Leonard Cohen on Finding his Voice

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I just came across this through the ever interesting Work in Progress, and I wanted to share…

Click on the picture to get there…

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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

All the Way to the Theatre – or, the Historical Novelist’s Dilemma

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As I was busy completing the la(te)st revision of my novel before pitching it at the HNS Conference in Scotland, I came across this lovely article at the National Archives Blog.

And so I learned that, while I’d always assumed that people walked to the Theatre via Bishopsgate, Bishopsgate Street and Shoreditch, this was not the case. Not that the Burbages wouldn’t have liked such a straightforward route to their playhouse – but there was opposition from the local landowners – particularly from the Earl of Rutland, who effectively blocked the easy access… Continue reading

Once a Spy…

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Once upon a time, I contacted this American writer, asking about his play featuring Kit Marlowe – published but impossible to find. Because there was no answer, I tried with the publisher: was there any way to get in touch with the author, and/or acquire a copy of the play? Now, you see, I’d done it before – and usually authors are pleased to find someone interested enough in their work to seek them out. Why, I’ve e-met several wonderful people, that way… Continue reading

Reading, after all

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Do you remember my Reading Week – the one I could not have this year?

Well, it seems that I must have it, after all – in fact, quite a bit longer than a week, whether I want it or not. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love the chance to read, read, and read some more – and a longish vacation is something I haven’t taken in… oh, something more than a decade, I’d think. Still, I’d have vastly preferred to do without the trouble and hospitalisation that caused this one particular vacation… Continue reading

And Back Again

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Back home, and entirely thrilled about it all – that’s what I am!

HNSScotland18 was a wonderful conference: Margaret Skea did a wonderful job of putting together an array of seminars, panels, lectures and talks – with a fascinating Scottish slant. Thanks to Stevenson and Scott, I have a fondness for the Jacobite Risings, and therefore I loved hearing about them from Maggie Craig and Trevor Royle, crossing kilted re-enactors on my way about, and being piped into dinner was a novel-worthy moment… Besides, I met such lovely people, and pitched my novel to two very nice agents – who won’t represent me, but had many interesting, helpful, and flattering things to say about my writing.

And then…

Ah well, and then there was the Short Story Competition. Let me brag and boast a little here, because the fact is that I won the competition. Remember the story that would not be written? Well, I wrote it, in the end*. I cut it frighteningly close, but managed to submit it – and… won the competition. Continue reading

HNS Scotland 18

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I’m off to HNS Scotland 18 – the Historical Novel Society’s conference, back to the UK this year – three days of talks, workshops, networking, a gala dinner complete with ceilidh, and even two pitch sessions with literary agents.

This is my second experience with the HNS: two years ago I was preparing for HNS Oxford 16, and I was very excited, but also terrified at the prospect of meeting two agents – and, if I’m honest, a little nervous about the whole thing as well… you know, telling people that yes, I’ve written this novelĀ  in a language that is not my own – oh, your language, incidentally… Continue reading

Ferragosto

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524458_closed sign. jpgIn Italy it was Ferragosto, yesterday…

A bleaker Ferragosto, this year – because of what happened in Genoa the other day, with the motorway bridge collapsing – but still, Ferragosto.

Feriae Augusti, back in the day (and the day was 18 b.C.) when Augustus thought it both nice and expedient to have a public festival right after the harvest season, and named it after himself.

It used to be a mixed affair of rest and play for men and beasts, a holiday of eating and drinking toasts to the Emperor, horse races, a day of rest even for oxen and donkeys… Continue reading

Before and After

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HensloweBWThere is no doubt that, when it comes to researching historical novels, there is a Before the Internet and an After the Internet.

I daresay the same applies to a lot of fields – but let me stick to mine: I’m old enough to remember a time when, if you were Italian and wanted, say, to read Henslowe’s Diary, your best option was a trip of several hundred kilometers – to read the book in Bologna or Venice, supposing someone had told you that Nineteenth Century copies of JP Collier’s edited version were to be found there at all*… Continue reading