The old placeholder version was a little too rough and ready, and this suits the bill much better. Is anything ever finished, or should we just move on?
All books are available at the bookshop.
The old placeholder version was a little too rough and ready, and this suits the bill much better. Is anything ever finished, or should we just move on?
All books are available at the bookshop.
Introducing the new book Once Upon a Teller Fell, which is available to purchase via the bookshop link.
Here’s the blurb on the Amazon and CreateSpace pages:
‘This train is the last of the night, travelling north and east. It falters, with a long unearthly squeal, and it surrenders, this evening in the deep and still surrounds.
‘Who else here discovers green-blue gloss across the vast night sky? Beyond the nebulous solidity of the embankment, a corona of unexpected light weakly washes the world . . . even time can go nowhere when the world is precisely lit.’
Ragnar, Teller of Tales, alights from the broken down train and is lost in the City of Trees, the city that doesn’t exist: a place experienced in degrees of perception. Nature and the urban slide between each other. Illusions and realities of past and future-poems start to intertwine.
At home, somewhere and somewhen amongst it all, are Ragnar’s wife and children. In the City of Trees, the city that doesn’t exist, he must decide who to trust in his entanglements and navigations to find his family: Avia and her kin, fey but sharp in what might be witcheries; Ingmar, who would be king, obsessed by luck and also seeking escape; the missive other children of the place, illusory or otherwise.
Once Upon a Teller Fell is a story of intersecting illusions and realities, of past and future tales, of looking for the now.
If we look — what might we see, with which we may believe.
The author would like to acknowledge some of the various influences, to greater or lesser degrees, in the completion of this project. In alphabetical order of writers: the ‘good city’ considerations of Ash Amin; the spatial poetics of Gaston Bachelard; the invisible cities of Italo Calvino; the phenomenological inquiries into ‘played-with-ness’ of Sylwyn Guilbaud; the introduction to psychogeographic tracings in Peter Ackroyd’s London writings, as presented by Will Self. In alphabetical order of fragmentary aspects of certain places: the village of Avebury, Wiltshire; the coves and beaches of west Cornwall; the various forests of the former East Germany, Hampshire and Kent; the Larmer Tree Gardens on the Wiltshire/Dorset border; slices of Old Oak, Shepherd’s Bush and White City, west London; the old Wessex capital of Winchester; the city of Zaragoza, Spain. In alphabetical order of some story resonances: the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, the Icelandic Eddas, the mythology of the Norse, and last but not least, the occasional folk-wisdom fragments of Mandy Robbins. A place is many-layered.
Announcing the release of my latest fiction offering (following my previous post and waiting for the KDP process to filter its way back to my inbox). Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume II) is available for purchase via the bookshop link on the left-hand side bar.
At the start of this particular writing process, I didn’t envisage a year long project in all honesty. The previous instalment of this series took the best part of three years to come to fruition, but Volume II was intended to be a quicker write. What we learn along the way is that words won’t be rushed.
As a taster of the contents of this second volume (and something I haven’t yet done in order to promote the contents of the first volume), there follows at the end of this post a very brief overview of the thirty pieces therein. I call them ‘pieces’ because I always have: they’re not stories in the conventional sense of the definition (by which I mean, the view that such writing has a ‘beginning, middle, end, plot, crucible/conflict’, and so forth); these pieces, in their intentional brevity, sometimes have a storyline to them, are sometimes a moment in the telling, sometimes they’re the middle of things that might expand out in the mind, etc.
How to write a synopsis of such brief affairs (being in the region of 60-1000 words per piece)? The succinct, below, shall describe the brief.
Prices have been reconsidered to reflect the individual work in question, but I’m open to the idea of a free copy coming your way if you drop me a line on my Joel Seath: Writer Facebook page, or send a message on this blog site. This free giveaway is for promotional purposes and therefore with a limited initial period (if it’s successful, I’ll do likewise again sometime). So, contact me by January 17 please.
