Edinburgh Book Festival

Edinburgh Festival: My Last Day and A Glimpse Of Princess Street Gardens

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The final talk that I attended at the Book Festival was on Sunday 23rd of August, The Poems of Iain Banks, with Ken Macleod, a Scottish Science Fiction Writer, and lifelong friend of Iain Banks. The event was chaired by Stuart Kelly. It had been an interesting talk, suggested to me by fellow blogger, Stephen P. Blanchini, his blog is aptly named The Earthian Hive Mind: http://earthianhivemind.net/

I learnt a great deal about Iain Banks from this talk, and was struck by Ken Macleod’s obvious sadness that this lifelong friend that he had had the pleasure of knowing for such a long time was no longer with us. Very sad, it must be extremely hard to discuss a friend you have shared so many memories with over so many years, in such a public way particularly when you have had so much in common. I shall be delving into Iain Bank’s writing, and his poetry to find out more, but at this juncture I don’t feel I can do him justice by writing an in-depth article about the talk as in truth I just don’t feel I know enough about him, yet…. The fantastic thing about these talks is their ability to make you curious, and encourage you to read the author’s work which can only be a good thing. Ken mentioned that Iain’s strangest novel was A Song Of Stone, this features heightened prose, and a strongly dislikeable character. Iain was apparently disparaging about his final novel The Quarry. Ken suggested that The Quarry demonstrates a gentler revisiting of themes that appeared in his earlier novels. Ken said that there is almost an alternating nice hopper, nasty hopper with some of Iain’s books such as Whit, (about a young cult member,) Stonemouth, (this follows a man returning to a small seaport town after leaving due to a sexual scandal,) and Quarry, (which deals with an autistic youthKit, and his father, Guy, a misanthrope who is dying of cancer,) fitting into the nice hopper. The Hydrogen Sonata,  a science fiction novel set in a techo-utopian Culture universe is possibly more optimistic too, though it takes part in Hell!

Sadly, Iain Banks died of Gallbladder cancer, as a token of the esteem he was held in the asteroid (5099) Iainbanks was named in memory of him shortly after his death. His dying of Gallbladder cancer got me thinking, I myself had a polyp in my Gallbladder which was discovered last year and I was operated on in October 2015. For a long time my symptoms were misdiagnosed,  it took a trip up to Edinburgh, and a Scottish doctor to diagnose it immediately. The polyp was most probably benign but still it does make you think, that tiny polyp gave me so much trouble I’m so glad I went ahead and had my Gallbladder removed. Poor Iain.

After the talk the weather was so nice that I felt it would be a crime not to stop for an ice cream, so I stopped right by the large advertisement for the Book Festival that you can see at the top of this blog post. I had a feeling that I should wander on a bit and find somewhere that sold S. Lucas ice-cream, but there was no certainty that I’d find this wonderful childhood favourite which we used to eat in Musselburgh. So I settled for an ice-cream van at this spot, I fancied a chocolate wafer, a Scottish ice cream delight but was a bit disappointed to find that they’d run out, so I had to settle for a humble ice cream cone! Still it was very tasty and I lapped it all up. Of course, the inevitable happened I found a place along in the gardens that sold S. Lucas ice-cream, too late, I should have listened to that psychic voice telling me to wait! I couldn’t really justify buying another ice-cream so soon after the last!

As I ambled my way along Princess Street gardens taking in the sights I came upon the magnificent flower clock, this is a must see if you’re ever in Edinburgh, it is really pretty, especially on a sunny day. The floral clock can be found half way down the stairs into the gardens across from the National Galleries, at the foot of the Mound, commissioned in 1903, it was the first of its kind in the world. Oh, and amazingly it tells the correct time in flowers! How cool is that! Unfortunately my photographs could have been a bit better, there were a few shadows lurking about but still it does give you an idea of how lovely it is. I like how this wonderful display of flowers celebrates Books, Words and Ideas. Of course Edinburgh, my old home town, is the first UNESCO City of Literature in the world, and deservedly so.

More about that here: http://www.cityofliterature.com/edinburgh/

 

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Links:

http://kenmacleod.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/18/iain-banks-final-book-poetry-published-2015-ken-macleod

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/11422409/Poems-by-Iain-Banks-and-Ken-MacLeod-review-blazing-energy.html

So it was time to say farewell to Edinburgh until the next time. Time to go home and see my hubby and my daughters!

I do hope you have enjoyed all of my Edinburgh posts, I have bombarded you with so many of them but my excuse is simply this,  I used to live in Edinburgh, I grew up and had many memorable teenage years there.

I love the city and always will.

Bye for now.

kk

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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Writer’s Quote Wednesday: Edinburgh First UNESCO City of Literature

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I’m a bit late for Writer’s Quote Wednesday this week as I’ve been away in Edinburgh and trying to catch up on everything now that I’m home, but I suppose it’s better to be late than never!

Anyway if you’d like to participate in this wonderful community of quote enthusiasts here’s the link:

http://silverthreading.com/2015/08/26/writers-quote-wednesday-pure-inspiration/

My quotes this week are inspired by my trip to Edinburgh, and in particular to the Edinburgh Book Festival.

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There are many more wonderful quotes about Edinburgh, the world’s first UNESCO city of Literature. www.cityofliterature.com

Here are some more of my favourites:

“Stepping into Charlotte Square was like stepping onto the pages of a fantastic new story.”

“City of the mind. A writer’s city.” Ian Rankin.

