March was very busy and I’m hoping to get some settled writing done this month. I’m working in two opposite directions – the future and the past – and trying not to go mad with that!
I’m editing a book called The Midden with Jenni Nurmenniemi, which relates to the Frontiers in Retreat art and ecology research project. I have just returned from Helsinki and a very productive meeting with Jenni and the book designer, Serge from NODE. The book will be published in the summer and includes essays by Taru Elfving, Emma Itaranta, Jenni Nurmenniemi, Jussi Parikka, Antti Salminen and myself.
I’m also finalising a series of books, The Water Age, that I will self-publish, which are the culmination of my own work in the Frontiers in Retreat project. One book is a collection of my future fictions. The other two books present art and writing workshops, one for adults and the other for children. More on the publication dates for those coming soon.
And work on the final book in my historical trilogy, Conquest, published by Impress Books, is underway. The new novel, The Anarchy, is set in 12th century Europe and focuses on the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys and the continuing struggles between the Welsh and the Normans. I have a couple of guest blogposts coming up this month on M.K. Tod’s A Writer of History and Mary Anne Yarde’s Myths, Legends, Books and Coffee Pots. Her first guest this month, is Tom Williams, a British writer who has written a novel about a man he describes as ‘the James Bond of the Napoleonic Wars’. If you are interested in historical fiction this sounds like a good read.
Some readers of my posts may feel confused by the polarised nature of my activities: on the one hand writing early medieval fiction and the other hand writing future fiction about exoplanets and other life poetics. I get quite confused by this paradox myself!
However, the medieval historian Henry of Huntingdon, writing in the 12th century, was happy to address readers in the third, fourth and fifth millennia. ‘If mortal generations are prolonged so long as that’, he said. He addressed readers 3,000 years ahead of his own time – ‘I who will be dust in your time have made mention of you in this work, such a long time before your birth’ – because he believed in history’s redemptive potential for both the present and the future. So I guess I shouldn’t worry about my own polarities too much.
For more contemplation on the topic of history and the future see Amanda Jane Hingst’s excellent book on Orderic Vitalis, The Written World, which I was delighted to just buy in the wonderful Raven Secondhand Bookshop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In April and May I am going to be writer in residence at Maisons Daura in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in the Lot Valley, France for the Exoplanète Lot project organised by MAGP, Cajarc. The environment of the Lot Valley is imagined by the curators, Martine Michard and Rob La Frenais, as an alternative earth-like planet.
Friday 13 May 6.30pm you can come along to meet the artists and see the work in progress at Residences Maisons Daura in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie.
The Exoplanète Lot exhibition will open at MAGP, Maison Des Arts Georges Pompidou, in Cajarc on 2 July and run until 4 September. Full details in MAGP_prog_2016.
The Surrealist Andre Breton spent sixteen summers in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, declaring it to be ‘his one place of enchantment …. I stopped wanting to be elsewhere …. The list of its charms is very far from exhausting the secret… each day on awakening, it seems to me that I open the window onto the richest of hours, not only of art but of nature and life’.