Book Release: Once Upon a Teller Fell

Once Upon a Teller Fell (Amazon Cover) 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.
 
 

A Crafting of Some Appreciation

The bookshop called me in. I didn’t intend to go in there: it just insisted. I would have preferred it if the sudden inclination had taken me when I was upstream (that is, uptown), where the little side-alley independent place is, but the inclination took me as I walked past the big plate-glass windows of the brand name. It was a bookshop though, at least. I had no thought in my head about looking for anyone on the shelves in particular. New books have an almost irresistible feel to them though (almost: I did resist because the prices were so exorbitant). New books have a crispness, a quality that suggests that anyone who just walks in off the street is the first person ever to have opened that book in all its life.

I was drawn like a magnet, and before my conscious self had had time to know it, to Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (which I know I need to read). Its first line drew me in: ‘Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.’ This is one of those books I know I should already have read but haven’t. I’m already a friend to the words of Márquez, and sometimes we can stand in bookshops for long periods of time trying to justify spending exorbitant amounts of money on crisp new books we know we should have read. I will read it, but later. Writers like Márquez know this is fine because he knows he already has me on his side.

Writers unlike Márquez rely on other friends. So it is I can say I’m truly privileged for the support of people like Kirsty at Bees Make Honey Creative Community, in this case on several counts: (i) for her continued support of my work; (ii) for agreeing to take on copies of Disintegration and Other Stories at the Memories of the Future event in Nottingham this October; (iii) for agreeing to take in a non-Nottingham southerner’s work (that’ll be me!). By way of reciprocal support, if you’re in the area, I trust you can get there (see links above for details).

This support for the independent, the small amongst the megalithic corporates (even though we too are sometimes obliged to make use of the latter to get words out there), the craftspeople of the world, as I see it, is very much appreciated. Of course, in the modern world we know there’s a place for those monsters of industry (we can, perhaps, all be consumers of convenience, and we can like it), but knowing that there are groups of people out there who are focused on the minutiae of it all is inspiring and heartening.

So, in coming back to my own reading, I walk into a corporate-branded bookshop and I find I need Márquez, but I find he can wait. There are still plenty of crisp newnesses to discover in other, yet to be known places first.
 
 

The Reading Vows

There are times when reading is absolutely necessary. There are times, here, when there is a great need just to read. It comes in cycles, I find: it tracks me for a while, behind me like a shadow; I don’t know it’s there. Then, quietly, it insists itself on the days of my life. In days like these I have every need to read widely. What can cause this? Do I not have enough words of my own to sift and assemble? It’s not this. I don’t know what it is. It’s a desire that can’t be pinned. It passes, though I also don’t know why this is; it passes, but when it’s here it’s like a thirst.

Yet there is just so much matter out there in the ‘worlds’ we live in (paper worlds and digital virtual places). It can be overwhelming trying to locate the matter that needs the reading. I don’t know what I’m looking for, exactly, when I do look. I do know that when I find something that suggests it has a certain flavour to it, I must read it. I also know, however, that there is just so much wading to be done. Quadrillions of words in trillions of aggregations, perhaps, conspire to show repeated weaknesses. There is slurry, and maybe we’ve all contributed a little to this, alas.

There are gems amongst this though. Perhaps the knowledge that these do exist, must exist, maintains the will for the hunt. ‘Writing is a safari . . . it means going out there and spotting, nabbing and bringing home to the cage of the page the most marvellous living stuff of the world.’ Who was it who wrote this (which I left unattributed in my Germany-period notebook)? It doesn’t matter here for now. If writing is a safari, so too is the preparation for reading.

Finding is one thing, but giving oneself over to the find is quite another. I take a book by the hand and I know, before I open its cover, that I am about to commit to it. To have and to hold, to love and to finish . . . When I hold a paper book I can sense it: I can see and feel its weight and the potential time within it. I will read its covers and its author’s notes, its preface or its preamble: I will go straight to the last page — not to find out anything ahead of time, cheating — but to commit the page number to memory. I take extra care not to see the words there. This carving of the last number in me is not a way of trying to weigh myself down; rather, it’s a vow in the making (till death do us part, which I see to be page 210 . . .)

Taking an e-book by the hand is not so easy. It hides its secrets well and I sometimes find the e-book difficult. Let me see your pages whole, I think when I try to find it within the ink that isn’t ink at all, within the thin depths of the small plastic slab in my palm. I don’t care for the number limits of the chapters; I want to feel the weight of this whole book in time. Yet, even here, there are gems to be found: this I know; this I think.

This phase of the present need to read isn’t over yet. I still haven’t found, this time, what I’m looking for — exactly; though I have found moments in some stories, stories in themselves that linger, possible books to re-read, possible authors to try from new. There is slurry, and there are gems, and there is commitment called for.
 
 

Interview by Nick Wale

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]
 
 

About a Baby

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.

DaOS Physical Print (Front)DaOS Physical Print (Back)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Available from: www.joelseath.wordpress.com/bookshop

Please handle with love and care.
 
 

For Those Who Prefer the Proper Print Book

DaOS Print Version CoverThe 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.