The Mistress of Nothing

Forgetting to Blog

18 May 2010 | Comments (5)

I’m currently having one of those odd, in-betweeny times - not quite ready to start my next big fiction project, still very distracted by the GG and the forthcoming publication (Jan 10) of ‘The Mistress of Nothing’ in the US, waiting to have various trips confirmed, ash cloud allowing, spending much too much time following links I learn about via Twitter, distracted by various uncertainties at DMU - just plain old distracted, discombobulated even. 

The cure for this will be to get started on my next big fiction project - really get started instead of fiddling about endlessly, opening and closing files, starting and abandoning research… But I’m not ready yet.  Or at least, that’s what I tell myself. 

A bird flew into my window today.  Great thud.  Scared me.  But it flew off again, so that’s okay.

Squirrels are stripping the clematis of its blooms - they sit on it and pull the flowers off one at a time and eat them.

There’s a mouse in the house that won’t take the bait and instead appears at odd times doing strangely bold dance moves before scampering off again.

Looking forward to GeekCamp tomorrow night. 

And that’s about it from me. 

American proofs of The Mistress of Nothing

9 March 2010 | Comments (0)


The copyedited manuscript of ‘The Mistress of Nothing’ arrived from Simon & Schuster yesterday.  When I opened it up I was amazed to see how heavily the text was annotated -  numerous red copy-editing marks on every page.  But then once I began to look more closely, I realised that most of the marks were instructions to the typesetter and not corrections to the text itself.

All the spellings have been changed from British to American, and some of these made me gulp a bit:  can ‘skeptical’ really be correct?  Doesn’t it look too much like ‘skool’?  This Americanisation of the text - which doesn’t worry me, fond as I am of the British and Canadian spellings - was complicated by the fact that the novel uses 19th century Arabic transliterations as well, some of which were Lucie Duff Gordon’s own;  for instance, one of these,’hakima’, or ‘healer’, does not correspond to any Arabic dictionaries’ current spelling.  The copyeditor also came across a number of small errors in my text, things that we did not notice here in the UK when we copyedited the book, ‘elder’ instead of ‘eldest’, ‘more’ instead of ‘most’, etc.  So that was interesting, if a little embarrassing as well. 

Many tiny red marks were devoted to my use of the em dash.  At first I misunderstood and thought that they were trying to deprive me of my beloved em dash (though before yesterday I didn’t even know it is called an ‘em dash’).  But no, the little hieroglyph actually means they are keeping the dashes but allowing less space on either side. 

So, I’ve gone through it now with my own blue pencil and added to the general mark-up mayhem of the text, and am posting it back to NY shortly. Yippee!!

New year, new post

4 January 2010 | Comments (0)

2010.  Hello.

2009 turned out to be a great year.  Publication of my novel ‘The Mistress of Nothing’ in Canada came with the completely unexpected and truly wonderful bonus of winning the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction - the GG.  Since then, the book has been in the Canadian bestseller charts and has sold into several other territories, including the US, where Touchstone/Simon & Schuster bought it a few days before Christmas.  They plan to publish in January 2011.

Here in the UK the fate of the novel has been much more mixed.  When it came out there was a flurry of reviews, mostly good, as well as the virtual book tour which resulted in a series of interviews on great book blogs.  However, the book failed to find its way into UK bookshops on the whole; shops that stocked it did so briefly.  Now the only way to buy the book is online.  I think perhaps a year ago I might have felt this didn’t matter, but my recent in experience in the Canadian market, where the book has been heavily promoted in the chains and even in the big box stores, shows me what a difference this can make to the fate of a book, in particular, enabling a book to find its way to readers who are new to my work. It’s interesting, if a little confusing, to contrast the progress of the book in terms of sales between Canada and the UK; it’s exactly the same book in both markets, after all.

I started writing this blog in the autumn of 2008, thinking I would write it for a year, tracking the progress of publication.  But of course now I’m hooked, though in a minor, infrequent, kind of way. I’ve read a few interesting pieces of late about whether or not blogging and the use of other social media can influence book sales and/or a writer’s profile - the jury seems to be out on that one still.  But because of my work in the digital realm, keeping a blog up and running makes sense to me.

