Tuesday, 30 March 2010

While Not Writing …

I thought I'd share some of the novels I’ve enjoyed reading recently. A couple were written by very talented local authors, but really there’s no theme or reason to this selection (I generally like to read randomly), aside from the fact that these five are especially great and they happened to be part of what I've been up to while Not Writing.

Before The Earthquake by Maria Allen
Breathtakingly evocative and hugely enjoyable, 'Before the Earthquake' takes place in rural Italy at the turn of the century and follows 15 year old Concetta's search for lost memories - her emotional journey is as finely wrought as the book’s unique setting. A stunning debut.

Attention Deficit by Nigel Pickard
By turns, funny, heart-wrenching and hard-hitting. A tale of life and education told in parallel through the compelling and distinctive voices of incorrigible teacher, Harry, and disruptive pupil, Lewis, as they each stumble towards crisis. I was swept along. A completely cracking read.

After You’d Gone by Maggie O'Farrell
This novel was recommended to me during a discussion about writing flashbacks. Somehow I’d never read O’Farrell before and I’m very pleased I finally have. This story expertly weaves together different threads and her work generally seems to be all about secrets (which is perhaps my very favourite subject too). I’ll definitely be catching up with more.

Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates
I love Joyce Carol Oates. I love her unstoppable energy and her courage. I love her true and twisted vision of how we are and how we might be, and the strange, dark, rhythmic poetry of her prose. Basically, I just love her.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
What can I say this book that hasn’t already been said? Quite frankly, nothing. Except that for me, it's perhaps even better second time round (I first read it 20 years ago – 20!!! How did that even happen?)

I’ve also been reading (and chatting about) my own novel too. This month, ‘The Dawning’ was featured at a lovely evening reading event at the gorgeous and truly pioneering independent bookshop, The Bookcase, in Lowdham and also at the Independent Press Fair at De Montfort University. (Thank you The Bookcase for lovely wine and nibbles and lovely people. Thank you States of Independence for such an incredibly inspiring day).

P.S. You may be relieved, or completely un-bothered, to hear that I’ve now allowed myself to start (re)writing again. It’s driving me crazy. I’m loving it. Thus the usual insane balance of my universe has been restored.

Monday, 22 March 2010

On Not Writing

I’ve been trying not to write anything creative lately. I’ve gone two weeks already, I'm hoping for three. But I’m not very good at it. (I’m often not very good at writing either, but that’s a whole other post).

I’m attempting to gain some space so that when I return to take another long, hard look over the latest draft of my third novel, The Lives of Ghosts, I’ll be more likely to see it as a reader might. That’s the idea anyway.

In the meantime, I’m not letting myself anywhere near brand-spanking-new novel 4 either (despite its muttering) and I’m not even allowed to approach that dusty file of half-baked, half-finished short stories either.

There have been lots of fabulous happenings to keep me busy*, but mostly I’ve been trying to focus on just reading.

And I love reading. It's the most important thing - without reading, why would I write? And many of the books I’ve been reading have been brilliant*. But at the moment, it’s not enough. I’m still waking early, but instead of stumbling, zombie-style, for the coffee pot and a notebook or my laptop, I’m simply lying there, amidst the flotsam, thinking strange things or the same things, over and over again, around and back.

I miss my secret dark mornings twitching with words (even when the words were wrong). And I miss that feeling of dropping right off the edge, into a story. Those melting moments when the story becomes more real than anything else. I’m also even missing fiddling with a single sentence for twenty minutes before deleting it altogether in a huff.

I may have already cheated a little too. My brief notes scribbled on the bus (quick - while I remember!) sort of . . .grew. As did a letter to an old friend until it wasn’t really anything about us anymore.

And I seem to be blogging (/blithering) more than usual too*. Apologies for that.

My husband thinks that writing provides an outlet for me, especially for any weirdness, or sadness. He reckons it’s what keeps me (relatively) sane. Right now, he’d better watch out in case he’s right.

