Tag Archives: writing

Nothing to Lose – Clare Lydon

dreaming of books 9

Rather than a full book review, in these posts, I simply jot down a few lines on books I’ve enjoyed.

Nothing to Lose by Clare Lydon

Nothing to Lose by Clare Lydon

While lesbian romance is not my usual fare, I am pleased I made an exception for this heart-warming novel. And this was the adjective that kept coming back to me as I read: heart-warming. It is a novel about all the best things in local communities; it celebrates the humanity, compassion and solidarity that are dredged up out of even the stoniest hearts when disaster strikes. Truly comfort food for the soul.

Scarlet (yes, after O’Hara), burnt once too often, has now closed her heart to love and chiselled herself a survival existence in a basement flat in a small town. But when the rain comes down and leaves her world underwater, finally the floodgates must be opened. She takes shelter with Joy, “local mayor and sunshine specialist”, who helps her see that life can indeed return after the deluge. As a gay man (for whom sex is the bit before you ask someone’s name), I found the age it took for these two to get together both excruciating and tantalising. However, when they finally do, not only are they consummating their relationship, but reaffirming their links to the family and friends around them. Their relationship becomes a celebration of community.

Spoiler: as it says on the tin, this is lesbian romance, so there are a couple of raunchy, blow-by-blow, no-holds-barred yet elegantly rendered, girl-on-girl action scenes which, had I been of the right sex and persuasion, I would have found incredibly hot. In the event, I was able to skip nimbly forward with my modesty intact, but if this what you came for, you will receive full satisfaction.

Above all, it is a tale of love between two strong and honest women, both very different yet who each have a lifetime of experience to offer the other and, together, two lifetimes to do it in. This book does what a romance is supposed to: it leaves you feeling fabulous!

Get it here.


Fresh Air and Empty Streets – Oliver Cable

dreaming of books 8

Rather than a full book review, in these posts, I simply jot down a few lines on books I’ve enjoyed.

Cover: Fresh Air and Empty Streets by Oliver Cable

Fresh Air and Empty Streets by Oliver Cable

Having once sat drinking under a full moon on Sacré-Cœur’s steps, I immediately identified with this gem of a first novel set in the Paris streets. It is a sensitive story about a young man, Felix, who comes to meet, challenge and discover the father, Alexander, he has never known. In doing so, he is forced to question some of his own most staunchly held beliefs.

If the first few chapters feel slightly tentative, it is almost as if the author is wrestling with what sort of book he has inside himself. Then father and son finally meet and, as they explore their budding relationship, the writing becomes more assured. At times the prose truly catches alight, flaming brightly in passages describing Paris’s live jazz scene and Alexander’s regular haunts. The writing works best when, rather than trying to comment on the city or its tourists, the author simply slows his heartbeat to listen to the dark river running through himself and annotates its sounds, more in the nature of a poet than a narrator. The prose is strongest when focussing on those first tentative steps in a relationship – between father and son, or between new lovers.

With so many novels being bashed out these days by writers aiming to publish a couple of kilos of pulp each and every business quarter, it is a relief to find a writer who cares about his craft, as Cable clearly does. I look forward to his next book.

Get it here.


The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt

dreaming of books 6

Rather than a full book review, in these posts, I simply jot down a few lines on books I’ve enjoyed.

Cover of The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

A brilliant read. The two main characters, brothers and hired assassins, are grudgingly revealed through the narrator’s voice, and deWitt is ruthlessly Spartan in his prose. With the feel of a literary road movie, we are moved through a series of alien worlds at the pace of a dawdling nag. We never wholly come to know these rough environments, and they remain strange, as the protagonists are estranged from polite society. Yet through their mystery, somehow they beautifully and increasingly reveal the characters’ tenderness and humanity. This book promised much, and for me it truly delivered, never relying on the stereotypical tropes you might expect of the Western genre it moves within.

Available from: Amazon


AN INTERVIEW WITH AN EDITOR – KEVIN BOOTH

I am thrilled to announce that author Chele Cooke’s interview with me regarding my editing work has just gone up on Ben Galley’s blog Shelf Help. I talk about the role of the freelance editor in the new publishing environment and the professional challenges facing authors who opt for the independent publishing route. It’s also packed with advice for authors who are considering their options about who to choose as an editor for their novel.

an intelligent  fantasy about saving the environment

Drawn together from parallel universes, Jade and Kreh-ursh must fight to halt the destruction of their worlds.

Remember that Through the Whirlpool is free to download at Kobo and Smashwords. It is now also available on Apple’s ibooks, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and many other online retailers. Visit Poble Sec Books for a full list of our retailers. Sign up to our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates on new publications.

An intelligent fantasy about saving the environment

As their worlds collide, Jade, Kreh-ursh and Geh-meer fight to save those whom they love.

Twilight Crosser, the sequel to Through the Whirlpool is available to pre-order at the following retailers: Kobo, Smashwords and ibooks. It will be available at Amazon and Nook from 15 November 2013.

Happy reading and writing!


It’s July, so where’s the revolution?

I first published this post two years ago. However, yesterday, the 19 July, was the Barcelona anniversary of the military uprising whose failure led to the Spanish Civil War (the mutiny starting in Morocco on the 17th), so I thought it was appropriate to bring this post to the fore again (19/07/2014).

July is nearly over and I can’t help wondering where the fireworks are? While popular images of the Spanish summer include blasting hot days, clear skies, greasy paella and treacherous sangria, it is worthwhile remembering that Barcelona was also a key city in the development of Anarcho-Syndicalism – the tying of Anarchist thought into a cooperative structure. It is in fact the sole place in the world to have enjoyed an Anarcho-Syndicalist government of any kind, as related in George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. And it all started in July.

July is a key month in Spanish history. Traditionally, you either start a revolution or go to the beach. During the First Spanish Republic, back in July 1873, there was Cartagena’s Cantonal Revolution and Valencia’s Petroleum Revolution. Then in 1909 came what was known as the July Revolution, an Anarchist-influenced worker uprising in Barcelona, dubbed la setmana tràgica, or “tragic week”, by the bourgeoisie as they saw their opulent Modernista world tilt dangerously and their churches set on fire. The infamous uprising of 17–19 July 1936 saw General Mola’s failed coup develop into the three-year conflict of the Spanish Civil War. Sparked off by the coup, an ensuing worker revolution was decisive in foiling it, resulting in Catalonia’s revolutionary government which lasted until the Communist mid-war takeover in May 1937.

Image

Churches burning across Barcelona during the setmana tràgica, July 1909.

July fireworks isn’t just a Spanish thing. This is the month when the Bastille was stormed and in which Belgium also gained its independence. Closer to the equator, Columbia, Venezuela and Peru all gained their independence in July while the Sandinista and Cuban revolutions exploded. Argentina’s independence further to the south, where it was winter, puts a dent in my theory that it is the heat that makes this such a volatile month.

Last year in Barcelona, the 15-M movement of indignados – inspired by the book Indignez Vous! By Stephane Hessel, one of the fathers of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – was a response to Spanish political events that have seen many people become angered and disillusioned with Spain’s out-of-touch political party system in the context of the ongoing economic crisis. In May and June, we thought great events were afoot. However, by mid-July, it seemed that everyone had slunk off to lie on the sand.

This year, things seem to be following a similar path. Early in the month, Rajoy’s government introduced the harshest set of cutbacks and revisions that this young democracy has ever seen, sweeping away many of the rights and advances that unions and workers fought desperately throughout most of the twentieth century to win. Now July is almost over. While the continual protests and demonstrations have settled into a certain routine, no revolution is yet apparent, but it is a scorching day… so I am off to the beach.


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