It was also time, following the pandemic, to revise and update the popular The Healing Paths of Fife by author Diana Jackson. Since it was a fantasy memoir, not only has Diana’s life moved on somewhat, having lived permanently in Fife now for eight years, but also the towns and villages and their facilities have changed. She would like to mention that Alec and Moira to whom the original book was dedicated, the owners of the Wee Shoppe on Kinghorn Beach, had to retire due to ill health. She is still in touch with them but they are missed by many.
Here’s the new cover:
Diana has raised over £700 in profit from the book for The Kirkcaldy Foodbank, and will continue to do so.
And what about the news about Kate Forbes and whether she is fit for office in Scotland. Can someone’s personal religious views restrict the public office they hold? This isn’t to do with publishing and writing, but it is relevant.
On the face of it we could all perceive these issues as a great thing. After all we are living in enlightened times … Aren’t we? We respect everyone’s way of life as long as it does not impair our own.
We are far more aware of racism, sexism, fatism and all the other isms and I’m sure as authors we see it as our responsibility to watch out for the words and phrases we use which might upset.
As a publisher we have an even greater responsibility don’t we, to ensure that the books we launch out to the public will not offend anyone?
Another question to you:
How can we do all of this without affecting creativity as an author, constricting the richness of the English language and living in fear of offending someone?
All authors are readers. All editors are readers. All publishers are readers. Right?
I’m an avid reader of fiction and in the last couple of years I’ve noticed some unusual trends in the novels.
I started thinking this way several years ago, in fact, with the theme of forgotten libraries and ancient libraries, beginning with the famous The Shadow of the Windby Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The visual idea of the idea of a cemetery of forgotten books, imprints on an authors mind, and several books of the same essence have since followed.
Much more recently the theme which made me sit up and think was adult literature but a link with fairy tales, for example on The Christmas Bookshopby Jenny Coggan. There have been a couple of others I’ve read in the last year or so too.
And finally Trees which play a role in themselves and even ‘talk.’ The Island of the Missing Tree is a brilliant narrative set at the time of the partition in Cypress. Once I had finished the book I thought ‘ Wow!That’s a unique and precious book.’ …But … I am now towards the end of reading Still Life by Sarah Winman, an excellent novel set in Florence and London during and after WW2. It is a powerful novel; perfect for its time and for today too; would have been shocking had it been released last century. But …. there it is again. Trees play a role, both here in London and over in Italy. They speak too; as does the charming parrot but that’s another part of the story entirely. The Lord of the Rings springs to mind too.
In fact, speaking trees are in vogue at the moment in spiritual and mindfulness books, as well as environmental ones. Fascinating subject.
Now, there’s a thought. Maybe we’ll have a run on parrots playing and important role in novels in the near future. Who knows?
And so I ask my initial question. Are themes in novels unique? Do publishers spot these trends or are they pure coincidence? What do you think?
Author Brian Kerr decided that the time was right to update and revise his first book.
About the Book
“Landscape provides a rich recording of our past. In this revised and updated version of an earlier text, Brian Kerr traces the changes which have shaped the countryside of #Bedfordshire. Beginning with the fundamental #geology, the author describes the natural landscapes and then charts how these have been used, giving us the familiar pattern of #countryside, we see today.
There is a renewed interest in farming, #food security, the establishment of new #woodlands, and the impact of #climate change. Written in non-technical language, this book will appeal to a wide audience interested in the future of our countryside in Bedfordshire and beyond. This second edition of, ‘An Unassuming County’, has been substantially updated and includes many new photographs.
Brian Kerr is a soil scientist, living in Bedfordshire and is a Visiting Fellow at #Cranfield University.”
About the Author
Brian Kerr on one of our longest standing authors at Eventispress. He trained as a soil scientist and has applied this knowledge of the environment in unravelling the landscape history of Bedfordshire. He has published three books; the first two focusing on the shaping of the Bedfordshire landscape, and the second on the people who made the greatest impact. His third, ‘How to Value a Skylark’, debates current topics and controversies regarding decision making impacting the land in the UK. All are readable accounts, which will be of interest to anyone with an interest in the #countryside. Brian previously worked as a consultant on #agricultural projects worldwide, and during the past decade has engaged in land projects in the UK, Ireland, Rwanda, and Tanzania. He presently holds a post as a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, UK.
This revised and updated edition of ‘An Unassuming County ~ The Making of the Bedfordshire Countryside’ is now available for bookshops to order through:
I first came across this subject when young. I used to cycle out along the West Sands Road in St Andrews (Fife) early in the morning, and sometimes saw a man declaiming quite loudly while walking along. His name was the Reverend Wilfrid Hulbert and he belonged to one of the smaller Christian denominations, either Methodist or Congregational, I can no longer remember which and, many years on, still don’t know the difference.
He was doing one of two things; composing his sermon for the Sunday to come or, having composed it, was trying it on for size. If the latter, it was a good idea. Writing may look good on the page but may not read so swell when breath and voice are applied.
Someone else who composed on the move was novelist, Nigel Tranter. The following is a quotation from the Guardian obituary.
Each morning he would leave his house in East Lothian and begin a long walk over the nature reserve at nearby Aberlady Bay. As he stalked out along the shoreline he was an unmistakable figure. In stout boots, flat cap and sensible tweeds, he looked just like any other bird-watcher but for one oddity: in his hands he carried small sheets of paper, protected by a polythene bag in inclement weather.
