Well, it does when you’re blogging. This blog’s over two years old now. Yikes.
Honestly, I’ve a memory like a sieve at the moment.
The two books I’ve mentioned recently (Willful Creatures and Out of a Clear Sky) were not discovered by accident. No sir. Out of a Clear Sky, I found, via Roger and Vulpes Libris; and Willful Creatures came to me courtesy of the Short Review.
I meant to mention that before. I forgot.
So now you know. Anyway, what was I doing…?
These past two weeks have just flown by. I’ve made considerable headway with the group anthology (up till 11:30 the other night doing it while my beloved was visiting her sis in the Big Smoke) so that’s nearly done, had a small commission, which is done, and now I’m working on a poem, which is nearly done. Not bad going, I’d say.
I’ve also been dipping into Willful Creatures, a collection of short stories by Aimee Bender, which so far has been mind-meltingly good. The stories are deliciously surreal and are written, well, just brilliantly as far as I’m concerned.
Right. Back to that poem.
Well, you can’t say I don’t spoil you!
After recommending Sally Hinchcliffe’s terrific book, Out of a Clear Sky, last week (read what I said about it here) I’m delighted to be able to post this – an interview with her. Big thanks to Sally for taking the time to do it. Hope you enjoy it, folks! I did.
“So, who’s it for and what’s it about?
Well, everyone, I hope. It’s a psychological thriller but you don’t need to be a big thriller reader to enjoy it. It’s about birds, and the people who watch them, about obsession and what happens when obsessions go too far. And it’s also about Africa and Britain and what it means to make one or other of those places your home.
Why did you write it?
The short answer is that I was doing an MA course and part of it formed my dissertation. But the germ of the book had been at the back of my mind for ages – the phrase ‘the stalker stalked’ came into my head and wouldn’t go away. I wanted to write a book set in a world most people wouldn’t be familiar with and birds and birdwatching fitted the bill.
What do you hope readers will get from it?
If they’re not birders already, I hope that they’ll look at birds now with new eyes, and understand what makes them so fascinating to some of us. And of course I hope they’ll be entertained, and maybe a little disturbed as well.
How long did it take you to write?
Three and a half years, the bulk of which was rewriting. Writing a book takes a looooong time, something I underestimated at the start. The book went through four or five major drafts and I was working full time at the time as well as completing my MA so that slowed me down a little.
It seems to me that you’ve an extensive knowledge of birds, did that mean more or less research before you started writing it?
There’s a difference between the things you think you know, and what can actually be verified. So I did have to do some research to check my facts – things like the swifts never touching land and sleeping on the wing, I wanted to be sure that was actually true. I ended up reading a lot of in-depth monographs about bird behaviour, most of which never made it into the book. It’s quite easy to get carried away with the research side, but at least I was doing it as I went along rather than before I started it.
Did you use a fountain pen to write it?
Sorry, no! I use a laptop, and although I do print out drafts and scribble all over them when I’m revising, it’s all in skanky old biro rather than a nice pen, whatever I’ve got to hand. The last time I picked up a fountain pen was to write my final exams…
Tell us something about you.
Erm… gosh. I used to be in the fire brigade at school. Actually, that could be the basis for a whole other book…
What’s next for you?
I’m working on my next book – it’s too soon to say what it’s about but this one won’t be about birds. At least, it’s not about birds so far.
Anything you’d like to add?
I’d like to encourage everybody to read my book – and if they do, to drop me a line (through my website) to let me know. It’s a lonely old life, writing, and hearing from a reader makes my day. Oh and thanks for the interview and your lovely review!”
I’ve known Mummywrites, virtually, for a good number of years. She is a terrific writer (one of the best I know) and has been a very good, virtual, friend to me. Not to mention the writing help I’ve had from her (not virtual!). It’ll come as no surprise then that this, on her blog, makes me really happy.
For a while now I’ve been considering starting another blog, or blog type thing. It would be a place where people could share what they love, whatever that might be, anonymously. But, aside from suggesting people put their loved things in a comment box, for me to upload onto the main page after, I’ve no idea how it would work.
Anyway, I think, if I were to start it, that this is how it would begin:
I love, that moment before a shiver.
I am a huge fan of the book and I cannot wait to see the film. Click here for some sneaky peeks (I think they’re doing one a day for a week).
I have been reading Zettel’s film reviews on www.writewords.org.uk for years. Years and years and years. And they are consistantly excellent.
So it makes me happy to be able to point you in the direction of his new site, where said reviews(200 over the past 5 years, with a readership of 100,000) have been collected. Marvellous stuff.