“It’s impossible to live in Edinburgh without sensing its literary heritage.” J K Rowling.

‘Edinburgh is my favourite city.” Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate.

“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”
Alexander McCall Smith

“Edinburgh is alive with words.”
Sara Sheridan

“Edinburgh is a comfortable puddle for a novelist.”
Sara Sheridan

“From this height the sleeping city seems like a child’s construction, a model which has refused to be constrained by imagination. The volcanic plug might be black Plasticine, the castle balanced solidly atop it a skewed rendition of crenellated building bricks. The orange street lamps are crumpled toffee-wrappers glued to lollipop sticks.”
Ian Rankin

Edinburgh is a great big black bastard of a city where there are ghosts of all kinds.”
Sara Sheridan, Ma Polinski’s Pockets      

“The drinking dens are spilling out
There’s staggering in the square
There’s lads and lasses falling about
And a crackling in the air
Down around the dungeon doors
The shelters and the queues
Everybody’s looking for
Somebody’s arms to fall into
And it’s what it is
It’s what it is now

There’s frost on the graves and the monuments
But the taverns are warm in town
People curse the government
And shovel hot food down
The lights are out in the city hall
The castle and the keep
The moon shines down upon it all
The legless and asleep

And it’s cold on the tollgate
With the wagons creeping through
Cold on the tollgate
God knows what I could do with you
And it’s what it is
It’s what it is now

The garrison sleeps in the citadel
With the ghosts and the ancient stones
High up on the parapet
A Scottish piper stands alone
And high on the wind
The highland drums begin to roll
And something from the past just comes
And stares into my soul

And it’s cold on the tollgate
With the Caledonian Blues
Cold on the tollgate
God knows what I could do with you
And it’s what it is
It’s what it is now
What it is
It’s what it is now

There’s a chink of light, there’s a burning wick
There’s a lantern in the tower
Wee Willie Winkie with a candlestick
Still writing songs in the wee wee hours
On Charlotte Street I take
A walking stick from my hotel
The ghost of Dirty Dick
Is still in search of Little Nell
And it’s what it is
It’s what it is now
Oh what it is
What it is now”
Mark Knopfler, Sailing to Philadelphia      

You can see I’m missing Edinburgh already! My old home town! Still it’s always nice to be home, especially as I know that I can go back to Edinburgh again.

There are so many Literary activities you can take part in here are some links that I’d like to share with you:

Edinburgh Book Festival, Charlotte Square: www.edbookfest.co.uk

Scottish Story Telling Centre: www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk

Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour: www.edinburghliterarypubtour.co.uk

Edinburgh Writers’ Museum: www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk

Edinburgh World Heritage Trinity Apse Storytelling Garden: www.ewht.org.uk

The Edinburgh Book Lovers’ Tour www.edinburghbooktour.com

Edinburgh Book Sculptures via : www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk

Hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Edinburgh for Writer’s Quote Wednesday.

kk

Bye for now…

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

Edinburgh Book Festival #edinbookfest Sarah Crossan and Abbie Rushton

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Thrilled to have the opportunity to attend another talk at The Edinburgh Book Festival, this time it’s Finding The Way with authors Sarah Crossan  and Abbie Rushton,  chaired by Philippa Cochrane, head of Reader Development, Scottish Book Trust.

Philippa began the talk by introducing the authors and sharing some background information with the audience.

Sarah Crossan, is an award-winning author with five books to her name, Breathe, ResistThe Weight of Water, Apple and Rain, and One.

Abbie Rushton is a debut novelist, her book Unspeakable  is one of the amazing books you can nominate via the First Book Award.

Vote via their website: www.edbookfest.co.uk.

Voting open until 16th October so get voting!

Sarah Crossan’s new book in verse is out on August 27th, it is simply entitled One, and is set in New Jersey where Sarah lived. One is about conjoined twins, Grace and Tippi.

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Sarah read an extract from One, which starts with the first verse, Sisters, and then she read from the next verse, The End of Summer.

Abbie shared next from Unspeakable, a gay love story about a mute girl. She read a section about a dog struggling to free itself from muddy water.

These two books are different in many ways but do share things in common.

Abbie Rushton wanted to write a novel that suggested a young girl’s fear of who she is and to really get this across effectively she decided to write from a mute girl’s perspective. The idea developed from Abbie’s own teenage years which had been difficult, she had repressed her feelings, been quite introverted and had always found writing easier than talking.  Ah, Abbie this sounds familiar I find it so much easier to express myself in written words rather than to talk….

Sarah came up with the idea for One after watching a documentary about conjoined twins Abigail and Brittany Hensel. Fascinated, she set about researching the topic for her book. She found that the internet was not a particularly fruitful source of information so she continued her research in the British Library. Thereafter she tried to contact a conjoined twins specialist, Ed Kiely at Ormond Street Hospital but he was difficult to talk to. So she turned to Andrew Taylor a heart specialist at Great Ormond Street who managed to get her a meeting with Ed Kiley.

Conjoined twins is obviously a difficult subject to investigate as it is shrouded in a degree of secrecy. It is difficult to intrude on this private world, with this in mind Sarah Crossan tried to be as sensitive and thoughtful as possible.

Abbie Rushton mentioned that she loathes research, so obviously this type of in-depth research would not be for her. Sarah’s research amplified what she already knew about conjoined twins, most die, therefore it is undoubtedly an extremely sad subject matter.

