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y Kerrie - Anne

Through Beauty's
naive eyes we gain a view
point, many of us would
prefer not to see. It would
be easy for Raphael to
judge Beauty's way of life
and her religious views in
a harsh light; to show her
as the victim of abuse and
beaten down as is the
case of so many, but he
chooses not to. Beauty
holds an inner strength
gained from her faith and
strangely from her family
which will endear her to
the reader.
A balance is struck
between judging others for
their beliefs and our own
way of life and Beauty is a
social commentary
pointing out many of the
strengths and weaknesses
of both worlds. Beauty, as
she grows, takes the best
and worst of these cultures
and it is up to the reader to
see what she does with it.
I was surprised at how
hard it was to put this one
down and highly
recommend it to those with
a thirst for a great read.

Beauty is the story of a young road to those with ulterior motives

Muslim Bangladeshi girl trying to and discovers that help can arrive
avoid an abusive arranged marriage from the most unexpected people.
to a much older man. She finally Beauty shows us many parts of
runs away from home only to find life life that most of us choose not to
outside her somewhat sheltered see. From the elderly thrown away
existence is not as she expected. by their families into nursing homes
Out of her depth in Wolverhampton, to the drunken behaviour during a
she encounters all forms of life and party at the Club.
people from the seedier side of the
Hi Raphael and welcome to The My perception of the world has not drives you to continue. However
View From Here. changed but I am better informed the things learnt about western
about it. I have seen first-hand the life are just as painful to her.
Hi terrible damage that a combination Things we take for granted, the
of forces has wreaked on that nursing home, the Club night, the
For starters can you tell us your section of society which most things we see as basics freedoms
fondest memory as a child? needed its protection and she has never experienced and
encouragement. The failures of the doesn’t want to. As you wrote
Going to Blackey Barn (a large ‘progressive’ education system and Beauty how hard was it not to fall
stagnant pond in a field in the dismantling of the manufacturing into a more judgmental view
Oxfordshire) with Daryl Austin and base of the economy have led to the point?
his Jack Russell, Nipper. abandonment of those most in need.
We live in non-judgmental
non times.
What motivated you to become an Given your father, David Even the words ‘judgment’
‘ and
author? Selbourne, reputation as a ‘moral’ are uttered by some
political philosopher and social (arguably in positions of immense
My experiences and what I saw commentator, as well as a highly influence on our lives) with distaste.
around me in Wolverhampton regarded author, Beauty is to my Any novelist who feels
feel the same way
motivated me to write. I may once mind very much a social about those words will never write
have had a fanciful notion of commentary. Although the anything worthwhile. That’s a moral
becoming ‘a writer’, but without characters are fictitious, the story judgment. Thathat said, however, no
anything to write about the notion is one which could be played out one wants to read a moral, political
remained fanciful. in any community. In what way do or social tract dressed up as fiction,
you think he has influenced your and a writer has an obligation to
How has your study of politics writing? search for the truth and keepke an
shaped the way you see the open mind.
world? I was fortunate enough to have had
the intellectual influence of both my Beauty's violent and yet sheltered
Everything I have studied or read parents throughout my life. Without it life gives way to the harsh reality
has shaped the way I see the world I would not be the person I am, nor of western culture a throwaway
and it is a continuous process. If would I have been presented with society where even our parents
what you study or read does not the literature which contributed from are expendable. Her shock and
shape your views then it probably an early age to my intellectual horror in finding out these people
wasn’t worth studying, reading or formation. To be able to discuss my have family’s who threw them
publishing. father’s work with him has allowed away shows a moral and ethical
me a far greater understanding of strength of character which is
Oxford is a far cry from the way we live today and of my own refreshing and unexpected given
Wolverhampton not only in experiences. Surely all influences her background. Where do you
distance but socioeconomic and experiences inform the writer’s think her strength and courage
diversity. What were the most view. comes from?
striking differences and were you
shocked by anything you Where did Beauty come from? Her strength comes from her own
experienced? sense of right and wrong, informed
The real world and my imagination. and influenced by her experiences,
I can’t answer this without being Many things about Beauty have a her faith in God and His laws as she
horribly reductive of Wolverhampton, profound impact on the reader. If understands them. She has a very
Oxford and perhaps more relevantly only to gain an insight into a world strong sense of what ‘the family’
northern Italy, where I had spent the very few of us would experience should be and the roles of all the
best part of my adult life before otherwise. Given the confronting members. Despite having suffered
coming to the Black Country. nature of so much of Beauty’s herself from the Asian or Muslim
However, the lack of aspiration and story what was your driving force excesses of ‘a strong sense of
hope, the appalling levels of illiteracy to put it on paper? family’ she is determined
det not to
amongst the ‘socially disadvantaged’ abandon, or be abandoned by, her
are failures of our society, and not My driving force was exactly that own. Her own sense of freedom
the fault of the people affected by it. confrontation (and clash sometimes) must be balanced with her sense of
between peoples and belief systems, duty. These were once universal
Has your perception of the world between the generations and the values.
changed since working with the sexes; as well as to tell a story.
long term unemployed and those Your telling of Beauty’s story is
who through circumstances are The life Beauty runs away from is tender and confronting,
disadvantaged? violent and the book is painful at compassionate and empowering.
times to read. But you must; it The contrast between the main
characters couldn’t be starker. Do you believe Beauty's new wrote encourages the reader to
Your portrayal of the three main found or awakened inner strength consider these matters and to
players gives the reader a and courage an asset or question themselves and others,
powerful insight into the lives of detrimental to her? then I have achieved part of what I
seemingly normal average people. set out to do, and, I hope, fulfilled
Where did you find them? And do She takes from ‘white’ society that one of the purposes of literature.
you think they give a fair cross which does not offend her most
section of the general population? strongly held values, and rejects What do you hope the reader will
what does. She strives throughout take away from Beauty?
Again, I found them in the real world. her journey to find the balance
Without models there is no art. They between her own freedom and the A sense of having witnessed
will seem representative only to the duties that we all have. From her something they may not otherwise
academic obsessed by ‘gender, race experiences ‘on the outside’ she is have seen and of having been on a
and class’, who rarely leaves her emboldened by her new found sense journey; questions, laughter,
ivory tower. of self and entitlement (with regard to understanding, sympathy for the
seemingly unsympathetic.

no one wants to read a moral, political or social What makes an author?

tract dressed up as fiction, and a writer has an Experience, imagination, sensitivity,
obligation to search for the truth a sense of humour, a keen eye and
ear. And a publisher.
her family), and by the rejection of Your thoughts on winning the
Something which I found the unfettered freedom to do as one Costa?
interesting was Beauty's family pleases which she witnesses.
and Beauty’s thoughts on other It is encouraging to be recognised in
Asians and religious groups. How As far as you see it, is there any such a manner, and clearly helps get
other nationalities are seen and solution to the issues you raised the book noticed by the reading
Beauty’s coming to terms with the in Beauty, the growing divide public, especially coming from a
various lifestyles choices she throughout many countries small publisher. However, the
experiences. This to me was an between socially disadvantaged awarding of prizes seems sometimes
integral part of the telling but how and Ethnic Groups and very arbitrary and it is perhaps
hard was it to research and write the rest of the population? unfortunate that it is such an
such views and were you tempted important part in the ‘marketing’ of
to tone down some of the more I don’t claim to have any solutions literature.
racially confronting aspects or although I think it is time for new and
was it as important to keep it old ones to be considered. If what I What advice can you give
g to
socially and ethnically accurate? anyone starting the journey of
becoming an author?
We live in a multi-cultural society.
There are surely many successes Try and make sense of the world
and good intentions to be celebrated. around you, for yourself and others.
But this doesn’t mean that all Leave history to the historians and
peoples mix freely with each other, to those who wrote about their
or have anything more than a times. Writing should be an escape
superficial knowledge about the for the reader, not for theth author.
different cultures which make up the And there is more to be gained from
whole. In fact, there is in some a reading the classics of world
shocking level of ignorance and literature - those that have stood the
mistrust of their neighbours. Perhaps test of that arch critic, time – an
it can only be overcome when the English grammar book and life
powers-that-be oblige us to experiences, than there is from an
‘celebrate’ the values we have in MA in Creative Writing.
common, and not the ‘diversity’
which separates us. As for reflecting Thanks Raphael it's been
these aspects of the way we live fascinating talking to you.
today through fiction, the writer has a
duty to be as accurate as possible, Beauty is published by Tindal Street
neither alarmist nor complacent
about issues which affect the way we Image of Raphael by Stefano Luigi Moro
Count Homogenised
by Laura Solomon

