Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Veggie Books: The Weight

'Ahhhh, those Greek myths. How sthuddenly they descthend upon the moorsth of Sthparta.'

No, not Jeanette Winterson, but me, in my first novella. I've always loved myths and legends and stories that don't quite add up any more because they've been told so many times by so many people for so many agendas.

Of course, Greek myths tend to be pretty big on fruit, so it came as no surprise to find apples in this retelling of the myth of Atlas.

In his garden, Atlas went to pick the three golden apples.

As his hand went towards the first, he felt a rumbling under his feet, and he had to steady himself against the tree. The tree bark was cool as silver, though the apple dropped into his hand like molten gold. It was as if somebody else had picked the apple and given it to him. Uneasily he looked around. There was no one there. There was only the cool night.

By the way, have you noticed how there seem to be a lot more fruit and veg in books nowadays? Or is it just because I'm looking for them? I hate to say this, but I have noticed a correlation - lots of veg, good book. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Veggie Books: The Steep Approach To Garbadale

There's a feeling when you pick up a book by an author you admire that can only be described as relishing a safe pair of hands. I get that with Iain Banks. I know I'm in for a good read. His style is warm and soothing on my brain.

How bad could this be? At first she'd thought he was exaggerating when he'd fallen like a sack of potatoes and curled up like a hedgehog. Now she thought he probably really was in intense pain.

Scrabbles gave a cough and flexed one hind leg again, backing towards the two of them. Oh God, she might kick him again. Or her. She tutted and rose, chiding the tall chestnut mare and leading her to where she could munch on some carrot leaves, out of harm's way. Then she went back to the boy lying clutched around his pain on the red-brick path. She bit her lip and patted his head softly. He had curly light brown hair.

'That's called a stringhalt,' she said, not knowing what else to say.

Yeah, great. It's a very good book. Not my favourite of his, but still bleeding good.

And, by the way, I have succumbed to Twitter. Find me there as bluepootle. I blame the closure of Whispers of Wickedness (sob). I had to find a new place to be a blue pootle, you see.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Wanderer returns

I have been much absent lately, due mainly to two things, but mostly to my finishing my novel and considering where to try and place it. One editor has seen it, and considers it too short to market successfully. I've already expanded it a little (just a few thousand words), but now I feel a little stuck. Those few thousand words I am confident have improved the manuscript, but they really do feel like the end. It's still a pretty short piece, at just 50,000 words, give or take, but it feels done. Anything more, other than window-dressing (adding, as suggested, a certain amount of local colour to certain scenes), I can't see being able to add without having to create a completely different book.

What I'm interested in, is I know lots of authors out there have lots of finished novels that don't see publication. If you're one of these authors, with a publishing deal and a moderate amount of success, how do you view those past novels? Do you feel any of them are sitting there waiting to be picked up and dusted down (see David Mitchell's Black Swan Green as a for instance), or have you moved on; are they old news? (Roger Morris sounds like he has hundreds of completed manuscripts just hanging around intimidating the elderly neighbours).

Oh, I've also spent the past five months or so working on this, which has just gone live. Nice to finally have something out in front of the crowd at least.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Birthday books

This past Bank Holiday I entered the realms of the thirty-somethings (waves to Aliya and Matt Curran). Along with a nice novel rejection, I also got a couple of books. Two more dissimilar tomes it would be hard to find. The first, which I am reading at home, and only on sunny days, is Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford trilogy, filled to the brim, Veggiebox fans, with jams, curly kale, potatoes, meat puddings, pig-socks, roly-poly's, stews, honey, berries and other rural delights; the second book was Russell Hoban's The Bat Tattoo, which is resolutely urban and so far--I'm at the halfway mark--is firecracking with brilliance, but is a bit scanty on the food front. There's a fair amount of alcohol though: Jack Daniels, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir. For anyone that hasn't read him, Hoban's post-millennial work puts me in mind of Jonathan Carroll, only without the talking dogs.