On a lighter note Phillipa Cochrane celebrated the strong teen voices in both of these books, and wondered what pot of writing gold these two authors draw from.

Abbie Rushton doesn’t have much contact with teenagers, but it helps that she is a teenager at heart, and her memories and experiences serve as a base for her writing. Yes, I can relate to this….

Sarah Crossan was a school teacher for ten years. Ah, now we know why she likes to engage in research so much. That explains a lot! So she’s used to the ways of teenagers, but her daughter is only three and has a way to go to get to those teenage years, hurry up my dear…. Give her a chance she’s only little!

Then Philippa passed the questioning hat over to the audience, an audience member wanted to know about the author’s reading habits.

Abbie Rushton devours teen fiction. Sarah Crossan reads teen books, of course she does, but she avoids them when she is writing. Yes, writing for teens without reading teen books is most definitely a big No, No.

Then Phillipa steered the conversation on to the topic of believable parents, or more realistically deeply flawed parents, which are a feature of both authors’ writing style in these books.

Sarah Crossan said her mum was a bit put out, she wondered where did this flawed mother come from? But to a degree it sounds as if Sarah did draw from her own experiences,  her dad left and her mum couldn’t clean. This made me laugh. Her mum couldn’t clean and this is a flaw? She sounds okay to me…..  Yes, being a parent is hard.

Abbie Rushton said that Megan’s mum is not like her mum. She wanted to write a character that was isolated from friends. She enjoys writing complex characters and this applies to her subsidiary characters too. Sounds fascinating, really looking forward to reading Unspeakable, Abbie.

Philippa Cochrane was quick to point out that often roles get reversed, adults start to begin to behave like teenagers and teenagers act that parents. I have heard a few examples of this myself recently particularly with older teenagers, when maybe mum goes out for a drink with her friends, and forgets to tell her daughter, and teenage daughter gets worried…… Oh, yes role reversal is on the increase….

Philippa steered the conversation in the direction of developing friendships.

Abbie Rushton’s main character Megan develops a friendship with Jasmine, a bubbling, effervescent  character that is based on a friend of Abbie’s.

One of Sarah Crossan’s secondary characters,  Yasmeen is HIV positive, “this is incidental in some ways,” but she quickly added that she didn’t want this to sound disrespectful to HIV sufferers. She wanted a character who would be “other” who would come together with Tippi and Grace.

An audience member asked if Sarah had always wanted to write in verse?

Sarah found that she couldn’t get this particular novel to sound right in prose, she  tried very hard by the sound of it (she had written a substantial amount of the manuscript in prose,) but it just didn’t work, so she experimented by writing in verse and it worked. Initially she thought due to the technical nature of the story, the scientific aspects, it would have to be in prose but she soon found this was not the case. Sarah is passionate about wanting to share poetry for a younger audience and says there is not much in the way of poetry for teens in the UK. You’ve convinced me Sarah, I can’t wait to read One, I love poetry, and I think this will be an amazing read.

Then Philippa asked when did each of these writers start to feel comfortable calling themselves a writer?

Abbie says she’s now able to call herself a writer. She has been and still is an editor, but when she saw the cover she felt that was the moment. A writer moment. She adored it. Yes, I agree it’s a great cover. I love a beautiful cover Abbie, so exciting!

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Sarah started to feel comfortable in her shoes as a writer when she did her masters in writing. Very modest, Sarah.

The next audience question stole Philippa’s next line of chit-chat from the tip of her tongue, of course it was the inevitable would you have muffins for hands or squirrels for feet? This seems to be going the rounds of the YA events in the festival this year. Both opted for the more practical and fast-moving squirrels.

Philippa’s next question was about desert island provisions, no, not food, why not, I ask my greedy tummy rumbling, oh I suppose there would be ample fish to eat….

Each author was asked to take three differing choices with them.

Here’s Sarah Crossan  choices:

Book:  Jeannette Winterson’s The Passion. Great choice.

Series choice: Breaking Bad. Yes, you wouldn’t get bored, that’s for sure.

One person – this was a bit cruel would you take your husband, child or someone else entirely? I think Sarah was tempted by someone else but opted for her daughter! Oops, I think her hubby might be giving her the cold shoulder.

Here’s Abbie Rushton choices:

Album choice was London Grammar. Never heard of them, but will be investigating this band.

Her one luxury item: Porridge. Is she keeping in with the Scots, or does she really like porridge? Porridge a luxury item….. the mind boggles.

Her one website: A website with lots of books. Fair enough, I’d go with that too.

As an editor Abbie gets to see the publishing process from both sides, this must be oh so handy. Consequently Abbie is sympathetic to editors pushing her to fulfil deadlines.

An audience member asked Sarah why she didn’t write Out from Tippy’s point of view. Sarah felt that it was Grace’s story. Fair point, Sarah, looking forward to reading Grace’s story.

Then an audience member asked a question that prompted a discussion on teens moderating what they read.

Abbie suggested that teens are mature enough to make the decision whether they should put down books that they don’t feel ready for. Sarah agreed, she said that teens are self censuring, and also she added that she didn’t think it was genuine to paint life like a bed of roses. Yes, on the whole I would say that this is true, but it is interesting how shocking topics seem to capture attention and possibly tend to be more marketable. So, maybe this should be a consideration when writers write, though ultimately you have to write what moves you and what is in your heart.

Philippa agreed with Abbie and Sarah about teens moderating what they read and added that YA deals with these more challenging topics more sensitively than a lot of adult books do.

