This month I’m agonising over the blurb for my forthcoming novel City of Famine. I share a few observations on the Bellotto exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. Today, 10th December, it’s the 206th anniversary of the birth of Ada Lovelace (the ‘mother of computer programming’) so I revisit my short story The Analytical Assurance Company (link). And I review Black Dragonfly, Jean Pasley’s fictionalised biography of Lafcadio Hearn.
For Remembrance Day, a story about the Eastern Front: set in Mesopotamia, now Iraq, where the Garden of Eden became a theatre of war. https://wp.me/P2aHMc-g4
Having set up a writers’ forum for my local writing group here on this website, I am now besieged with spam registration requests, which I nuke every day on a wholesale basis. It’s irritating but the spam names do make me laugh sometimes!
I might write a Halloween short story about ‘Napoleon Schippers’, ‘Magdalena Gaskin’, and ‘Chau Krome’: just a few of the hapless employees of ‘Butikbagus.com’, who go on to become the victims of extremely detailed, throat-slitting and eyeball-popping murders.
This month I reflect on a small writing workshop I’m holding with my local writing group and introduce two writers you may not have heard of:
Cheryl Underhill, a childhood friend, who has compiled her parents’ WW2 correspondence into a fascinating book ‘The Box of Beautiful Letters’ and Rose Cullen, a fellow member of the Irish chapter of the Historical Novel Society, whose debut novel ‘The Lucky Country’ is an epic tale of an Irish family’s emigration to Australia in the 1950s.
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When I wrote Peace Walls in 2012 I did not foresee peace in Northern Ireland unravelling and hoped that time would bring healing.
Free to read on my website (link), it’s a time shift short story set in Northern Ireland about a fictional sectarian murder and the long term consequences for the people who knew the victim.
The research for this was painful at times, in particular reading ‘Bear in Mind These Dead’ by Susan McKay (link), which is a factual account of some of the victims of the Troubles. The Historical Enquiries Team video on YouTube (link) was also an inspiration, as was Alan M Wilson’s ‘Policing Ireland’s Twisted History’(link).
In 2021 we need more than ever to uphold the ideal of peace. Politicians must get to work. The current difficulties in implementing Brexit have to be solved by negotiation. Walls should not be needed. Let’s reconcile histories and old divisions and work on what we all have in common, for the sake of our young people and their future.
The April issue of The HistWriter newsletter comes to you from Wexford in Ireland.
This month I look at Wexford’s links to the first invasion of Ireland by the English, and review a trio of novels by Irish historical writers. Susan Lanigan, Patricia O’Reilly and Derville Murphy are all fellow members of the Irish branch of the Historical Novel Society, with whom I’ve ‘found my tribe’.
The FREE newsletter ‘The HistWriter’ is available to subscribers to my blog.
Book news and reviews; historical snippets from the 19th century, often with a medical theme.
To see back issues: https://wp.me/P2aHMc-1ix
To subscribe: https://wp.me/P2aHMc-1eu
All sign-ups get a FREE eBook download of ‘In Other Times’: 20 historical short stories selected from my website.
In times of COVID restrictions, it’s great to have something creative to do at home.
These ‘Learn Live’ online writing courses from the British Library (link) are reasonably priced and include journalism, memoir, and food writing. There are also two study afternoons coming up, one on historic ‘Hebrew Manuscripts’ and one on ‘Global Women’s Rights’.
Shifting Currents by Joanna Orwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Joanna Orwin is a NZ author who is also a critique buddy of mine. I can personally vouch that every word in this novel has been weighed, considered and edited many times over.
Shifting Currents is a historical novel set amongst settlers in 19th century New Zealand: Lydia Boulcott has entered a marriage of convenience hoping to escape her past, but in a remote community meets the one woman who can uncover her secret.
The remote kauri forests and the flow of the river set the scene for this beautifully written novel evoking the hardships of the early settlers, the decline of the Maoris and the unforgiving ethos of that age. Lydia’s courageous journey is sympathetically told; the harder she works to hide her secret the greater becomes the gulf that divides her from her daughter.
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