Saturday 26 May 2012

The Rise and Rise of a Pitman Painter Now on Kindle

The Story Behind the Story...
The Rise and Rise of a Pitman Painter
The widespread international success of the Pitman Painter drama reminds me that my novel, originally called WHERE HOPE LIVES, now retitled GABRIEL PAINTING was writtenbefore that play was produced. It focuses on the same extraordinary phenomenon of working men being inspired to be painters. Like the Pitman Painters story, my story springs out of true events in the history of mining art.

I thought you might enjoy it here on Life TwciceTasted:

In 1963 eminent painter Gabriel Marchant recalls his beginnings as a painter in the dark days of the 1930s and pays tribute the man – the Magician – who made it possible.

In 1935, haunted by a dream he once had underground, 19 year old Gabriel, an unemployed miner, finds help and support for his lifelong desire to the local Settlement. Visiting German artist Rosel von Stielenberg nurtures the extraordinary talent of this young man whose experience in the mine has left him obsessed to express in paint darkness and light and the power of colour,.

Gabriel is persuaded by the charismatic director Archie Todhunter to help with a Settlement play which will be performed before the Prince of Wales. In the play Gabriel plays opposite clever, plain, schoolgirl Greta who sees him as her doorway to maturity. 

But Gabriel is obsessed with painting and he finds the dark face of his dream in Marguerite Molloy, who is the model for the controversial painting which will make his national reputation and disturb the community in which he lives.

As the day of the performance looms, the lives of these women and the choices Gabriel makes are played out against the long shadow of the First World War with, if they knew it, the clarion calls of the Second World War echoing in their ears. 

Note: Although my characters here are invented, in the 1930s and 40s the Spennymoor Settlement, under its charismatic leader, did indeed nurture the talents of young men who gained national respect for their art, including painters
Tom McGuinness and Norman Cornish, and writer Sid Chaplin. WR

Thursday 24 May 2012

Treasure Trove: Discovering an Unknown French Version of My Studs Novel

2003 French Edition
 Just discovered by me (2012)
Now here's  funny thing!

I am about to put a young adult novel of mine The Real Life of Studs McGuire onto Kindle so I am checking out existing editions of this book. 

It was published by Hodder & Stoughton in the Seventies and seemed to have traveled all over the place. My son-in-law (who surfs the net more than I do ) once emailed me to say did I know it was on the required reading list of some outback education authority in Australia?

There was a French edition published by Hachette  under the title  Pour Venger Mon Copain (Avenging My Mate/Buddy)  (See cover below)  I had letters from French readers singing its praises.. Apparently it was on some French Schools' recommended reading.  Being such a Francophile I loved this. My story in French. Great!      

Original French Edtition - Hachette
Its popularity might just have been down to the universality of the story of Studs hunting down the gang of boys who enticed his best friend Tony to sniff glue which made him jump off the high roof of a car-park. Tony spends the whole of the novel in a coma while Studs, bit by bit, finds the culprits.

I have a son (and grandson now) and used to love teaching boys. I  loved Studs. and admired him. The novel is set on the day  he and Tony leave school  and shows two boys can love and admire each other as a normal part of growing up under all kinds of pressure..

All this means I was delighted  that the novel proved popular across the planet.

But this week, on my Kindle research I find a newer French Edition of  Pour Venger Mon Copain  published in 2003. And with this spanking new cover.

I have to say it looks great - the cover, cool, contemporary and well keyed into the novel - I love it. But all I have is an image of it (courtesy of Amazon). I don't even have a copy of it!  Of course I will check all this out with my agent and maybe she can hunt down the whys and wherefores of this. (Stop Press later - and so she did! - thank you J!)

Still it's great to see Studs living and thriving years after he was out of print in the UK. Somebody has loved him. It warms a writer's heart.,

And it bodes well for the Kindle of this novel -  maybe some insightful publisher will scoop it up again! - And I will ask Fiona who designs my Kindle covers to be inspired by this cool 2003 French Edition of THE REAL LIFE OF STUDS McGUIRE.
Original Paperback H&S

Look out for Studs on Kindle. I'll let you know.
The original Hardback
 Hodder & Stoughton

Monday 21 May 2012

My Cruelty Games now on Kindle

Who is the victim? To buy

I have just extensively re-edited and revised for today my 1997 novel Cruelty Games for the new 2012 Kindle edition. This was a challenging book to write but it was very popular both as a paperback and as a library choice. I hope the new Kindle enthusiasts will  like it just as much.

As I revised it I reflected on the fact that the writing of Cruelty Games pre-dated the events around the Jamie Bulger affair but strangely pre-echoes it.

 About the story

Rachel, an idealistic young teacher in 1963, tries to make changes in the lives of her tough pupils. The school - tough as it is - is a haven for Rachel’s pupil Ian Sobell, whose mother neglects him and whose grandmother abuses him.  One of Rachel’s adventurous projects leads her class to a place where, two hundred years before, a boy hung for days in a gibbet until he died in agony: a punishment for the murder of his employers children.

Events on this day have a disastrous impact on the lives of  both  Rachel and Ian:  a shock  which lasts nearly two decades before they both move on to some kind of resolution, triggered by Rachel meeting Ian again after sixteen years.

