Displaying items by tag: mslexia novel competition

Friday, 03 February 2017 13:30

12.1.2017 - Interview in The Book Diner

Thank you to Sharon Zink for interviewing me for her blog, The Book Diner!

The blog title says it all - "History, Time Machines and Circuses: Novelist, Poet and Rock and Cabaret Star, Rosie Garland, brings her Magical World to the Book Diner"
… with some ruminations on research & how to keep going thrown in...
you can read the full text here:
http://sharonzink.com/the-book-diner-interviews/history-time-machines-and-circuses-novelist-poet-and-rock-and-cabaret-star-rosie-garland-brings-her-magical-world-to-the-book-diner/

Published in News

Thank you to Write-Track for featuring me on their blog!
Here is the text in full, with the link at the end.

On the Write Track - Adventures with writing habits
Keeping going – novelist Rosie Garland on persistence and creative rituals

Three years ago Rosie Garland had pretty much given up all hope of getting her novels published. Her agent wasn't taking her calls, rejections were coming thick and fast, and she'd been diagnosed with cancer. She had spent 12 years writing four and a half novels – perhaps it was time to call it a day? As her second novel is published to great acclaim she shares her experience of keeping going through the tough times.

Overcoming creative self-harm

Rosie had an early taste of fame as a singer in post-punk band the March Violets. Grown up responsibilities soon got in the way and full time work as a teacher pushed her creative projects to the side. She wrote short stories and poetry, and performed her cabaret act Rosie Lugosi, then at the turn of the millennium she got an idea "that was too big to be a poem or short story." Rosie made the decision to work part time to shift the balance of her work and creative life, she landed an agent, and dedicated more of her time to writing novels.

However, after 12 years Rosie had pretty much given up all hope of being published. She said:
"My agent wasn't getting back to me and I felt I had to stop continually putting myself through the self-cruelty of writing and having it rejected. It felt like a bizarre form of creative self-harm."

She needed to protect herself and go to "the places that weren't harming me. That was the poetry and singing and performance. So I made a decision to do that and that was when I entered the Mslexia competition as a last ditch attempt."

Mslexia ran its inaugural competition for unpublished novelists in 2011. Rosie not only bagged the top spot with The Palace of Curiosities, but got a place on the shortlist with another (as yet unpublished) novel. From this came a bidding war between publishers and a six-figure two-book deal with Harper Collins. Her second novel Vixen has just been published to rave reviews.

The apprentice novelist

Rosie believes if success had come earlier she might not be where she is now. "I might have sunk without a trace – become one of those people who has one book." She refers to the years of writing as her apprenticeship, and doesn't resent the time spent refining her writing skills. "The amount of time I have had to work to become a novelist has paid off. I have learnt my craft, I have done my apprenticeship."
She learned from her mistakes, referring to the second novel she wrote as "awful". She said, "it's going to stay under the bed forever. I will keep it as a reminder to never get above myself. The second novel was a process of writing something really badly – I can point to it, as an example of how not to write."

Keeping going: habits and rituals to support creativity

Over the years Rosie developed tactics to support her writing. The first is being open to feedback. She told me:
"I try to give myself as much input as possible. That might be going on a writing course, or Arvon retreat, getting full, frank feedback from tutors, my agent or editors. I don't want to write in a vacuum – 'bring it on' is my mantra! Part of being a writer is always wanting to grow, always wanting to learn, never taking for granted that I am a writer. Because I think the day that happens is a really bad day for me."

Her other support mechanism has been creative rituals. This is vital to someone who admits to being terrified of the blank page and needs a routine each day to get words on the page and the creative juices flowing. Rosie starts the day with three pages of journaling – she says this isn't creative writing but "rubbing the crust out of my eyes" and getting out of the way all the 'what I did yesterday' stuff.

She continues:

"The next thing I do is write six images. What a snail looks like climbing up a leaf, what it felt like to stub your toe. I do it every morning without fail, if miss one I do a catch up session later. Coming out of the six images I write a haiku. Then I do the classic three pages of morning pages – free writing coming out of the six images or using a writing prompt."

These rituals sound like a lot of work, but taken individually they are small tasks and quick to perform, and that's the secret for Rosie. "For me it's all about small commitments. Don't set yourself up to fail. If had to write a full chapter I wouldn't be able to do it."

Dealing with an inner critic – silencing Mavis

Morning can be a special time for writers and artists, and for Rosie it's when she's open to more playful non-linear writing, but also because her internal critic hasn't got out of bed yet.

Throughout her writing life Rosie has battled with a vicious internal critic. A few years ago she gave this critic a name: Mavis. She found that naming her was a release; separating the cruelty from herself made it easier to deal with the criticism.

Rosie says "My rituals are there to nurture and support me. They enable my writing; provide nourishment, support and food for my writing. Yet Mavis will say to me, 'call yourself an artist when you enjoy rituals so much.' That's Mavis telling me an artist flounces around in clothes pulled together from a bunch of headscarves."

