Displaying items by tag: rosie garland

Someone out there loves your work. Maybe they just haven't seen it yet.

Here's my blog on Women Writers, Women Books. Get submitting. Then the person who loves your work might actually get to see it.

Click for Books By Women website

This month, three judges decide the winner of the 2nd Mslexia Unpublished Novel Competition. Someone is about to receive a life-changing phone call. Two years ago, I was that woman.

I never imagined I would be. Fairytales are for other folk. I'd lost faith in my writing 'getting anywhere': indeed, I'd lost faith in my ability to write. But my winning novel, The Palace of Curiosities, was published in March 2013 by HarperCollins UK, one of the world's largest publishing companies. It's still a shock.

Like many writers, I've been writing for as long as I remember (I have a cough-sweet tin filled with miniature books I wrote for my dolls). By the end of the 90s I'd had poetry and short stories published, and I'd built up a following on the performance poetry circuit. I got an idea for a novel and was buoyed up by a run of early success: commendations in two fiction competitions and interest from a small publisher.

The crowning event of 2000 was a letter from a major London literary agency. They'd seen my competition entry, were impressed, and wanted to represent me. I danced around the room! I showed them my first novel, expecting wild enthusiasm. The agent advised waiting for a mainstream deal, so I turned down the small press. Naively, I waited for lucrative deals to come flying in. They didn't.

Over the next twelve years, I wrote four-and-a-half novels. Not one was 'good enough', however hard I tried – and I tried very hard. Then I was passed to a different agent who regaled me with stories of the terrible state of the publishing industry. No-one showed interest in what I was writing.

I stopped telling friends about my novels, humiliated by rejection after rejection. I regretted turning down the small publisher. It was a tough job to keep going during those long, slow, arid years. Then I got throat cancer and everything stopped while I put my life-energy into recovery. But there's nothing like a peek at your sell-by date to give you a boot up the backside. So, after I got the all-clear I emailed my agent and said, Let's Do This Thing. He didn't even reply.

His final rejection was my lowest point. I needed to move on. I could not continue putting my life into something that was giving me no nourishment. I didn't regret those twelve years, because no writing is ever wasted. But it was time to stop banging my head against a brick wall.

In 2011 Mslexia announced their Inaugural Novel Competition. As a last-ditch-last-fling, I dusted off novels #3 and #4 and sent them in, figuring I had nothing to lose except the entry fee. Both made the shortlist of ten. I was astounded: perhaps I could write fiction, after all. And one of the judges was Sarah Waters. A writing heroine. Liked. My. Work.

Novel #4, 'The Palace of Curiosities' won outright. Within a week I had an enthusiastic new agent. Within a fortnight she sent it to fifteen UK publishers and I was at the heart of a bidding war. The result was a 2-book deal with HarperCollins UK. It was bizarre – the same words in the same order, yet a year before I couldn't get it through the door of one publisher, let alone fifteen. I spent a long time pinching myself.

To say winning the Mslexia Novel Competition boosted my confidence is a vast understatement. I've proved to myself that I can write fiction: it was just a case of finding the right people to read it. The competition was judged anonymously and that makes me particularly proud. I am not This Year's Bright Young Thing, have not attended a fashionable Creative Writing Masters program, nor do I have industry connections. I won because of the quality of the writing.

It was the best £25 I spent in my entire life. I strongly encourage writers to enter as many competitions as possible. Someone out there loves your work – but they need to see it. So get it out there. Do it now.

Yes, I still have crises of self-doubt. But I've discovered a sense of validation, a punching-the-air 'I did it!' The win - and the resulting two-book deal – have given financial choices I never thought to have. I've given up my day job to focus full-time on writing. I've received writing commissions, invitations to lecture on University courses, been nominated for and won awards, toured book festivals...

I still subscribe to Mslexia. I still get up every morning and write. I take nothing for granted. I'm not a rest-on-my-laurels gal. I've built resilience, learned humility and discovered the extent of my determination to keep going in the face of rejection and failure. And I have regained a belief in my writing.

Published in News
Sunday, 26 January 2014 13:40

26.1.2014 - GAYDIO interview available online

GAYDIO – The Sunday Forum with Andrew Edwards
What's it like to grow up different?

Writer Rosie Garland is perhaps better known as Rosie Lugosi the Lesbian Vampire Queen. Rosie started out in the gothic rock band The March Violets in the 1980s and has developed a hugely successful career as an award winning poet and and cabaret performer. Her most famous alter ego is Rosie Lugosi the Lesbian Vampire Queen and Rosie reveals to Andrew what it feels like to perform the character.

Rosie is enjoying new success as a novelist and her first book The Palace of Curiosities was published last year and won wide acclaim. Novelist Sarah Waters dubbed it "a jewel box of a novel".

Rosie has eclectic tastes in music and you can hear her choices and her reasons in the interview. Rosie also talks about her coming out as a lesbian and more recently as bisexual. The Mix Tape is on Gaydio on Sunday morning from 7am and then on demand from 10am nwplayer.gaydio.co.uk and 88.4FM.

Click here to listen to the full interview

Click here to visit the GAYDIO site

Published in News
My poem 'The Sum of all Meat' has just been announced winner of the Ariadne's Thread first Poetry Competition.

I'll admit to being surprised... it's a poem about an abattoir worker and I thought it would put the judges off. Another example of the importance of writers having the courage of their convictions. A fabulous start to 2014!