As the independent writer/publisher’s promotional work is aided by honest reviews, you’ll know then — as a reader — that a review of the book is requested in return for a free copy. There is a reviews page set up on this site for readers’ comments. I thank you kindly in advance of your interest.
So, to the writing in Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume II):
being a story of love taken to its inevitable ends
in which we cannot escape
exploring the unreliable
The Glass Girl
being a fractured moment of a fractured man
The Wasps’ Nest
in the midst of a garden tale
A Memory of a Love We Almost Shared
exploring what could have been
When We Never Were
in which we see peripherally
All is Far from Clear in War of Love
continuing battles fought in love
Written on the Streets
a window on the fearful follower
a small sliver on dimensions
Red Queen of Stones and Wings
being a fractured obsession
The Fragility of Sense Geographies
exploring an inner urban landscape
Our River’s Bones
in which one inner landscape is condensed and falls
exploring a city we don’t control
Composition in Water and Other Elements that Mark
being the self-portrait of a city
City of Trees
in which she murders
The Lure of the Threshold
an urban escape
a simple tense construction of the world
in which we might see other than we usually see
Incorrigible Mr Yu
being the reflections of the eponymous maybe-misguided
Stained in the Republic of Amnesia
exploring a simple construct of love
following a twisted flame
Absence and Fondness
in consideration of misplaced loves
Orphans of the Wasteland
a small view of loss
Soldiers of the Hidden World
in which empathy and the sensory overcome the emptiness
To the Slippery Wordlessness of Us
in celebration of words and wordlessness
a brief moment in dejection
She Salutes, and Waves
a true story told
The Thought of Disappearing
in contemplation of time
My Boy the Writer; My Father in Dementia
for my father, who is missed
Peace be to my readers (here on the blog and there in my books).
It was always my intention to release my latest fiction offering before the end of 2013, and though the first ambitious self-set dates for this passed by, this aim is now all but achieved. The second in the Savage Short Loves series is currently in production (at what once would have been the printer’s, but what now manifests itself as the inner workings of KDP). Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume II) is almost ready, so this post serves to draw attention to this. Details of how to access the book will be made available once (all being well) the digital fruits of my love are blessed at KDP.
The other purpose of this post is to take stock of the writing year. Recent posts have shown the difficulties for my family in the past few weeks, but words are never far away. It was always my intention to dedicate this latest book to my father, ever since we came to realise the scale of the failing of his health. It is apt then that the processes of writing, reviewing, editing, production have come together at this time.
Is there ever a year in which a writer writes all that he or she sets out to? That said, the first two Savage Short Loves books have been released in 2013, and that is reason to be pleased. The final volume in the series should have a more realistic target publication date. To that end, I tell myself: no later than the end of 2014.
When we write, if we write for the possibility of publication, we must also write for ourselves. So I count these private writings as achievements too. Though there have not been as many as of previous years (for a variety of reasons), there have been some to keep me ticking over. Some are scribbled in notebooks, some straight to the screen; some are scraps or lines of poetry; some are the daily notes that grease and crease the creativity. We need our private words as much as we need our public words to be read.
Then there are the ghost formations of works that will be written, but not this year. These are the novellas and novels that sit and wait. Even words that have yet to be written, if formed in abstract shapes, if felt, left to stew, are our writerly achievements; though if they reach this stage and then fail to manifest, we may think in some way otherwise. Included here in possibilities are the various collaborations that have been mooted to me. Of these there are two exciting ideas in the offing: one, the possibility of writing loved/seen arrangements of beauty and subtlety (this is the way I think it at this stage); the other, more of a formation of a journal of depth and delicacy. Maybe neither will happen, but they both exist in the present in the liminal space of ‘maybe’.
In the scholarly field, there have been invites for collaborative writing and working. It is to this aspect of my writing practice that I also intend to focus more attention in 2014. It’s high time that I set about more papers to compliment and advance my thinking and writing (such as the ‘other’ blog) in the field of children’s play. There has already been much written here, and there continues to be plenty of scope for more. I’m fortunate to have contact with a circle of respected writer/peers in this field, and their honest appraisal of this writing will be invaluable.