As a child, my favourite television

programme was A Haunting We Will
Go. A Haunting We Will Go was
written and screened during the
1970s and ‘80s. The main character
was a vampire called Count
Homogenised. Normal vampires
drink blood; Count Homogenised
drank milk. Whenever he got thirsty,
the Count would break into the
fridge, steal all the milk and cackle to
himself as he drank. The Count was
invisible to adults, only children could
see him. The Count always got away
with his crimes and was never
punished for his transgressions.
My older sister Margie and I used
to play our own version of A
Haunting We Will Go. Neither of us
wanted to be the-kid-who-can-see-
the-Count-but-isn’t-believed; we
always wanted to be the Count.
“I bags being the Count.”
“No, I bags.”
“I’m older than you,” my sister
would say. “I’m the one that gets to
“You were the Count last time,
it’s my turn now.”
And on it went. Truth be told, my
sister was a better Count
Homogenised than I was. The fake
fangs we used sat in her mouth more
comfortably, the cape fitted more
neatly about her shoulders. My
mouth was too small for the fangs,
my shoulders too slender for the
cape. She would steal milk from the
fridge and tip it down her T-shirt. I
was a petite blonde; Marge was
brunette and more solidly built.
Marge’s Homogenised had a sinister
edge; you got the feeling that any
day soon he would tire of drinking
milk and take to draining the blood of
little girls. My Homogenised drank
the milk and then apologized to the
children who could see him for “Ah-ha!” she would cry to do that here, there’s table service
having done so. He felt guilty for his victoriously. “A hair.” as well, but Marge is in a hurry, she
sins. My sister’s Homogenised felt My Count Homogenised knew has to get back to school in an hour.
no remorse; the deed done, he was that her kid would track me down, I’m ‘between jobs’; I’ve got all day.
off to the next fridge. sniff me out, drag me out from Marge orders a steak and Guinness
I was a better victim though. I did whatever rock I crouched sniveling pie with a side order of chips. I order
bewildered well. under. Typically, my Homogenised a Caesar salad minus the dressing.
“Hey, who are you? What are you would curl up in a ball and hide in the We’re halfway through our meal
doing here?” I would ask, spinning far corner of the garden, behind the when Marge’s arm shoots out.
on the spot like a cat that’s having its foxgloves and her kid would come “Look,” she says, “It’s Count
tail pulled by teasing children. marching over. Homogenised.”
(Here my sister’s Count would “Hullo, hullo, what have we here “Where?”
give an evil cackle.) On I would then? A nasty milk-drinking thief. He I look around.
drone. There was a pitiful element to deserves a sound smack.” “There, serving that table.”
my wailing. She’d whack me on the bum with And so it is. He’s minus his fangs
“Quit stealing all the milk!” a piece of wood. Sometimes at this and cape, of course, but it’s definitely
“You are powerless to stop me,” stage, I would run crying to Mum. him. Marge kicks me under the table.
the Count would jeer. “Mu-um, Marge hit me.” “Don’t stare.”
More than once my mother, not “Marge,” Mum would reprimand. “You pointed. Pointing’s worse
realizing that we were merely playing “Play nicely with Leah.” than staring.”
a game, overheard my plaintive cries Sometimes I would hit her back I turn my gaze back to my half-
and came out into the backyard, and things would descend into a eaten Caesar salad. Count
where we would typically play. slapping match, till Mum came out to Homogenised walks past, hand
“What’s the matter love?” break up the fight. raised in a salute, swinging his legs
“Nothing, Mum. Just a dumb “Break it up, somebody’s gonna high in the air as he walks. A black
game.” get hurt.” moustache bristles on his upper lip.
“O, that’s alright then. For a “Yea, and it ain’t gonna be me,” “What’s with his funny
minute there I thought you were would sister would sneer, giving me moustache?” I ask. “And that walk?”
genuinely upset.” the finger behind Mum’s back. “He’s pretending to be Basil
I was a better kid-who-can-see- Fawlty,” she says, pointing to the
the-Count-but-isn’t-believed though. Today Marge and I are going out for blackboard on the wall which reads:
Marge’s kid was too demanding, lunch. My second marriage has ‘hit Tuesday, Thursday, Friday - Fawlty
overly concerned with facts and the skids’ as Margie would say. Towers Themed Lunch. Come dine
details, he wasn’t melodramatic Typical of me; I was always useless with the crew from one of television’s
enough. He wanted to know at picking decent men. I’m a sucker, most popular series.
precisely how many bottles of milk a fool, easily duped. I pick guys who “Gawd, how tacky.”
had been drunken, the exact time are all surface charm, but “Look,” she says, pointing. “That
(down to the minute) when the Count underneath it look out, danger lurks. waitress is done up as Cybil.”
had acted out his crime, the exact They are men with screws loose; “Don’t point.”
time (down to the minute) of the they cheat on me, they snort coke, She points at my salad.
Count’s departure. He wanted to they find it hard to keep down a job. “You need to eat more,” she
interview all the other children who Marge’s been married to the same says. “You’re too thin.”
had seen the Count. man, Trevor, an electrical engineer, “I know. It’s the stress of the
What did he look like when you for eleven years now. No kids, but marriage break-up.”
saw him? What was he wearing? they’re planning to have one soon. “Not eating won’t help,” she
What ethnicity was he –Maori? They own two houses; the one preaches. “That’ll just make things
Caucasian? Samoan? How tall? that they live in and a rental. I’m still worse.”
Over six foot? Fat, thin or in- renting; a small one bedroom flat I “It’s not intentional. It’s just loss
between? Did he look nervous or share with my second husband Will. of appetite.”
was he calm and collected? Marge became an English teacher; I “If things get too bad come and
My sister’s kid-who-isn’t-believed became a teacher too, but I’m still stay with me for a month or so. Not
wanted to build a psychological ‘finding my feet’ trying to get a career long term - a temporary measure.”
profile of the Count, so as to off the ground, bouncing round “Do you think I should kick Will
determine when he would be likely to various temporary assignments, out? I caught him in bed with his
strike again. No weeping or wailing ricocheting from man to man like a ‘friend’ Johanna. ‘We were just
for her – she was no nonsense. She squash ball bouncing off walls. cuddling’ he said. Cuddling my arse.
just wanted to catch the villain, to get The first thing she says when she But I controlled my temper – I didn’t
on with the job. She used a sees me is, “You’ve dyed your hair.” go ballistic. I just quietly asked
magnifying glass, like Sherlock “Yea,” I say. “Felt like being Johanna to leave. I’m still deciding
Holmes and inspected the ‘bar’ (our darker for a while.” what to do about Will. Do you think I
swing set) for fingerprints and other She nods and we place our should forgive him?”
clues. orders at the counter. You don’t have
“Hell, no. You should’ve gone Count and the meticulous disciplined I swing the cape around my
ballistic. You should’ve given him an Mike. I’m remembering being shoulders, spill the blood down my
earful. How dare he cheat on you? smacked on the bum with a piece of front, push the fangs into my mouth.
You two have been together for wood. The Count autographs Checking the mirror on the way out
whatM.three years now?” Marge’s piece of paper. of the store, I leer at myself. I look
“Four.” “Don’t you want him to sign pretty good.
“Four years. That must be a something for you?” asks Marge. Marge is applying lipstick in the
record for you.” “You always liked being the Count.” rear view mirror. I creep round the
“Yeah.” Yea, when you let me play him, I back of the car and tap on her
“So what the hell did he think he think. I fossick in my handbag for window. She screams and jerks back
was doing? Honestly, if I caught something to sign. All I find is an in her seat, puts her hand to her
Trevor with another woman I’d wring empty cigarette packet, but I can’t heart.
his neck. And his balls. He’d be lucky give him that, because then Marge “Jesus Christ! You scared the
to live to see another day.” will know I’ve taken up smoking living daylights out of me.”
“I could just pretend the whole again. “Ha!” I say. “Gotcha. Gotcha a
thing never happened. Pretend I “What about this serviette?” asks good one.”
didn’t see. Blind, like Mike from the Marge, in a slightly exasperated “Little cow.”
Milk Bar.” tone, Snarling, I reach one hand in
“That’s just denial, burying your She picks up her napkin and through the window and pick up her
head in the sand. Face up to it.” hands it over to the Count for him to sunglasses, push them over my
“You think I should leave, then?” sign. He obliges with a smile, then eyes.
“Of course. No hesitation.” yells "Waldorf salad’s off, we’re fresh “I vant to drinka your blood,” I
I munch half-heartedly at a out of Waldorfs," and grins and cackle.
lettuce leaf. marches off to check on another “Stop it,” she says. “Cut it out, get
“But where will I go?” table. in the car. I need to get back to
“Like I said you can always come “Fancy that,” says Marge. “Fancy work.”
and stay with me till you find another bumping in Count Homogenised at But I’m having fun now, I can’t
flat.” random.” stop clowning around.
“I can’t stay with you, Marge. She reaches out and grabs a bit “Is it a good likeness?” I ask. “Do
You’ve got your own life. I’ll look of chicken from my plate. I look like Count Homogenised?”
around for another flat, then I’ll tell “So, it’s decided then. You’re “God, no,” she says. “You’re way
him I’m leaving.” leaving that loser and moving on with too short. But with your hair dyed like
“Okay. Your decision.” your life.” that, you look a bit like I used to.
Count Homogenised swings by “Yea, but what if I wind up alone. When I dressed up as the Count,
our table. Just me in a studio flat, drinking that is.”
“Everything alright with the meal, myself senseless every night.” I hop into the passenger seat.
ladies?” “Move in with other people then.” We drive on in silence.
“Great,” says Marge. “What strangers? That’s even
She whips out a pen and paper more terrifying.”
from her handbag. The Count returns to clear our
“Could I have your autograph plates. about the author
please? My sister here and I used to “Drinks?” he asks.
love A Haunting We Will Go. And “Cappuccino,” says Marge. Laura Solomon was born in New
you were the best character in it. I “Glass of chardonnay please”, I Zealand and spent nine years in
used to do a great impersonation of say and Marge frowns. London before returning to New
you, didn’t I, Leah?” “Alright, I’ll dump him,” I Zealand in 2007. She has an
She kicks me under the table conclude. “I’ll move in with you for a honours degree in English Literature
again, nudging me to respond. bit, then I’ll find my own place.” and a Masters degree in Computer
“Oh yeah,” I say. “And I used to Science. She has published two
do a halfway decent Mike.” Driving past a block of shops on the novels in New Zealand with Tandem
Count Homogenised laughs. way home, I suddenly say, “Hey. Pull Press: 'Black Light' (1996) and
“Not many people recognize me, over.” 'Nothing Lasting' (1997). Her short
you know,” he says. “Hardly anybody “Why?” story collection ‘Alternative Medicine’
remembers A Haunting We Will Go.” “Just pull over.” was published in early 2008 by
“Oh, we definitely do,” says For once, she does as she’s told. Flame Books, UK. Her novel 'Instant
Marge. “We used to play our own I hop out of the car and nip into a Messages' is to be published in 2010
version of it for hours, didn’t we costume shop; Carrie’s Costumes. I and was shortlisted for the Victoria
Leah?” purchase a black cloak, a bottle of Prize and the Proverse Prize.
She kicks me again. fake blood and some fangs.
“Yeah,” I say. “We did.” “Don’t bother with a bag,” I tell Models in Photographs: Left: Lisa
She’s remembering how much the shop attendant. Damiani, Right: Nicole Pitoscia
fun it was to be the sinister cackling
by Jen

