Tag Archives: Niamh Murphy

Halloween Q&A

31 Oct

halloweenIt’s Halloween and whether you have a tub of sweets ready for trick or treaters, or the lights off to pretend you’re not in, it’s a fabulous night to curl up with a creepy book.

We asked several authors which books frightened them most and which character scared the bejeebers out of them. Here are their answers:

I Beacham
The most frightening book I’ve ever read is Ghost Story by Peter Straub (it was made into a movie of the same name with Fred Astaire).

ghoststoryWithout giving too much away, the story is about four aging men in a town someplace upstate New York who get together on a regular basis and over firelight and whiskey, exchange ghost stories. They call themselves The Chowder Society. It is clear that the men have known each other for years and were once teenage / early twenties buddies. The key to this story is that they all hide a tragic secret of something they did during their youth.  It is this tragedy that now returns to haunt them in the most chilling way. As the book progresses, the more frightening things become.

Without any shadow of a doubt, the most scary character is the woman in the book (I’m not giving any names away here for fear of spoiling a wonderful read).  Just know that the beautiful woman who is now going out with one of the aged men’s son is not all she appears to be!

If you’re looking for a good ghost book (and the movie was brilliant too), seek no further!

Niamh Murphy
DraculaI went through a phase of reading Gothic Horror books in my early teens (Point Horror just didn’t do it for me!) and although I found the imagery somewhat unsettling and the penny dreadful plots were enjoyable escapism, no book really ‘frightened’ me until I read about the grimly realistic dystopia set out in George Orwell’s 1984.

Things that go bump in the night are all well and good, but the really frightening thought for me would be to live in a world without art, where literature and expression are suppressed and love is forbidden. Even now, over sixty years since it’s release, the book still feels as though it is talking about a future almost within reach. Scary stuff.

For most scary character: I have to say that although Bram Stoker’s Dracula is not brilliantly written, nor is the plot particularly captivating (I seem to remember there was an awful lot of administration and paperwork) the one character I have found genuinely creepy in any book has been the eponymous Dracula himself. It wasn’t his murder of every last person aboard the ‘Demeter’, his bloodsucking or his shape shifting that bothered me, it was one description early on in the book in which Jonathon Harker looked out from a window in the castle and saw the Count crawling along the castle walls like a spider. That was really quite awful!

To this day I still have visions of it.

Angela Peach
bone collectorI read The Dark by James Herbert when I was about 11 years old, and it scared me for months! Ironically, I don’t mind the dark now, but at the time, I was scared lifeless. Not been scared like that since! As for character that scared me the most, I guess the killer in The Bone Collector is an example of what scares me – real life killers with no remorse or conscience for their victims.

Suzanne Egerton
My most frightening book is, I think, one by Graham Masterton, read many years ago. I thought it was called The Manitou, but reading the blurb just now didn’t bring up the memory, so maybe it was one of his others. The cover depicted a heavily-carved chair, I recall. The chair was possessed by a (very) malevolent spirit, which caused it to writhe and wreak havoc on the owner, a decent chap who had taken a fancy to it.

So the scary character is the chair (snigger if you will, but I imagined it manifesting itself at the bottom of the bed for ages – stupid girl!)

I tend to avoid scary stories, on the whole. Wasn’t bothered by The Rats (the ones on I’m a Celeb etc. are so obviously well-fed pet-grade animals, I worry about the celebs hurting them, rather than vice versa). And I find these ‘most haunted’ programmes too ludicrous to watch. What I find horribly frightening are psychopaths and sadists, rather than sobbing blobs of ectoplasm!

Clare Ashton
pitandpendulumMost of the scary stories that made an impression on me I read as a kid – Lord of Rings and the ring wraiths, gothic Edgar Allan Poe short stories (I’ve got a knot in my belly just thinking about the Pit and the Pendulum).

As an adult it’s actually taken kids’ stories to have that same deep emotional impact. The book that made me most fearful was His Dark Materials trilogy with its concept of daemons (people’s souls embodied as most loved companion animals). The experimenters irrevocably separating children from their daemons and Lyra being painfully parted from Pantalaimon were some of the most vivid and moving pieces of writing I’ve read.

Scariest characters? Dementors. Just for that chilling scenario of being locked away in your own head in inconsolable despair. Wonderfully terrifying creations.