In the world of fiction in 2013, I’ve also been blessed in having the support of people like Kirsty Fox at her Bees Make Honey Co-operative. Kirsty’s taken on some of my books for sale and, by the looks of things, is making great strides in promotion of independent artists of various flavours. I’m keen to get a local designer to create the cover of a future book (he said he would, and I’ll hold him to it). Sometimes local, crafted, loved, shines through. Online in 2013, amongst many, I would like to pay special thanks to the continued writerly support of people such as Sonam C. Gyamtsho (who is editor, reviewer, nagger, friend in a far land, all of these), Ty Roper, Exiled Prospero, and Val Cameron.
So, onwards and onwards. Words are love. Keep writing.
Introducing my latest ebook release, ahead of schedule. I had planned to release this collection on or around February 28, but it all came together. Having learned the bulk of what I needed to learn for my first ebook release towards the end of last year, it was just a process of remembering the details. It gets easier, this publication process, especially if you follow the template you’ve devised the first time round.
Now to the book itself. This has not been a quick write. This is fine. I like my words to settle, to take their time, to marinate. Four Kinds of Wreckage (FKoW) is a book of micro-fictions. I’ve been saying to anyone who’ll listen, and for quite some time now, that writing succinctly isn’t always as easy as it might appear. FKoW is comprised of thirty micro-fictions, ‘short shorts’, which range from a mere 60 words in length to just over 700 words.
I would like to make it clear that this collection hasn’t just been trotted out in a couple of hours. On the contrary, it was written in parallel with my other recently published book, Disintegration and Other Stories (DaOS), and the two titles have taken — in total — three years to produce: in the writing, in various peer review processes, in editing, in the loving removal — where necessary — of aspects that needed this. Micro-fiction does not mean micro-thinking!
There are some overlaps in themes in the two books. I aim to produce a ‘body of work’: this is the writing plan. As such, FKoW (Volume I) will inform Volumes II and III. They will be linked. FKoW and DaOS overlap in places. The individual pieces in FKoW each connect, not in characters or storyline or the like, necessarily, but they connect to the piece immediately before and after in the running order. In these ways, this body of work, this density of the written assemblage is gathering around me.
I had aimed to release FKoW for free. However, the cheapest I can release it for, as a permanent price, would appear to be £0.77 / $1.17 / €0,89, etc., at the time of writing (Amazon have an annoying habit of shifting the dollar price, slightly and occasionally, and not making that known). The sterling price of such offerings does seem to remain pretty constant though. This is a short book, so I offer it at the lowest price.
However, I add a caveat to all readers: please read it slowly. My writing pays deliberate attention to the particular words I’ve used, to the rhythm of the piece, to stories within stories, to references to myths or folklore, in places: just because a piece is 200, 300 or 400 words long, only, it doesn’t mean it should be flicked through at pace.
This is one of the points of micro-fiction, as I see it: that much can be transmitted in few words. Hemingway’s famous six worder is a case study (I won’t repeat it here, but you’ll find it if you need to); Kafka wrote a series of short ‘meditations’; Brautigan was keen on brevity; Calvino wrote some beautiful gems . . .
You can find details of how to get a copy of Four Kinds of Wreckage (Savage Short Loves: Volume I), and other releases, at the Bookshop link above or click here. Scroll to the bottom of that page to find out about the free Kindle App for PCs (if you don’t own a Kindle device).
I thank you, and if you buy any of my book offerings please do let me know your thoughts on them.
I return from my travels with the possibility of words forming. Until they do, however, the following is a majority excerpt of a recent interview I gave to Nick Wale. Nick helps promote books via his site Novel Ideas and contacted me a few weeks ago through my Facebook writer page (see the link in the side bar here). He’s helped me and I’m happy to help him in his venture by publicising links on my blog. The direct link to the interview below can be found here.