Catherine started writing her first Her second book, Voices in the Dark years and it ended up turning into
book, The Eyes of a King, when she has just been released by Corgi, an one. Michael Morpurgo was an
was just 14 years old, and its imprint of Random House. author I’d admired while I was
publication in 2008 drew vast media growing up, and I knew he did a lot
attention for the then 19-year old, Tell me a bit about when you to encourage young people in
hailed as the next J. K. Rowling. started writing. When you finished writing. So I sent him a few pages
Random House signed Catherine for your first book what made you and asked, if he had time, if he
a three book deal. Rights to send it to former Children’s would mind reading some of it. I was
Catherine’s books have been sold to Laureate, Michael Morpurgo? surprised and very grateful that he
13 countries around the world and I started writing The Eyes of a King did. He sent me some encouraging
the book is already a bestseller in almost by chance. I didn’t plan to words, which were part of the reason
the UK. Catherine lives in Cambridge write a book at first, but the story I continued writing.
and is reading English at University. kept developing over a couple of
Did you show your family or longer all the time. Once I finish my How do you manage your
friends your writing when you draft, I send it to my editor and she characters and plot - which comes
began? sends back comments and first? Do you ever find that your
I didn’t tell anyone much about the impressions. I work on it for another characters run away with the
book until it was finished. I still don’t few months using her suggestions – story, and if so, what do you do?
show what I’m working on to anyone usually she highlights problems or For me the characters come first –
until I’ve finished a draft. It’s mainly questions, which I then try to solve in but really, the characters are the
because the story tends to evaporate whatever way seems fitting with the plot. Especially because these three
if I tell other people about it, almost story. Then the book gets copy- books are the story of a family, and
like it’s been written already. My edited and the proofs are printed. their rise and fall over three
family and friends were very The cover design is completed generations, so the plot is really
encouraging, which I especially around this point too. After those about the things they are fighting for
appreciated since they didn’t know things are all checked, the publishers and whether they succeed or fail.
anything about the book. print the first advance copies. It’s The characters act unexpectedly
been exciting to see how many quite often. It’s what brings the book
You are represented by the agent people are involved in turning the to life, so I usually let it happen. But I
Simon Trewin. Many authors manuscript into a book; it’s really a do a lot of work on the characters
would be nervous meeting a well collaboration. The part of writing I first, trying to capture their voices,
known agent. Did you know who enjoy the most is probably the stage their ways of thinking,
thi so that when
he was when you met? when I've planned out the book and they do take over the story it doesn’t
I knew who Simon was, but I wasn’t can start to write the first proper draft end up going in directions that don’t
considering sending him the book in more detail, because that's when make any sense. Sometimes
when I first met him, so I suppose the story starts to come to life and spontaneous changes have led to
that made it less daunting. He’s also unexpected things happen. But I like really important parts of the story.
a kind and approachable person. I all the stages; it's also exciting to One example is the character of
first met him at a talk about writing, work out the first ideas, and to see Maria. She first appears in The Eyes
in Cambridge. Afterwards I went up the book come together at the end. of a King when the narrator Leo
and asked a question about some of meets her on a flight of stairs. That
the things he’d been speaking about. What edits were you asked to was exactly how she appeared in the
He asked if I wrote, and when I said make and how did you deal with story. I was writing the scene, and
yes, he suggested I could send him them? saw someone appearing there in my
some pages – a few other people Most of the suggestions have been mind’s eye, so I began describing
who had been at the talk were also about structure – the balance of her the way Leo would see her. Her
sending him their work. I wasn’t different characters and elements, or whole character came almost at
expecting anything to come of it, but the pacing of one scene against once, and now she’s really at the
I thought I might get some advice, so another. One example of something heart of the trilogy.
I sent them off, and everything that came out of the editing process
happened from there. It turned out to was a cut I made to the first two The book jackets are striking. Do
be a very lucky meeting. hundred pages of The Eyes of a you get involved in the design
King. My editor had suggested they process?
How much luck do you think could be streamlined, and I’ve really liked the designs so far
writers need, or do you think you highlighted a few parts that seemed too. The publishers ask me about the
make your own? less necessary than others. So I general design, but apart from that
I think there was a lot of luck went through it several times and it it’s a surprise to see what the artist
involved in becoming a professional came out much better, a much creates. I think it’s a very different
author for me – at least being in the tougher and more solid story, just kind of image to the ones that an
right place at the right time. In terms from cutting maybe 10 or 12 pages author has in their mind. But luckily
of writing, luck seems to be right at worth of material. I don’t find it as I’ve been very happy with the covers.
the heart of it too. Most ideas come difficult to receive the criticism as I The designs add a new dimension to
to me quite suddenly. I try and think might have expected. My editor’s the book, so it’s been exciting each
about everything and question questions about the books have time to see the drawings taking
everything, and I guess sooner or been really valuable, and they aren’t shape.
later stories take shape out of that. prescriptive, which is something I
really appreciate. One of the first Publishers want more of the same
Can you take us through the steps things she said was that her and writers often want to do
behind one of your books getting comments were only suggestions. I something different each time.
published? How long does it take end up addressing most of them How do you deal with this clash?
to write a book from opening line anyway, but sometimes in quite I haven’t felt too much of a clash.
to final word, the editing, and final unexpected ways and so it’s a really The books aren’t what you might
submission? helpful process. It’s a way of seeing expect from a trilogy, since the three
It takes me about two years to write the book with new eyes. stories are a long way apart in time
a book right now, though it’s getting and the narratives are personal, not
epic. And in addition to that, the the books very well and also knows George Eliot, Derek Walcott,
books are not quite fantasy and not a lot about writing, so the editorial Raymond Carver – aren’t writers
quite realism, and somewhere process has really helped me. My who have much in common with
between young adult and adult. I’ve agent has kept a lot of the pressure each other, or whose work
found the publishers very respectful off me while I’ve been writing, which influences me directly. I think what
of this. I think the expectation about I’ve appreciated. One part of that I’ve learned is much more indirect.
books repeating other books is was the decision to publish The Eyes It’s about what it means to be a
sometimes more of a problem once of a King later so that I could spend writer in the world. And also,
they go out into the world. I suppose the time I needed on the second two studying very great writers makes
when people look for shorthand books in the trilogy, and finish sixth me want to keep writing better
ways of describing a book it ends up form. My publishers have also been myself.
being constantly compared to other understanding about deadlines now
pieces of work. Ideally, I think, both that I’m at university. Writing has Studying at Cambridge and
the author and the publisher would always been a long-term plan for me, writing books for publication can’t
like the book to have space to and I think that’s something they leave you much spare time. Do
breathe. both share. If I wasn’t published, I’d you wish for anything more?
still be writing the same books – but I I don’t feel burdened by the work I’m
In 2006 your portrait photograph know the publication process has doing – or work too many hours
was displayed in London’s made me a better writer, and I’m more than full-time
full right now.
National Portrait Gallery - the very grateful for that. Sometimes it’s busy, but the most
theme of the exhibition: the most important thing to me is always the
exciting young talents in Britain. It As a writer, one is often told, read people I care about, and in the end
has been remarked that you may widely, write every day. What are that puts the rest into perspective:
be the next J K Rowling. How do your recommendations for deadlines
nes can be moved, and work
you manage your own aspiring authors, starting out in can be caught up, as long as the
expectations and that of your today’s world of publishing? most important things in life are all
publishers with that sort of I’m still at the start of my career as worked out. I think I’m lucky that both
coverage? an author, so I can’t say too much. I my university teachers and my
I find publicity daunting, though it’s a think it’s different for every writer. publishers have been very
big honour to be praised as a writer Reading and writing are both things understanding about balancing the
too. I think in the end, the publicity that have helped me a lot, but the two commitments. The good thing th
doesn’t change anything, and so that reality of the story came first, the about writing novels is that it’s
makes it easier to deal with. What I pictures I had and the characters’ something I work on steadily, hour
care about is the writing, and with my voices. I wanted to write because of by hour, alongside the rest of life. Of
publishers I’m working on the story the story that came to me, so then it course there are points when I work
itself, and the way it’s going to look became a question of finding the twelve or fourteen hour days for a full
as a printed book. Publicity and right voice, saying what had to be week to finish a draft. I think it’s a bit
media attention end up becoming said in a way that was authentic. It’s inevitable with such a longl project,
totally separate from that. I think something that doesn’t rely on an which occupies so much of your
readers were able to recognize that academic knowledge of writing but is mind, but luckily it doesn’t happen
the comparison with J K Rowling much more intuitive. But I’ve read a too often.
was something that came from lot about writing, and that helped too.
media publicity, not the actual book, I know some authors don’t like to I believe you have started work on
and still read it on its own terms. The read books on writing, so it doesn’t your third book in the trilogy. Can
two books are very different. I don’t work for everyone. But I think if you you tell us anything about it?
look at much of what’s written about can see how other people are I’ve just finished a first draft. The
my books because it’s too strange, tackling other problems, you can book takes place 17 years year after
and so I really just focus on the start to question your own practice Voices in the Dark, at another
writing, and it seems to all work out. and develop it. moment of crisis in Malonia, when
the family are once again struggling
One of your Amazon reviewers Does your study of English, to stay together. But this is the book
says, “Like the best wines, she including any particular writer or where some of the questions about
needs to be lovingly matured”. Do book, have any great influence on magic and the family’s destiny are
you have any support from your your own writing? finally answered.
agent or publisher, particularly I applied for English mostly because
since you started writing I wanted to study writing as a craft in
commercially so young? more detail. I’m very glad to be Author images courtesy of Simon
They have both been very studying; it’s really been invaluable. I Trewin.
supportive. I’ve had the same editor think they both influence each other.
for the whole trilogy, and she knows But the authors I most admire –
by Brendan Moore

In an attempt to retreat from the appetite as he tried not to notice the them as they angled their bodies
morning’s ghosts, Bede allowed sealed envelope, still partly folded, away from it.
himself to knife an extra slice of on the checkered tablecloth by his “As if one was not enough,” he
butter onto his mashed potatoes, plate. muttered, reaching for his fork.
pushing it down with the tip of the In the warmth of the kitchen he Jameson, the copper-coated
rounded blade into the center of saw mist rising from his trousers, the terrier lifted his head from the mat in
steaming whiteness. He had burnt shower that had spattered him in the front of the turf fire, eyes checking to
the sausages a bit, so there’d be the graveyard earlier. The wind had see if he was being spoken to. Then
taint of charring. Countered maybe, come up suddenly while the priest the dog tapped his tail twice in slow
by the peas glistening greenly in the blessed the coffin, and it had swept a rhythm and dropped chin to mat
rising vapor of the potatoes, but it hard, spraying rain against the once more. Bede waved his knife
was difficult for Bede to rouse his mourners, sufficient to soak all of over the plate, as though conjuring
hunger, listening all the while to the thought injected a new level of gray window. He saw the stoop in his
increasing swell of elements against awareness into his veins, and he back, his spine looped over like a
the windows. shivered despite the warmth from the piece of wire he might have twisted
“Of all days, for him to do that to fire. with strong hands years ago to latch
me, to himself. I mean, I just don’t Bede hadn’t expected to be a fence post. Matten, a couple of
know why?” sitting alone in his home as a man of years older than him, had kept
That was it. He didn’t know, sixty-two years, Maggie taken by himself straight, though. How was
couldn’t fathom how three days ago cancer, the flash of a fresh century that? Or at least he had until a few
Matten Galloway could have gone to and the birthing of a strange new days ago when Bede had found his
his barn in darkness, how he had nation crackling in the countryside friend in the barn.
climbed a ladder and tied a rope around him and in the town a mile He pictured again the bare,
over the cross beam, the middle one from his door, and now his friend macaroni-stick legs and the delph-
still half covered in harnesses from Matten Galloway sealed away like feet swinging back and forth in
years ago, and most of all how he forever in the thick, deep blanket of the air. The degradation of pajamas
had cast himself into space, allowing black clay in Graiguetown Cemetery. and slippers sliding down in the
the vicious loop at his neck to shuck And only four days earlier he had process of tortuous dying, the
the life out of him. On the been here with Bede, eating soiling, the stench, the...
anniversary of Maggie’s death, no potatoes and sausage just like these The whole thing would have
less! at this very table. gutted Maggie is she’d been around.
He scowled at the envelope and Edgy he’d been, as if he had She always had a soft spot for
then at the chair across the kitchen wanted to tell him something. Matten and his odd ways, would sit
where Matten Galloway had sat four Couldn’t sit still or even finish his by the fire with him and talk to him
about books for hours while Bede
worked at the table on the farm’s
A kind of caul seemed to surround him for a accounts. The way she’d become
animated with Matten, sometimes
minute, as if he were in danger over nothing more than a line out of
of being born somehow. some poem. What was that one she
liked so much by Keats, no Yeats?
The apples it was, yes.
days earlier. From there his eye was bottle of porter—said it was bitter, The golden apples of the moon,
drawn to the picture hanging over poison, he’d said—before getting up the silver apples of the sun. He knew
the fireplace. He squinted at the to go out into the icy glare of he couldn’t remember another line if
image of his dead wife, though in the starlight. Was he trying to tell Bede his life depended on it. Book learning
enlarged and framed photograph, then he was going to end it? Was had never been for him.
Maggie Callaghan looked nothing that it? If Bede had convinced him to Yes, Maggie would be ravaged
like death. An explosion of yellow, stay a while longer that night, would by it if she were hereG
her body pushed slightly against the he have told him what he planned to A wind rattled the windows and
fabric of her dress, limbs spread out do, and could Bede have talked him he shivered. On her anniversary it
in an x against the molten sky out of it? He shrugged. was. Same day.
behind. He had taken the “I just don’t know.” A kind of caul seemed to
photograph, and in it Maggie stood in This time Jameson tapped once surround him for a minute, as if he
the window of the ruined Dromore with his tail but didn’t look up. were in danger of being born
Castle, a low evening sun bathing “I suppose it was loneliness in somehow. His head buzzed like the
her in bronze. Not young, the the end, never marrying—in that signal from an old wireless radio. He
evening of her fortieth birthday, he cottage by himself. Seemed worse touched the envelope, gingerly as if
remembered, but she looked young, this past year,” he said, swallowing a it were contaminated, pressed down
like a wise schoolgirl. piece of sausage, grimacing at the on the top half, attempting to fold it
In the photograph her smile was taste. Bede knew he was talking to again, making it as it had been when
a renunciation of all the dreariness in himself, but what did it matter? He Matten’s brother from the town had
the world. Odd, he thought how the had started when Maggie died, and pulled it out of his pocket and given it
light in it seemed different since the now with Matten gone, he’d be to him. It flexed open again, Bede’s
last time he had studied it, brighter talking to himself even more. He name in Matten’s scribble looking
somehow, making it seem as if scooped potatoes onto his fork and dark in its throat, the jaws speaking
Maggie herself was glowing almost; stared at the protruding tines before to him mutely, mouthing slurs at
a kind of beacon from another world. turning his head from the food. Bede’s ignorance.
What would she say to him now, if The angle of the folded envelope Yes. Bede did not know, but saw
she could? was wider now, opening further in that knowledge could be poison.
Again, he didn’t know, and now the warmth of the room, as if it were He pictured his friend in the frigid
he had no one to ask, to talk to, the a mouth wanting to speak to him. barn again, and imagined him on the
hill occupied by the Galloway and Across the kitchen he caught his top of the ladder, standing like an
Callaghan empty except for him. The own reflection in the wet glaze of the obelisk. His legs would have shaken
as the cold seeped in through the Outside, the wind buffeted the
cracks in the old barn, until finally house and spun across the fields to
he’d have begun the rocking motion, the graveyard, where it sent flowers
not going in one swipe sideways, no. and wreaths scattering like mice
It would have taken a few journeys among the cold headstones.
left and right, the rope already
pressing up a bit, the barn shifting in
the murky light of dawn. There must
then have been one last, lurching about the author
pitch, legs shucking out to one side,
head hammered down onto the An Irish emigrant living and teaching
rope’s end, the feet whipping back in in Texas, Brendan Moore spends his
a violent pendulum and the loop spare time keeping bees, teaching
locking its grip on him. karate, running marathons and
And then Bede pictured Matten writing fiction. He is currently seeking
and Maggie by the fire, awkward and representation for his first novel
content together and a stab of Stones on the Water, and he
venom tried to mount the crest of his recently had his short story "Shelter"
tongue. He spat loudly onto the floor, published in The First Line Literary
and Jameson looked up at his Journal. He lives in the Texas Hill
master again, the animal puzzled, Country with his wife and daughter.
Bede stood, fingers clenching
down on the envelope, and crossed
to the fire. Throwing it into the
flames, he turned his back on the
flaring blaze, as if its brightness, like
the luminosity of the photograph
above the fireplace at his back, had
the power to harm him.