He is said to have written some 1,000 words on each of his walks, and if composing by speaking is difficult, composing while walking along has got to be much harder. The writer would have to keep on stopping to write anything at all. There may be other authors who have used this technique, but I imagine they are small in number.
Then there is the interesting case of Edgar Wallace.
plaque, Nr. 107 Fleet Street
Then there is the interesting case of Edgar Wallace, who dictated his novels and short stories for his secretary to type out. At the time he was writing, or should we say speaking, this was more difficult than it is now. According to his Wikipedia entry, he spoke his words onto wax cylinders, which gives rise to a theory about his writing.
This may be why he was able to work at such high speed and why his stories have narrative drive. Many of Wallace’s successful books were dictated like this over two or three days, locked away with cartons of cigarettes and endless pots of sweet tea, often working pretty much uninterrupted in 72 hours. (Wikipedia)
Speaking for myself, I would fall at the first hurdle, the endless pots of sweet tea. Yet now, if an author wishes to speak rather than write, life is very much easier. As I type this, I notice a panel on the home ribbon which shows a graphic of a microphone with the word ‘dictate’ below it. I’ve never tried it but I’m told it works.
(Eventispress writes ‘Thank you so much Rod, for an interesting post.’)
Yes, is the fast answer. With Prince Harry’s book Spare soon to become to greatest selling memoir of all time, and celebrities like Boris Johnson saying that he is writing his memoir too (like no other!), is there still space in the market for lesser known authors?
Yet again the answer is yes, but let’s unpick why.
Have you overcome a huge obstacle in your life?
This could be health wise, as in The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, whose husband rose above severe health problems and walked, including wild camping, along coastal paths of the south-west of England.
It could be some kind of learning difficulty which you turn around to your advantage, for example Richard Branson who has dyslexia, and writes in his blog about Kate Griggs, who has her own story to tell. See This is Dyslexia, a blog by Richard Branson himself.
You could be rising above one of those traumatic moments in your life ~ bereavement, redundancy, divorce, empty nest syndrome …. Our own author Diana Jackson wrote The Healing Paths of Fife after being made redundant and relocating 400 miles away from home. Diana has raised over £700 for local charities, including The Kirkcaldy Foodbank with this book.
You could be becoming aware of your own sexuality as in Scatter of Lightby Malinda Lo.
In the end, if you are thinking of writing your memoir, then question who your target audience might be:
Questions you might ask yourself?
Who would read it?
Who might be inspired by your memories?
Who could learn something from your experiences?
Does it make a gripping or/and enjoyable read?
IMPORTANT POINT: Be careful of libel though, if you are including stories of real people in your life including confessions for example, but that is really another blog post entirely.
How should you write my memoir?
A memoir does not have to be linear to have an impact. It could be a series of stories written at key times in your life. It could be in poetry form, or part thereof. It does, however, need to flow, and have an order which makes sense.
Eventispress has just taken on a new writer who has done just that. It has taken about two years of tweaking to find a format which works, weaving together several otherwise random life stories, but it now works as a whole; so beautiful and moving. Watch this space!
Eventispress are signing off today until the New Year when we have good news and new publications for 2023. Our authors are brimming with ideas for both writing and marketing and we’ll see some new faces joining us too.
Rod asks, ‘Do we need to know a place well in order to write about it, or can we rely on books or the internet?
How true is the often quoted advice,
‘WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW’?
“If you are an author who writes fantasy – talking bears, flying witches adept at airborne archery, you know the sort of thing – then setting scenes accurately is unlikely to concern you much. If nothing else is realistic, why would your locations be?
Moving on to those of us at ground level, decisions must be made. Starting with historical novelists, the approach will surely be researching what your chosen locations were like at the time your book is set. What was Naples like in1640 when your heroine, Artemisia, was active with oil on canvas? Not like the Naples we meet in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan books, we can be sure of that. Recourse to libraries in person or online will be called for. I am not a historical novelist, but I’m sure they cover their bases as well as they can and if they make the occasional mistake it won’t be for want of trying to get it right.
For authors whose work is set in present times, or near enough, there are two ways to go. Knowing that you’re writing a work of fiction, you think to yourself I might as well make up the settings as well with an occasional nod to actuality. In Paris, a reference to the Eiffel Tower, in Edinburgh to the Castle, or Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags. Yes, that should cover it. But not everyone will be comfortable with that approach and here I can only speak for myself.
Three of my novels are set in #Edinburgh, where I have lived for many years. Although I know the city well, I visited the sites which would figure in each book and took many photographs as an aid to memory. For example, Interleaved Lives.
Scenes set in Dublin and Traquair are supported by photographs. One location within the city is a disused church.
The references to this building are detailed and accurate, though changes may have occurred since I finished writing it.
But the fourth book, The Ears of a Cat, never comes near my native city, and instead visits Berlin, Los Angeles, Hokkaido and Charmouth (a coastal town in the English county of Dorset). Of these places, I have only ever set foot in Charmouth, so where does that leave me in search of accuracy?
Were it not for the internet, it would leave me up the creek without a paddle. Now, though, I can travel far and wide without leaving the house. A major aid here is Street View, which not only enables the armchair traveler to visit a given street on the map, it also enables that traveler to see all its buildings. And as if that were not enough, travelers who have actually been there are often kind enough to post photographs of their visit, a further source of reference. Without these aids, I could not have written the Berlin chapters of Ears. In one there is a reference to Leise Park and a gravestone there. The gravestone exists and the reference to the inscription is accurate. How amazing that such a thing is possible? When I was younger than I am today, it was not.