriger discussed her Parasol Protectorate series while I drank Pimms and lemonade.  I held back on cake, but it was kind of them to offer.  There was a huge number of Steampunk fans in the audience, dressed to the nines.  It's interesting to see how ideas of an alternate Victorian reality have such an impact on fans of the genre.
Gail's writing is great fun to read; a mix of Austen-like attention to social manners and protocol, with a big slice of werewolf and vampire lore thrown in for good measure - all rolled up into a strangely believable world.  Timeless is the last book of the series, but she's busy working on another part of her very inventive universe for YA readers.

Then came Alt.Fiction, packed with discussions, panels, and my reading slot!  I was very nervous (my thanks to whoever gave me the tip of putting my notes in a folder - it reduced the shaking to tremor levels), but I was really pleased with my read of the opening chapter of Hidden Daughter.  I got some lovely feed back from another writer about my presentation, and as a result, I've made some new friends.  Once again, it was really worthwhile to get out there and talk to other writers.  And I'm itching to read more of my work in public now.

In the meantime, I'm back to editing Coalface.  I'm about a third of the way through, and it's shaping up nicely - so much so, I might even start sharing a little more of it soon - watch this space.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Practice, practice, practice.

Talking about time-travel with a stopwatch in your kitchen is something even I don't do that often, but that's what I was doing tonight.

One of my resolutions this year was to share my work with an audience as often as I could (reading aloud on the bus doesn't count as an audience).

Alt.Fiction have very kindly given me an open mic slot at their Flash Fic session at 1pm this Saturday - I'll be reading an extract from chapter one of 'Hidden Daughter'.  After some great advice on reading extracts from my colleagues at Nottingham Writer's Studio, I've edited, read, re-read, drunk coffee and re-read again.  

Now I'm ready (I think).

I'm going to pick up some more tips when I see Gail Carriger discuss her new novel 'Timeless' and other things Parasol Protectorate related (good name, very jealous of that name) at Waterstones Nottingham on Friday night.

Then I'm looking forward to hearing what other writers will be reading to us on Saturday, and sharing the start of weary time traveller Penny's story with an audience.

Monday, 9 April 2012


Calke Abbey: inspiration lies around every corner.

The weather is forbidding today, to say the least: not hazardous, but as uninviting as non-dangerous weather gets.  

So I've elected to do a bit of time-travelling in the footsteps of Hidden Daughter's Penny, I'm now in last Friday, in Calke Abbey:

The anatomy of a country house revealed
Calke Abbey is an extraordinary place - a once well appointed country home which fell into slow, graceful decline in the 1920s, leaving entire sections of the house untouched for years.  

Stored in the rafters,
ready for the next season of boating
that never came to pass.
The National Trust arrested it's decline after they began to manage it in the nineteen eighties, but have chosen not to 'restore it' in the way they have with many other properties.

What you get is a sense of the parlour state many forgotten country houses were left in, before they fell under the wrecking ball after WWII.

The result is a place unlike anywhere else I've seen.  
If you want to start a story, you'll find a thousand places and a thousand ways to begin at Calke.  

With it's fractured past, and secret world within our world, Hidden Daughter is one of those stories.  

I feel very fortunate to be inspired by this strangely beautiful place.