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07th May
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Novels in Conflict
by Assaf Gavron

The success in recent years of the relations. Add to them a string of becoming a one-trick-pony? Can't we
Israeli cinema, notably Academy novels that have had success write other stories? Aren't we in fact
Award nominations for "Beaufort", overseas, such As Ron Leshem educating the world to expect this
"Waltz with Bashir", "Ajami" and "Beaufort," David Grossman's "Until one-dimensional voice?
"Paradise Now" (a Palestinian movie the End of the Land," and my own Then, when it was noticed that
produced and filmed in Israel,) "CrocAttack!" And we have what can some of these films and books did
together with the Grand Prix Award be seen as a trend of works relating not do as well in their homeland as
at the Venice Film Festival for to the Middle East conflict that do they did outside of it, a whiff of
"Lebanon," a Golden Globe for well outside Israel. opportunism tickled the nostrils: is it
"Bashir" – and more – has reopened After the celebrations died down, possible that young Israeli artists are
the debate among Israeli writers and there has been a sort of backlash. choosing this subject consciously in
film-makers, concerning what we The question the critics are asking: is order to achieve international
should be writing about. this all we can write about? Is the success? One very respected and
All the films listed above deal Israeli-Palestinian conflict our only successful writer said in an interview
with war, or with Israeli-Arab claim to fame? Aren't we in danger of recently that he suspects some
writers are choosing to write about became "CrocAttack," a tale of two
the conflict as a way of breaking young men, an Israeli and a
through abroad. Moreover, say the Palestinian, caught-up between 21 -
critics, it is too obvious and too century hitech and biblical hatred,
painful: digging into pain and blood, between the modern and the
shooting and then crying. ancient, between the slowness of life
Of course, if the writer writes to and its unbelievable speed. I had to
please his potential publishers and write – if not for any other reason –
readers, or to fulfill what he thinks is for myself, as a postcard to my
expected of him, that is wrong. But I future, which will remind me how we
feel the critics of Israeli conflict- lived at the beginning of this century.
writing miss a very important point: it A few years later I read an
is interesting. It is fascinating. Our interview with Jay MacInerney, in
fucked-up reality is heaven for story- which he said he felt the same way
tellers. Sure, families and adoptions about 9/11. Norman Mailer had
and relationships and friendships, advised him, he said, to wait ten
and all the things that make up life, years before writing about such an
can - and should be - the stuff of event, to let the dust settle, to get the
novels, but how can you be satisfied right perspective. But he couldn't
with those subjects when you have wait. And nor could I. And I feel the
such a treasure trove of material on same way about the novel I'm
your doorstep? working on now, which is set in an
A good writer can write about illegal Jewish settlement on the
drying paint, shoe laces, or anything Palestinian West Bank.
he wants, and make you drink in Yes, at times it's stressful, it's translated into German, Russian,
every word, but he must be heavy, it's sad. Maybe after I finish Italian, French, English, and more,
interested in his subject, and even my current book I will need a break – and has won prizes, been adapted
passionate about it. For some writers possibly a romantic comedy in which for the stage, and optioned for movie
in Israel, the conflict is too close, too violence doesn't exist. But for now, development.
immediate, too frightening, too hard - this is what I need to write. If I sound He is also a translator of fiction.
and too real - to use for fiction, but apologetic, I don't mean to. I think I Among his highly regarded English-
for others, there is no more am lucky to be in a position to write to-Hebrew
Hebrew translations are J. D.
fascinating subject-matter than the about the lives of people as history is Salinger's Nine Stories, Philip Roth's
conflict, with all its complexities, forming and burning around them: Portnoy's Complaint, and Jonathan
absurdities, passion, and emotions. some wounds are made for Safran Foer's novels. Gavron is also
By grouping all these works as scratching. And some of those the co-translator
translator of his own
"conflict stories," the critics are doing scratches turn out the most powerful book Almost Dead
De from Hebrew to
a great injustice to the impressive sensation. English.
and original aspects that these works Assaf Gavron was the chief writer
reveal, for example the breathtaking of the prize-winning
winning computer game
visual and sound design of "Bashir", Peacemaker, and he has also
or the clean, disturbing minimalism contributed to numerous newspapers
of "Beaufort". and magazines, writing on subjects
Born in 1968,
It took me some time to get ranging from sports to politics, and
Assaf Gavron is
around to realizing this. My first three from music to food.
the author of four
works of fiction took place outside
novels, a
Israel. The characters were Israelis, CrocAttack!
cAttack! by Assaf Gavron is out
collection of short
but they traveled to distant places. now, published by Fourth Estate.
stories, and a
But then came the surreal period of
daily suicide bombings and I felt I
collection of
simply couldn't evade writing about Photo credit Assaf : Moti Kikayon
Jerusalem falafel-
it. I couldn't turn my back on it Main photo credit : Noyes
joint reviews. His
anymore. So I started writing what
fiction has been

By grouping all these works as "conflict stories," the critics are

doing a great injustice to the impressive and original aspects
that these works reveal

1 INT. Pub

MIKE enters and looks around. We kind of books I think I’d be interested
hear the chatter of voices and the in reading, I suppose. Plus, I like
clinking of glasses behind the bar. having written about Dudley
An open fire blows smoke across the particularly, there are loads of great and write part time. I always played
no-smoking sign. A man sits at the stories there. football, although I’ve hung up my
table in the corner; he folds his paper boots (with a view to returning to the
and beckons. MIKE game in a vets [35+] team). Football
You’ve lived there all your life? has been a big part of my life and
MIKE that was one of the motivations in
Anthony? Anthony wipes froth from lips and writing Heartland.
skewers an olive.
That’s me. ANTHONY What level did you play to and what
I've almost been away from Dudley position did you play?
MIKE as long as I lived there. I moved
Mike – first things first. What would away when I was 19, really, to Anthony pauses, sips beer and
you like to drink? university and then to London for glances at the flames in the
over ten years. My family are all fireplace.
ANTHONY there though and I go back pretty
A pint of Guinness. I am tempted to often. My roots are very much in ANTHONY
ask for a pint of Mild – which I do like Dudley, although at some point For ten years or so I played for a
– to try to keep up my Black Country I'll maybe write about somewhere great club called Sporting Hackney,
image. else. The Dudley I write about, it's pretty much all the time at centre-
increasingly just one in my head, I back, on Saturday afternoons in the
MIKE think. It's strange, actually, the whole London Commercial League, so
Crisps/peanuts? process of writing about somewhere Saturday afternoon amateur football,
you know. That, for me, there are mainly. As a kid I played Sunday
ANTHONY now two Dudleys - the actual one junior football, including a few
I suppose a few olives are out of the and the one in my books. It's a bit of seasons in goal, which I really
question? Black Country image a strange business, altogether, when enjoyed, but I've mainly played as a
gone, maybeM you think about it, writing novels. defender. There's a great quote from
the old Uruguay and Juventus
Mike goes to the bar and returns with MIKE player, Paulo Montero, when he was
drinks and a bowl of black olives. How often do you write? asked about why he'd never scored
a goal, he said, "I was born a
MIKE ANTHONY defender and I'll die a defender". I
There you go. When I can, really. I’ve fitted writing think that gives away more than
in around teaching, so school just what he was like as a player. It's
Mike takes a drink, flips his beer mat holidays have been good, especially fair to say I'm a better reader and
over to see the Guinness label, then the summer break. In a perfect world writer than footballer, by the way!
leans back. Close in on beer mat for I’d prefer to write a thousand words
sponsorship. (It’s a Toucan with the or so from first thing in the morning, Anthony laughs and flicks an olive
phrase, Lovely way to show off your then go and do something else. stone across the table.
MIKE Do you have any hobbies or any So which authors do you think have
So can you tell us why you write, time left to do anything else? influenced you the most and how
what drives you? long did it take you to discover your
ANTHONY own voice?
ANTHONY As I mentioned, for pretty much all
I don’t know, to be honest. I suppose the time I’ve written I have worked ANTHONY
on one level, I love reading, love full-time as a teacher. At the moment I’m not sure I have found my own
books, and the novel as a form, so I’m teaching three and a half days a voice completely. I mean, all fiction is
it’s great to have been able to give week, which is allowing more time to derivative in a way, and I’m fine with
writing a go. I’ve tried to write the write. I’m mainly a teacher, that is, that. What I’ve started to think is that
novels are as much about other Lowlife (Alexander Baron), Oliver ANTHONY
novels as they are about anything Twist (Charles Dickens), Suttree I’m not sure of the details. Jane
else. That’s not such an original (Cormac McCarthy), Allah is not Marshall, an independent producer,
realisation but it’s a new way of Obliged (Ahmadou Kourouma), took the project on and pitched it to
thinking for me. Homage to Catalonia (George the BBC.
Ernest Hemingway first made me Orwell), Best and Edwards (Gordon
want to be a writer. That happens to Burn), The Plague (Albert Camus), MIKE
a lot of people, I think. Well, Beyond a Boundary (CLR James), A Did you listen to it?
impressionable young men, anyway. Chancer (James Kelman.)
A lot of my influences have been ANTHONY
American, though not all. Here’s a Anthony finishes his pint and looks Yes, although admittedly
admi on i-player,
list of particular books, apart from for a response. Mike slips the list in because I was a bit nervous about
Hemingway that had a big impact on his pocket and smiles. hearing it straight off.