A weekly reflection inspired by Julia Cameron

The rituals are the foundations of Rosie's writing, a way of keeping in touch with her creativity. She's a big fan of Julia Cameron, though admits it took nearly a year to complete one 12-week programme and felt it "nearly killed me!"

Her final ritual was inspired by Julia Cameron from her creativity bibles The Artist's Way and Walking in the World. Rosie takes time each week to reflect on four things:

How have my morning pages been going this week?
Have given myself an artist date?
Have I gone on an artist's walk?
Other issues – what else has been going on?

Keep going

For most of her life Rosie has worked while writing. "I haven't had the luxury of being a writer as my full time job. I have had to hack out time for my writing in around all the things that put bread on the table and keep the rent man from chucking you out the time at the end of week."

Getting cancer made Rosie realise that life is too short. She told herself, "I'm not doing this any longer. I don't care what's in the future, I'll just trust." Rosie's advice to others struggling to find their creative balance is to just "keep going". It might take a long time, but it will happen.

I'm going to give the last line to one of Rosie's characters, Anne from Vixen who says "I shall live that life like the gift it is, and waste neither it nor myself. I am my own woman. I like her. She has stories to tell and all of them are interesting."

Vixen was published in July in hardback, and The Palace of Curiosities is available in paperback. You can find out what Rosie has been up to by following her on Twitter @rosieauthor and Facebook Click to go to Rosie's Facebook page

Click here to go to Write-Track blog page

 

Published in News
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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
Saturday, 09 November 2013 11:41

The Palace of Curiosities

Winner of the Mslexia Novel Competition 2012, longlisted for The Desmond Elliott Prize 2013 and the Polari First Prize for First Book 2014. It was also winner of the Cooperative Bank 'Loved By You' LGBT Book of the Year 2013.

"Gentlemen and Ladies! You have come on a very special evening. How happy I am to welcome you to this Palace of Curiosities on such an auspicious occasion. What luck! What serendipity! For tonight we have mirth! Wit! And Jollity! We humbly offer for your discernment Wonder Unparalleled, Incredible Feats of Daring. Step inside for The Wonders of the Age! See The Lion-Faced Woman and The Marsyas of Modern Times, Star Attractions at Professor Arroner's Astonishing Marvels!"

The Palace of Curiosities: UK / Commonwealth all formats available (hardback, paperback, audio, ebook)

Read reviews here:

"Fabulously strange historical debut... a romp filled with sheer demented fun." - Suzi Feay

'The Palace of Curiosities is a jewel-box of a novel, with page after page, scene after scene, layer after layer of treats and surprises. Garland is a real literary talent: definitely an author to watch.' – Sarah Waters

'Garland's lush prose is always a pleasure.' – The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/apr/06/palace-of-curiosities-review

'Garland has woven an alternately brutal and beautiful story about love and belonging in a vividly conveyed underworld, rich in carny phantasmagoria and lyrical romance.' – The Metro
http://metro.co.uk/2013/03/27/3560891-3560891/

'The bewitching Palace of Curiosities will appeal to fans of Angela Carter & magic realism alike.' - Good Housekeeping

'Fantastic... It's an intriguing tale in which the narrative deftly alternates between the two lead characters, drawing readers ever deeper into a world that is horrifying and dazzling but seems every bit as real as our own.' – Creative Tourist
https://www.creativetourist.com/articles/reading-and-writing/liverpool/in-the-land-of-publishing-persistence-is-king-rosie-garland-gets-a-break/

'Garland has produced a fascinating and delightful book. A cross between Philip Pullman and Angela Carter, she takes us on an evocative and wonderful journey full of magical delights and stunning set pieces... she made me gasp with the audacity of her ideas and smile with the light beauty of her prose.' - GScene
https://issuu.com/gscene/docs/gscene_jun13?e=1754316/5558671

'The characters are fascinating, and Victorian London is vividly captured, and of course the language sparkles like sharp-cut jewels.' – Elizabeth Baines
http://elizabethbaines.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/rosie-garlands-launch-of-palace-of.html?spref=fb

'A stunning piece of work, with strong themes of identity, acceptance of the Other, and a touchingly unique love story between two fabulous main characters. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the benchmark against which the rest of this year's debuts will have to measure themselves.' – GoodReads
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/454021227

About the novel

Before Eve is born, her mother goes to the circus. She buys a penny twist of coloured sugar and perches on the edge of her seat to watch the heart-stopping main attraction: a lion, billed as a monster from the savage heart of Africa, forged in the heat of a merciless sun. Mama swears she hears the lion sigh, just before it leaps... and nine months later when Eve is born, the story goes, she doesn't cry – she meows and licks her paws.
When Abel is pulled from the stinking Thames, the mudlarks are sure he is long dead. As they search his pockets to divvy up the treasure, his eyes crack open and he coughs up a stream of black water. But how has he survived a week in that thick stew of human waste?
Cast out by Victorian society, Eve and Abel find succour from an unlikely source. They soar to fame as The Lion Faced Girl and The Flayed Man, star performers in Professor Josiah Arroner's Palace of Curiosities.
Set in 1850s London, this is the story of Eve and Abel; both freaks of nature searching for escape. It explores what it's like to be different, and traces their struggle for self-discovery on the boundaries of what is perceived as human.

