Books, books, books
In my last blog post (way back in early December!) I mentioned that I might list my top reads of 2019. However, we’re a little beyond the ‘end of year list period’ at this stage, so if you’d like to see what some of my favourite books from last year were, you can hop over to my Instagram account (linked in the sidebar to your right) as I did a wee post about it there. I read 115.5 books in 2019 and most of them I really enjoyed, so it was a good reading year! Here’s to another one.
Giant’s Causeway Book Club
On the subject of reading, we’ve had two GC Book Club meetings since my last blog, including our first-ever December one, which was suitably festive with our book choice of Christmas at Miss Moonshine’s Emporium. Overall, everyone enjoyed the book – it was a nice cosy one to read at Christmas-time and the cynics in us forgave all those happy endings because of the season!! Our January read was a wildcard book as we all put a book title into a hat (because it was Christmas) and selected one randomly from that. As a result, we read Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and I have to say, it went down a treat with the book clubbers, even those who weren’t very familiar with The Handmaid’s Tale (book or TV series). It’s not a book I was personally planning to read but I did enjoy it, though for me, it won’t be a top book of the year.
Our February read is an historical fantasy novel called The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – inspired by a Russian fairy-tale. It sounds great, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into this one soon.
You might recall a project I mentioned last year that I was involved in with Big Telly Theatre Company and three other writers called Sea Gods, Shipwrecks and Sidhe Folk – Treasures of the Causeway, for which I wrote a prose poem inspired by the legends of a local historical site called Lissanduff earthworks, near my home. The poem has been recorded by local actors and will be installed at the site for people to hear, which is pretty cool. The project was slightly delayed but is set to launch this spring.
Anyway, in the meantime, Flowerfield Arts Centre’s first Springhall Artist in Residence – Corrina Askin – was inspired by my description of the site and went to visit it. She then incorporated the essence of Lissanduff into her own artistic project, entitled Dreamer’s Space, which is currently being exhibited at Flowerfield in Portstewart, with a permanent installation of her work also now in place. I enjoyed meeting up with Corrina in January to view her beautiful work and to hear about how my own work inspired a little of hers, which was lovely. It’s really nice to hear how creatives can influence each other’s work and the exhibition is something definitely worth seeing.
I’m currently working on another exciting project with Big Telly, but more on that to come …
Novel number three (NN3)
And so, to The Novel. Since my last blog I’ve edited a couple of short stories but writing-wise, I’ve really been focusing on editing my third novel – and adding more material into it. I’d left myself space to do this as the initial draft was much shorter than those of my previous books and inspiration has come at the usual odd moments and resulted in some very interesting ideas … As per usual, this work is done in the wee hours and on Sunday afternoons where it can be done, but it is still progressing and I’m happy with its shifting shape.
My plan is still to send it out to some agents – the original goal was to do this in January but January has been stuffed full of copywriting projects and whatnot so I’m now gearing up to do this in February. However, it’s very possible I may publish the book later in the year (unless an agent snaps me up!), so watch this space.
There may also be another exciting bookish project in the pipeline, but more on that soon if it takes off as planned …
Music and Packham
As writers, we always have to make time to work on our creative projects in and around our day jobs and whatnot, but if you really want to do something then you’ll prioritise that thing and just get on with it. Something I’ve let slide over the past *few* years has been my violin playing, so in December, I started practising again and have been taking lessons since then. It’s tricky, I’ll admit, fitting in lessons and practice on top of trying to fit in writing and reading, but guess what – most of the time I manage it and I love playing the violin, so this time around, I want to make sure I stick at it, so I don’t get out of practice again.
For me, music is just another creative pursuit which I enjoy and you can’t have too many of those, can you?!
Anyway, that’s about it for now… At the end of this month, I’m really looking forward to attending an event as part of the NI Science Festival in Belfast: Chris Packham – Pictures from the Edge of the World. I’ve been a fan of Chris since his Really Wild Show days and watch him and the team on Springwatch etc. throughout the year, so this will be a great event. I think his work as an environmental activist and wildlife supporter is fantastic and I really enjoyed reading his memoir, Fingers in the Sparkle Jar, a few years ago. So, this particular event is both a bookish and an environmentally-related treat for me, as we’ll be seeing some of Chris’ great wildlife photography as well as hearing him chat about all sorts of related (and possibly unrelated!) things.
Hopefully my next blog post will include a photo of my signed book and me and the man himself…
More as I have it. 🙂