Anthony hands Mike the list. Do you get a whole book down and I have to be honest, although I liked
then go back and edit and shape it or some of Heartland, I did struggle in
MIKE do you get each piece polished as places with the style and structure of
You carry a list of authors around you go along? the writing. I did like the extract I
with you? heard on the Book at Bedtime
ANTHONY though. Do you think some stories
ANTHONY There’s a saying that all writing is re- are best spoken out loud and would
I came prepared. There is no order, writing. It’s good advice. With both you like to write for radio or TV?
it’s not exhaustive and it’s not all novels so far, I got a draft done and
fiction. then worked by editing. I’ve worked a Anthony looks at Mike, plays with his
bit less like that with the book I’m empty glass.. For a brief moment he
We see the list – with animation writing now – let’s see how it turns frowns.
overlay of authors. out.
List: MIKE For me, the overall structure of the
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn How did you feel when you book and the sentence structures in
(Mark Twain), Underworld (Don De heard Heartland had been selected the football parts are the best bits!
Lillo), Chronicle of a Death Foretold for the BBC Book at Bedtime? That’s not a criticism of the question
(Gabriel Garcia Marquez), Saturday or your reading, though. A builder
Night and Sunday Morning (Alan ANTHONY looks at a house, especially one he’s
Sillitoe), On Boxing (Joyce Carol I was pleased, if a bit cautious about built, differently from the people
peopl who
Oates), The Invention of Solitude how the accents might come across. live in it. And, I do think that sound
(Paul Auster), Trash (Dorothy I needn’t have worried. I think and rhythm are often under-rated
Allison), The Great Gatsby (F. Scott everyone involved with the elements of novels – things you have
Fitzgerald), Borstal Boy (Brendan adaptation did a fantastic job. It was to be very conscious of in pieces
Behan), The Feast of the Goat a difficult thing to do, I think. written to be heard. I think there are
(Mario Vargas Llosa), Into Their lots of elements that you find in
Labours trilogy (John Berger), MIKE writing for radio or TV that are good
Beloved (Toni Morrison), As I Lay How did it get selected? skills for prose fiction. I wouldn’t rule
Dying (William Faulkner), The
out trying to write for TV or radio if ANTHONY Anthony stares at Mike for a moment
the opportunity came up. Well, you can't not be a Rooney fan before answering.
this season, really. I'd like James
MIKE Milner to get a game. Plus, I'd love it ANTHONY
What made you decide to merge if both Ashley Young and Gaby Maybe it is a ‘flavour’ in a sense that
together the BNP issues in Agbonhlahor could force their way in, it’s a representation. It’s not a
Dudley with the 2002 World Cup but I think they might have missed directly phonetic rendering in the
match between England and their chances. Fingers crossed for strictest sense and I’m not sure that
Argentina? them, though. Gives away a bit of a ‘translate’ is the right word. The
Villa bias there, I suppose! pattern of the words, the phrasing
ANTHONY and the sound – to return to a
I think that the game helped Anthony flicks an olive stone. It previous observation – are all
crystallise ideas about identity that I shoots off the table and lands in the important. I can’t imagine having
wanted to try to explore in the novel. fire. done it any differently. I thought a lot
Identity, personal and collective, is about it.
pretty complicated, I think; but MIKE
identity regarding football, Will you watch it at home or at the Mike looks at Anthony for a moment,
particularly that match, seems very pub? then leans back into his chair again.
straightforward. This gives an
immediate tension to the novel, I ANTHONY MIKE
hope. Rob, Glenn, Zubair, Jim, Tom At home, pretty much, and probably Was it hard writing about Dudley in
– the central male characters in a few games out and about with Brighton or could you easily visualise
‘Heartland’ all want England to win, friends. the place and people?
are all English, but their visions of
what that means are different. MIKE ANTHONY
Sorry getting off topic. What has Yeah, Dudley’s always there! We
MIKE been the reaction to Heartland from only lived in Brighton for just under a
Sorry, do you want another drink? your friends and people in Dudley? year. A bit of distance makes writing
about it easier in some ways.
ANTHONY ANTHONY Remember, as well, ‘Heartland’ is
Cheers. Great, really, and that’s been a relief. fiction, a representation, not a
Mind you, if they thought it was documentary piece.
Mike takes both glasses and places rubbish they probably just wouldn’t
them down at the bar. Behind the bar mention it! MIKE
the line of spirits has been replaced What’s it like working with an
by a row of books. Each is a copy MIKE independent
dent publisher like Tindal?
Heartland. Mike returns. You wrote phonetically in the Black
Country accent and dispensed with ANTHONY
MIKE speech marks, chapters and a linear For me, given where I'm from, and
There you go. So what do you think time frame - were you worried this what I write about, it makes perfect
of England's chances in the world would make the book hard to follow? sense that I'm with Tindal Street. To
cup this summer? use a football analogy, it feels a bit
ANTHONY like when players come through the
ANTHONY Well, when you put it that way, it ranks at their local club. That's
OK, but I think they have an sounds pretty difficult! I couldn’t think certainly
rtainly what it felt like when my first
incredible amount of pressure put on of any other way of doing it, to be novel, The Afterglow, was
them. Winning it is really difficult, honest. The idea was that the published. As a writer with Tindal
obviously, but there’s a chance. structure of the games gave the Street you get to work with a small
Capello’s done a good job so far and novel its structure and I went from group of people who really care
the group looks straightforward. there. about your book; plus they, sensibly,
Although we’ve often done well in don't publish a massive list, so
tough groups, like 1990 or 2002. If it Mike leans forward. writers don't get
et lost in a system.
was one-a-side we’d probably win it
with Rooney! MIKE MIKE
Don't you think though that Do you have to do a lot of your own
MIKE sometimes it's better to give a flavour publicity?
You're a Rooney fan then. Do you of a dialect rather than a word for
think any one player will stand out in word phonetic representation, in Pull out to wide shot showing
the England squad? order to allow the story to continue to everyone reading a copy of
flow without the reader having to Heartland.
Fortunately, given that I’d be rubbish
doing my own publicity, Tindal Street
do an amazing job, especially given community, class, race, even
the size of the company. I’ve also got football.
an excellent agent now, Hannah
Westland at RCW. Mike beckons to Anthony’s empty
MIKE 2 INT. The Albion
How did that come about? MIKE
Another? Mike and Anthony stand at the bar
ANTHONY waiting to get served. We hear the
Well, I've ended up doing some ANTHONY sound of a match coming from the

things in reverse of a writer's normal Can we go into The Albion on TV.

progress, I think - publishing a Goldsmiths Row?
couple of novels before getting an MIKE
agent being one of them. It's not MIKE How did you get your deal with
necessarily a route to follow. After Sorry where’s that? Tindal and how long before then had
both 'The Afterglow' and then you been trying to get published?
'Heartland' I was fortunate that a few ANTHONY
agents were interested in It's just between Hackney Road and ANTHONY
representing me so I had time to Broadway Market, near Haggerston I was pretty lucky in that I sent some
have a think about what direction I Park. It's a Black Country pub in east of the work that became ‘The
wanted things to go in. Hannah is London. It's also a proper football Afterglow’ to Tindal Street in 2001.
quite a young agent, with a relatively pub, there's some great memoribilia They were only just over a year old
small group of writers all near the up on the walls there - not just, then, so I think I got in on the act
start of their careers but she works although mainly, Baggies stuff. relatively early, before they had
for a big, very respected agency, so I There's even a picture of Martin massive slush piles and agents
get the best of both worlds: a really O'Neill up behind the bar. It sounds a beating down the door. They said
committed, hard-working bit obscure, I know, but it's brilliant. they were interested in what I’d done
agent representing a manageable It's also the place where I got the and to do a re-write and it went from
group of writers, but working for a idea for 'Heartland' - well the football there. I realise I’ve been very lucky in
respected name like RCW. bit - about an hour and a few that it’s been a pretty painless
pints after the end of that England- process.
MIKE Argentina game. Plus, the last
Who else does she represent? couple of seasons they've started MIKE
doing food for Sporting Hackney's Advice to new writers?
ANTHONY home games. I don't actually go in
Kester Aspden, for one, who wrote there as often as I'd like and I need ANTHONY
'The Hounding of David to find out what the story is behind The usual, I suppose, in terms of
Oluwale', which is an excellent book, the West Brom link, so we could do a sticking at it. Read as much and as
and although it's non-fiction covers a bit of research while we drink... widely as you can. I heard David
lot of the thematic ground I'm Peace do a reading and his advice
interested in: identity, place, MIKE was to make sure you are writing a
Sure sounds great. book that you’d want to read
yourself. Actually, I pretended I’d ANTHONY MIKE
said that myself at the start of this There you go Mike. How do you feel when other people
interview! read your work whilst you are there?
BARMAN Thanks, that was impressive ANTHONY
Yes? perhaps you should do some of your I don’t mind, although it depends
own publicity after all ! who it is, I suppose.
What will you have Mike? Enter LUKE BROWN from Tindal Mike looks at one of the many
Street Press. He speaks to the pictures of Jeff Astle [the legendary,
MIKE barman and passes over a box of late West Brom centre-forward] on
Castlemaine ta books. The barman watches Luke the wall. Hackney glows through the
leave then slits open the box with a frosted glass windows. On the
ANTHONY butter knife. television screens - normal size, not
Pint of Castlemaine and a pint of cinema style, not intrusive - Arsenal
Mild. MIKE have just kept the ball for about a
Can you just tell us about how your hundred passes to appreciative
BARMAN next book is coming along? murmurs from the pub's drinkers,
Heard you chatting. You're an none of them obvious Arsenal fans,
author? ANTHONY just aficionados maybe. The barman
OK, I think. I’ve been doing a bit of is now looking tentatively at a copy
ANTHONY work recently on what kind of scope of Heartland.
Well, yeah, among other things, I the novel is going to have, how
suppose. broad or how specific, the story is ANTHONY
pretty much fixed. Yeah, it just depends who it is.
Reading's for girls though right? MIKE Anthony Cartwright was born in
Unless it's the Sports page. What is the jist of the story? Dudley in 1973. In 1993 he left to
study English and American
ANTHONY ANTHONY literature at UEA In 1998 he trained
No, you're missing out a bit, mate. Well, I can't say much really because as an English teacher, working for
Here, have a look at this. it's still very early in the process. It's years in the East End of London and
set in the Black Country across a few now in Nottinghamshire. His debut
Anthony opens bag, pulls out a book. days in 2009 or 10. I'm not making The Afterglow won much acclaim –
any massive departures in terms of and a Betty Trask Award in 2004.
ANTHONY subject matter. There are some Heartland was a BBC Radio 4 Book
This one, Best and Edwards by structural differences compared with at Bedtime – Broadcast in October
Gordon Burn, it's amazing, it's a 'Heartland' - it's got a 2009.
serious book about football, drinking, less challenging structure, works
Dudley and towns like it, grief and more as a simpler, linear ny-cartwright
the way we live now. Let me know narrative. In my head - although I'd
what you think. And you should like to stress nowhere else - it's the
definitely have a look at 'The completion of a loose trilogy, in that
Damned United'. David Peace is a some of the themes and places in
brilliant writer. As we're in the Albion, this book, The Afterglow and
there's also a great book called Heartland overlap. You watch, it'll
'Samba in the Smethwick End' by end up having vampires in it or
Dave Bowler and Jas Bains, about something, now!
the emergence of the black players
at West Brom in the 70s - you know MIKE
Regis, Cunningham and Brendan Do you let Isabel, your wife, read it
Batson -and all the political stuff whilst in early drafts?
going on in the background. If you
really like the sports pages, these ANTHONY
books might change your life. Yes. Although, I tend to read bits out,
as well, and that goes back to the
Barman looks puzzled, takes book business of writing that works out
and hands over the drinks. Anthony loud. I think I like the sound of my
hands Mike his drink. own voice, to be honest!
by Jennifer Dworschack-Kinter

