Fusion. Not Confusion.

Mouth watering.

Being Britalian

Another food post I’m afraid.

This week I was wondering what to make for lunch and a quick look in the fridge revealed a cauliflower, chicken thighs and some caciocavallo cheese: Caciocavallo meaning ‘cheese on horseback’ is a sheep or cow’s milk cheese that is good for melting. I’m not keen on it melted on toast, I still prefer a mature Cheddar, but it’s good melted on pizza or as I’m about to find out, on cauliflower. I set the iPod to play and Poly Styrene’s album Translucence starts to play, the opening bars of Essence give me an idea so I grab a little packet of Moroccan spices I got a few months back and my mind starts to go into creation mode.

DSCF2636

First I separate the cauliflower florets and pop them into boiling water to blanch for 5 minutes. Next the chicken breasts are placed into an oven-proof…

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A day in the life of… writer Misha Herwin

fabricating fiction

Always interest in writer’s habits this post by Misha sharing her writing habits really resonated with me. Oh how I’m used to those 3 am sessions! Misha, what does the rest of your day hold?

I love the way my day can start and end at any time. I can wake at three in the morning, my brain teeming with ideas and sneak out of bed, snug in a fleecy dressing gown, into my cold office, switch on my computer and begin. On mornings like this the story flows, my fingers can scarcely keep up and by the time my husband has woken up and brought me a cup of tea I have the greatest feeling of satisfaction.

The tea is pretty good too. Hot and fresh, it’s the kick start to getting showered and dressed.

On other days, I’m the one sneaking downstairs to make tea, so that I…

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Why write such different books?

Why do I write such different books?

Books some of

Talking to a friend about “Shadows on the Grass,” she said that it sounded more of a historical novel than the books I usually write. In any event it was different from the previous two, “House of Shadows” and “Picking up the Pieces.”

Which of course it is. While “House of Shadows” is a time slip/supernatural story, with a touch of the Gothic, “Picking up the Pieces” is a contemporary novel about the difficulties of being an older woman who has lost her job, or, as in Elsa’s case, when her ex-husband goes bankrupt, her alternative source of income.

“Shadows on the Grass,” on the other hand, tells the story of a Polish immigrant family, who come to the UK after WW2. It goes back into their history and uncovers deeply buried secrets in their past, going back as far as pre1914 Poland.

The book also explores family relationships, primarily those between mothers and daughters, throughout the generations.

Another theme is loss. The Dzierzanowski family can’t return to Poland because the country they knew no longer existed as it was virtually satellite state of the USSR, which at that time was separated from the West by what was called The Iron Curtain. Travel between the West and the Eastern Bloc was difficult, if not impossible and my own parents could not visit their relatives, until I was in my late teens.

On the surface, a very different book and yet there are a number of similarities. A sense of loss pervades “House of Shadows”. In that case it is the loss of a child, which is key to the action of the book. There is also, loss in “Picking up the Pieces”. As all three women have to face profound changes in their lives. Much is lost, but more is gained.

Again, all three books are set in Bristol. A city I know and love and which, in spite of the fact that I haven’t lived there since my late teens, still inspires much of my work.

The three genres, however, are very different. This is possibly not the best marketing ploy. Commercially successful writers tend to be those who write series of books. The most profitable, at the moment, being crime.

Why then don’t I find a genre that suits me and stick to that? If money were the sole object, then I would, but that is not why I write.

I write because I have a stories that want to be told, themes that I want to explore and to be honest, I enjoy trying out different genres and suspect I would be bored sticking to just one, especially if there were quite rigid conventions to be observed.

The other reason I write a variety of different books is because I can. Unlike some writers I am not tied in to a contract that demands more of the same, so I am free to experiment and be as creative as I want.

It doesn’t always work. There is a book waiting on my hard drive that can’t quite find its form, but when it does it fuels my enthusiasm and, on a good day, makes writing sheer pleasure.

PS. I also write children’s books, but more on those in another blog.

Cover 1“Shadows on the Grass” due to be published as an e-book in January 2018.