In the meantime, the holiday is now well and truly over.  I will continue to write this blog, and I’m also going to go for a total redesign of my website. I’ll be back in Canada at the end of February for both a digital conference and more events/readings for ‘The Mistress of Nothing’. The Fiction module I teach on the MA in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University starts next week; I am looking forward to that. The composer with whom I’m collaborating on the opera based on ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is coming to London soon, so I’ll be able to hear the first act of her orchestral score.  The day long conference on Transliteracy that I’m helping to run at DMU will take place on 9 Feb - abstracts and registration are now available here. The nine multimedia short stories that Chris Joseph and I are creating for the educational publisher Rising Stars, ‘Lifelines’, are nearly finished. I’m a year older.

Happy New Year.

I’m on telly

16 December 2009 | Comments (0)

Here’s a link to CPAC and the programme, ‘On the Bright Side’, which features an interview with me by Heather Seaman.  I’m there in the first five minutes, with my straightened hair and in my fancy dress, on the night of the GG award ceremony in Rideau Hall.  Also, you get a good view of Michaelle Jean, the GG herself, in her lovely dress.

Watch the video here.

I’m still over-excited about all of this, but I guess that’s to be expected.

Governor General’s Award for Fiction for Kate Pullinger’s ‘The Mistress of Nothing’

10 December 2009 | Comments (0)

governor general's award

One of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes goes to Kate Pullinger…

Audio interview with Nigel Beale

2 December 2009 | Comments (0)

While I was in Ottawa last week I did an interview with Nigel Beale for his website and radio broadcast.

Here’s a link to that page of Nigel’s website.

GG for ‘The Mistress of Nothing’

20 November 2009 | Comments (0)

GGliterary09_84Here I am accepting that cheque in Montreal on Tuesday!!!

‘The Mistress of Nothing’ moved from #6000 on to #30 in the space of one day!  Here’s hoping that it keeps climbing.

I won the GG!!!

17 November 2009 | Comments (4)

Today it was announced that I have won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction with ‘The Mistress of Nothing’.

This is such a huge huge honour and, I’ll admit, a complete and wonderful surprise.

More when I have time - but thanks to all for the tweets, mails, calls, and FB comments so far.  I really appreciate it.

The Network as a Space and Medium for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Art Practice

2 November 2009 | Comments (0)


This is where I’ll be next week, #network09, in Bergen, Norway.  Really looking forward to it.  After a week of total immersion in the world of books of the non-digital sort, it will be good to head off to Norway to touch base with other digital writers, artists, and academics.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the world of books, just that the two events (this one and IFOA last week) will provide a healthy contrast to one another.

Not that IFOA was totally non-digital of course.  There was plenty of twittering and blogging going on during the week. And we even had the obligatory-new-media-event-tech-meltdown one evening. I got off the plane from London Monday afternoon and had to go pretty much straight onto the stage for the Governor General Literary Awards Readings (did I mention I’m on the shortlist?).  Two of the shortlisted writers, Annabel Lyon and Michael Crummey, were in Ottawa, so they were appearing on stage via a Skype webcamera call.  Not only did this mean that they were represented by huge distorted videos of their heads (you know how your face gets distorted when you lean up too close to the camera?), but their voices kept cutting out and breaking up.  It was so bad that the audience become unruly, heckling and shouting about the ticket price!  Unheard of for a book audience, let alone a Canadian book audience! However, we redeemed ourselves in the second half with some actual real-person-on-the-stage readings. Also, the chair of the event, Lewis De Soto remained calm, and during the interval helped calm us all down when he said it was ‘an easy act to follow’.  Still, how thrilling to witness a new-media-style-tech-meltdown at a venerable literary event!!!

IFOA in Toronto

31 October 2009 | Comments (0)

I’ve been in Toronto all week at IFOA - the International Festival of Authors - and have had a fabulous time.  My events have gone well, and the festival is so completely hospitable and friendly with endless numbers of parties, dinners, readings, and general all round good will and generosity.  The GG nomination has meant that there’s been increased interest in my book, so there’s been a fair amount of press and even an interview for CBC News Network - we filmed in the Egyptian Antiquities section of the ROM, which was great fun. It’s not easy to get books on tv so this was a great boost for me; it will be shown in the entertainment segments on CBC sometime in the next week.

Toronto seems quite changed to me; it’s five years since I was last here. As always I find great food, great autumn colours, great neighbourhoods, great shopping, but since I was last here there are a bunch of new exciting buildings and the city seems bigger and more dynamic.  Of course I’m a complete outsider and know nothing, really, but I have a great time whenever I come here.  I hope it’s not another five years before I come back again.

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