It was a wonderfully interesting talk. I am so glad I had the opportunity to go along to discover Sarah Crossan who I haven’t read before, shame on me,  and a new debut novelist who sounds as if she has considerable promise.  Looking forward to reading both of these books very, very much.

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed my write up of the talk. Will be doing some more Edinburgh Festival posts so keep an eye out for them.

Bye for now!

kk

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

Links:

http://www.sarahcrossan.com/

https://twitter.com/abbietheauthor

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/conjoined-twins-separated-at-great-ormond-street-1939270.html

http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/

Edinburgh Book Festival #edbookfest : Cat Clarke, and Kat Ellis

 

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Being an aspiring children’s and YA author I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend the Edinburgh Book Festival talk The Disappeared by Cat Clarke and Kat Ellis on Tuesday 18th of August, as you can see I even managed to get a photo with the two of them, even though I was at the end of the signing queue! Yes, I’m a slow coach, I meandered around, had a cup of coffee, perused the books, and then joined the queue. Kat was occupied signing another book so I spoke to Cat first. Cat delighted me by asking if I’d like to be in the photo too! I was a bit concerned that I might spoil the photo, sometimes I’m not very photogenic, I pull these silly faces, but fortunately this didn’t turn out too badly.

Is this the first time that I’ve seen Cat Clarke?

No, though it is the first time I’ve spoken to her in person. I heard her speaking a year ago at YALC in London, here’s the link to that talk if you’d like to read about it: https://kyrosmagica.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/im-too-sexy-for-this-book-yalc-panel-event/

My experience of the talk

During this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival talk I managed to get a seat fairly near the front, and was about to get my note pad out when I realised I’d lost my pen, so this write up is purely from the powers of my failing memory so if I get any details wrong, Cat/Kat don’t blame me, it’s that missing pen’s fault!

The chair person Daniel Hahn started by saying that it was bound to get confusing with a Cat/Kat in the audience, how do you differentiate? Daniel found a way round this conundrum as all good interviewers do, and the conversation flowed very freely. I was struck by Cat’s friendly disposition, and her tendency to smile and wave at the audience. She had a few members of the audience waving back! Next time I’ll be more than happy to wave back Cat, now I’ve met you in person!

The first question that Daniel posed set the tone for the talk, light and silly, which is great, I like light and silly.

It went something like this: If you had a choice of muffins for hands or squirrels for feet which would you choose? Cat C went for those squirrels, but sounds like she kind of liked the notion of regenerating muffins, (her suggestion.)  Kat E stuck with the muffins, like me she must have a sweet tooth, and a few fillings. Cat C was quick to point out that Muffins are not very practical she added that you wouldn’t be able to do the gardening with muffins for hands. True, but you wouldn’t starve either.  Oh by the way my favourite muffins are blueberry, yum…. donations on a plate, please….

Talking about squirrels just recently we had a very high fence built and squirrels have taken to running across the top of this new fence at double time, a bit like a trapeze artist balancing on a wire, except they kind of do a manic version of it, I always find it highly entertaining, it’s my own little Squirrel Circus Show what more could a girl ask for ……..

Moving on from squirrels and muffins, and back to the talk, the topic of conversation kind of gravitated towards Welsh, or to be exact writing novels in Welsh and this question was directed at Kat.  Kat is Welsh, or at least she says she is. Kat has forgotten how to write in Welsh! Maybe she’s an imposter? Can she sing? That’s normally a good way to tell, Tom Jones comes to mind, the interviewer should have asked her to sing a bar or two of Send in The Clowns. Kat’s a new breed, an author pretending to be Welsh. Only kidding Kat, I’m sure you are Welsh. Yes, I believe you, the penny dropped when you said that if your novels were written in Welsh there would be far more spelling mistakes! Lots of people can’t spell in English so that sounds plausible.

Cat Clark doesn’t write in any foreign languages at least I don’t think she does. She started her writing journey writing non-fiction, but this type of factual writing didn’t allow her an adequate platform for her squirrel like imagination, so fiction was the next obvious path to take. Cat says she thinks like a teenager, and believe me when she said this I didn’t bat an eyelid. So our teenage minded Cat decided to write Fiction, aka stories that lie to the reader, yes that’s how the interviewer sold it to us. A whole new genre: Stories That Lie, it has a certain ring to it doesn’t it? Sounds far more exciting, and interesting if you ask me, great decision Cat…

Both Cat Clarke and Kat Ellis seem to have aspects in common in their recent writing, both of these novels are about disappearing children. Moreover these two authors are drawn to the weird. Cat Clarke admitted that she was a bit of a weird kid being fascinated by child abduction, the topic for her new book, The Lost and The Found. Similiarly Kat E likes to go to circus’s with her niece and imagine what it would be like for the circus performers to befall some horrible accident. Yes, this talk ended up being a bit of a confessional for weirdness, but Cat came out with the most shocking gambit of all. She is fascinated by shark attacks, what it would be like to be attacked, and the scars you’d have. After this particular announcement silence followed, shocked audience silence, possibly Cat might have gone too far? Hope there weren’t any shark attack victims in the audience. Yes Cat, authors are a weird bunch, and by the sound of it, you’ve got this weirdness on pointe.

So the discussion progressed to differences between these two authors. Cat Clarke kind of summed it up when she mentioned the weathervane at the beginning of Kat’s book, she’s in awe of the fantasy world that Kat has created. Me too.  Daniel Hahn was quick to point out that Cat’s non fantasy based writing rocks too.