Kate Snowdon
rats The most frightening book I’ve read is James Herbert’s The Rats. And it wasn’t a character that had me checking under my bed and blocking off gaps under my door, it was those delightful furry / hairy creatures.

Lesley Davis
I have thought long and hard on these questions and have to say I can’t answer either! I have never really read scary books (I don’t call Stephen King / James Herbert scary!) and have no memory of anything I’ve read frightening me. I’ve always been more drawn to Sci-fi than horror. I’m not a big fan of being scared, the closest I get to horror is playing the zombie maps in the Call of Duty games!

 Ke Payne
womaninblackI’m not a huge fan of horror novels as such, but I’d have to say that the book that I can distinctly remember giving me the heebie jeebies was James Herbert’s The Rats. There’s a revolting scene in a cinema which still creeps me out when I think about it.

The scariest character which has me hiding behind cushions is The Woman in Black (from Susan Hill’s novel). There’s something about how she silently stands in the cemetery of Eel Marsh House watching Arthur Kipps that makes me want to put all the lights on in the house. And have the dog on the sofa next to me – just in case.

News Roundup: UK Authors at the VLR, Rainbow Awards Finalists, Sarah Waters’ New Novel, Giveaways Galore & Loads More

3 Oct

Even if the weather stays mild, there are still indisputable signs that summer’s over and done with. The nights start to draw in, the telly gets a hell of a lot better, The Great British Bake Off has everyone craving CAKE (and Sue Perkins!), politicians return from their holidays and immediately resume their roles of acting like dicks, and Christmas puds hit the shelves in Asda.

In terms of UK LesFic, the signs look a little like this: new books come flying out, everyone’s suddenly doing stuff, planning stuff or writing stuff, Tig and I are chasing around news snippets like mad things, the awards season kicks off, and the news subsequently expands its waistline like someone sitting down to a lunch of pie, chips and beans.

Better get started then, eh?

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717930First this week, an early heads-up about a special Spotlight Weekend for UK LesFic authors at the Virtual Living Room. Running from 11th-14th October, the weekend will feature a whole host of familiar faces answering questions and chatting to readers and other authors. And who might these familiar faces be?

Kiki Archer (But She is My Student, Instigations, Binding Devotion and One Foot on the Ice)

I Beacham (Sanctuary and The Rarest Rose)

Andrea Bramhall (Ladyfish and Clean Slate)

Crin Claxton (Scarlet Thirst and The Supernatural Detective)

Rachel Dax (After the Night, The Legend of Pope Joan Part I and Part II)

Suzanne Egerton (Out Late with Friends and Regrets)

Cari Hunter (Snowbound and Desolation Point)

VG Lee (The Woman in Beige, The Comedienne, Always You Edina and Diary of a Provincial Lesbian)

Niamh Murphy (Mask of the Highway Woman, Delicious and A Fairy Tale Retold)

R.J. Samuel (Heart Stopper, Falling Colours, Casting Shadows and In Your Words)

Jade Winters (143, Talk Me Down from the Edge and A Walk into Darkness)

My lovely blog buddy Clare Ashton will be moderating, along with Beni Gee and Terry Baker. If you want to come along and join in the fun, click the link at the top, which will take you to the group’s main page.

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RJSamuelAuthorPicFor those stubborn souls who may need more incentive to sign up to the VLR, R.J. Samuel is currently running an exclusive VLR giveaway for the first two novels in her Vision Painter series, Falling Colours and Casting Shadows. Members can choose one of the books, and the offer is open until October 7th.

R.J. also had this to say about her upcoming trip to Women’s Week in the USA:

“I will be doing two readings in Provincetown on the GCLS panels – Thursday panel 11:00 am to 11:35 am and Friday 11:35 am to 12:10 pm. I’ll be giving away 10 ‘Limited Edition’ J printed copies of my short story In Your Words (including excerpts of Heart Stopper and Falling Colours) to the first 5 women at each reading to come up to me after the readings and say hi. (And yes, this is a blatant ploy to avoid being the only author standing alone twiddling my thumbs after the panel readings J ).”