Q) So Joel, why did you become an author?
A) It’s a compulsion, a drive, I suppose. When you write you just need to keep on writing.
Q) What does a compulsive drive to write feel like?
A) It often feels like blocking out, locking in, sinking in. You know? Some days it’s a rush. Some days you read and re-read and it’s like you’re looking at something that shines (or might shine) and you want to keep that, show that, have that, always.
Q) Do you ever find it hard to stop yourself from writing? Is it like a daze or a dream you can’t break from?
A) Physically writing (or typing), yes, I suppose. I mean, it can be extremely immersive, as many writers will know. However, that immersion also plays itself out in the day-to-day, pen not in hand, computer not on. Words (or the possibility of them) are everywhere.
Q) Words are your thing as a writer? So what is your favourite word?
A) What an excellent question! A barman asked me what my favourite book was recently (your question reminds me of that): how to pick one? You can tell by the long pause that this has given me cause to think. I can tell you what my most recently learned word is (and, by extension, a current favourite): tenebrous.
Q) Tenebrous? So what does tenebrous mean?
A) It’s to do with the obscure, the dark, as I understand it. This isn’t a reflection of my writing; rather, the word has a sort of rhythmic quality to me.
Q) Well, you have to learn something new everyday! So, lets reflect on your writing. What do you like to write about? Tell me about your writing.
A) In all its forms, long and short, my writing is intended as a means of finding the small gems of this world. There are hidden things in between what we just see on the surface — there are textures and layers to relationships, subtleties, moments. I’m looking for the moments that also linger. There are ‘objects’ of beauty, even in the laments, in many places.
Q) It’s interesting that you write about ‘beauty’, as everyone’s definition of beauty is so different. What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever written about? What is ‘beautiful’ to you?
A) Well, beauty is subjective, of course, but I’m sometimes taken aback by how things turn out. It’s unexpected. There are moments that happen which I read time and again because they still have some power over me. In one of my stories, a child’s brief interaction with the narrator takes me in every time; in another piece, it was something I wrote in a female voice because I needed to do this more, I was there with her, as her, in Venice because the words were in that flow state; poetry is a vanity, but there are lines of colour and there are lines that sink me sometimes. Questions such as these are like choosing between children!
Q) If you could write anywhere in the world, where would it be? What landscape would really incite your creativity?
A) On a beach, in the mountains, in a forest, all of these. Specifically, though I’ve done my fair share of overseas travelling, I’d come back to the west of Cornwall. Standing on the cliffs overlooking some of the little unknown coves down there, the sea and the wind in your hair and on your face, that huge sky (it really is huge, like they say in their tourism promotions), makes words just come in for me. The artists there laud it for the light; I just can’t get enough of the energy.
Q) I understand that you’re published so others can enjoy your creative energy. Which of your works are currently available?
A) I’ve got a collection out at the moment (Disintegration and Other Stories). I loosely label this as literary fiction (though that term can be interpreted in many ways). DaOS is out in ebook and print. This collection came together in an odd way: I didn’t realise that there’d been a thread running through some of my writings for a number of years. It was like seeing invisible ink slowly become visible. I’m working on a collection of micro fiction, which will be a first volume (Four Kinds of Wreckage) to be added to. Micro fiction is much misunderstood. Away from fiction, I’m also published in the field of what’s known as ‘playwork’ (a particular way of working with children). I’ve had writings taken on by the national/international playwork publication for the sector, as well as credits with the organisation concerned with psycholudic playwork practice. (Now though, I fear I’m stepping into the jargon of my other calling — though writing is also a big part of this, too).
Q) So tell me, Joel — why did you want to be interviewed by me?
A) You do a good job of finding writers, Nick. When I became aware of your work I came over to your blog, and yes, I like what I see here. What you’re doing is exactly what writers need — a way of getting their words out there.
Q) Thank you, Joel. One of my stock questions is to ask — if you could be any writer from any time who would it be?