“The Little Mermaid,” written by Hans kill the prince in order to do so. She steps back to look at the sculpture.
Christian Anderson and first cannot bring herself to kill him, even It’s by far the largest she’s ever
published in 1837, is a fairy tale though he has broken her heart, and begun. The driftwood she gathered
about a young mermaid who longs so she dies instead. for its base is huge and gracefully
for a human soul, and the love of a gnarled, stretching itself upward like
handsome prince. In pursuit of her petals on a wooden tulip; she has
love, she gives up her home under Beth uses both hands to twist the built it up with smaller pieces,
the sea, her identity as a mermaid, wire in front of her away and up, so drizzled it with sand, and attached
and her voice. When the prince that the pale blue glass hanging from bits of smoothed beach glass to it
breaks her heart, the mermaid has a it catches the sun and reflects itself with curls of wire. She loves it
chance to reclaim her life, but must subtly onto the wood below. She already. Beth closes her eyes for a
moment, and the sounds of the lake leaving the water. She needs to go “Our lives, our town. It's like we're
outside, quieted all morning by her grocery shopping. She pauses on putting on a pageant every summer.”
preoccupation with work, rush into the sand as she runs her fingers Karen nods, smiles distantly,
the room. Beth takes one deep through her hair, damply gnarled by goes back to her gossip. Beth is still
breath, lets it out slowly, then the lake water, and watches the lake dissatisfied. She hasn't explained
another, listening to the softly for a few moments. Her herself properly, to Karen, or to
splashing waves, the aching cries of grandmother, the one who had lived herself. She can now sense a person
the gulls. She does this until she in this house before her and willed it behind her in line shifting impatiently.
feels herself dissolve, until there is to her, had always claimed to hear Beth looks behind her, and feels
no difference between her and the voices on the waves. She’d sit for a wash of irritated guilt as she
lake outside. It’s been a long hours, just listening. Beth smiles at realizes that the man behind her is,
morning, and it’s time for her to stop the memory. It’s easy to remember in fact, a tourist. Definitely from out
working. She looks out the window at her here. Beth has tried to hear the of town, and dressed in an
the lake, quiet today, a gentle voices, half-seriously, but has never aggressively relaxed fashion, khakis
expanse of blue. Time for a swim. heard what her grandmother did. and a red shirt and sandals that must
Giving one last look at the Beth turns away from the lake and have been right out of the box. His
sculpture, Beth brushes her hands walks back to the house. basket carries the requisite local
against each other, loosening many It’s only the first week of June, food, bits of cheese and fish, and a
hours’ worth of sand and dried glue. but as Beth eases her Jeep down jar of Parry's Honey. He seems as
She locks the door of her studio, and Main Street, there are already though he is not at all comfortable
with the normal pace of this grocery
store, and is looking from side to
She does this until she feels herself dissolve, side, hoping for a faster register.
Beth smiles to herself. Good luck,
until there is no difference between her and the stranger. She turns back to her own
lake outside. transaction. Karen seems to be out
of talk for a moment; Beth shifts her
weight from one foot to the other and
looks behind her again. This time,
walks slowly up the gravel path that obstacles; too many cars for the
the tourist is looking right at her, and
connects it to her house. She narrow streets, clusters of tourists their eyes lock. Beth’s surroundings -
realizes she’s left it open again, and standing in the doorways of stores,
the beeping registers; the voices,
silently chides herself. The house is pointing, considering their options,
both familiar and strange; the rustling
unguarded now. Its silence unsettles deciding where to have dinner. She
bags; the traffic on the street outside
her, and she longs for the throaty gets out of her car, and sure enough, - all hold their breath. Beth feels an
barking that used to greet her, the they’re in Dean’s Groceries buying almost irrepressible desire to step
rush of breath, of raw animal energy picnic food: fruit, cheese, bread,
closer to him, to see if he's really that
and warmth. She shakes off her local wines. She moves swiftly
tall. To see what he smells like. His
thoughts as she changes into her through the lingering strangers and eyes are the exact color of the lake
blue bathing suit. puts her basket down on the outside her home in the very early
The sand is warm and lazy under conveyor at Karen’s checkout. As
her feet, but she knows that this usual, Karen is full of bubbly chatter;
“Beth?” Karen’s voice is suddenly
early in summer, she wouldn’t have she has heard that the Tilston girl
abrasive, unwelcome. Beth turns,
to dig far into it to find the chill, damp has called off her engagement to Jeff her face burning, to take the bag
sand of autumn. She walks into the Langdon, the son of one of the
Karen is holding out to her, gathers
water without hesitation; she knows wealthier families on the peninsula;
the other bag onto her hip, and
that some find it too cold for that Harper's Cookery, damaged
mutters a goodbye.
swimming, but she’s always loved during a kitchen fire, is not planning She stows her groceries in the
the quick shock of chill, the first to reopen. Beth laments the early
backseat and leans against the car
greeting of the water that quickly arrival of the tourists. Karen reminds
for a while, chats with some friends
dissipates into a more gently cooling her of the increased trade they bring,
who have come out of their coffee
embrace. Beth runs through the and she’s right, of course. Beth will shop to say hello, waves them back
shallow water, dives in when it sell enough during the summer
into work, all the while feeling slightly
reaches her thighs, and swims in months to keep her afloat for the
disjointed, as if there's a blurry space
controlled, powerful strokes until she coming year, and any catalog sales
between her feet and the sidewalk.
is far enough from shore; then she that come later, during the fall and And then, the man is there, on
rolls over onto her back, blinking winter, will likely be tourists who’ve
the steps outside the store, a plastic
slightly at the too-bright sunlight, and made their minds up slowly. Beth
bag dangling from his hand. Karen
floats lazily in the water, allowing the tries to put her distant, vague
must have really disliked him, if he
gently rolling waves to nudge her irritation into real words. got out of the store that quickly. He
back to shore. She repeats this ritual “It's starting to feel like a
hesitates, and Beth finds herself
a few more times before regretfully performance.” Karen looks confused.
hoping – for what? But she knows, of
course, without admitting it to lovely. But when she steps back paintings. As were all of his
herself, and then he does walk in her from the sculpture and looks out the mermaids, this one is blessed with
direction, after looking briefly up and windows she is surprised to find that giant breasts, and fluorescent pink
down the street, his new red shirt the sky isn’t just clouding over; it’s nipples, and is smiling at Beth and
shining like the sun. He asks her if settling into night. She’s been the tourist winningly. The tourist
she’s local, which they both know is working all day. It’s been a long time chuckles, turns back to Beth’s
a dumb question. She says since she’s lost herself in her work sculpture.
something about the early summer like this. She thinks a little about the “Well, I can't look away from this
weather being kind to the tourists tourist from the day before as she one.” He fastens those clear eyes
this year, and he smiles, and says he packs away her tools. onto her work as if he's memorizing
appreciates it. Beth spends some time with the it.
A pause. Beth says a tiny prayer, new sculpture, walking out to it in the She's blushing. She didn't think
but it goes unanswered, and she can morning, expecting to see something people actually did that. “Is that a
still think of nothing else to say. He she wants to change. She waits, compliment? I’m going to assume.”
really is beautiful, with those blue standing in the shifting afternoon “It definitely is.”
eyes, and an indefinable openness light that pours in through the tall It’s easier to talk to him today,
to his face. As if a wind had brushed windows of the studio. The sculpture especially after she turns back to her
back his hair, and all the care from stands in the center of the circular sculpture, and he stays, and she can
his expression, and it had stayed space of the studio as if facing a talk while she winds the pieces of it
that way. And there’s intelligence brisk sea wind, twined with glass and back together. He asks about her
there, she can feel it, a kind of sand, giving off a sense of work. Not just asks; he’s really
mental alertness. What could she movement no matter where she interested, and she finds herself
possibly say to this man? He seems stands to look at it. There is no part having the same kind of
to be having the same difficulty. He of it that is static, or dead to the eye. conversation about her work that
eventually asks her for restaurant She decides to take it in to the she’s been wishing she could have
recommendations. gallery. with Dana, who’s great with the
This is easy, and she gives the Her trailer can’t hold the entire business end, less so with the actual
standard tourist dinner ideas, and sculpture, even if she had help to art. He says that he feels that this
then, before she can stop herself—“If move it, so she has to disassemble it piece, the one she's assembling, is
you like art, I mean, if you’re in the studio and reset it at the filled with wind. She finds out that he
interestedM” and she hands him a gallery. Dana is thrilled with it and runs a computer software company.
card from the gallery. He smiles, clears a wide, sunny space for it in He asks her how long she's lived
gives a little wave, and backs into the center of the main room; Beth here; she's been in the house on the
the sidewalk traffic. She gets into her protests a little, but secretly rejoices. lake for most of her life. He's
car, drives home. A normal day. She is twisting wires into place when impressed by this, as he has moved
The next day, while she is back the breeze floating through the around all his life, because of work.
with the giant sculpture, she has a gallery becomes stronger, blowing He's pursued his career, and money,
sudden whim, or inspiration, and the hair back from her face and his whole life. He's not sure why he's
attaches another piece of driftwood moving the dangling glass pieces of telling her this. She tells him about
to the side of the sculpture, near the the sculpture gently, and she hears a Buck, how it's a month to the day
top; it is a dramatic piece of wood, voice behind her that she knows. since he died; she has to explain to
with one smooth surface and one
that is covered with long, thin bumps.
She attaches it so that the smooth As were all of his mermaids, this one is blessed
part faces into the wind that trails in with giant breasts,
through the open windows of her
studio. The piece is so large now it and fluorescent pink nipples
feels as if she’s dancing with it, as
she reaches up to twine a new piece
of beach glass through the bumpy “You were right. The art here is him what a black lab is, as he does
side of the new driftwood. Outside extraordinary.” His voice is quiet but not know dogs. The gallery closes,
her studio windows, the lake is calm it echoes somehow. It doesn't quite and they look at each other for a
today, and the song of the waves fit in to the air of the gallery; very long time in the gently fading blue
meeting the shore is muted; but a unlike, Beth thinks, from the way light of evening, and then he asks
rush of water fills Beth’s head, and people around here usually speak. her to dinner.
the lonely calls of the seagulls, and She lowers her arms, and the Usually after a major sculpture is
the smell of the lake, and the wind in blood trickles back into her forearms finished, Beth rests for at least a
the pines, slowly pour in through the and hands, making them feel tingly. week, walking on the sand, maybe
open windows until the studio is full. She smiles at the tourist. “Well, I working a few shifts in the bookstore
When her light starts to go, Beth is can't speak for everything here.” She for some extra spending money. But
disappointed, but contented too; an nods her head quickly to the side, to she spends the next month working
afternoon thunderstorm would be indicate the latest of Seth’s mermaid almost every day. The lake seems to
be participating in her newfound of footprints beside her in the sand, face of her husband’s wealth. Still,
energy, and every day she finds something she’s never wanted; even she enjoys it, and it helps her learn
piles of driftwood, handfuls of shells as she watched her friends marry this new, busily crowded city, as she
and beach glass. Some days she and start families, years ago. It's rides the train in every morning and
collects more than she does in a never occurred to her to feel like this, then walks to the museum. She
normal week. She builds four new but she can’t be without him either. works mornings, then walks around
pieces, all of which she sends to the Then he says: “How soon can the city until she returns home. She
gallery, and all of which sell almost you move?” finds some favorite places; there are
immediately. The tourist purchases Beth resists, of course, but some beautiful fountains in the park,
the large sculpture for the main office there’s really nothing to be done. He and a small zoo. The thought of
of his company.
Beth has dinner with him
frequently; after the first night, she The first time she has
begins inviting him back to her house
on the lake, so that he can join her in an attack
her evening walk along the beach. they are at her favorite dim sum restaurant
After the third night she invites him to
stay, and he also sees the sunrise
over the water. She laughs all the has hundreds of employees, living so close to a zoo is exciting,
time when they’re together, he says meetings, conferences; his company and she often stays until twilight,
he can feel himself unclench needs him. She can sculpt sketching the animals; the otters, the
muscles he didn’t even know he had. anywhere. She believes this, in the penguins, the seals. She also enjoys
He tells her stories about his life in beginning. the restaurants, the new cuisines.
the city, the buzz of energy, the The studio he builds for her is She loves Thai food, dim sum, sushi,
museums, the concerts; and she is huge, made of glass, and connected all cuisines that are not available in
interested, curious. She hasn't to his house so she never has to go her old, small town.
traveled much, aside from her time outside to get there. The windows The first time she has an attack
at art school, which was close by. He open, so she can fill the studio with they are at her favorite dim sum
tries to explain to her why he would the crisp air of autumn as she works. restaurant, a small, indifferently-
come here for a vacation but rent a She unpacks crates of driftwood, decorated affair, seated at the table
condo so far from the water; he does sand, beach glass, dried seaweed, she has come to think of as theirs,