Blackfin Sky (great title by the way,) is Kat Ellis’s debut novel. During the course of the interview it transpired that Kat E did indeed have other manuscripts tucked away, apparently Blackfin Sky leapfrogged past the others, to claim the first spot in the hall of fame of first novels and is one of the nominees for ….  Drumroll……..

First Book Award, vote for your favourite here, voting closes at 5pm on Friday 16th October: www.edbookfest.co.uk 

There were readings, as there always are at these talks, hey we’re talking books, who wants to come to an author’s event and not hear the author/s talk? Cat C leapfrogged past the first chapter and read from her second chapter and Kat Ellis kept fantasy simple and read from her first chapter.

Here’s some short snippets:

Kat Ellis, Blackfin Sky, 1st Chapter

Silas’ spirit had inhabited the rusting weathervane for many years. From his perch on the school roof he watched the townsfolk of Blackfin through his empty eye socket as they buzzed through their lives beneath him, no more significant than the grains of sand piling up against the shoreline, clinging to the struts of Blackfin pier.

Doesn’t that just grab your attention? It certainly did for me!

and

Cat Clarke The Lost and The Found,  Chapter 2

I don’t believe it. I won’t allow myself to believe it. Mum’s trying to stay calm too, but I can see it in her face – something I haven’t seen for years hope. She thinks it’s different this time. They wouldn’t have called her otherwise. They think this is it. After hundreds, maybe even thousands, of crank calls and false sightings and psychics claiming Laurel was living with goat-herds in the mountains of Uzbekistan.

Again, another wonderful snippet that draws the reader in, so looking forward to reading both of these books.

Same topic two very different approaches fascinating isn’t it? That’s why I love books so much, stir a little pot of words, add a dash of magic and just see where those magical words will take you.

There were tips for writers from debut novelist Kat Ellis, her advice is to learn all you can about publishing through social media platforms such as twitter, follow those agents, (she is with the Bent Agency,) and editors.  Excellent advice from Kat, yes stalk those agents and editors, don’t let them get a day’s rest.

Neither Cat or Kat  write with a particular audience in mind. Apparently Kat didn’t do any research for her novel, sounds like it just evolved, albeit slowly, yes this writing lark takes oodles of energy and time. They tend to write what they themselves would like to read and nowadays YA is read by older people too like …… yours truly and the thoroughly accomplished and entertaining interviewer Daniel Hahn who confessed to being in his forties and reading YA. Ah, this is very relatable, us older YA readers should stick together we should have a convention or something….

So, wonderful talk, enjoyed it immensely, love being at the Book Festival, spent so much time there it began to feel like a home for home. Maybe I should pitch a tent, would have saved on bus fares.

TIP: It’s a great spot for people watching, and generally being nosy – one of my favourite pastimes, a must if you have any aspirations to be a writer……

Take a look at these photos lots of potential for imagined stories:

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Maybe you’d like to use one of these photographs as a story prompt and write a story? Please feel free to do so if you’d like by linking back to this post. Thanks.

Links:

http://catclarke.com/

http://katelliswrites.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.danielhahn.co.uk/

 

Thanks for stopping by.

Have you been to this year’s Edinburgh Book Festival?  If you have I’d love to hear about your experiences  do leave a comment. Or if you’d prefer to talk about squirrels, muffins and sharks that’s okay, happy to chat about that too!

Bye for now!

kk

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

 

Edinburgh Book Festival #edbookfest Stuart Evers and Dorthe Nors

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Photo:  Stuart Evers and Dorthe Nors by Chris Close. This is a cropped image which I took at the festival of Chris Close’s wonderfully creative photos of authors participating in the Book Festival. http://www.chrisclose.com/

On Sunday 16th August I had my first Edinburgh Book Festival experience of 2015. I arrived with the intention of buying tickets for the Matt Haig lecture but this was sold out so I went to Throwing Away The Literary Rulebook with Stuart Evers and Dorthe Nors in the small intimate venue of the Writer’s Retreat.

First impressions: There was a huge queue for the Louis De Berniere talk but there didn’t seem to be anyone queuing for this lecture. My worries were soon dispelled as a queue began to form. It was certainly an interesting lecture and it is always a delight to discover two writers who I had never heard of before. Dorthe Nors read a short extract from Minnie Needs Rehearsal Space, which is from a short novella and short story collection entitled Karate Chop & Minnie Needs Rehearsal Space. Minnie Needs Rehearsal Space is written in the unusual form of headlines, and is one of the fifty-six books listed for a First Book Award. You can vote for your favourite book via this link: www.edbookfest.co.uk. Voting closes at 5pm on Friday 16th October.

Given the preponderance of social media sites such as twitter where short snappy sentences are used to good effect this style was used by Dorthe to convey a crumbling modern relationship in her novella Minnie Needs Rehearsal Space.  I was impressed by her reading and Stuart Evers reading of his novel Your Father Sends His Love.

Both of these authors shared similarities in their writing being drawn by the extraordinary aspects of the everyday lives of ordinary people.

So in the spirit of Dorthe Nors headline style and Stuart Evers love of taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary I’d like to do a bit of an experiment, a fun headline story of my visit to Edinburgh up to today. It might be a bit crazy but that’s okay, crazy’s good!

Marjorie Throws Away The Motherly Rulebook

Marjorie Is Obsessed With Being On Time.

