I hope you had a lovely festive season or at least manage to survive it! There’s been no time for New Year resolutions here at Words Away Central as life has been turned upside down by the arrival of our new golden retriever puppy, Alfie. I’m going to be hunkering down for the next few weeks while Alfie settles in. I was aiming to get on with my writing and catch up with reading during Alfie’s dog naps but instead, I find myself catching up with chores. We’ll be confined to quarters for the next month until he’s had his second set of jabs at twelve weeks and is ready to venture into the world. Fortunately, I have a dog sitter lined up for the 15th January, our first salon of the year, with the literary agent Jo Unwin. Jo represents a diverse, award-winning list of authors and we'll be talking about how writers and agents work together. It's a great opportunity to come along, join in and ask all those questions about the road to publication and beyond, over a drink in a friendly and informal setting. I’m looking forward to it already.
Generally speaking, the last few weeks have been a time for family and friends and little else. Just before Christmas, I was excited to receive a proof copy of Blake Morrison’s new novel, The Executor, which includes some poems, due to be published in hardback on the 15th March. I started reading the first chapter and found myself hooked. I spent much of Christmas hiding out whenever possible for guerrilla reading sessions. Not easy with a houseful of revelling relatives but I managed to finish the book on New Year’s day and I can’t wait for our salon, Process and Practice: Exploring Poetry and Prose with Blake Morrison on the 5th March to hear more about the novel and his writing process.
It’s always hard to let go of a book you’ve enjoyed but if you’re lucky you can dive straight into another. I’m currently midway through Kit de Waal’s, My Name Is Leon. If you haven’t read it yet, seek it out! It's a tenderly written, poignant story, set in the seventies about a nine year old boy in foster care. I’m feeling very anxious about Leon’s fate. I just need Alfie to take a few more naps so I can find out what happens. Incidentally, Kit De Waal also happens to be one of Jo Unwin’s clients. I'll be interested to hear how the two met and what first caught Jo's attention about the book.
As well as Jo Unwin and Blake Morrison, we also have Louise Doughty talking about Writing Literary Thrillers and Creating Compulsive Plots on the 5th February and Michèle Roberts discussing The Agony and Ecstasy: Writing Sex In Fiction on the 30th April.
So here’s to a Happy 2018! I wonder what surprises the year might bring? Have you made any resolutions? If so how’s it going? I’m useless at keeping resolutions, I never managed to tidy my study properly in 2017 - it’s still a tip with teetering towers of books, but I am going to try to focus on writing short fiction this year and work towards getting a collection together. I’m also planning some more collaborative workshops - so I’ll keep you posted. I’ll be busy with Alfie too. In another month a whole new chapter begins when we start puppy training classes. It's going to be an adventure.
See you soon!