All things considered, it was a pretty good weekend. Smashing a plate as I dropped my Sunday dinner on the floor face down last night, wasn’t perhaps the ideal way to end a week-full of blunders, but nevertheless, it’s a new week and hopefully all that crap is behind me.
I suspect the moon was in some sort of phase and it was affecting my ability to behave sanely.
I’ve a piece over at A Biblio Paradise all about paranormal and magic fiction. Head on over, as it forms the kick-off of a great new series on the website called Midnight Enchantments. It’s called The Magic of Paranormal Fiction. Click here to read.
West Port Book Festival
I attended a couple of book festival events up at West Port over the course of the weekend: Rob Shearman on Saturday and David Gaffney with Hannah McGill yesterday.
Shearman’s event was at the very nice surroundings of a brand new bookshop in Edinburgh, Pulp Fiction, specialising in genre fiction. Shearman, who is most famous for writing the “Dalek” episode of Doctor Who, is more widely regarded by those in the know as an accomplished script fiction writer.
He comes across as a very friendly and welcoming chap, who delivered a superb reading of a short story called Coming in to Land, complete with rolling pitches, comical and tension loaded pauses, and a sense of a real connection with his small but attentive audience.
On the Doctor Who connection, he regards it as the difference “when people ask me if they know anything I’ve written. In the past they never used to, now I get to say well, yes, actually you probably do.” Yet despite his awards he still regards himself and his acting as “stunningly mediocre”, something his audience generally disagreed with.
Pulp Fiction, apart from being perfect in the sense it’s a genre fiction bookshop, is also a splendid bookshop in its own right. There’s no stuffiness, it has an honest openness and the owners are very friendly; a fresh and welcome addition to West Port’s growing collection of bookshops if ever it was needed.
Yesterday, I was at the rather more cramped Peter Bell’s Books for the Short Story Hour. Peter Bell’s Books was the venue for Sunday’s Short Story Hour. Reading first was Review Show regular, critic and writer, Hannah McGill. Her fiction is a delicately balanced mix of poetic phrases and story telling; you find yourself drawn into her reading.
Coming across as more nervous in front of the closely-packed twenty people as when I’ve seen on television, she nevertheless delivered her reading expertly and without question.
Also reading was David Gaffney, the superb author of flash and longer fiction books such as Sawn-Off Tales and Aromabingo, and the author of the newly available, The Half-Life of Songs.
Gaffney’s fiction is engaging and striking from the start—it has to be as most of the stories he deals with are around 150 words long—but it’s his ability to capture the nuances of human nature in every day situations, to tell a fully plotted story or deliver a funny tale with such an acute turn of phrase, that makes his brand of fiction stand out.
Immediately engaging with his audience as he read from Sawn-Off Tales, he showed why he is an expert at delivering great live readings to back up the excellent books he writes.
Before each of these events (which were noon starts), I met up with my pal, book blogger/lover/expert and owner of RobAroundBooks.com, Rob Burdock. We sat both mornings drinking tea and coffee, and whiling away a couple of hours before each of the events by talking all things literature, web design and more.
Rob’s a great guy as his love of books is so infectious it makes you want to go out and read pretty much everything ever written. “Colin, I’m offended,” he told me, when I admitted to owning a copy, but to never having read, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
If you like books and reading, you really should be checking out his website. It’s like a bookshop online with all kinds of lovely wee corners full of fascinating information.
The rest of my time over the weekend was spent on websites: mine and my wife’s. Gail’s boudoir site is coming on slowly—it’s harder because we are trying out new ways of displaying the galleries and shifting the look about. There’s more coding involved than mine because mine is being based on a template; Gail’s is brand new built from scratch.
My new poetry site is coming on faster because it’s a URL pointing to a WordPress site, and last night I made significant inroads with the design of my new main website. It’s going to look fabulous when it’s done.
Some nice wee items arrived in the post over the weekend: a bunch of new bookmarks with some of the new illustrations from SILLY POEMS FOR WEE PEOPLE, and a load of stickers of pirates and cartoon kids jumping around shouting “I love Silly Poems!” When the kids get them, I think they’ll love them. There’s more still to come.
My new business cards also arrived. Not too enamoured with them, though. I may have to redesign those with something more relevant. The designs always look better on the screen and then you get one in your hand.
My evening at The Sky Project was sadly postponed. It looks like we inadvertently arranged the evening opposite a big Halloween party at the local primary school, so we’ve agreed to put it off until a new date can be found.
It makes no difference to my preparation as all of that is complete. All I need to do now is to turn up and entertain the kids!
Happy Monday friends; peace and out!
You are just too, too kind Colin. Thank you (although I think you’re trying to make up for not having read Grapes of Wrath yet :)).
It was a brilliant weekend for me too, made all the better with spending some of both mornings in your company. Thanks for that.
P.S. Sorry about your dinner 🙂
Your essay is great, Colin. Thanks so much for that. And it sounds like you had a grand time at the festival.