Marjorie Leaves On Time But Turns Up At The Wrong Station.

Marjorie’s Husband Drives Like A Demon To Beat The Train.

Marjorie’s Husband Grips The Steering wheel.

Marjorie Clings To Dear Life.

Marjorie’s Husband Crashes To A Halt With Minutes To Spare.

Marjorie’s Heart Beats Too Hard.

Marjorie Is On The Verge of A Heart Attack.

Marjorie Takes Some Deep Calming Breaths.

Marjorie’s Train Arrives.

Marjorie Finds Her Seat.

Marjorie Sits Next To A Red Headed Teenage Girl.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl has Chipped Fingernails.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl Stares At Her Fingernails.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl Refuses To Eat A Tomato sandwich.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl Refuses To Eat A Tuna Sandwich.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl  Refuses To Go To The Buffet Car.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl Refuses To Pick Salad Out Of Her Food.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl Is Starving but Just Eats Chocolate.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl Eats A Kit Kat And Listens To Music.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl Tells Her Dad  To Leave Her Alone.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl Needs A Kick In The Ass.

This Red Headed Teenage Girl’s Dad Ignores Her.

Marjorie’s Bladder Is At Bursting Point.

Marjorie Pleads With The Red Headed Teenage Girl To Excuse Her.

The Red Headed Teenage Girl Curls Her Legs To The Side.

Marjorie Returns Bladder Emptied.

Marjorie Pleads To Sit Down.

The Red Headed Teenage Girl Doesn’t Answer.

The Red Headed Teenage Girl Is Immersed In Music.

The Red Headed Teenage Girl Doesn’t Hear.

Marjorie Says Excuse Me Again.

The Red Headed Teenage Girl Blushes.

The Red Headed Teenage Girl Says Sorry.

Marjorie Sees The Real Red Headed Teenage Girl

This Real Red Headed Teenage Girl Needs Mothering.

Marjorie’s Teenage Daughters Are Not With Her.

Marjorie’s Teenage Daughters Are Missed.

Marjorie Has No One To Laugh With.

Marjorie Wants To Laugh With The Red Headed Teenage Girl.

Marjorie Chickens Out Of Laughing With The Red Headed Teenage Girl.

Marjorie Fears That The Red Headed Teenage Girl Will Tell Her To Go Away.

Marjorie Hears A Rumpus.

Raucous Fringe Performers On Edinburgh Bound Train.

Raucous Fringe Performers Are Laughing Non-Stop On Train.

Raucous Fringe Performers Set New Laughing Record.

Raucous Fringe Performers Set Everyone’s Nerves On Edge.

Raucous Fringe Performers Crave Attention.

Raucous Fringe Performers Think Northallerton Is In Narnialand.

Marjorie Arrives At Capital Of Fringe Fever.

Raucous Fringe Performers Arrive In Edinburgh.

Raucous Fringe Performers Gather For Photo Opportunity.

Red Headed Teenage Girl And Family Troop Past.

Marjorie Pushes Through Fringe Crowds.

Marjorie Walks Past Taxi Rank.

Marjorie Takes Tourist Route Through Princess Street Gardens

Marjorie Nudges Past Crowds.

Marjorie’s Mother In Law Is At Bus Stop.

Marjorie’s Mother in Law Doesn’t See Marjorie.

Marjorie Says Hi, Where You Going?

Marjorie’s Mother In Law Appears Lost.

Marjorie’s Mother In Law’s Bus Stop Is The Next One Down.

Marjorie Gets Her Bus In Minutes.

Marjorie’s Mother In Law Is Not At The Bus Stop.

Marjorie Feels Guilty.

Marjorie’s Mother In Law Is Still Walking.

Marjorie Mother in Law Walks All The Way To Haymarket.

Marjorie Arrives At Her Parent’s House.

Marjorie’s Mother Looks So Well

Marjorie’s Mother Has Just Had An Operation.

Marjorie’s Mother Is One Feisty Lady.

Marjorie’s Mother Makes Marjorie Laugh.

Marjorie’s Mother Keeps On Moving.

Marjorie Tells Her Mother To Behave.

Marjorie Gives Up Telling Her Mother To Be Good.

Marjorie’s Mother Tells Her To Go Out.

Marjorie Goes To The Edinburgh Book Festival.

The Matt Haig Lecture Is Sold Out.

Marjorie Is Disappointed.

Marjorie Buys Unknown Authors Tickets.

Dorthe Nors And Stuart Evers.

The Queue For Louis De Berniere’s Is Long.

There Is No Queue For Dorthe Nors And Stuart Evers.

Panic Sets In, No Queue, No One There Yet.

People Line Up For Nors And Evers Literary Lecture.

Marjorie Aka Kyrosmagica Smiles.

Happy To Be Part Of Something Different.

Throwing Away The Literary Rulebook.

Sounds An Interesting Premise.

Marjorie Returns Back home.

Marjorie’s Mother Is White As A Sheet.

Marjorie’s Mother Is Now Feeling The Effects.

Marjorie Pledges To Stay In.

Marjorie Throws Away The Motherly Rulebook

Marjorie Is An Ordinary Girl Having An Extraordinary Day.

Well that was quite fun to do, I enjoyed my experiment, hope you enjoyed reading it too.

Apologies to the Red Headed Teenage Girl! Oh and to those performers on the train too,  I’m just a nosy so and so who likes to eavesdrop!

