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When Real Life Meets Fiction

21 September 2012 in Our Stuff and Our Things | Comments (0)

Two things have been in the news in the past week that bring to mind events in two of my works of fiction. 

Last week a body landed in a street in Mortlake, southwest London.  It transpired that the body was that of a man, North African or possibly Congolese or Angolan in origin, who had stowed away in the landing gear of an airplane.  While many of the newspaper reports focused on the horror of waking up to find a dead man crumpled on your street outside your house, others explored the risk demonstrated by the stowaway’s breach of airport security, back in the country where he boarded the plane.  Of course, this story replicates the story I’m currently exploring in my new novel, ‘Our Stuff and Our Things’, and the digital fiction Chris Joseph and I are working on, ‘Flight Paths’.  In my version of the life of a stowaway, he gets up and walks away.  If only that was true for the man who fell on that street in Mortlake.  Here’s an interesting report on the story

As well as that, yesterday the news reported that a British soldier in Afghanistan had gone into labour and produced a baby, having not realised that she was pregnant.  This story unleashed a media stream of concealed and unknown pregnancy stories.  In my novel, ‘The Mistress of Nothing’, Sally Naldrett, the main character in the book, conceals her pregnancy.  Since the book was published, various readers have queried whether or not this could be possible; indeed, most women’s experience of pregnancy, my own included, precludes the idea of either not knowing you are pregnant or being able to hide it.  However, as the stories in the press revealed yesterday, it is actually much more common than anyone would think possible.  One radio report I had mentioned a study in Wales that concluded that 1 out of 2500 pregnancies are concealed or unknown.  Sally Naldrett’s concealed pregnancy is a true story; she really did hide her pregnancy from Lucie Duff Gordon, despite living in close and continual proximity with her.

‘Inanimate Alice’ goes up on The Space, the BBC/ACE showcase

14 September 2012 in Inanimate Alice | Comments (0)

‘Inanimate Alice’ today has gone up on The Space, the BBC/ Arts Council England showcase of the arts in digital form.  It’s on the homepage of The Space for the time being, and will reside in the Literature and Spoken Word section of the site.

Our Stuff and Our Things: second draft finished

7 September 2012 in Our Stuff and Our Things | Comments (0)

After the great response from the editor to whom I showed the first draft of ‘Our Stuff and Our Things’, I worked a bit more on the manuscript, and then sent it off to my agent here in the UK, Rachel Calder. Rachel’s response was less positive than the editor’s - the things that the editor loved wound up the agent.  Rachel gave me a great set of notes, along with a series of comments made on the manuscript itself.  I showed the notes to the editor, in order to get her response to Rachel’s response.  Doing that helped me a) not panic, b) remember what, exactly, I want this novel to be about, c) find a way through to a new draft.  Then I went away on holiday, carrying the manuscript with me to Scotland and Spain while not even glancing at it once, all part of allowing the discussions to percolate.

I’ve spent the past few weeks working on that draft, and it’s done now, and so I’ve sent it back to Rachel, with some notes of my own.  So, we’ll see.  I’ve also sent the manuscript to another friend, Aamer Hussein - Aamer has basically read everything I’ve ever written, for which I’m eternally grateful, and his opinion is always useful and interesting. I’m in slight danger of too many cooks here, but so be it. 

As well as that, I’m making progress with the website I’ve commissioned Andy Campbell to design for the project overall, a website that will, basically, allow publishers to understand how the digital elements of this project, ‘Flight Paths’ and ‘Duel’, relate to the novel itself.  It’s a simple but good-looking website that, I hope, will act as a kind of calling card as I explore whether or not publishers are interested either or both the novel and its digital companion. 

So, that’s where I’m at.  I’ve got a new job, news of which is still under embargo, and that starts week after next.  Andy and I continue to work on ‘Duel’; over to the ‘Duel’ blog for an update on that.