Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Hidden Gem and The Resurgence in Independent Publishing

It seems to be a vibrant time for independent publishing in the North West, and the UK in general. I'm not sure whether it's because of or despite the recession and the cuts to the Arts. IN any case we don't seem to be suffering from the winter blues where the prospects of publishing are concerned. In fact there seems to be a feeling of Spring and renewal; a resurgence in independent publishing.

This feeling was certainly felt at the launch of Manchester's newest independent artisan publisher, The Hidden Gem, which Claire Massey and I were honoured to read at last Thursday in support of Emma Jane Unsworth. Her novel Hungry, The Stars and Everything is to be published by The Hidden Gem in June.

It was a wonderful event; there was a celebratory atmosphere and the audience was left wanting more of Hungry. Read more about Emma Unsworth at her blog here. And check out The Hidden Gem here for more details about the press and a few pics of the launch.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Land Between Us

There is an amazing exhibition at the moment at The Whitworth Art Gallery called The Land Between Us. It takes a radical look at landscape art by placing traditional or older artwork next to contemporary pieces. With the exhibition is a booklet containing responses to the artwork. I was asked to respond to one of Donovan Wylie's photographs of the British Watchtowers in South Armagh, which was hung next to a watercolour by Turner of Conway Castle. Two striking images of British imperealism from two different centuries. Before I wrote the piece I went to The Whitworth and the curator Mary Griffiths took my down into the vault where they store the artwork. The Wylie photo had not yet arrived, so I had a private viewing of Turner's watercolour. This was very exciting. I would have liked to have written something about the Turner painting, but I was drawn to the more contemporary setting of Wylie's work.

My response, called 'My Sangar' was written from the viewpoint of a woman under surveillance. It begins: 'It was a while ago now, when it was anchored on the hilltop; that green-plated scaffold. I tell you, it hurts my eyes.'

For more on the exhibition go to: http://thelandbetweenus.wordpress.com/

Nearly There...and in the meantime some events

Three months since my last post? Please award me the laziest blogger award. I'm working on the last few stories and Comma Press are being very patient with me. More about the stories later, but in between frowning at my little netbook (how I write on it I don't know) and stressing about the letters on my netbook's screen, I've been involved in a few literary events and things. Tomorrow I'm reading at wordsoup in Preston. I unfortunately couldn't read there last December, when it was run by Jenn Ashworth because I slipped on the ice (I fall over a lot) and twisted my ankle. So hopefully I will make it there tomorrow without any mishaps.

I read my story 'Beautiful Results', which will appear in The War Tour and in Comma's new anthology Bio-Fiction at the Manchester Literature Festival alongside Stella Duffy. That was last month I think, so it's a bit late to blog about it. Anyway, it was a great event at the Godlee Observatory. Unfortunately, there were too many people to fit into the observatory, so we had to reconvene in a seminar room down the corridor. Stella Duffy's story was amazing, but I read out the part with all the equations in it. The following week Annie Clarkson and Emma Unsworth read their stories about Pavlov's dogs and the periodic table. Both powerful and vivid depictions of these scientific moments in history.