30 September 2009 in Future of Publishing | Comments (0)

24hourbookThis is what I’m going to be doing this weekend - The 24hrBook project, in collaboration with Spread the Word,,  if:book, and the Society of Young Publishers.  Taking the structure of a set of garden allotments, and the theme of gardening, we’ll have a group of writers on the ground, so to speak, in the Spread the Word offices, working on writing solo and collaborative allotments. We’ll also be hosting an Open Allotment, where anyone out there online during the 24 hours of Saturday 3 Oct 10:00 BST to Sunday 4 Oct 10:00 BST will be able to join in with the writing. We’ll be tweeting and blogging and mapping and photographing and videoing and drawing away during that period, so please do join us from wherever you might be.  Click on the link above or image to the left to go to the project homepage, and follow the links onward from there!

Once the 24 hour writing period is over, we’ll follow that up with a 24 hour editing period, and finish up with a 24 hour publication period, launching the finished product on Monday evening, 5 October.

Please join us in our efforts to write a 24hrBook!

Surveillance Suite - James Coupe and Kate Pullinger

28 September 2009 in | Comments (0)

Here’s one of the films James made using my script:

Part One: Ulverston from James Coupe on Vimeo.

Ex-Metchosin Resident Over-Excited

24 September 2009 in Lifelines The Mistress of Nothing | Comments (0)

The Victoria Times-Colonist published a piece about me being on the longlist, ‘Ex-Metchosin Resident makes Giller longlist’.  The Vancouver Sun must have run something as well - I’ve been getting e-mails and tweets and FB messages from lots of people I haven’t heard from for ages congratulating me.  What a complete pleasure.

Most writers spend a lot of their life waiting.  I’ve blogged about the frustrations of this in the past here and here ; much of the time I’m waiting for other people to make decisions - what will my agent think of this new manuscript?  will the publisher buy this book project?, only nine months left until that book comes out.

Currently I’m enmeshed in what I’ve started to think of as A Big Wait, big not in terms of length, but in size.  This time round I’m waiting to find out whether or not I will make the shortlist of the Giller Prize.  But strangely, I don’t feel too anxious about this wait.  It is such an unexpected pleasure to be on the longlist, that I’m seriously enjoying this state.  In fact, I’d be happy to be on the longlist forever.

October 6th is when this idyll will come to an end.  It’s a bit like being on holiday; I want the next 12 days to go very very slowly.

Giller Prize longlist

21 September 2009 in The Mistress of Nothing | Comments (2)

Have just found out that ‘The Mistress of Nothing’ is on the longlist for this year’s Giller Prize, one of Canada’s main annual literary prizes.

One of the judges was Alistair MacLeod, a writer I have admired from afar, so to speak, for many years - it’s hard to believe that he has even read my novel, let alone agreed to put it on a longlist. Russell Banks and Victoria Glendinning as well - it is too much for my tiny mind to contemplate.

I am so thrilled. Anything that makes it a little easier for my publishers to get the book under the noses of readers is fantastic news.


Historical Fiction has Rules - PAH! 2

17 September 2009 in The Mistress of Nothing | Comments (2)

Antony Beevor’s defence of both his great-great grandmother’s character and established historical fact is an admirable one (Guardian newspaper, 25 July 2009).

This argument has been referred to and pondered upon in a thoughtful review of my novel ‘The Mistress of Nothing’ by Erika Ritter (Globe & Mail newspaper, 14 Sept, 2009).

That Lucie, Lady Duff Gordon, acted toward her maid, Sally Naldrett, in a manner that could be described as ‘vindictive’ is indisputable.  While, as Beevor says, I admit to playing fast and loose with certain elements of historical record when it came to writing Sally Naldrett’s story, I did in fact stick very close to what is documented in Katherine Frank’s biography, ‘Lucie Duff Gordon’, through Lady Duff Gordon’s own letters, as well as letters to her from her family.  Her family did not approve of the punishment she meted out to Sally Naldrett, and made it quite clear they felt she was over-reacting.  Sally Naldrett had given nothing but loyal service to Lady Duff Gordon for more than a dozen years; she had given up her own life in England in order to go into exile with Lucie as she sought a cure for consumption hundreds of miles up the Nile.  The fact that Sally had an affair with the Egyptian manservant, Omar Abu Halaweh, and hid that affair from her employer, including the resulting pregnancy, was, no doubt, regrettable.  But the truth is that Lucie Duff Gordon exacted an extremely harsh punishment on Sally Naldrett for this transgression, forcing her to give up her child, and sending her into the Victorian equivalent of the wilderness ?? a female domestic servant with no employer, no references, left to fend for herself alone in Egypt.

Surely it is the role of all novelists, including those who write about history, to uncover the untold stories, the undocumented lives; surely this is a legitimate way to demonstrate and elucidate ‘historical truth’ (a concept that is itself notoriously unreliable).  No one knows what happened to Sally Naldrett after she was cast out of the Duff Gordon household; my novel is an attempt to create a life for Sally that was not as desperate and miserable as the known facts suggest it might have been.  There is no doubt that Lucie Duff Gordon was a much-loved and progressive figure, before her time in many ways as, I hope, the novel also demonstrates.  Her story is well known and well documented.  On the other hand, the life of Sally Naldrett was consigned to the dustbin of history. In ‘The Mistress of Nothing’ I try to imagine a life for Sally Naldrett where she overcomes the obstacles ?? minor things otherwise known as class, race, and gender - that she faced.

Historical Fiction Has Rules - PAH!!!

15 September 2009 in The Mistress of Nothing | Comments (4)

I’m beginning to get very annoyed by this mini-trend of folks slagging me off over ‘historical truth’ in historical fiction; when Antony Beevor published his piece in the Guardian, I figured the best thing was to remain schtum and let him have his say.  A man needs to be able to defend his great-grandma, after all.  But now someone has taken up this baton and run with it in the Globe & Mail newspaper.

So, I will marshall my thoughts and reply via this blog in the next few days.

Pah!  That’s all I’ll say for the time being.

‘Dorian Gray’ and ‘Surveillance Suite’

8 September 2009 in | Comments (0)

Two trips coming up for two of my current projects:  I’ll be travelling to Bratislava again to spend a few days working with Lubica Cekovska on our opera based on Oscar Wilde’s ‘Dorian Gray’.  This is a fantastic project, completely new territory for me, and it is great to be working in Slovakia which is one of those new countries that is also very very old.  I’ve done a few drafts of the libretto now and it is in decent enough shape for Lubica and I to spend time talking about it.  She has already written a few bits and pieces of music for it, so I can’t wait to hear those, and to dwell in the world of Central European opera.

I’ll also be heading up to Ulverston to see James Coupe in order to work on our project, ‘Surveillance Suite’, in its first iteration for Folly at the Lanternhouse. I’ve been writing scripts for James to use in films along with the facial recognition software.  This project is very exciting, hugely techy, and I’m looking forward to spending a bit of time in Ulverston, near Morecambe Bay.


Back at desk… again

4 September 2009 in Future of Publishing Inanimate Alice | Comments (0)

Have been away again.  Am back. Now I have to remember how to work.

Nice mention for me and ‘Inanimate Alice’  in Martyn Daniels’ blog Brave New World, ‘Digital Novels That Break The Spine’s Straightjacket’.

‘Inanimate Alice’ has a facebook page now.  And she tweets @ InanimateAlice.