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.
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.
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.
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’.
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
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.
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.
A short article on my writing process and places has just been published by Impress Books on their Blog ‘Where I Write’.
In her delightful book, Three Rivers of France, Freda White wrote about Saint Cirq Lapopie, where I am currently writer in residence: ‘The village clambers up an escarpment so steep that the door of each house is about level with the roof of that below.’ She was not exaggerating. It took a few days for me to get my ‘hill-legs’ when I first arrived. Yet the steepness is what makes this such a spectacular landscape, where there are so many vantage points to look at ‘the ravelled thread of water’ in the valley below, as the ‘most winding river in France’, the River Lot, makes its meandering way towards the sea.