Saturday, 31 May 2008

Favourite authors, at a moment's notice ...

Simon at Stuck-in-a-Book tagged me for this meme, which began on Heather's site, Errant Thoughts. Thank you , Simon ... .

1. Who’s your all-time favourite author, and why?

John Fowles because his use of language is astonishing, glorious, erudite and because it teaches me, without patronising, and because he creates worlds that I never want to leave. Particularly The French Lieutenant's Woman

for its extraordinary story within the story, modern/Victorian novel, double-ending brilliance.

2. Who was your first favourite author, and why? Do you still consider him or her among your favourites?

Lewis Carroll, for all the same reasons as John Fowles, and most particularly Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. 3. Who’s the most recent addition to your list of favourite authors, and why?

Marina Fiorato, see here for her debut novel, The Glassblower of Murano, just published in the UK. An absolute must-read for lovers of Venice, lovers of glass and its extraordinary nature and lovers of mystery and love. Lovers, really.

4. If someone asked you who your favourite authors were right now, which authors would first pop out of your mouth? Are there any you’d add on a moment of further reflection?

John Fowles, Lewis Carroll, Maggie O'Farrell, Rose Tremain, Jeanette Winterson, Marina Fiorato.

And on a bit of reflection ... Niall Williams, Philip Larkin, George Eliot, the Brontes, Jean Rhys, Michael Ondaatje, Douglas Adams, Khaled Hosseini, Danny Schienmann, one William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Taylor, Rosamund Lehmann and so many more ... but if I listed them all this reflection would go on until tomorow.

I tag these five people to continue this meme, if they feel like it:

Verbivore (now Incurable Logophilia) - who's on holiday for a little while
Booknotes by Lisa
A Work in Progress
Geranium Cat's Bookshelf

and anyone else who'd like to join in ... .

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Foot Planning

In the poem called 'Words' for Lucy in Don't Let them Tell you How to Grieve, there are these lines:

one foot in front of the other
and don't forget to breathe

They are the last lines in a poem which is full of the words of comfort that people send to a grieving person, and they are so very apt. The poet says that they are the lines she clings to.

But I also think that, in happier circumstances, those words can be applied to the planning of a novel (or the planning of anything). So, today, I have begun writing the chronological stories of my two main characters, one foot in front of the other, breathing when I don't know where I'm going (but not diving off into a haven of frenzied research) ... and I shall continue, one foot in front of the other, until the end of the plan.

It sounds simple, I know. But the temptation to veer off the road into writing a full-blown scene, or into frenzied research (procrastination, so often) is gigantic.

Wish me luck, please.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Don't Let Them Tell You How To Grieve

I read about this extraordinarily beautiful, touching, poignant, funny, sad, life-affirming, illuminating, comforting and grief-understanding collection of poems by Gina Claye on dovegreyreader's blog at the end of April.

I ordered myself a couple of copies which arrived this morning.

I know we all talk about essential books, but this one is quintessential. Buy it for yourself, for those you love, for those you don't know well, for anyone who's grieving who you'd like to tell that they're not alone. Buy it from here or here or here, or anywhere, but please do buy it.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Lost in Translation ... ?

I found a clever little widget over at Bookersatz which translates your blog for you. It's called Altavista Babelfish Translator and you can see it over there on the right and down a bit.

But because the title of my blog includes a neologism the translations are hilarious.

In French MATs translate as NATTES (plaits or braids); in German MATs translate as MATTEN (enough or curds) and in Norwegian as FOOD (I found that by mistake - there isn't a Norwegian flag on the widget); in Chinese there are apparently no characters for Angela or blog and by the time I clicked on the Portuguese flag Bablefish had expired for the day.

Never mind, it's surely enough to confuse the French, the Germans and the Norwegians into thinking that I plait my hair instead of writing; that I have simply had enough of writing or that I resort to eating curds (or anything) instead of writing.

I wonder how this post will translate ... ?

Monday, 5 May 2008

Research, and fiction

It is an extraordinary thing (although obvious I'm sure to all except me) the way that research informs fiction and changes its direction.

Several years ago, when I was writing a series of Just-Soesque short stories for children, I spent hours in the Zoological Society's library because I wanted the anatomical details of the animals I was writing about to be accurate by the end of the story. I didn't want to mislead my young readers, even in a piece of fiction, because I knew, even then, that if a reader finds something implausible, or worse, just plain wrong, she loses faith with the whole story - even if it's fiction.

In my research I read that a group of camels, seen from a distance
looks like a group of ostrichesand immediately the story changed direction and got itself published in SPIDER (back issues with that story, Ostriches, or the birds nobody noticed, aren't available online).

I've just been transcribing tapes of an interview with a woman who knew my great-grandmother and the things she told me about the friendship between my great-grandfather and my step-great-grandfather have conjured scenes where once there was nothing but sheets of blank white paper ... .

Research is better than inspiration, any day.