Displaying items by tag: rosie garland

I was delighted to be asked by Waterstones Bookshop to be a guest contributor to their blog- and here it is. Strange things have been happening since I embarked on my second novel, Vixen... read on!

Coincidence and synchronicity

Was Rosie Garland really being stalked by foxes because she'd just finished writing a book called Vixen- or was something else going on?

When Alex Allden, designer at HarperCollins, showed me Lindsey Carr's remarkable painting of a fox in a tree and suggested it as a cover for my forthcoming novel Vixen, I knew it was perfect.

That's when it started. Since then I've noticed foxes wherever I go – appearing in cathedrals, airports, pubs and museums; on ink cartridges, matchboxes and dashing across supermarket carparks.

I have no idea what's happening, if indeed anything is. I am not superstitious. My grandmother was so bitten by its bug she could barely walk up a flight of stairs without hanging on to a rabbit's foot, which put me off at an early age.

But there is so much foxiness going on. Logically or not, it feels like more than coincidence. As Auric Goldfinger remarked to James Bond, "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action".

Maybe coincidence is different to superstition. After all, Albert Einstein said "coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous" (The World As I See It) and he knew a thing or two about how the universe works. Conversely, Vladimir Nabokov remarked how "a certain man once lost a diamond cuff-link in the wide blue sea, and twenty years later, on the exact day, a Friday apparently, he was eating a large fish - but there was no diamond inside. That's what I like about coincidence" (Laughter in the Dark).

I noticed the first outside the post office (sending a copy of my first novel The Palace of Curiosities to the USA). Browsing a craft stall, I was presented with a woodcut of a fox on a village green. How pretty, I thought, buying a set of vulpine greetings cards. What a coincidence when I've just finished a book called Vixen.

It escalated. After performing in York with my band The March Violets, I took a detour to visit Beverley Minster. On the north wall was a medieval carving of a fox disguised as a pilgrim. Standing on its hind legs, flashing its fangs in a broad smile and brandishing a hefty staff (for self-defence of course).

I needn't have gone as far afield. Manchester Cathedral boasts two wonderful fifteenth-century carvings of foxes: one teaching its cubs to read and the other poring over a book. After 28 years of living in this fair city I didn't know they existed (call myself a medievalist? I should hang my head in shame).

It's not just up north. A Hampshire pub surprised me with a Victorian etching of foxes dressed in pink hunting jackets, seated at a table groaning with roast pheasant and grinning slyly as they toast each other, joking about huntsmen tumbling into ditches.

It occurs to me that I'm not tripping over 'straight' representations. All my sightings (and these are a tiny selection) are of trickster foxes, camouflaged and hoodwinking foolish humans. None of them are what they ought to be. Which, 'coincidentally', are some of the themes of Vixen.

Are sly foxes really dogging my footsteps? Is it all a load of old cobblers or is it connected in some way to the imminent publication of my novel? Carl Gustav Jung would have said yes. In the 1920s he coined the word synchronicity to describe what he called "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events." To put it in (slightly) simpler words: synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, where they are unlikely to be causally related.

Hmm. Perhaps I should call my next novel 'Finding Viking Treasure in the Garden'. Sadly, I don't think it works that way.

They aren't done with me yet. A couple of weeks ago I landed in Seattle and headed for the information stand to grab a city map. Amongst the brochures was a museum guide with a cover image of Jenny Andersen's enchanting 'Fox Spirit Travelling with the Human Soul'. So - if I am being followed by foxes, they are the most benign of guardians. Even if I don't believe in coincidence, maybe it believes in me. I have decided to enjoy their benevolent appearances.

As for synchronicity, I'll leave the last words to The Red Queen; my favourite character in that under-rated book on quantum physics, Alice Through The Looking Glass.
'I don't understand you,' said Alice. 'It's dreadfully confusing!'
'That's the effect of living backwards,' the Queen said kindly: 'it always makes one a little giddy at first -'
'Living backwards!' Alice repeated in great astonishment. 'I never heard of such a thing!'
'— but there's one great advantage in it, that one's memory works both ways.'
'I'm sure MINE only works one way,' Alice remarked. 'I can't remember things before they happen.'
'It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,' the Queen remarked.

Rosie Garland, for Waterstones.com/blog

Click to go to Carl Jung site

Click for Lindsay Carr's artwork, Morpheus

Click to see Jenny Andersen's Fox Spirit artwork

Click to go to Waterstones blog

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Diva magazine has given 'Vixen' a great review!

