A portrait of Rowena Macdonald

Posted in wrought by juliobesq on April 18, 2014

Rowena Macdonald by Julian Baker

“Rowena Macdonald”
London, January 2014
Julian Baker

From the series “Novelists

I’ll admit to be quite shallow and buying books because I like the jacket, sometimes the blurb will put me off, other times not. A jacket with a good title? Pretty much a given.

I saw a copy of Rowena Macdonald’s “Smoked meat” face up on the display table in a book shop (yes, another admittance of shallowness, no shelf browsing for me), and was immediately tempted.

A series of interconnected stories, think the way Robert Altman threaded together Raymond Carver’s stories for “Short Cuts”. The first features a nude life drawing model, reading the author biography it turns out that Rowena Macdonald drew on experience, having modelled herself.

As humans we see patterns where none exist, but that has never stopped me from acting from our mind’s compulsion to see order in the flux. Ostensively my “Novelists” series is loosely corralled around documenting the so called “off beat” scene, as labelled by 3AM magazine. Reading signs like tasseomancy, it turns out they’ve interviewed her.

Rowena, once convinced that I wasn’t requiring her to pose naked kindly agreed to have her portrait taken. And here it is.

She also thinks “Another girl, another planet” is the greatest pop song written. A fact I could only argue with if you claimed “Teenage kicks” was.

Nicholas Royle’s “First Novel” – which isn’t

Posted in wrought by juliobesq on February 15, 2013
First Novel by Nicolas Royle Nicholas Royle portrait by Julian Baker

First Novel by Nicolas Royle | Nicholas Royle portrait by Julian Baker

I received a copy of Nicholas Royle’s new novel “First Novel”, which of course isn’t. It’s his seventh.

I mention this not just because you should be informed and therefore go out – immediately – to buy a copy, but also since it features my portrait of the author on the dust jacket back flap.

The Quietus think it good enough to write about…

Nicholas Royle not only writes wonderfully dark tales but runs Nightjar Press, a venture I much admire for doing many things well: excellent short stories; independent publishing; objects suitable for leaving as a surprise under your lover’s pillow and making things just because one can.

Of “First Novel” The Independent say “This is a novel that demands to be read more than once”. So you could say “I’m reading ‘First Novel’ for the second time”. If you wanted to.

SubMinder, a writer’s tool

Posted in wrought by juliobesq on January 15, 2010

Introducing ‘SubMinder’, a writer’s tool to help track submissions to publications…

Getting published isn’t always instant, it can involve sending a story to several litzines (those of course who accept simultaneous submissions), and then waiting. You could send it publication by publication after each has responded, though the editorial process isn’t sometimes that quick. You could end up waiting, well, a while, till that joyful email of acceptance arrives.

In practice what happens is a clutch of submissions are emailed, then when the piece is accepted a hunt through the sent-box is required retrieving any remaining editor’s addresses, notifying them of publication elsewhere. Or since nothing’s been heard one wonders wether the litzine is allowed to be sent a gentle enquiry, you think the requisite waiting period is over.

What would be most helpful is someway of monitoring which publication has been sent what story, when, and their reaction, when it comes. In light of Dennis Waterman’s phone number being ex-directory the only solution I could think of was to write a software assistant myself…

Gratis to use for all aspiring authors, it remembers who got what and records the verdict. Spits out email addresses. Keeps a note of dates. Only caveat? Comes as is.

Comments gratefully received, pretty babbles from Amazon even more so.

And if you’re wondering.. Waterman?…

The Glamour

Posted in brought by juliobesq on October 8, 2009

I have just finished ‘The Glamour’ by Christopher Priest. An author who for me only came to light after becoming curious having seen his novel ‘The Prestige’ adapted as a film.

He is woefully unknown, sharing many similar traits with early to mid period Ballard, perhaps it is use of science fiction motifs that have held back wider fame. Even after a hit film he still languishes in obscurity.

His novels could also been seen as having parallels with the canon of John Fowles, residing as they do in the use of literary devices. Words within words, worlds within worlds.

May I recommend in particular ‘The Affirmation’, a beautifully sculpted work that still resonates with me long after finishing. (Much of his oeuvre remains out of print so with some reluctance I recommend buying second hand from Amazon). If you can, it’s best to buy The Glamour without reading any reviews as knowing what said glamour is may spoil some of your enjoyment.

I have been touched by The Glamour.

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