 

 

 

One Tree

Being Britalian

Today my car is blocked in by a tractor and there’s an olive net across the road where three people are harvesting the olives from the tree that they own. The three people are friends of mine and they live up in the main town of Casoli and have driven down in their tractor to collect the olives from this solitary tree.

Tractor

I’m chatting with Maria, (the lady who used to own my house) as she rakes olives from the branches her husband has pruned out of the tree’s centre to open it up. I’m asking why they have travelled so far to come to just this one tree. “It’s been a good year for the olives so it’d be a waste not to harvest them,” she tells me. “How many trees do you have?” I ask and am then corrected; “Piante non alberi.” Italian’s don’t call olives trees, they’re…

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Friday Favourites: Earthly Remains #Donna Leon

Earthly remains“Granted leave from the Questura, Commissario Guido Brunetti decides to finally take a well-earned break and visit Sant’Erasmo, one of the largest islands in the Venetian laguna.

The recuperative satay goes according to play until Davide Casati, the mysterious caretaker of the villa Brunetti has been staying in, goes missing following a sudden storm. Nobody can find him….

Convinced that this was no accident, Brunetti feels compelled to set aside his holiday and discover what happened to the man who had recently become his friend.”

Donna Leon is one of my favourite crime writers. If indeed she can be categorised as such. In my opinion her books are literary novels. There is always a crime, but that is secondary to the depiction of character, the themes of the book and her portrayal of Venice. We see the city in all its moods, whether at the height of summer, when it is thronged by tourists, as in “Earthly remains”, or in winter when aqua alta means that the inhabitants have to make their way over duckboards to avoid being swamped by the rising water.

Because the books are written from Brunetti’s point of view, you can see and smell and hear the city, its food and the people who live there.

Brunetti is not your usual angst ridden detective with a dysfunctional private life. He is a man who enjoys living and has a good relationship with his wife Paola and his teenage children. Family life is not always smooth, but Brunetti knows how important his family is to him and he to them.

You also get a keen sense of the hierarchy of the city, Paola comes from an aristocratic family while Brunetti is solidly working class, and of the corruption of Italian politics, both local and national.

Increasingly too Donna Leon has dealt with environmental issues, such as the polluting of the laguna and rising of sea levels that threaten the very existence of her beloved city.

If you don’t know her books, then I cannot recommend them strongly enough. Go buy, read and enjoy.

Authors reviewing Authors (It’s a Minefield) #MondayBlogs #AmWriting

Much food for thought.

Rosie Amber

Authors reviewing authors

(it’s a minefield…) Guest post by Terry Tyler

Reviewing advice

The scenario: you’re a self-published/indie press published writer who tweets, blogs and is a generally active member of the online writer community.  You like to read and review the work of writer friends, if in a genre that appeals.  One of these friends (who I will call Friendly Writer and refer to as ‘he’, for convenience), asks you to review his new book, via an ARC.  The blurb piques your interest; you say yes.  You start to read, with enthusiasm—but there’s a problem.  Several of them.  The dialogue is unrealistic, the characters are one-dimensional, or tired stereotypes.  Maybe the plot is unconvincing, or it’s a bit slow/long-winded/badly researched.  If it was a random book by a stranger, you’d abandon it.

If you’ve been active in the online writer community for a while, this might be a situation you’ve…

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The Nelken-Line

Wish I’d been there.

Tim Diggles

Yesterday, Sunday, I photographed the rehearsal led by Restoke’s Clare Reynolds at B.Arts in Stoke; and then the filming at Goldendale Park in Tunstall the site of Golden by Wolfgang Buttress. This was a contribution to The Nelken-Line which the very talented Emily Andrews had set up, with lots of people from North Staffordshire. The Nelken-Line is a set of dance movements which Pina Bausch devised, it enables many non-dancers to participate and The Pina Bausch Foundation has asked people all over the world to make their own film version of it, there is an amazing film about her work by Wim Wenders which features it. So here are a few of many photographs I took which I hope show the community spirit and joy there was making the film. The award-winning Junction 15 Productions did the filming. Everyone was participating and working on this in their own time, which…

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