It’s good to try new things, to explore new types of writing. I would recommend that you check out these two writers so with that in mind here are some links:

Links:

http://www.dorthenors.dk/

https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/writers/dorthe-nors

http://stuartevers.blogspot.co.uk/

https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/writers/stuart-evers

Have you been to any events this year at the Book Festival? Do feel free to comment, I’d love to hear what you’ve been doing this summer.

kk

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

Holiday………. Race The Train Fever….. Sun ….. No I’m in Scotland

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Hi,

I’m on a bit of a holiday so just a little note to let my followers know that I won’t be posting as much for a while, though I might be tempted to join in the writing #BlogBattle and I will be replying to comments so do feel free to chat. The good news is my mum is doing wonderfully well after her operation, she’s some lady, in her seventies and as feisty as ever! We’re getting our orders, tee hee, she’s a laugh. I think she even had the nurses at her beck and call, sounds like they treated her like royalty!

My journey started off terribly badly I did a crazy thing I turned up at the wrong station! In my defence I’ve never done this before, this was a first. I went to Waterbeach (our nearest station) instead of Cambridge. A few days prior to travel I had picked up my tickets from the ticket machine at Waterbeach, and somehow had it in my head that I was travelling from Waterbeach. So my husband had to try to beat the train! A racing challenge, just up his street! He drove me to the next station on the route, it was a hair-raising drive. I really thought there was no way he could do it but amazingly he did and with a few minutes to spare! Luckily the train was running two minutes late and we’d left the house in good time. Phew!!!!

The train journey was lively to say the least we had the cast of one of the shows on our carriage and they were a boisterous lot, you could tell they were actors, they liked to be noticed. I’ve never heard a bunch of people laugh so much. At one point we arrived at a place called Northallerton in North Yorkshire and they queried whether this fairy tale sounding town existed, I reckon they thought it was some sort of Narnialand.

On arrival I decided to walk through Princess Street gardens to get a feeling for Festival Fever, boy it was busy, luckily I just have one small piece of luggage with me.  I arrived at my bus stop, and guess what, wonder of wonders my mother in law was standing there apparently waiting for a bus! What are the odds of that? Amazing. Anyway we had a brief chat and then she had to dash off to find her bus, she was at the wrong stop, apparently all the buses are a bit confusing at the moment with the Festival being on.

So I’m up in Edinburgh, sans enfants and sans husband, I intend on catching up with old friends, maybe visiting the cat café in Stockbridge, going to the Book Festival, and the dance and drama events at the International Festival, and the Art galleries if I get a chance. I shall be going out with my dad for Chinese lunch, visiting my mother-in-law, catching up with my brother and generally eating too much. Yum….

I’ll be helping out with mum, cooking, and generally doing my Florence Nightingale bit. You can see why blogging has to take a back seat. Hope my mum will be able to join us out and about towards the end of next week. Unfortunately it is dreadfully busy in Edinburgh at the moment, with all the excitement of the Festivals, the town is packed so it is not very easy to manoeuvre around if you’ve just had an operation. So we will have a duty to try to keep her in, to ensure she rests, no easy task for a lady who is always so full of energy. Let the battle commence…..

I’ve packed  a couple of books to catch up on, a bit of holiday reading. My current read is  The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, which is a rich descriptive read inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, I’m really enjoying this. As well as this I intend to read The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan. “A dramatic tale of love, loss and betrayal in Provincial China, told with directness and deep feeling.” Mail on Sunday.

If I finish these two there are a wealth of detective novels in my mum and dad’s house so I don’t think I will be short of reading material, and of course I’m sure I’ll pick up some new novels at the Book Festival. How exciting!!! I love Edinburgh, me home from home, only slight gripe it’s so cold here, I don’t think I’ll be needing that sun hat and shades, a woolly hat would be more useful.

Anyway Happy Holidays, hope if you are going anywhere nice you have a wonderful time.

Bye for now.

file

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

Edinburgh Book Festival – Leigh Bardugo and Maureen Johnson

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On Sunday  I was lucky enough to be listening to two American New York Times best selling authors Leigh Bardugo and Maureen Johnson, talking about “Alternative Worlds,” at the Edinburgh Book Festival.   Leigh Bardugo’s debut series “The Grisha Trilogy, Shadow and Bone,” is set in an alternative, magical, Tsarist Russia. At the moment this debut series is in the hands of Harry Potter producer, David Heyman, who is considering a film version.  Though it is not confirmed as yet, a movie may be scheduled to release in 2014 or 2015.

Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series is a bloody, paranormal thriller:

  • The Name of the Star
  • The Madness Underneath
  • The Boy in the Smoke (World book day novella)
  • The Shadow Cabinet

My first impressions were interesting to say the least. Maureen Johnson sat to the right of Leigh Bardugo with a serious expression on her face, the interviewer appeared a bit unsure just how this conversation was going to progress. But as soon as Maureen spoke all those fears were dispelled. Maureen’s first words about her historical tour of London, were ghosts were mentioned at each and every opportunity, was an absolute riot. Maureen doesn’t believe in timid ghosts that genteely move furniture, or boohoo quietly in a corner, no only murderous ghosts are good enough for her! If she ever gets sick of writing I’m sure she could inflict her sense of wit on us as a very successful female stand-up comedian. Anyway the outcome of all these ghosts was a ton load of research. Maureen researched the history of London, ghost lore, and the Jack the Ripper case files. And the result was . . …….. The Shades of London series.