 

Published in Novels

News and Events

  • Cover reveal for 'What Girls Do In The Dark' (Nine Arches Press)
    Cover reveal for 'What Girls Do In The Dark' (Nine Arches Press)

    I thought it wasn't possible to feel any more thrilled about joining Nine Arches Press
    - then I see the stunning cover of my new poetry collection, 'What Girls Do In The Dark'.
    Out October 2020
    https://www.ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/what-girls-do-in-the-dark.html

    Written on Tuesday, 14 July 2020 13:31
  • April 2020 - The Night Brother, Must-Read Manchester
    April 2020 - The Night Brother, Must-Read Manchester
    Manchester Confidential chooses The Night Brother as a must-read Manchester novel!

    Dystopian classics to modern crime - Nine must-read Manchester novels

    “Fantasy, romance, sci-fi, comedy…we’ve got a genre for everyone
    There’s a very good reason Manchester is a UNESCO City of Literature, as we highlighted before its bid to join the prestigious network in 2017. Innovative publishers, diverse bookshops and a lively events scene make it an unrivalled literary melting pot.

    Rosie Garland’s The Night Brother is our historical highlight
    Ever the entertainer, Rosie Garland sung in post-punk band The March Violets and now performs ‘twisted cabaret’ as Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen. But she’s also a literary maverick with an array of essays, short stories and poetry to her name (much of which she also reads at spoken words events citywide) and three acclaimed novels. Her latest, The Night Brother, navigates themes of gender and identity through two siblings in Victorian Manchester. Rich and Gothic, it’s a must for fans of Angela Carter.”

    https://confidentials.com/manchester/dystopian-classics-to-modern-crime-nine-must-read-manchester-novels

    Written on Thursday, 16 April 2020 18:18
  • April 2020 - The Night Brother - Best Northern Read
    April 2020 - The Night Brother - Best Northern Read

    An unexpected & encouraging piece of news!
    Northern Soul has selected 'The Night Brother' as a Best Northern Read

    Desmond Bullen, Northern Soul writer
    “In days that can seem desolate and uncertain, there’s a lot to be said for windows into a better world and, ultimately, joyfully, that is exactly the view that The Night Brother by Rosie Garland affords. Not that its window seat is cheaply achieved. Far from it.
    Rooted with disbelief-suspending specificity in Manchester at the end of the 19th century, Garland’s novel blossoms compellingly from the exquisite simplicity of its central conceit, one which owes the tiniest debt to the 1971 horror film Dr. Jekyll And Sister Hyde. Edie and her brother Gnome are joined in a very particular symbiosis, so that their singular sibling rivalry threatens to be the undoing of both. Themes that could be leaden in other hands emerge from the premise with a beautiful lightness of touch, developing into a persuasive fable of inclusivity and self-acceptance. This is a book that sings a rainbow at its end.”


    https://www.northernsoul.me.uk/books-best-northern-reads-part-one/

    Written on Thursday, 09 April 2020 15:26
  • 'What Girls Do In The Dark' - new poetry collection with Nine Arches Press
    'What Girls Do In The Dark' - new poetry collection with Nine Arches Press
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    I’m thrilled to be on the 2020 list of Nine Arches Press!
    I’m in the company of a fantastic group of poets. I couldn’t be happier.

    https://www.ninearchespress.com/about-us/news.html

    “Midlands-based independent poetry publisher Nine Arches Press, which achieved Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation status in 2018, will publish eleven new books of poetry in 2020, from a mix of established and emerging poets from across the UK and across the world…

    Acclaimed novelist Rosie Garland will also join the 2020 list in October with her third full collection of poems What Girls Do in the Dark, a book alive with galactic, glimmering energy. Rosie’s award-winning short and long fiction, poems and essays have been widely anthologised and in 2019 she was selected by Val McDermid as one of the 10 most compelling LGBTQI+ writers working in the UK.”

    Image: Poets confirmed for the Nine Arches Press 2020 list
    Top: l-r: Jennifer Wong, Rishi Dastidar, Abegail Morley, Geraldine Clarkson, Nina Mingya Powles.
    Bottom: l-r: Peter Kahn, Maria Taylor, Gregory Leadbetter, Rosie Garland, Kate Fox

    Written on Saturday, 08 February 2020 14:20
  • 11th & 12th January 2020 - Bhubaneswar Literary Meet & Mumbai Spoken Fest
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    I’m deeply honoured!
    The British Council has invited me to read, perform, and present workshops in India…
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    I can’t wait – not only for the opportunity to share my work in India for the first time… but to meet so many inspiring writers!

    Written on Monday, 23 December 2019 14:19