To check out Ariadne's Thread magazine – click the link.

Ariadne's Thread website

Published in News

'The Palace of Curiosities' is declared winner of the Cooperative Respect 'Loved by You' Awards Book of the Year 2013!

Drum roll please...

The Cooperative were amazed by the positive response to the 'Respect 'Loved by You' Awards'.

The awards generated lots of interest: 8,753 nominations were received and the awards reached over 2.5 million people on Twitter with lots of support from community groups, celebrities and charities. The winners of the awards were those that received the most nominations.

The awards were an opportunity for people from all over the UK (anyone in the world could vote too) to vote for their favourites in 27 diverse categories. Categories ranged from 'LGBT Charity of the Year' to 'Inclusive Event of the Year'. We worked hard to ensure all areas of life and interests were covered in the categories, and to ensure they had a real community feel.

"We believe the awards offer a rare opportunity for the smallest community groups and events to be celebrated alongside the biggest. We don't think there are enough opportunities to celebrate the inspiring work and positive impact of more isolated and community based groups, events and initiatives."

Click to go to the Cooperative website

Published in News

I'm struck by the number of people who see biblical overtones in The Palace of Curiosities (especially how I named the characters), and who suppose that was my intention.

First up, there were no biblical intentions on my part. Secondly, if that's how you read the novel, that's absolutely fine by me.

The two main protagonists in the novel are called Eve and Abel. Some readers have seen a conscious tip 'o' the pen to the Genesis story: Eve being the first woman (except for Lilith of course – but moving swiftly on...) and Abel (her son, the 'nice' brother of Cain). All very compelling. Except that when I was writing the novel, none of the above crossed my mind.

Eve is named after my grandmother. Born in 1895 she was (just) a Victorian, and a wonderfully strong-minded woman to boot. She nurtured my love of reading and what greater gift could I have asked for. I named Eve in her honour.

As for Abel – his name is inspired by linguistic theory. There's a link below with references to more detailed studies, but here it is in brief. Human babies worldwide make very similar noises when they start to 'babble', regardless of the language they are born into. These first sounds are invariably ma-ma-ma and then da-da and ba-ba (hence words for mother / father in many languages being based on these clusters).

At the start of the novel, Abel is being 're/born' – with profound memory loss. I wondered what on earth he would say when asked his name. Maybe it went something like this, I reasoned.

- What's your name, mate?

- Ma-ma-ma.

- What did you say? Speak up, mate. Can't hear you.

- Ab-ba-ba.

- Abel, is that what you're trying to say? Eh?

- Yes. I am Abel (he breathes a sigh of relief, as he was getting panicky at not even remembering his own name).

So, no Bible. He's just babbling.

However, don't feel you have to believe me. I only wrote the darn thing.

That's the magic of novels. When they are out there - on the shelves, on your Kindle - they don't 'belong' to the author any more. They no longer exist in the vacuum of the author's mind.

What you bring to The Palace of Curiosities (and thank you for reading) is your own eye, your own ear, your own history, your own imagination. A whole life I have no idea about because it is yours. As soon is the book is read – it changes. Each reader makes it anew.

That is the alchemy of reading – and how very wonderful it is.

Further reading:

Click this link to go to Wiki page about language acquisition

Published in News

I've been invited to be guest lecturer at the Creative Writing Department of Staffordshire University. It's a great honour. It's also open to interested members of the public – the date is Thursday 30th January 2-4pm. For details see the Gig List page.

I shall be focussing on editing and rewriting, especially fiction.

Published in News

The March Violets 'Made Glorious' tour 2013 is underway and ongoing!

Taking in venues and events such as Antichrist (London), The Trades Club (Hebden Bridge), Un-Peeled (Preston), Corallo (Italy), Bannermans (Edinburgh), The Cluny (Newcastle), 02 Academy (Islington) & Whitby Goth Weekend – it's going to be a very busy month.

Check out the gig page for more details...

Click this link for detailed gig listing

And The March Violets new website:

Click this link for the official March Violets website

Published in News
I had a wonderful experience as guest reader at The Arvon Foundation!

Lumb Bank in Heptonstall is a magical place – I've attended writing retreats there in the past, so it was a great honour to be invited to be guest reader.

Lemn Sissay and Hannah Pool are amazing tutors: truly inspiring. They made me feel very welcome. Thanks to the Centre Directors, Lemn and Hannah - and of course all the course participants for making it such a memorable evening!

Published in News

Many thanks to Cat Lumb for her blog review of The Palace of Curiosities paperback launch at the Manchester Museum for Manchester Literature Festival!

Excerpt here:

"When I asked her what had kept her going when it didn't seem like her book was ever going to be published she answered with a plain and direct: 'Bloody-mindedness'.

She spoke about how she couldn't stop writing even if no one ever got to see her work – something I have to say, I agree with. She was fortunate to have very supportive friends and the dedication inside the opening page reflects this: To everyone who believed I could get here, even when I didn't. This, I have to admit, is one of the more touching dedications I have seen in a long while."

Read the full review here:

Click link for Cat Lumb's site

Published in News
Friday, 18 October 2013 09:31

8.10.2013 - The Skinny feature and interview

Really pleased to have an interview & feature in The Skinny this month!

It's free to pick up in venues round Liverpool & Manchester during October, or click on the link below and go to 'current issues'.

The Skinny - main website

Published in News