'A compelling story about love and devotion set against the backdrop of superstition, pestilence and hardship that dominate the muddy 14th century landscape. Poetic, surprising and ultimately deeply moving, Vixen will have you hooked faster than it takes to drink a jug of ale and – unlike ale – it will stay with you long after you've reached the final page.'

Diva august 2014

Published in News
Friday, 01 August 2014 09:56

17.7.2014 - VIXEN HARDBACK LAUNCH

My second novel, Vixen, launches today – 17th July 2014!

It has already featured as Grazia magazine's Best Historical fiction pick for summer 2014. Plus, this wonderful review is in the August 2014 issue of Diva magazine.

'A compelling story about love and devotion set against the backdrop of superstition, pestilence and hardship that dominate the muddy 14th century landscape. Poetic, surprising and ultimately deeply moving, Vixen will have you hooked faster than it takes to drink a jug of ale and – unlike ale – it will stay with you long after you've reached the final page.'

 

Published in News

Vixen has been dubbed 'Best for Historical Fiction fans' in Grazia's Summer reading list!

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The March Violets are doing a little West Coast Tour this June!

First up: June 21 - Seattle – El Corazon.

June 22 - Portland - The Hive @ Star Theater.

June 25 - San Francisco - Death Guild @ DNA Lounge.

June 27 - Vegas - Scarlet @ LVCS.

June 28 - San Diego @ The Soda Bar.

June 29 - Los Angeles - Part Time Punks @ The Echo

Please see the Gig List page for full details!

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Authors Writing on Books
The Palace of Curiosities – reviewed by Max Scratchmann

Much as I want to like all of these books, there are, I'm afraid, a lot of fairly dull bodice-rippers and penny-dreadfuls lurking beneath the stunning cover art on the slew of mock-Victorian novels currently on the market, so it was with great joy that I discovered Rosie Garland's noir tale of life in a nineteenth-century freak show – The Palace of Curiosities.

Enticed by the gothic delicacy of cover art and then seduced by the Angela Carter comparison from Jenny Murray on the flyleaf, I delved into this novel with a mixture of anticipation and cautious scepticism – treating the alluring enticements to enter as nothing more than the world-weary siren call of an over zealous marketing man. But, miraculously, I was not disappointed this time, and though the wonderful Ms Garland, in fact, bears little resemblance to Angela Carter – she's far too original a voice to be a copy of anybody – The Palace of Curiosities is a dark and evocative exploration of the underbelly of Victorian society and a magic-realist journey through the fair grounds and freak shows that so fascinate this reviewer as a visual artist.

The novel follows the converging path of two outsiders, Eve the Lion Girl and Abel the Flayed Man – also known as Mr Lazarus – and takes us on an atmospheric journey that veers in and out of the (believable) supernatural and even manages a happy ending without ever once delving into sentimentality or sugary cliché. The writing is rich and verging on the poetic, and the characters are well-rounded and believable – Eve's story being particularly strong with a heady erotic undercurrent running throughout.

I very seldom resort to overblown kill-to-obtain-this-book soundbites, but this novel is a definite must-read. Highly recommended.

Max Scratchmann

Book: THE PALACE OF CURIOSITIES

Author: Rosie Garland

Publisher: HarperCollins

Click to go to Steve Savage's review site

Published in News
Monday, 24 March 2014 16:46

24.3.1014 - #mywritingprocess Blog Tour

#mywritingprocess – Blog Tour

I was asked to participate in this blog tour by wonderful wordsmith Steph Pike

Its purpose is to share current activities, link writers to their wider community and to spend a little time considering our latest projects - which could be either to tantalize readers or to give me the opportunity to chew over what exactly I'm doing. Either way, we get four questions to structure the post around:

1) What am I working on?

I grew up thinking there was something wrong with me, not helped by being surrounded by folk who encouraged that belief. There were many reasons, but here's the relevant one: I've always worked on more than one creative project at a time. Singing, poetry, fiction, painting my hall with a frieze of Egyptian goddesses... Do I bore easily? Am I a creativity junkie? Answers on a postcard.

After worrying myself stupid that it's 'wrong' to be like this, I've accepted it's how I am (and naysayers can bugger off). Poetry nourishes fiction, fiction nurtures song writing, and all of it feeds the soul. Plus, if I was only working on one thing, it'd be easy to, well, do nothing...

Right now I'm writing poetry using prompts from Jo Bell's inspirational 52 blog

  I'm gearing up for The March Violets tour dates in UK / Europe / USA.

I'm also doing the final edits for my second novel, Vixen, which is out June 17th. I'm lurching from fear (that it's absolute rubbish) to excitement (It's finished! I've really done it!).