A) As far as writers are concerned, I have a range (as we all do probably): Milan Kundera, Gabriel García Márquez, Jeannette Winterson, Iain Banks, Ian McEwan, Italo Calvino, Jack Kerouac, Neil Gaiman, Adrian Henri. There are others. I wouldn’t want just one small list to define me, though we start somewhere with questions such as these.
Q) Characters are important to you. What makes a good character for you?
A) The unusual wrapped up in the usual. Subtlety people often might not see. The strangely put. Love in odd places, ways; perceptions of this. Someone who aches in some way.
Q) It has often been said that ‘repeated readability makes a book’. Would you, as an author, agree with that?
A) Yes, I think I would. Who was it who said that journalism is read once, whilst literature more than this? Something like that. Anyway, it’s the sentiment here that counts. There are books on my shelf that I come back to time and again; there are passages on some pages that just astound me. Kerouac wrote about ‘fields the colour of love and Spanish mysteries’ in On the Road. I come back to that time and again.
Q) You strike me as an intellectual — someone striving for the beautiful things in life. Would you agree with that?
A) I don’t know about intellectual! I certainly am on the search for the beauty of the world though. That’s in words, in moments, in art, in love and lament, in the play of children, in the play of us, in nature.
Q) What would you personally deem as ‘ugly’?
A) There’s nothing so ugly as not wanting to see, perhaps. Ugliness is also wrapped up in the politics of power, greed, deceit.
[End of excerpt]
Continuing my recent theme of objects of beauty, I’m thinking on a word that could describe such things collectively. That is, whilst absolutely acknowledging that the idea of beauty is entirely subjective, how can I describe how certain objects are for me? Is it their ‘feel’, their ‘texture’, their ‘weight’? By these words, I don’t mean the physical properties of dimensions, roughness/smoothness, heaviness/lightness, size, density, etc., necessarily. These properties do come into it, of course, but I want a word to describe objects of beauty in the abstract manner.
I don’t know if there are any more appropriate words: the feel of this book, the texture of the writing, the weight of the whole, for example. For reasons that link to all of this, I’ve decided to reset the release date of my next (micro fiction) ebook collection. This isn’t the main reason for this post (as I say, I’m in a themed thinking mode at the moment regarding art and creativity). I have been watching the counter tick down in the box to the right (regarding the release of Four Kinds of Wreckage). I set this a few weeks back precisely to focus my writing and editing energies. Everything’s written, but it just needs a little time in settling. I won’t put anything out there unless I can see it as, potentially, an object of beauty. FKoW is being given another month.
Now, all this thinking on beauty (subjective though it is), leads me to needing to ‘show and tell’ on objects I’ve found. I want to ‘show’ you five things, but I’m a writer so I want to write them to you. They’re not all books, but they do all affect me in some way.
Sa Femme (Emmanuèle Bernheim)
I have a small 1994 copy of this beautiful little book, translated from the original French and published by Viking, sat at the end of one of my bookshelves. It fits in the palm: a gold and black simple dustcover to its hardback. It’s slim, elegant, and was found somewhere, once, perhaps, in some old bookshop nobody really knew about. It must have been this way because this is the way with all the books I have that fall into this category. Somehow, generally, the books bought from the big bookshop chains don’t seem to have a similar ‘feel’.
Leave Your Sleep (Natalie Merchant)
In 2010, one of my favourite recording artists — Natalie Merchant — released this absolutely exquisite collection of songs on double CD on the Nonesuch label. The songs are all poems about- for- or by children, and they’re collected from various sources and spanning centuries. What makes this collection special is the craft and love that seems to have gone into the detail: the collection comes with its own book; Natalie spent several years building up to the project, working with over a hundred musicians across a range of styles. I keep this collection very safe.
Hand made paper, smooth or textured; a leather hard casing; empty pristine space that part of me doesn’t want to blemish. I think for a long, long time on what to put in pages like these. Words or drawings there have to do the notebook justice. I have some notebooks that have stayed empty for many years.