not swim with her but waits on towels feathers, and stones. It’s much next to the odd little fish tank. She
spread out on the sand. She is quieter than she’s used to, she excuses herself, goes to the
patient; they walk on the sand, and thinks, even though she’s got the women’s restroom; she is walking
she waits for the sound of the waves windows open and can hear the wind back, toward their table, when she
to enter him, waits for him to see. in the branches, the birds. She suddenly can’t breathe. She feels
On the Fourth of July, they meet gathers her materials around her and her lungs working hungrily; she
in the hot air to watch the fireworks. sits on the floor, in the center of the opens her mouth wider, and knows
They sit in the sand with the rest of studio. She waits. The city is more that air is moving into her body, but
the town, while the fireworks paint than she'd ever imagined, and she she feels as if it’s not, and she’s
the sky. They are barely able to spends hour upon hour in museums, almost immediately dizzy. The room
breathe the thick, swampy air, and absorbing the art. She goes from goes dark with moving colored bits of
stick together everywhere they coffee house to coffee house, trying light, and she thinks, hysterically for
touch. Beth turns her face toward the to find a favorite. She marvels at the a moment, that it looks like the
sky as a huge, golden firework food stores, the specialty shops, is fireworks over the lake last July. She
opens above them like the gilded tickled to find a place that carries the looks for her husband, but can’t find
bars of a birdcage. sugary fruit wines that are produced him in the drips of light in the room;
“I love the big ones, like that,” on the peninsula. She embraces the she takes a step, then another, and
she says. constant noise, the reminder that she then falls to the dusty wood floor.
“I love you,” he says. is the part of something bigger, the When she awakes he’s standing
He leaves his condo that week to traffic, the voices. Everywhere she over her, as are several waiters, the
stay at her house on the lake. looks, there's something new, and manager; all the faces are
she takes it all in until her skin hums, concerned. She insists on rising
His vacation is over in the middle of and she waits for the right time to immediately, despite her husband’s
August. He waits for sunset, he waits start working again. protests. She’s still gasping for air,
for the perfect night, balmy and She is still waiting as autumn but leans on him as they return to
smooth, not too hot, and he asks her turns into winter, as the last of her their table, and as she sits, she takes
to marry him. He can’t be without things find a place in this new home, a deep breath, and feels the air flood
her, he says. Not for a day. She says her pictures are added to the walls. her lungs. She smiles weakly; she’s
yes, without hesitation. Every day She decides to take a job to fill the all right, and won’t consider going
she is with him, she dreams of new time she’s not sculpting, although it’s home. She’s sure it won’t happen
sculptures. She wants a second set ridiculous, her hourly wage in the again.
She forgets to worry about this and to breathe normally. She calls better there. She manages to tell the
incident during the next few weeks her husband, who implores her to driver to take her to the zoo, then
as she tries to work. She buys a see his doctor, and she agrees. He rests her forehead on the cool glass
machine that makes sounds like is worried, he'll send a car, and he’ll of the window next to her and
waves, and seagulls, and closes her leave work early to meet her at the watches the city blur by.
eyes, pretending to be outside, to be doctor's office. She protests. She's When she reaches the zoo, she
in her old house, and waits and waits fine now, she'll take the train, really, practically runs for the indoor otter
to feel ready to work. She reads, she's happier that way, with no fuss. exhibit, ignoring the scattered looks
rearranges the furniture in the house, She'll see him tonight. of surprise she gets from the few
trying to make her mark. She has a The doctor's questions surprise other patrons who have braved the
sudden idea and orders dozens of her. He asks little about her cold weather. Her inability to breathe
art supply catalogs; she spends days breathing, and what she assumes to is building again; she takes
circling and noting, and makes a be the severe type of asthma that is despairing, gasping breaths of air,
flurry of phone calls. plaguing her. He checks her lungs but it doesn’t help. She collapses in
front of the glass wall that the otters
and fumbles for her cell phone, but
Air is filling her lungs, but she still feels as if even as she opens it, she takes one
deep, shaky breath, and feels a tiny
she’s drowning; she gasps, pulls more air into trickle of oxygen in her chest. She
her body but it’s like breathing tar closes her phone and tries again;
another breath, another trickle. She
tips her head back to rest on the
glass and closes her eyes, breathing
Boxes begin to arrive, but she briefly, listens to her take deep deeply and evenly, and closes her
lets them pile up until she has breaths, but then starts asking her eyes, ignoring everything but the air
everything she’s ordered, and she about her marriage, her work. In moving in and out of her body.
spends that morning in her studio. short, it becomes clear that he
She opens the boxes and spills out believes her to be the victim of some She is startled later, by a hand on
metals, papers, different kinds of sort of panic attack. her shoulder. She opens her eyes to
wire, shiny glass beads. She “It’s not in my mind,” she insists. see a security guard leaning over
spreads these new textures and “Of course it isn’t.” He leans her. He looks torn between worry
colors around her in the studio until forward, old and kindly, making and irritation, asks her if she's all
she looks as though she’s found a concerned furrows in his brow. “It’s right. She stands, touching the glass
way to nest in a rainbow. She waits. real to you. We just have to find a wall. Tells him she's fine.
A few hours pass, and she takes a way to help you manage what it is He looks relieved, not for her
deep breath, to cleanse her stress that you’re feelingM.” well-being, but for his time. “The zoo
away, and instantly chokes. It’s like But she’s up now and putting on is closing. You’ll have to go home.”
the night at the restaurant; the more her coat. “Thank you, doctor.” And She tries to. She focuses on her
she tries to breathe, the worse she she’s out in the winter afternoon, breath on the long train ride, trying to
feels. She looks despairingly at the under the reddening sky. make it stay fluid, worrying that for all
long hallway that will bring her back She tries her husband’s cell her anger at him, that doctor could
to the main house, where hopefully a phone a few times in the cab on the have been right. She stares out the
staff member will find her, help her. way to the train station but only window at the night and thinks about
Air is filling her lungs, but she still succeeds in reaching his voice mail. trying another doctor, doing some
feels as if she’s drowning; she She makes her way to her platform more research online, that
gasps, pulls more air into her body but as she’s waiting she’s seized something may really be wrong with
but it’s like breathing tar. She can with an almost physically her.
feel it just sit in her lungs, not overwhelming need to not go back to
moving. the house. She runs from the station Her husband meets her at the
Beth staggers for the hallway, and hails another cab, even as she station, his face pale and tight with
puts her hands on either side, debates wildly with herself about anxiety. He doesn’t say much on the
somehow makes it into the house, to where she wants to go; every place drive home. Beth is expecting him to
the kitchen. Things are turning dark she can think of seems somehow ask where she’s been, or to demand
again, but she stumbles to the sink, wrong, almost frightening. She to know. She really doesn’t know
splashes some cold water on her suddenly realizes that everywhere how he’ll handle it. She doesn’t know
face, and starts to regain some she’s gone in the city, she’s gone as what it is exactly that they’re about to
balance. The water helps, and she a tourist. As she slides across the handle. They ride in taut silence all
takes a few shaky breaths, then duct-taped vinyl backseat of the cab, the way home. He turns the car off in
plunges her face into the cold stream it occurs to her: the zoo. She has the garage and they sit for a
from the tap. The cold bites through spent long hours there, drawing the moment.
the haze that has wrapped itself animals, and just walking, and it “I was really worried about you,”
around her, and she is able to stand seems somehow that she will feel he says quietly.
Beth is flooded with feeling as and cold, wet air pours into her car. on, he comes less and less, and
she sits in the silent car with him. She pulls the car haphazardly into eventually a family with children
She opens her mouth to tell him her driveway and runs through her moves into the house, which delights
she’s sorry, that she loves him, but backyard, past her studio, to the Beth. One of the children, a girl,
when she does, she suffers another front of the boarded-up house, and swims so far out, with sure, steady
attack, and clutches his arm in panic. the beach. She throws her coat onto strokes that her mother stands on
Her body is drawing in air, she can the sand, her purse, stops long the sand and calls to her, frightened,
feel it move past her lips, but she still enough to pull off her shoes and to come back. Once, Beth gets too
can't breathe.
“I’m taking you to the emergency
room.” His voice is afraid but full of
She struggles to keep her eyes open, to see the
decision. blue of the water before her, but her eyes are so
She shakes her head, surprising
herself with the force of it, and
tired, and her head is filling with emptiness
struggles from the car, ignoring his
protests. Her rusty blue jeep from socks. The beach stretches out on close, and she’s sure the girl sees
home is next to his in the garage, either side of her, bright and cold in her; the girl stops swimming, and
and the keys are in her purse. She its winter glory, but she barely notes treads water right over Beth, with her
has them out, has the door open, it, as her breathing has shut down face in the water, trying to see. Beth
before he can really react. He runs entirely. She staggers toward the stays very still, and the girl
around his car to her. His face is full water, but it’s tilting, faster and eventually gives up, but she keeps
of fear. faster, and her face can feel the looking for the rest of that summer,
“What are you doing?” sand. She reaches numbing hands and Beth and the others are careful
She shakes her head but does forward but when she tries to pull to stay away. Still, it’s one of her
not answer, willing air to enter her herself along, she only succeeds in favorite things to do, watch the
body through the dam of her pulling handfuls of sand toward her. children swim. When she isn’t doing
clenched teeth as she unlocks the She digs her feet in behind her but that, she works on sculptures on the
door and gets inside her jeep. can’t get traction. bottom of the lake, huge, intricate
“Beth. Wherever you have to go, She is too late. She stretches structures through which the fish
I’ll go with you.” one hand, as far as it will go, and swim like tiny bits of brightly colored
She shakes her head again. He touches wet sand. She’s so close. glass.
can’t. She struggles to keep her eyes
“Beth, please. Just stop. Stop open, to see the blue of the water
whatever you’re doing right now and before her, but her eyes are so tired,
talk to me.” and her head is filling with
If she opens her mouth to talk emptiness.
she’ll drown. She starts the jeep. She closes her eyes, but she can
“If you leave me I’ll die.” His voice feel the first hand that touches hers.
breaks. She believes him. At last. Its touch is so careful, but
She maneuvers down the urgent; Beth can feel her skin about the author
driveway, finds the freeway. Her blossom. The touch is joined by
hands are clenched on the wheel, another, and another. The sand start Jennifer Dworschack-Kinter teaches
every bit of her concentration to slide under her; no, it is still, but writing and literature at the University
absorbed by her slow wheezes in she’s sliding. The sound of water fills of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her poems,
and forced exhales. She can’t black her and as her face touches it she book reviews, interviews, and short
out, not like this, behind the wheel of opens her mouth and swallows a stories have appeared or are
a car, and she has hours ahead of grateful breath, which gives her forthcoming in Whetstone, Many
her. enough strength to open her eyes, Mountains Moving, The Comstock
and raise her head from the cold Review, A Cup of Poems, Phoebe,
It’s dawn by the time she reaches sand. She smiles, and stands. She Blue Canary, Eureka, Candlelight III,
the narrow road that runs behind the will walk the rest of the way in. Aoife's Kiss, and Listen to the
line of modest homes along the He comes to the beach, often, to Future. She lives in Shorewood with
beach, discreetly spaced, with hers. sit on the sand and stare out over her husband and two children, and
Tears begin to pour silently down her the water. He’s taken to living in her they all walk by the lake as often as
face as she turns her car along the old house, for weeks at a time. It they can.
shaded road, and, despite the makes her sad, as she swims just
fatigue and dizziness that swells in past the sandbar, or pulls herself up
her brain, she observes the onto it just for a moment to watch
traditional speed limit of 20mph, out him, but there is no way to get him a
of respect for the dogs, cats, and message. She doesn’t even speak
children that roam the backyards of his language any more. As time goes
the area. She rolls down her window,
accusations of cowardice is truly beautiful, and tension within and between the characters
Hope, Despair and the subtle links to Daniel and the 'present day'
storyline do not patronise the reader. In fact,
superbly and, on the whole, indirectly. Instead
of directly referencing the tension, Farndale
a Turtle there are so many subtleties and nuances that I
was desperate to re-read the book immediately
creates a subtle yet clear atmosphere for the
reader to pick up on. I really appreciate this
to uncover the references I must have missed approach; the skill it takes from the author and
first time round. the authority it gives to the reader.
I love narratives that weave in and out of I also enjoyed the common factors in both
each other. Farndale's 3rd person narration the World War 1 narrative and the present day
allows the reader into the very depths of each narrative. Daniel and Andrew shared a family
character's story. The narrative viewpoint chops bond and the battle of hero vs coward. They
and changes between characters at crucial were also guided by a mysterious vision, and
moments of revelation, leaving the reader both triumphed in adverse circumstances. But
trapped in suspense for the entire novel. In their lives are linked by more obscure elements,
addition, minor characters are allowed to like Mahler's 9 Symphony and a turtle shell.
flourish with their own storylines throughout the These elements don't just exist to create a link