*details to follow in yet another post – I bet you can’t wait!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Nottingham Evening Post Review

And another one (!) this time in today's Evening Post -

Page-turner set in the Peak District

The Dawning, Megan Taylor, Weathervane Press, £7.99

On a momentous New Year's Eve amidst the backdrop of the Peak District, the seemingly ideal Haywood family unravels in this tense second novel by Nottingham author Megan Taylor. The characters are all intelligently formed, with mum Stella the stand-out personality. And whilst some scenes are uncomfortable to read, there is a deliciously realistic atmosphere plus some clever plot devices.

- Oonagh Robinson

It's brilliant to see it in the paper (- and with Rose Tremain reviewed next door!)

A lucky week this week, for sure (-:

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Vulpes Libris Review

The truly marvellous booksite Vulpes Libris features a review of The Dawning today. Here's a glimpse -

'Taylor writes like a modern D H Lawrence. The quality of her rich and poetic prose wraps you round like a fur coat on a winter’s night . . . read slowly to savour it.'

- Wow!

Enormous thanks to the incredibly talented, indomitable and very generous Anne Brooke. What a wonderful surprise this was to wake up to :-D

Monday, 15 March 2010

States of Independence - This Saturday, 20th March!


Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Oxford Street, Leicester

10.30am – 4.30pm, Saturday 20th March.

Stalls from dozens of independent publishers.
Workshops, readings and book launches.
Independent presses from across the region (and some from around the country) will be on site, together with many regional writers whose work is published by large and small independent publishers. Join us for an hour or two or the whole day.

Open to all and free of charge.

How can you resist?

A brilliant, buzzy event, with bucket-loads of inspiration and imagination for every kind of book lover. There will be poetry and crime fiction, novel and magazine launches, industry insights, short stories and so much more ...
And I'll be reading in the afternoon too (but please don't let that put you off - in fact, come and say hello)

For further information visit http://www.statesofindependence.co.uk/

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Cheers to you Nottingham!

When we decided to move for my partner’s job almost seven years ago, I wasn’t even quite sure where Nottingham was (I know - I’m sorry!). I’d lived in South London all my life; I was surrounded by family and old friends. My son was still at infant school, my daughter still in nappies. Things were safe and happy, if in a bit of a skint, day-to-day bumbling-along, unthinking kind of way.

Moving away with hardly any money and no guarantees and small children to re-settle wasn’t easy, but I soon started to discover brilliant Nottingham things (wonderful countryside nearby, some excellent eating, music, cracking cocktails, lovely people …). And I had no idea that books would become such a part of my life here too.

Before I moved to Nottingham, I wasn’t published. Although I’d always loved writing and becoming an author was a long-term daydream, I had never considered studying creative writing and I rarely shared my stories. Firstly, living in Nottingham gave me the space to start taking my writing more seriously. And later on, it offered me support.

Nottingham Writers’ Studio has been inspirational, presenting many opportunities, along with introductions to a varied and vibrant range of writing people from poets to journalists, playwrights to publishers (including my wonderful second publisher, Weathervane Press). There really is an awful lot of fabulous writing business going on in this town. And the fiction produced here is amazing.

I’ve just finished reading Maria Allen’s hugely enjoyable and evocative debut Before the Earthquake. Just before that, I was blown away by Jon McGregor’s third masterpiece, Even the Dogs - and before that, I was enormously moved by Frances Thimann’s haunting collection Cello and Other Stories. Over the next month, I’m looking forward to reading Nigel Pickard’s Attention Deficit and Roberta Dewa’s Holding Stones. And last Saturday, while attending the East Midlands Writing Industries Conference, the supremely talented Nicola Monaghan (acclaimed author of The Killing Jar, Starfishing and The Okinawa Dragon) came over to ask me to sign her copy of The Dawning! I already knew how lovely and supportive Nicola was from reading with her last year – nonetheless, I was dead chuffed. And very pleased, and very grateful, to be writing in Nottingham too.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Fiona Reviews!

Fresh from the success of her brilliant Blogsplash, the talented and lovely Fiona Robyn has nonetheless taken the time to read and review 'The Dawning'


Thank you Fiona!!