Leigh and Maureen talked about writing research, and world building. We had Leigh falling in love with her book ideas and Maureen reading her work for the tenth time and just dying. Murder, dying, you name it Maureen inflicted it on her poor unsuspecting audience.

Leigh started writing in her thirties after pursuing various careers, latterly she worked as a make up artist, concocting stories whilst she was applying make up to her clients. Maureen is so multi-talented that she writes scripts for the Nintendo DS and PSP versions of the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood prince video game.

Initially Leigh had problems finishing first drafts of novels that she’d started. I really relate to this, sounds so me! Luckily Leigh went on to write not just one stand-alone book but three,  her Shadow and Bone series, “feels like a trilogy,”  and boy does it deliver.

They talked about plotting, and planning. Maureen’s style wasn’t too structured to begin with but she was soon compiling character dossiers, and histories. Leigh commented that Lainie Taylor doesn’t plot at all. She observed that this could only possibly work if the author had a natural sense of story. Well, I’m a weak plotter, but only time will tell if I have what it takes to get away with this. In my case, a lack of initial plotting wasn’t such a good idea, I had to do loads of re-writes. I’d agree that in that first draft you are telling yourself the story, as Leigh suggests. Maureen referred to “a little toolkit,” to hammer her story into our consciousness. Ouch, sounds painful, steady on there Maureen.

Leigh’s trilogy is written in 1st person with a third person prologue and epilogues. The voice of her novel was hard to find. To begin with her main character’s voice was nice, quiet, and sweet but she soon found a more sour, pragmatic voice for Alina, her main protagonist, a teenage orphan.

Maureen killed off one of her characters before she even got a chance to appear in print. The fifth Martin, the youngest, was obliterated straight away. Well, Maureen jokingly said that babies don’t do much anyway! As an only child herself she was drawn to writing about a big, family, and a wacky one at that.  Her final novel, in her Shades of London series, is now in the hands of someone. She jokingly said that she hopes it was actually a Penguin representative and not some random manuscript stealer.

According to Leigh there are some wonderful benefits of being an author, living in your pyjamas is one of them, but killing your characters can be tough. Absolutely agree Leigh, you just live and breathe those characters, they become engrained in your thoughts. Maureen advised us to “Just do it!” No second thoughts or holding back there, Maureen.

Maureen and Leigh closed off the proceedings with a reading. Maureen kicked it off with a very amusing passage from Scarlett Fever and Leigh took us to a dark place to inflict the darkling on us, and I’m still there, hoping that I will eventually manage to escape!

Then finally the discussion turned to the professional aspect of writing that is often overlooked, touring, and social media. Is this a fun aspect or a chore? Leigh said that she didn’t have to do this but she loved it. Oh, and of course her publishers encouraged her to do so. She said that when you’re on a tour you get to see a new city everyday. It’s the best job ever! Be yourself on line, find out where you should connect with your readers, Leigh felt most at home on tumblr.

To begin with Maureen answered this question dead pan. Writing and being a writer are very different, she said. Do what feels right to you.  People found me on twitter, and their response seemed to be, you’re a writer?

The question and answer section followed next. There was a bit of a reluctance from the reticent Scottish audience but one brave soul asked whether Maureen had been on one of many of Edinburgh’s haunted ghost trips? Maureen hadn’t had the opportunity but yes, she would have liked to, but she had a feeling that Edinburgh’s ghosts might not be up to scratch. It sounds like Maureen takes a lot to scare her.

The next question touched upon strong female characters, a topic that is most definitely a popular one. Maureen doesn’t like classifying books as boys books or girls books. That just makes her crazy. Leigh made the very valid comment that nobody talks about strong male characters, and Maureen even mentioned that there is some anger towards female characters. I think that we expect so much from our female characters, come on they’re just like us they’re flawed, nobodies perfect. In my opinion that’s what makes them interesting.

Then a young lad in the far corner asked the final question, the one that was no doubt pressing on the lips of many amongst us in the audience, myself included. It went something like this: “Have you any advice for young writers?” Well the tips went along these lines. Maureen told him not to expect too much. She said that her writing was “so bad” to begin with that she deserved these terms: “Arrest me,” “Kill me.” So if you’re writing terribly Maureen suggests that you’re on the right path because as Maureen says this will lead you to your goal of writing well. Thanks, this is so true, totally agree.

Again Leigh touched a chord with me, she said there’s “no expiration date on talent.” Thank you so much Leigh! Again she went on to say that you don’t have to be cute, popular or media genic, (is this even a word, and if so how do you spell it?)

Maureen carried on this tide of inspiration with “Don’t give up,” “Just finish,” Carry on to your “Eyes bleed,” finish that first draft. Maureen were you speaking to me?

Well it was a sunny day, and I came out smiling even more than when I went in. Such an inspiring, talk. I loved it, and guess what, I finished my final edits last night. Yes finally got there and my eyes didn’t even bleed they just blurred a bit. Now, just have to find a publisher. This is going to be the hardest part, but now I feel more prepared for it. I’m writing this in my pyjamas and I have this strong sense of belonging, I think I’ve already joined the writer’s club! Leigh Bardugo and Maureen Johnson were so entertaining and a absolute delight to listen to. I left feeling both inspired, and sure that I have finally chosen the right career path to an Alternative World.

If you could write about an Alternative World what would it be? Do tell, I’m sure it would be fascinating.

To find out more about these great authors websites, click away:

http://www.maureenjohnsonbooks.com
http://www.leighbardugo.com

 

 

 

 

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