Click to visit HarperCollins 'Vixen' page

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don't know if it does differ, or if it needs to. What is different, anyway?

Philosophical meanderings aside, one of the 'rules' I picked up in novel-writing workshops was never to use first person when writing weird or unusual characters, because the reader won't be able to identify with them.

But I'm fed up with marginalized voices being further marginalized via the semantic distancing of third-person. So, in my debut novel 'The Palace of Curiosities', I created Eve, a woman completely covered in hair. I was determined she should speak for herself rather than have her story filtered through 'normal' eyes. One of the most striking features of the wonderful feedback I've received is how much readers have identified with Eve. Rules are there to be bent into the shape we desire.

3) Why do I write what I do?

My mother used to ask, 'why can't you write nice stories?'

I don't explore dark themes as some kind of pose, or to be difficult, or challenging for the sake of it. I write what I write because that's what comes knocking. I write what interests me about the world.

Sure, I can produce something that doesn't fire me up (I've tried), but my heart's not in it. There's the rub: I write where my passions reside. I've chased myself in circles trying to second-guess what a publisher 'might' want and it was a disaster. There's no point twisting yourself into shapes trying to please. That way lies madness, and not the interesting, creative sort. Maybe it's one of the reasons it took me so long for my novels to get published. But that's a different blog

4) How does your writing process work?

I am inspired and moved by the wealth of creative strategies we use to get ourselves writing. I reckon there are as many processes as there are writers. I don't think it matters one iota whether you're a morning / afternoon / nocturnal writer, whether you prefer a pencil, an iPad or grind your own ink from freshly-roasted acorns. It's more important to find the process that works for you. Then use it.

Let's face it, every day I'm plagued with a million reasons to avoid writing - shopping, housework, TV, social networking, let alone my inner critic screaming how useless I am. Click to read my 'dealing with the inner critic' blog

If I have a routine it's easier to get the hell over myself and write. My writing process gives me an anchor, a lifebelt to hang onto and weather those storms.

Next week the blog tour adventure features three wonderful writers – Susan Elliott Wright, Cathy Bryant and Anne Caldwell.

Susan Elliot Wright is a London-born novelist who now lives in Sheffield, where she teaches creative writing and tries hard to take her own advice. Click for Susan's website / Click for Susan's blog

Cathy Bryant's poems and short stories have been published on five continents (just Antarctica holding out), and she is a former blogger for the Huffington Post. She has won nine literary awards including the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Prize, and co-edited the anthologies Best of Manchester Poets vols. 1, 2 and 3. Her second poetry collection, Look at All the Women, will be launched later in 2014. See more at Cathy's website

Anne Caldwell is a poet and literature consultant. She works for NAWE, The University of Bolton, The Open University and runs workshops in schools and community settings. Contact Tel. 07818 052108 email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Her latest collection is Talking with the Dead, Cinnamon Press 2011.

Click to visit Anne's website

Published in News

Suzi Feay has given 'The Palace of Curiosities' an amazing review on the Emerald Steet blog!

WOMEN YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

Two events make this weekend a goodie: International Women's Day and the launch of the inaugural Folio Prize Fiction Festival. There are events celebrating both occasions all weekend but tomorrow, the two overlap at On Reading Women, a discussion on literary heroines with authors Tessa Hadley and Frances Wilson, and literary critic Suzi Feay. There are still tickets left. Can't make it? Don't worry; Suzi has shared her favourite up-and-coming female fiction writers with us...

THE PALACE OF CURIOSITIES

BY ROSIE GARLAND (HARPERCOLLINS, £14.99)

"In this fabulously strange historical debut, a hair-covered young girl with the face of a lioness runs off to join a Victorian freak show and falls in love with a man who cuts himself. Throw in a super-creepy villain and you have a romp filled with sheer, demented fun."

Click here to go to Emerald Street site

Published in News
Sunday, 23 February 2014 11:03

21.2.2014 - Cover of 'Vixen' unveiled!

My second novel, 'Vixen', is not out till 19th June 2014...

but the cover has just been released!

Beautiful design by Alex Allden at HarperCollins, from an amazing image created by artist Lindsey Carr.

Click to go to Lindsey Carr's website

Colour me excited.

Published in News
Friday, 14 February 2014 10:52

14.2.2014 - Published in The Rialto, Issue 79

Issue 79 of The Rialto has just come out - and my poem 'Asking for Directions' is in it. The best Valentine's Day gift I could ask for.

I am very proud to have a second poem in this amazing magazine (described by Carol Ann Duffy as 'simply the best'). And yes – you can buy a copy via their website.

Click to go the The Rialto webpage

Published in News