News roundup: a scintillating Polari shortlist, Beatrice Hitchman’s intriguing Petite Mort, events, Maureen Duffy, Stella Duffy and more!

11 Sep

Cari’s been gambolling around the coast complete with baby seals, so you’re stuck with me again for this week’s post. Let’s have a quick romp through the news…

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petitmortThe Polari shortlist was announced at Monday’s Polari evening in London, and what an exciting short list it is. Paul Burston has commented on the great diversity of this year’s entries, which can be any first book that explores the LGBT experience in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction. Here’s the list:

Sarah Westwood‘s The Rubbish Lesbian – a collection of her columns for Diva magazine
Dean Atta‘s poetry collection I’m Nobody’s Nigger
Diriye Osman‘s short story collection Fairytales For Lost Children
Vernal Scott‘s God’s Other Children – a London memoir
Beatrice Hitchman‘s noir novel Petite Mort

We’ve mentioned Sarah Westwood’s book in passing before but we haven’t featured Beatrice Hitchman. Hitchman’s intriguing debut has drawn comparisons with the writing of Sarah Waters and Angela Carter and with films such as  Moulin Rouge.

Here’s the blurb for Petite Mort:

Beatricehitchman

Photo by Sarah Lee

A silent film, destroyed in a fire in 1913 at the Pathé studio, before it was seen even by its director. A lowly seamstress, who makes the costumes she should be wearing, but believes her talent – and the secret she keeps too – will soon get her a dressing room of her own.

A beautiful house in Paris, with a curving staircase, a lake, and locked rooms. A famous – and dashing – creator of spectacular cinematic illusions, husband to a beautiful, volatile actress, the most adored icon of the Parisian studios. All fit together, like scenes in a movie. And as you will see, this plot has a twist we beg you not to disclose…

For a bit more background on the book and author there’s a review in the Polari Magazine and an interview in Diva. You can also read more about Beatrice on her website.

Sticking with Polari just for a moment, you can read a little about the background of Polari and the Polari Tour here and also get a taster for what to expect from Kiki Archer at the Birmingham event in this video.

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duffy_maureenOn to interviews.

Maureen Duffy was interviewed on Totally4Women.  Maureen talked about diverse topics from prizes, her opinion of self-publishing and the representation of women in media. On that last matter she has this to say:

You have only to count the numbers of titles and reviewers in the Times Literary Supplement and London Review of Books by men as against those by women to see the discrimination. Also while women read books by both men and women, men read predominantly books by men. The emphasis is for youth and glamour for women writers still. Our enemy is still the patriarchal society, witness Cameron’s cabinet even after the reshuffle. Even Mrs Thatcher whom they all profess to admire was painfully dumped when the novelty wore off.

You can read the whole interview here.

ellendeanPlanet of the Books has a new author profile up and this time it’s Ellen Dean‘s turn. She answers the usual questions and this is what she had to say about spending the day as one of her favourite characters:

It has to be Hyacinth Dickinson from Beautiful Strangers and Beyond Midnight, Books 1 and 2 in the Hyacinth Dickinson Series. Tall, blonde and gorgeous. Hyacinth is psychic and can use telepathy to get into people’s minds and learn all their secrets, or make them do what she wants them to do. Plus, she owns valuable and rare diamonds (a girl’s best friend) two fabulous houses, a yacht and enjoys partying with a wide circle of friends. It would be a hard to decide where to actually be: in one of her fabulous houses, controlling the Amethyst Coven or lazing on the yacht in Cannes. Oh, decisions, decisions!

You can read the full profile here.

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fallingcoloursRJ Samuel‘s Falling Colours was reviewed over on Piercing Fiction. The review starts with “Let’s start by saying this is a fun book to read.” A phrase that might not auger too well with a Lynne Pierce review.

But fear not, the review’s a good one and this is what Lynne has to say in summation for RJ’s tale of a vision painter:

RJ Samuel has used the theme of a person caught between two cultures before, but Kiran has a comic twist that makes her fun while revealing the struggle she goes through.  The book is a slapstick mystery in the best tradition of the old 1930s movies.  It would be great to have a sequel to this book to see where Samuels could take the characters, but Kiran would have to bring Marge back again.  That might be too much for any of them to take.

Read Falling Colours.  It’s fresh; it’s different; it’s worth it.

You read the full review here.

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Clare-Lydon-LV-cropClare Lydon‘s been blogging again and this week it’s about some harsh truths for writers. Her ten truths cover everything from the number of copies a typical book sells (not many) and who cares about your manuscript (you and your mum). Here’s her truth about muses:

Writing is an art. But like any art, it’s 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration. Like anything, you have to work at it and you have to do regularly to get good at it – it takes practice. If you only write ‘when the muse takes you’, you will never finish that book you’re working on. And muses are like fairies btw – they don’t exist.

Here’s the full entertaining list.

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PayingGuest_D-2-186x300Now for our weekly sample of Sarah Waters news.

There was an interesting article in The New York Times this week. While everyone in the UK, from my mother-in-law to my doctor, is looking forward to picking up The Paying Guests, apparently that’s not the reception she gets in the US:

Ms. Waters has tended to receive less critical attention in the United States than at home. Laura Miller, who wrote a delighted review of her novel “The Little Stranger” for Salon, said that might be because she has fallen, unfairly, into a genre ghetto.

“She does have a devoted readership here, but if there’s a problem with her work getting the respect it deserves, it’s probably because it’s historical fiction. Some people who write it are at the top of their game … but at the same time, it’s full of cheesy, endless series about things like the women of the War of 1812.”

The article goes on to give some nice detail on Sarah Waters’ background from being the only gay in the village, to then meeting the other one and how she fell into writing. Here’s the full article.

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everythingStella Duffy has just released a collection of her work that has been previously published or broadcast on the radio. Here’s the blurb for Everything is Moving, Everything is Joined:

This collection of short stories brings together, for the first time, a selection of Stella Duffy’s award-winning writing, as well as some of the numerous stories that have been broadcast on radio and appeared in anthologies over the past 20 years. Many of these books are out of print and the radio broadcasts are unavailable; this collection therefore not only highlights the range and variety of her writing, but also breathes new life into some of her best stories.

Here’s the Amazon link although note that the Kindle version for 80 p is just a single short story.

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Finally some events for your diary including one tonight.

Nicola Griffith is touring at the beginning of October. The tour includes places as different and as far-flung as London and Ilkley. Full details are on her blog.

Stella Duffy and Catherine Hall are both appearing at Gay’s the Word tonight – a great chance to see two excellent authors. Starts at 7 p.m.  More details here.

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Right, my turn to gambol around the coast. Ta ra!

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