Showing posts from May, 2012

Kimberly Menozzi: Writer, Interrupted

Did you miss Kimberly's monthly feature in April? I know I did. Here, all the way from the States, is a new piece by one of our favourite writers, who's remembered about us even when she has more important matters to think about! Please join me in thanking her and wishing her mother well.


For many writers, one of the hardest things to manage is time. Finding the time to write is one of the first obstacles presented to anyone who fancies the notion of being a working writer. Different writers go about this in different ways - some write during any free moment they find throughout the day, others write early in the morning before their families wake up, still others wait and write late at night. A handful of writers like myself are very fortunate and are able to write throughout the day. I work part time for a language school and have an office in my flat in my home in Italy. The computer is primarily for my use - my husband has his own laptop for his computer needs - and in th…

In conversation with... Gill Paul

Hello Gill! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the recent publication of your latest book, Women and Children First. Can you please tell us what it is about?

A: It begins on the Titanic, where I describe events through the eyes of Reg, a steward in the first-class dining saloon, Juliette, an English lady, and Annie, an Irishwoman in third class who is travelling to New York with her four children. They each have very traumatic experiences as the ship sinks and I then follow the ones who survive through the next three months as they try to come to terms with all that’s happened to them. The sinking of the Titanic is, of course, a well-known story but I’ve tried to explore some less well-known angles, such as the experiences of the crew and the symptoms of post-traumatic stress that many survivors suffered.

You previously published Titanic Love Stories, a non-fiction book focusing on thirteen couples aboard the doomed passenger liner. Where did your interest in the sinking …

Green Books: Book-Art

What do you do with your books when they're obsolete? I don't mean just that you've read them and no longer want them – in that case you give them to a friend or a charity shop, a hospital or a B&B. No I mean the books that you know no-one will want – out of date textbooks for example.

One answer is to make them into art!

Altered Books are quite popular and there's a good introduction to them on the Karen's Whimsy website. The idea is to use old books and to paint over them, make collages, cut pages and hide items in them. There are all kinds of creative things you can do and blogs devoted to how to do it!

The French Canadian artist Guy Laramee goes a stage further and makes amazingly complex 3D sculptures out of old vintage books. I first came across his work via this article on Treehugger.
Book art recently hit the headlines in Edinburgh, where I live, when an unknown artist left a series of intricate book carvings at literary venues across the city. You can read…

Books through my lens #20

The ARK BOOKTOWER designed by Rintala Eggertsson Architects for the V&A Summer Exhibition 2010, called 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces. You can imagine how fast I started to walk when I glimpsed the wooden structure through one of the museum's arches!

Erinna Mettler: Tales from Brighton

A Bit of Spoon Throwing On a Chilly Spring Night

A few weeks ago I went to a Victorian Séance Experience at Brighton’s Preston Manor. For those of you who don’t know, Preston Manor is a gloriously mismatched manor house on the edge of Preston Park, right in the heart of the city. The original house dates from the early 1700 but there was a religious small-holding there in Saxon times and the Manor is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as belonging to the Bishops of Chichester. The foundations are still visible in the basement, and this is where you first get that spine tingle that comes with knowing a place has such a long history. The temperature suddenly drops and you fancy you hear footsteps on the stairs along the corridor or feel the brush of a breeze, though there are no windows at hand and no-one else has joined the tour.

The rest of the house was added by degrees and refurbishments over the centuries, the house was substantially renovated in 1905 by the last private owners the Stanf…

Event review: Book Slam

The people behind Book Slam describe it as “London’s first/ best/ only literary nightclub”. Luckily for Brightonians, this event moved to the seaside for one night only. Luckily for me, I was among the audience, who enjoyed two and a half hours of top literature and fine music seated at round tables dotted with candles and glasses of wine.

The hostess for the evening was Malaysia-born poet Francesca Beard, whose bubbly enthusiasm put everybody at ease within minutes and who read one of her poems, The Poem That Was Really a List, setting the bar high for the guests of the night.

Funny and thought-provoking, you can watch her recite the same poem at the Norwich Arts Centre in June 2009.

The three guests of Book Slam, courtesy of Brighton Festival 2012, were Jackie Kay, Jon McGregor and Sapphire, who made two appearances each: a format that worked very well to keep the evening interesting and varied.

First up on stage was Jackie Kay. The Scottish poet and novelist was there to promote her l…

In conversation with... Madeline Miller

Hello Madeline! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of The Song of Achilles. Can you tell us what it is about?

A: Thank you! And thank you very much for inviting me onto your blog.

The Song of Achilles is a retelling of the myths surrounding the Greek hero Achilles, from the point of view of his best friend and lover, Patroclus. It follows the two men from boyhood all the way to the Trojan War taking Homer’s Iliad as its inspiration.

Where did your interest in Greek history and mythology stem from? What made you choose Achilles as your protagonist?

A: I have loved Greek myths since I was a little girl. My mother used to read them to me at bedtime, and as soon as I could read myself, I devoured every book on the subject that I could find. There was something about the world that was, and is, incredibly compelling to me. I think some of it is the alluring darkness of the world—the gods are terrifying and unfair, the heroes are flawed and the monsters vicious. E…

Books through my lens #19

I am partial to some tidy lines... and books! Blackwell's Bookshop, Broad Street, Oxford. March 2012.

In conversation with... Jane Rusbridge

Hello Jane! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of your latest novel, The Devil’s Music. Can you please tell us what it is about?

A: Thank you, Silvia, and hello!

The Devil’s Music explores what happens to a family faced with the dilemma of what to do when the youngest child, Elaine, is born in the late 50s with severe disabilities, which means she is destined to remain mute and as helpless as a baby. For me, the novel is about family secrets, the way they influence the dynamics of family life and the psychological development of a child. It’s also about post traumatic stress disorder, the shifting unreliability of memory, mothers who leave their children...

The book opens with a glossary of knots and these – together with the antics of Harry Houdini – are a focal point of the novel. Are you an expert of knot tying? What did you want them to represent?

A: I’m definitely not an expert. A Reef Knot is about my limit, but I do have a copy of The Clifford Ashley …