Collected Poems, 1967-1985 (Adrian Henri)
I hadn’t heard of Adrian Henri before finding him, or rather this collection, in a bookshop something like fifteen years ago. We need to rummage in bookshops (the proper ones with creaking floors and several stories winding up narrow staircases to quiet, unmanned little rooms somewhere up and up). We need to rummage because we never know what we’ll find. I found a collection of love in many forms here. I found the way that Adrian used and fused words in new and odd ways, and the way that he made poetry out of lists of Nivea cream and other discarded cosmetics. There are snippets and prints and photos and longer pieces and it all builds up to a significant body of work.
Heaven and Other Poems (Jack Kerouac) and Letters to a Young Poet (Rainer María Rilke)
These two books I relate as one here. They’re both slim (there’s something about ‘slim’ that seems to translate to some form of beauty in books); they’re both odd but in different ways, though ‘odd’ here is perhaps more to do with being ‘not contemporary’; most importantly though, they were both sent to me, out of the blue, by an artist friend in Kansas. It is this that imbues more of a sense of ‘special’ in them. One person has taken the time to think, find, and send a book, twice.
Objects of beauty are beautiful in many ways, though I don’t know what could describe them all.
I’d like to share a small moment with you. Do you know the moment when you hold your newborn baby? (You’re forewarned that this post could get a little sentimental). There he or she is, just beautiful. This morning my newborn baby arrived. I almost missed the delivery. The door had been knocked several times and there was a van outside. I wasn’t expecting delivery for another week, but this was it. This was the day. The man held out the small brown package and asked me to sign.
Here she was (I’ll call her ‘she’ because I need to call her something). Here was my book. The delivery of any book is special enough, but this was the delivery of my book. I took my time. I hoped she’d be perfectly formed, everything in the right place. She was wrapped up and I couldn’t see. These vanities we writers have can be excused on the day our books arrive. All that time and love in the making, we can indulge in just a few minutes for ourselves: our newborn, tiny in our hands, should be perfect.
I can honestly say I felt some trepidation. What if she was bruised or not well bound, or misprinted? On the first count, she’d come all the way from South Carolina: had they wrapped her well? On the second count, I’d entrusted her to people I didn’t know, and had they treated her with the love I’d sent the digital her to them with? On the third count, what if she was misaligned or if I’d neglected some small detail because of tiredness and there were tiny errors buried in her pages?
It took me some minutes to take the cardboard from her. Then I saw her, and how beautiful my baby is. I indulge myself now too because we owe ourselves this as writers. How beautiful my baby is. I held her with such care. I read deeply into her pages, looking for those imperfections. She’s in place, though I see two slight things, like tiny birth marks, I want to smooth away. They’re not typos or mistakes, so all is well, I suppose: my baby is still my baby.
I put her down, now, because she’s born and so she grows. Her future brothers and sisters also need my love.
Available from: www.joelseath.wordpress.com/bookshop
Please handle with love and care.
The digital proofs have been approved and so here it is: the ‘proper’ print book version of Disintegration and Other Stories. I write that tongue in cheek, not in any disparaging way towards the ebook — I know there are people out there who prefer the physical object of the ‘proper’ book.
I’m extremely pleased with the way this book has turned out: the new cover, the layout of the interior, the Garamond font, all of it. Books are things of beauty, and every effort has been made to create something special here.
I trust you’ll enjoy it. That means, of course, that I’d very much like you to buy it.
It’s currently available via its CreateSpace eStore page.
$6.42 in the US / £3.99 UK (+ shipping fees)
Amazon distribution channels will become available just as soon as Amazon do what they have to do their end. In the meantime, you can take a look inside the Kindle version to read the preface info and the start of the content: Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com or go to this site’s bookshop for other worldwide Amazon channels (the Kindle version layout is not the same as the print version and will undergo a little tweaking).
I thank you. Onwards and onwards.