This novel was inspired by my experience teaching in schools where I worked with pupils like Ian who soldiered on under great difficulty, walking the line between violence and normalcy every day. I also know that their desperation and stress is often mirrored in the plight of good, sensitive teachers who have to deal with the ambiguity of children who may be seen as evil.

Extract from Cruelty Games for you:
'... This worked. The two of them clambered up onto crumbling high points, Michael having difficulty because of his short legs, which had still not quite shed their baby roundness.
‘Now I count!’ Ian started to count in a loud voice. ‘. . . now I come, ready or not!’ 
The game that followed was full of shouts and squeals from Michael and Jonno, yells and whistles from Ian. As he was so much bigger, he caught them quite easily. He had to slow down to let them catch him when they were on. He found it boring, being chased. He liked to be the one doing the chasing. 
One time, when Jonno was  on, Ian lifted Michael onto a high section of walling, left like a pinnacle at the bottom end of the Baths.  Michael waited while Jonno counted carefully to ten, then looked round wildly. ‘I can’t get down! I can’t get down!’ he shrieked. 
Ian, who had found his own high spot, jumped down and went across to look up at the little boy, who screamed, ‘Get us down, Ian!’ 
Ian grinned up at him. ‘Why should I?’ 
Michael started to cry. ‘Gerrus down!’ he shrieked. 
‘No. Jump!’ 
‘Get him down, Ian’ Jonno came puffing across, and  pulled at Ian’s arm.  Ian flung the smaller boy away with some force, so  that he sprawled on the ground. ‘He’s gotta jump. Jump, Mikey!

Sunday 20 May 2012

From The Iconic Book Group

Dorothy M. hits THE ROAD

Dorothy, a valued and very informed member of our Iconic Book Group  lives in Littletown near Durham City.  Now retired she worked for Durham County Library Service for over 40 years and lists books and reading as one of her great passions.  She reviews books for the website - do give this a try if you don’t know it – it is a very original way of suggesting books for readers.  

Here's Dorothy: 

 'The Road is a brilliant novel and a great work of literature – but first and foremost it is an amazing experience.  I was totally immersed in this grim world and in the story of a man (who is dying slowly and ... (more) ..

Friday 11 May 2012

First Date Ensemble

(Still working on this...)

Pure white wool blanket
straight out of
the asylum, and

cut with sharp scissors
shaped, Singer-sewn, the lining
carved from red silk off-cuts

long roll collar, Raglan sleeves
blue scarf shoulder-draped  -
all knotted fringes

I wear the whole ensemble-
complete with corsair swagger -
cracking image in the mirror

The tall boy smiles,
lifts a hand towards me -
tucks in the naughty fringes
curbing their message
of madness.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Listen Again to Sylvia's Story

Sylvia's Autobiography
We had a fabulous response to Sunday's Writing Game Programme where Sylvia Hurst, aged 90,  tells us how she arrived here on the
Kindertransport from Germany - on one of the trains which rescued threatened children from Nazi Europe.To listen again click HERE
Hope you  like it
<><> <><>


Sunday 6 May 2012

Paulie Smith Gets a New Cover!

On Amazon For You
One of the small pleasures of Kindling for yourself is the fact that you can design and develop your own covers and also your can if you wish, go back into the manuscript and improve things. When she downloaded my my kindled novel LIZZA, my eagle-eyed writing friend Avril spotted a dreaded typo on the second page and  - this being a Bank Holiday - once the new plants were planted in the garden, I went back into my manuscript, made the changes and there is LIZZA, even more perfect in my eyes especially with the new cover designed with me by my friend artist Fiona Naughton.

This crossover novel is A  Rights of Passage  story  framed in the strong characters of Lizza, her loose-living sister Ivy, their stern mother and their principled brother Bernard. It was very well received when it was first published in hardback and softback versions in 1980 and for years after.  Its message of self-belief, growth and survival is as relevant today as it has ever been.

She is selling well  - If you read LIZZA and enjoy it I would be very touched if you would take a moment to make a comment on Amazon. I am finding that getting the word out there is crucial to this process. Learning all the time!

On Amazon For You

Then my eye strayed down the Amazon column to PAULIE'S WEB,  So - it still being Bank Holiday -  I decided to brighten up her cover, because although this novel has some serious themes, Paulie and her  prison friends have bright optimistic, sometimes comic personalities, so I thought I would give her a brighter cover. It's nice to know that this novel is getting out there to  some appreciative readers. I think Paulie likes the new cover.  Gave me the thumbs up! I hope you give it the thumbs up too.

On Amazon by the end of the week.

And now this coming week I am about to put my novel CRUELTY GAMES on Kindle. Fiona has come up with a beautifully unique cover design. What do you think?  This is a strong story about a teacher and her pupil and savage events that have a profound impact on both their lives. It should be up by the end of the week and I will post more about it then. I suppose I should say Watch This Space...

My long time publisher Headline are putting books from my backlist on Kindle so it is all a glorious mixture for interested readers to enjoy.

I hope you enjoyed your Bank Holiday as much as I did...wx


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