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Showing posts from August, 2017

Wanderlust - Guest Post by Karen Kao

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I like to wander. To travel without any clear sense of a destination. I call myself a wanderer in my new Instagram account. The photos there all come from a recent trip to Germany. Hence the title of this blog post. Originally coined in German during the 19th century, wanderlust means an urge, an impulse, a longing to travel.
Maybe this craze for the new is a Shanghainese trait. As Lynn Pan documents in Shanghai Style, early 20th century Shanghai was crazy about anything new, be it film or fashion, chandeliers or flush toilets.
When I wander, I try to go back in time or place, go deep, understand. Feed my imagination. So here’s an account of our travel through Germany and how it’s about to affect my writing.
Moving Pictures
We went to Germany because of two major art events: documenta 14 in Kassel and the Skulptur Projekt in Münster. The former takes place every 5 years; the latter only once in a decade. So I mapped out a route that would take us to both. And added a little Bauhaus archit…

Debbie Young Writes a Book for All Seasons

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When I started planning the cosy mystery series I'm currently writing, I thought I had a bright idea: I'd make the seven books span the course of the year.

What's not to love about writing a book for all seasons, and then some? Whatever the time of year, I'd have a topical book to tout.

Given that my Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries are set in a small (fictional) English village (no surprises there), its residents are naturally very conscious of the seasonal changes, and their social calendar dictated by the time of year.

That's just how it is in the small (non-fictional) English village in which I've lived for the last 26 years. Here in my real life village, I'm so much more aware of the passage of the seasons than when I lived and worked in and around London.

Working in a city centre, I was more likely to spot the season by what was in shop windows, rather than by the appearance (or disappearance) of lambs and the like.

Bikinis in Marks and Spencers? Ah, t…

Lines of Sight and Out of Shot: N M Browne

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One of the elements of writing that often causes the most trouble for students (and for me) is, what everyone now calls: 'point of view.' I mean, I’ve been doing this a while now so I don’t usually switch between character perspectives accidentally. I do, however, still struggle to enter the mind and milieu of my protagonist as completely as I need to. I find my own characteristic verbal tics turn up whether I’m supposed to be a wolf, a Saxon warrior or a teenage time traveller none of whom should sound like a middle aged white woman.  It takes considerable effort on my part to imagine being ‘other’ and to enter the linguistic and perceptual world of this ‘other’ mind. I have no tips to offer. Sorry. I approach it in my usual bumbling irrational way, working it out by trial and error. Sometimes I never get there and I have at least two unpublished novels on my hard drive which are narrated by entirely the wrong person in completely the wrong way. Often, it helps to think about…

Tomatoes, Daisies, Movies, and Reading Schemes (ugh!) - Enid Richemont

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It's early Autumn, or, if you prefer, late summer, and in my very peaceful part of North London, there's a kind of golden silence which seeps into my head. The very last of my huge crop of tomatoes remains to be picked, and this morning I gathered an unexpectedly large bunch of runner beans - all this richness from a small suburban garden. This time of year feels like a kind of dream time through which I wander almost mindlessly. Soon there will be the first breaths of the winter to come, and I love that - it's thrilling. I am not a summer person.

Recently I found myself picking lawn daisies just before their decapitation by lawn mower - these lovely little things always come back. I haven't picked daisies since making daisy chains with my kids and my grandchildren, and I suddenly wanted to - they are so sweet.

The movie based on one of my books has now progressed to the stage of location and actually filming, and I will be shown the first images in ten days time. It is …

A Child's View of Genocide - Andrew Crofts

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A few weeks ago I went down to the beautiful hills on the Rwanda/Congo border, fancying that I was following in the great literary footsteps of the likes of Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene, but in reality probably more closely resembling William Boot from Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop.


I was travelling with my client, Hyppolite, a young man who was just seven years old when he survived genocide. In 100 days he lost eighty members of his extended family and witnessed his beloved father being hacked to death by machetes and eaten by dogs.
Born in a mud hut without shoes, water or power, and often hungry, he struggled after the genocide to gain an education and to learn to forgive the killers. By the age of thirty he had a Masters Degree in Sociology from BristolUniversity, had started a Foundation for Peace and had delivered a lecture at Harvard.
I am hoping that in this book we will be able to give a child’s view of genocide, in the style of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. It is also…

An off-grid writing residency in Spain? Dipika Mukherjee has an inspiring adventure

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I didn’t quite know what to expect from a Joya residency; the description sounded so different from the usual residencies that I applied for an adventure. Joya: AiR is an artist run not-for-profit arts organisation and--most importantly--an off-grid residency in rural Andalucía, Spain.
“Off-grid, eh?” said my son, the only member of the family who had been to Andalusia. “If it's all solar panels and water harvesting, they’ll hand you a lota and tell you to go about your business in the fields. Water harvesting sounds like unwashed people to me, and we didn’t shower for days when we camped in Malaga.”
I quickly checked that the email said individual rooms had attached bathrooms, and reassured myself that young men camping at seventeen were not the best ambassadors for personal hygiene, whether in Malaga or elsewhere.
Getting to off-grid Cortijada Los Gázquez looked challenging through the dirt roads lined with prickly shrubbery, but there were pretty villages and a stunning Moorish ca…

How To Tell A Story by Susan Price

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I was sent this email recently: