Sunday, October 11, 2015

Autumn Journal

After a patchy summer, autumn has held off its its "mists and mellow fruitfullness" at least in part, and its been warm and mostly dry - so  much so that it came as a surprise to come home the other night to feel the crinkle of leaves underfoot.

So many competing things, of course. Manchester's Albert Square is constantly being colonised then abandoned by scaffolding, viewing platforms, pop up bars and the like - as the jazz festival makes way for the food and drink festival makes way for the Rugby world cup weekend... can't be much else now before the Christmas markets take us up to the festive season. The literature festival starts tomorrow and its a bit of a belter this year - or at least you'd be hard pressed not to find something to go to. I'm hoping to get to Zachary Leader talking about his new biography of Saul Bellow, CB Editions short story writer May-lan Tan, the Psychogeographical Precarious Passages and maybe a couple of other things if I get the chance. I'm going to miss tomorrow's Kevin Barry and Jon McAuliffe reading as I'm busy, but its a good way to start proceedings. Outside of the festival, but coinciding with it, one of my favourite writers, Magnus Mills, will be in Manchester.

I'm in a writing group that has helped immeasurably as I started on writing a novel again - and two of my fellow writers have excellent projects out shortly. David Gaffney is collaborating with a comic book artist and a musician (Dan Berry and Sara Lowes) for "The Three Rooms in Valerie's Head" at the Kendal comic book festival next Saturday, and Elizabeth Baines has her second book of short stories out from Salt, "Used to Be." The launch is at Waterstones on 29th October.

I went to see another launch on Friday- that of "Dead Ink" - a Manchester based press looking at subscription funded new fiction - like "Unbounders" but with new writers rather than celebrity authors (no disrespect to Unbounders there, its been a great success, but I'm yet to be enticed by any of their books). So good luck to them. Buy one book or three, pay upfront and have some nice book-sized parcels winging to your door.

I got back yesterday to find the latest Nightjars from Nicholas Royle's imprint. Short stories published separately in pamphlets, these are highly collectible, and lovely artefacts in their own right. After a bit of a break he published two earlier in the year, and the latest two are by Leonne Ross and John D. Rutter.

Out shortly, and you're recommended to order, is the latest from the Curious Tales writing collective -this time a book of stories inspired by Shirley Jackson. More details are here.

The BBC short story prize was won by Jonathan Buckley for "Briar Road". I'm yet to read or hear this years list - available in a nice book from our local Comma press - but always worth a listen.

Finally, Comma are running, with the MMU, a Creative Writing professional development day which I'm going to, at the start of November. Should be useful.

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