a plot to really get you thinking and a desire to

read it over and over again

novel, meaning that there is always a new between past and present, but they travel
perspective just around the corner. Farndale through time and evolve to have a new impact
introduces new perspectives right up to the last in their new context. Farndale evolves these
stages which builds, in equal measure, inanimate objects through the generations and
excitement, momentum and frustration. they begin to play a part in the story. In fact,
Although I have identified Daniel and they are so important that they change the lives
Andrew as the protagonists of the novel, of the characters.
Farndale has developed a satisfying variety of Another element that I loved was the major
characters and has placed them in their own significance the minor characters play in the
unique cultural, historical and emotional plot development, particularly Hamdi and Major
contexts. There are simply so many characters Morris. I'm not going to explain much about
in The Blasphemer (most of whom play critical these characters because I don't want to ruin
The Blasphemer roles in the multi-layered narrative) that it is their ethereal presence and mystery within the
by Nigel Farndale impossible to identify the most important ones. novel. Farndale devoted very few 'column
The characters are finely interlinked with each inches' to them, but they are the most haunting
Publisher: Doubleday other's lives, and so one character just would characters in The Blasphemer; their mystery
Review: Grace not be the same without another. Farndale's and complexity sticks in your mind after the last
attention to detail in his ability to relate the page of the novel. Farndale is clearly skilled in
I have to admit, I always judge books by their characters to each other to the point that their creating well-rounded and intriguing characters.
covers and the content always seems to live up livelihoods depend upon each other's decisions I also really enjoyed some rare but
to the cover image. This is certainly true of and actions creates a thoroughly well executed brilliantly funny moments of situational comedy.
Nigel Farndale's The Blasphemer. Its cover is a novel. The most cringeworthy being an awkward
mesh of music, war, people, travel, and a turtle. My favourite character is Whetherby, an meeting Daniel has to have with his daughter's
This is a pleasing graphic summary of the old, complex and eccentric bitter Catholic who class teacher regarding his daughter giving her
content of the novel which weaves parallel is malicious and selfish. He is the Vice Provost teacher gifts and cards. Daniel has to endure
narratives through space and time via classical at the university where Daniel is a lecturer. this meeting knowing that he is the anonymous
music, World War 1, family lineages, Whetherby's sinister, deceitful nature propels gift-giver, not his daughter! His partner Nancy
mysterious strangers, tragedies and travels, not the plot and makes for gritty, enjoyable reading. concludes the meeting my saying 'We'll have a
forgetting the turtle! He's the 'baddy', but not a fairytale baddy; he's word with her [Martha]', all the while Daniel is
The narrative is split primarily between very real, believable, and therefore terrifying. squirming with embarrassment.
Daniel Kennedy's life in present day London, His actions are shockingly immoral and a joy to The characters wrestle with moments of
and Private Andrew Kennedy's life as a World read about! The evil undertones that Whetherby heroism vs cowardice; belief vs scepticism; and
War 1 soldier in France. Daniel Kennedy is provides are a perfect backdrop for the debate love vs self. They are all engaged in a battle of
passionate, young, modern and troubled. On between theists and atheists which occur ideas and consequently Farndale has executed
the outside, Daniel is a staunch atheist throughout the novel. deep, engaging and realistic dialogues between
achieving international fame for his godless There are a few elements of this book that characters.
philosophy and for a newsworthy act of really made it stand out from other novels I've So, if the cover of The Blasphemer catches
heroism. On a personal level, however, Daniel read recently. Firstly, I loved the revelation that your attention, pick it up and read it! You will
struggles with the consequences of cowardice both Daniel and Private Kennedy, three find within its pages great characters and
and the experience of a (possibly religious?) generations apart, were in equal measure conversations; moments of revelation, hope,
vision. cowards and heroes. Farndale's exploration of despair and unity; a plot to really get you
Private Kennedy is Daniel's great this incongruity fascinated me because of the thinking and a desire to read it over and over
grandfather and his story is breath-taking. His impact these two labels have on reputation and again.
journey from solider to survivor, via tragedy and personal relationships. Farndale expressed this
by Kathleen

lunch with a therapist on the he tenth floor. Emphasis on

therapist, Alison—nobody
nobody here thinks you’re psychotic.”
That afternoon Alison waited opposite a table bearing
a small bronze sculpture trickling water. Vivaldi
resounded from above.
A door opened: A plump man in a green turtleneck,
and huge brown hangdog eyes. Sitting behind his large
desk, he leaned forward full of concern.
concern Through her
tears, Alison said that after she and Niles had lived
together for eight years, he had dumped her without
Watkins the therapist pushed
shed a box of tissues toward
her. “Coping with unexpected loss, many people spend
their first few sessions weeping. The walls are
During the next session, Alison wept but managed to
explain that Niles had always been unfaithful, relied on
her for money, and had poor hygiene. A keyboard
Watkins nodded. “A keyboard player.”
Alison’s boss kept asking, “Cured yet?” This only
opened Alison’s tear ducts, which sent him scurrying
inside his office.
Soon, however, she no longer cried when telling tell
Watkins she still missed Niles; her sadness being
followed quickly by relief.
Her next visit, the waiting-room
room Vivaldi as baroque as
ever, Alison heard Watkins through the supposedly
Without explanation, Niles moved out. The next morning soundproof walls. “Why so hostile, Lenore? I work hard;
Alison arrived at her cubicle early and Jill the secretary our life is
s comfortable. I love you; I love the children.”
listened sympathetically. “Just don’t tell the boss.” After awhile, he welcomed her inside and—trick
and of
Their squat, jowly boss trod the office in constant light?—itit looked as if his huge brown eyes were
anxiety that his all-female
female staff might detonate into mass brimming. He listened to the ongoing litany of Niles’
hysteria at any moment. idiocies and suggested she take up something fun. He
Alison swiveled away from her computer when he hadn’t
adn’t tried it himself but by all reports salsa dancing was
said good morning, blotting her silent tears. very enjoyable.
“Are you—” he cringed, “crying?” It was fun, Alison discovered, and the men tended to
“Not audibly.” Alison’s voice sounded calm despite be in good shape.
the tears, remedied by many tissues. Weeks later, planning to thank him, Alison distinctly
Later, her boss tsk-tsked.
tsked. “Still weeping, Alison.” heard him weeping through the closed door. “That’s
“My eyes water before the computer screen, which unfair,
air, Lenore. I love you. I love the children. And I’m
doesn’t seem to mind.” begging you: do not do this.”
“I mind!” he said. “How can I work sur surrounded by When he welcomed her in, mopping his eyes, his
caterwauling women? Jill thinks you’ve suffered a voice choked. “Please, excuse the delay.”
romantic setback.” Collapsing behind his desk, he dropped his head and
“She shouldn’t think that,” Alison said. sobbed. Alison circled behind him and patted his heaving
“Our healthcare policy provides for trauma suffered back. “Don’t hold back. These walls are soundproof.”
site. Jill has arranged appointments for you after
New Paper I Asked You
The kitchen walls for fog, and you gave me ice storms
have to be flayed that made tree branches bend and crack
inch by inch during the night, a sound like no other.
but the other rooms So I asked you for ear plugs.
shed their skins You provided a big screen TV
as easily as a snake. which stayed on just to hear itself,
swallowing its own remote
and jamming signals so I would
The undertone never be able to turn it off.
in each case I asked for a pill to help me sleep
is thunderous: and you sent neighbors whose ex’s
All those conversations showed up at all hours threatening to shoot
blotted up by the old paper someone, brandishing the gun they plan
being reactivated to use. They grilled sandwiches
as the sprayer wets down on their pick-up’s engine, never bought
the walls. But after the condiments but borrowed all of mine,
stripping, peace. White and kept their animals outside,
silence. Tabula rasa. never feeding them
or stroking them or playing catch.
You asked me what else I wanted,
Then: bright stripes bugle what else I thought I deserved. I kept
in the hallway, herbs my mouth shut, took the neighbors’
speak pungently on cats and dogs, and moved into a tree house
the bathroom walls, two-toned on the warmer side of town.
flocked ivory paper in the
bedroom feels soft
to the eye. But
the paper I most want
Mary Christine Delea is the author of "The Skeleton Holding Up
to see change, doesn't, the Sky", two chapbooks, and numerous published poems. Most recently a
arrives on my doorstep Poet-in-the-Schools and a university professor, she is currently a stay-at-
each morning, with the stench home writer. Her poems are upcoming and recently published in The
of words that combine Summerset Review, Mid-American Review, Rose & Thorn, Sleet, and other
to form the same hated pattern: print and on-line journals.
"Thousands Die in Rwanda."

Dorothy Burris has published poems in Negative Capability, The

Sow's Ear, West Branch, and The Cape Rock, among others, and short
stories in The MacGuffin, Kalliope, Happy, Willow Review, Hurricane Review,
Onthebus, Santa Clara Review, and the Mochilla Review, among others.
Axiom: Route 26, June 1999 Russian-born, involuntarily but happily former professional violinist Ellen
Orner remains friends with the composers she got to know, still alive or
long deceased. Writing and translating are her preferred modes of
In my new Honda, I meander eastward communication now.
on a winding back route,
black with vanishing rain.
Sun prevails on this Sunday
in rural Maryland.
An issue of Bayerische Motoren Werke
passes me on the left, trailed by a Volkswagen.
On the radio, Prussia, albeit Viennese:
Brahms, ruthless, determined as he
wields his harmonic wheel,

I scan the roadside for lines:

true lines - or lines
that will seem true
to me, not caring
if they are
in reality - Maryland
houses have them, I think.
The lines are vertical: two lean stories,
windows slightly too tall
for the breadth, too narrow together.
The front but three steps away
from the back, thwarting lushness
of any sort – no secret coves between.
The ascetic symmetry pleases.
Graceful, laconic, stern: acceptable terms.
I have to establish
a frame of reference,
an axiom
usable for existence.

Beyond a curve, on the right,

a church:
small, like a house, spanking new, but
good old lines. White and
almost weightless, it is
poised to rise
from its tonsured hillock unto the heavens,
hauling florid-faced, sin-wrought piety.
(The lines are good to live in: scrub out
God and put in a stove.)
I gather, assess, passing Maryland lines –
white, horizontal now, unfussy.
I strain to remember the feeling
of lines arising, all new and blurry
and plumb, taking shape
before my awakening eyes.


Brahms perseveres at the wheel,

at something vitally lacking.
His futile, furious longings are
by Bach’s

Macabre zoo exhibit:

wrought-iron grilles
rim Russian graves in damp groves.
In my dreams, I hear
Brahms, a beast in
impotent rage,
at the Lutheran’s
He thrusts the vertical
cage-bars deeper,
into the
praying to sprout
The Missing Man Personal Homeopathy
Yes it’s me down here. Can you not hear, All this research for and against homeopathy, it’s time
if not my breath, my mumblings at least? I chipped in my own. So: I take a photo of you
But you’ve confused me with the rock again. and stare and stare at until my eyes – the water – absorb it,
Instead of smashing it apart to find me, and play out all the scenes associated with the image
you continue to mine the ore. until my mind is a park made of us,
Eventually, your pick axes will strike my iron the swings my stomach as I waited outside the train station
but I’ll have no life in me by then. hidden in the long grass of my sunglasses, the roundabout
almost anything – me in your presence, something sexual
And I’m at the bottom of the ocean. I could never render sweet enough with words, the thrill
Send your divers down. Let them forget the of all our days together in that they’re magical but rooted in reality –
hideous coral for a moment, the circling and the slide is the joyful vertigo I get every time I think
sand sharks, the rusty anchor dug into the bed. of you.
I’m drowning and awaiting rescue. All I And then I put it away, feeling I’ve been on a journey,
ask is a lungful of oxygen and a ride to the surface. albeit one that is killing time rather than the filling of you and I.
Please, don’t wait until I’m nothing but driftwood. My conclusion: this has nothing to do with homeopathy.

And I’m in the jungle swallowed by snakes,

I’m out in the desert somewhere, dying of thirst
while tourists stare at yellow buttes. I’m underneath
Joshua Jones is currently studying English Literature and Creative
the floorboards but, even the ones who polish them Writing at UEA. His poetry has previously appeared in Succour and Gists and
Piths. He edits the new online journal and blog Etcetera
so ferociously, lack the instinct to lift one.
And I’m six feet under and people are so dumb
around here, they think that flowers dropped by
my gravesite are root enough for me to pull myself up on.

Yes, it’s me, everywhere you’re not looking. I’m bricked in.
I’m walled up. I’m cemented hard as hearts.
Doesn’t anyone any time listen for the sounds beyond
their hearing. I haven’t been heard from in a thousand years.
Sure, I was loved once. But who would think to find me there.

Australian born poet, US resident since the late seventies, John Grey
works as a financial systems analyst. Recently published in Connecticut
Review, Kestrel and Writer’s Bloc with work upcoming in Pennsylvania
English, Alimentum and the Great American Poetry Show.
I don’t know how hard I hit you
she says after a playful slap
the room is still the same it hasn’t changed
it’s not the end
and the moon has craters
space between the light and eyes
there is soil on the doormat
words repeat themselves in different voices
we can put our voice to any word
but there are only words for symbols
I can’t see if there’s a red mark
she should see
all the matters of colour and perception
ideas talk themselves to death
the way you speak could make a verb a noun
I don’t know how hard I have been hit
are they mushrooms in the corner or shadows
is that the breeze in the curtain or something living
we cannot see for sight
just as there, the taste of life and guts
the stench of decay somewhere in space or eyes
this is a crater it hasn’t changed
the end might know how hard

Joshua Jones