The Saga’s Little Saga

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How my father happened to lose his own old copy of Gösta Berling’s Saga, I have no idea. When it came to books, the Colonel was an odd  mix of jealous worship and carelessness… But somehow or other the book was lost.

What I know for sure is that, many years later, I found an old copy of the Saga in a second-hand bookshop in Pavia – an old, tiny and delightful place named Il Parnaso, the kind of place where one can while away a rainy afternoon making discovery after wonderful discovery… oh, you know what I mean. Now, my found Saga was not the same edition my father had lost – but it was old, a little worse for wear, and bore an ex-libris explaining how it had been saved during some flooding or other of the Ticino, Pavia’s river. Continue reading

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Across Time (Puck’s Song)

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time now – and I mean quite some time. Last Spring, as I adapted Puck of Pook’s Hill for the stage and chose Rackham illustrations to make into scenery, and later, as I rehearsed the thing with my cherry-picked cast, and then as our Monday drew close – and later again, when all was done and gone well… Only, there was always something else to post about, or perhaps it was too soon, or…  you know how it goes.

But at last, here we go.  Continue reading

Quick-changing Scrooge

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And so, thanks to A Christmas Carol, I now have another backstage job to add to my theatre resumé.

Because yes, we debuted last Saturday, and it went enormously well, and we’re very nearly sold out until January, and have actual waiting lists… And usually, at this point, I’ve done what I had to do, and can sit back and enjoy the ride, right? Not so this time! Continue reading

Longlisted!

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In the middle of it all – and by “it all” I mean tech week for my own translation and adaptation of A Christmas Carol, opening this Saturday – I’ve had a lovely surprise: my story was longlisted for the HWA‘s Dorothy Dunnett Award for unpublished short stories… Continue reading

Psychoanalyzing Puck

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So, my own Lunedì is right behind the corner…

The Lunedìs are this series of weekly staged readings centred around a theme – and last year we had Greek Tragedy. And we also had the members of a Psychoanalysis Club following the readings with some sort of analysis and debate. I know it sounds weird – but it worked really well: eager audiences loved the readings and then debated with gusto, and the house was beyond packed for six consecutive Mondays… Continue reading

The Lost and Unlikely Maiden

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dyThe Maiden’s Holiday is a lost comedy, entered in the Stationers’ Register in the early 1650s as “written by Christopher Marlowe and John Day“. Since Day doesn’t appear to have been active as a playwright before 1599 – six years after Marlowe’s death – a later reworking seems far more likely than an actual collaboration, but we cannot tell for sure. The only known manuscript copy belonged to 18th Century antiquarian John Warburton’s collection, that went… er, lost. Continue reading

Ink and Paper Jacobites

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Obviously Scotland does this to me: it sends me on Jacobite tangents. Fictional tangents, mostly – because really, the moment you try a history book, the whole adventure loses much of its shine. Then again, seven decades of intermittent and unsuccessful attempts at restoring a royal line with the dubious aid of a foreign power were bound to be, on the one hand not terribly well organised, and on the other, perfect novel material… I mean: how can you have plenty of exiles headed by a handsome and charming prince, loyal clans, recurring bursts of violence, conspirations, secret messages, toasts to the King Across the Water, songs, divided families, spirited ladies, battles, and an ultimately doomed cause – and not expect an abundance of fiction? And of course, the foremost charm of the Jacobites is that of the doomed and defeated. Would we care very much about them, would we write novels, if they’d won? Continue reading

Autumn Fires

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Autumn!

I cannot say I’ve been waiting for the summer to end… I’m lucky in that heat doesn’t bother me overmuch. Still, I like Autumn when it comes: September, October, the sweetness of the golden light, the first chills, the turning leaves… And, perhaps most of all, the fires. The scent of smoke, the flames seen from afar, glittering in the twilight… Continue reading

Something Else

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And lo and behold! This year November doesn’t take me by surprise – at least, not entirely. This is the time of the year when, as a rule, I discover that oh, there is such a thing as a November, and other, wiser people set down to write first drafts, while I bemoan my inability to do the same, and end up doing… something else.

Well, you know what?

No sudden discoveries, this year – and no bemoaning. Just the something else. I have this play I’m writing on spec… well, I’ve hinted at it a few times with Nina, and she still has to veto the idea, so perhaps, rather than entirely on spec, I’m writing it on some hope. Anyway, I have a completed first draft, and half a notebook’s worth of notes for a second… Continue reading