Writing in exile

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In my interview published today on The Displaced Nation, author Harriet Springbett talks about being an English writer living in France:

‘When I go back to England and see bookshops stuffed with books, or blogs featuring new books every day, I feel intimidated. Writing stories suddenly seems rather pointless and I wonder what I can possibly add to the overloaded bookshelves. Then I come home to France and it feels rare and right once more. France is my cocoon. If I lived in England, I’m not sure I’d be a writer.’

Harriet’s Tree Magic is published by Impress Books. She is currently writing a story set in the Pyrenees.

The photo shows the tiny chapel at Alendo in the Pyrenees.

 

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1,000 years back and 1,000 years forward

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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.

 

My most recent historical novel is Conquest: Daughter of the Last King (Impress Books, 2016) set in 12th century Wales, England and Normandy. I’m working on the sequel now.

Last year I published a future fiction novella, Meanda, and am now working on a new collection of future fictions inspired by aquatic flora and fauna.

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Top image by Jean Le Tavernier, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74516

Bottom image: Algae in Iceland, Zooetics Future Fictions Summit. Photo: Nomeda Urbonas.

Simon Mawer interview

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My interview with acclaimed novelist Simon Mawer was recently published on The Displaced Nation site. Mawer’s fiction has received a slew of prizes: The McKitterick Prize for his first novel, Chimera; The Glass Room was short-listed for the Booker Prize; and Tightrope won the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. He has lived in Italy for many years and finds his imagination is fired by the extraordinary and the unfamiliar.

Simon Mawer, Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

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I’ve recently published two articles.

An interview with Booker short-listed novelist, Simon Mawer, is published in my regular column for The Displaced Nation. His novel, Tightrope, set in 1950s London, won the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. Mawer had a peripatetic upbringing and now lives in Italy. He says that not feeling at home anywhere fires his creativity.

 

My review of a new book on the artists Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, has just been published in the Times Higher Education.

‘Nothing but devils, buttocks and cod-pieces,’ declared the 17th-century Spanish poet, Francisco de Quevedo, on the paintings of Bosch. In his new book, Joseph Leo Koerner writes that the delectation of Bosch’s The Garden of Delights, ‘draws us like bees to blossom’, whilst Bruegel offers us views ‘that so far exceed our capacity to look that we can never feel finished looking’.

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Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Land of Cockaigne, circa 1567, oil on panel.

The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=148469

Good questions on the writing process

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I am currently on a Blog Tour for my new novel, Conquest: Daughter of the Last King and have been tackling some very good questions from bloggers about researching, writing and publishing processes, as well questions about the novel itself. See some of my answers here:

Trip Fiction, 16 October 2016

The Cosy Reader, 10 October 2016

Wee Reader, 8 October 2016

Portobello Books Blog, 3 October 2016

The Writing Desk, 1 October 2016

 

Photo: Salla Lahtinen.

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The Write Stuff in France

Maisons Daura, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, where I have just completed a writing residency
Maisons Daura, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, where I have just completed a writing residency

An article on English writers living in France, featuring an interview with me, has just been published in the August issue of Living France magazine. It includes information on writers groups, the Writing at the Castle writing workshops, literary festivals in France including Parisot and Charroux, and The English Library in Villefranche-de-Rouergue.