Fans who may have been looking forward to new work from R.J. should check out her latest blog post, which gives a bit of an insight into her writing and why she’s not quite as up to speed with it as she might have liked. Here’s hoping her muse is feeling slightly less bewildered but still finding time for plenty of cupcakes…

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FinalistSMEarlier this week, the Rainbow Awards announced their Honourable Mentions (books scored 36+/40 by at least one judge), swiftly followed by the full list of finalists for each individual category.

Honourable mentions went to Kiki Archer for Binding Devotion (Lesbian Contemporary General Fiction), Andrea Bramhall for Ladyfish (Lesbian Contemporary Romance) and Jade Winters for A Walk Into Darkness (Lesbian Mystery Thriller).  Joining them in the finals are: I. Beacham with The Rarest Rose (Lesbian Paranormal Romance) and me (Cari Hunter!) with Desolation Point (Lesbian Mystery Thriller).

A full list of finalists can be found at the link, and the winners will be announced on December 8th. Congrats and best of British to all 🙂

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A4Another busy little soul at the moment is Kiki Archer, who has been celebrating the release of her new novel One Foot Onto The Ice by chatting to Lucy Jo Amos over here at Lucy’s blog, and taking part in a video interview with When Sally Met Sally, where she faced the lose-lose scenario of choosing between twerking or eating a freeze-dried worm.

Worm. Every time. I do not twerk.

You can catch the interview at the link. Meanwhile, in a new review, Terry Baker had this to say about One Foot Onto The Ice:

One of the really great things about this book is the laugh out loud humor throughout. I’m only too pleased I read this book indoors. It’s hilarious in places. I would defy anyone to read the scene with Susan and Jenna in the bathroom without laughing. This is a brilliantly written scene as it shows Jenna in a really different light. So, there is a whole range of emotions across the board to be experienced between the pages.

The full review can be found here.

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HanselGretalSticking with reviews for the moment with another of Terry’s, this time for Jade WintersA Walk Into Darkness:

This well written mystery, murder, intrigue, romance had me totally hooked from the very first page through to the last page. To say it is a page turner is an understatement. I couldn’t get through the book fast enough to find out how it ended. I knew Jade Winters was a talented writer from reading some of her short stories. But, she has really excelled herself in penning this full length book that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.

And over at Rainbow Book Reviews, they’ve been singing the praises of Niamh Murphy‘s fairytale reworking Gretel:

This is a truly imaginative, inventive, and ingenious re-telling of such a beloved classic. I felt completely immersed as if I shared Gretel’s mind and body. I became enthralled by Maeve and yes, possibly bewitched. I applaud the brilliance of this short story and completely recommend it!

As always, the full reviews are available at the links.

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598px-Sarah_WatersThe drip feed of details about Sarah Waters‘ new novel continues over at her website. We now have a title, an era and an indication of what the book will be about. The Paying Guests (due for release in autumn 2014) will be set in the 1920s, and its blurb currently reads like this:

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

For with the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the ‘clerk class’, the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. And as passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far, and how devastatingly, the disturbances will reach…

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Speaking of upcoming novels, LT Smith has a new Facebook page, where she has just announced the forthcoming publication of her novel/novella (it’s 40,000 words in length) Puppy Love. The book looks set to join See Right Through Me in a November 2013 release. A cover is still pending but the blurb can be found on the New & Upcoming Releases page. All proceeds from the book will go to charities to help puppies in need. Aww.

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GB-Cover1It’s almost time for dinner (it was tea-time when I bloody started!) so a quick mention of two current giveaways:

V.T. Davy is running a Mystery Voice Twitter competition to win copies of A Very Civil Wedding. To enter you need to click the link, identify the voice and tweet your answer before October 6th. To be notified of the results, follow @LiberationBooks (she says, like she knows what the hell she’s talking about – I tweet about as much as I twerk!)

Finally, for US readers only, Stella Duffy has a GoodReads giveaway for copies of her novel Parallel Lies. The competition runs until 15th October. Sorry UK peeps, I don’t make the rules.

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BSB_Scarlet_ThirstOkay, when I said that was the last thing I lied, because I stupidly checked Facebook JUST IN CASE I’d missed anything and there was Crin Claxton telling folks that her revised version of lesbian vampire romp Scarlet Thirst is now going cheap on amazon (UK and US) for a limited time. And when I say cheap, I mean £3.32, which is a bloody – no pun intended – bargain, and perfectly timed for Halloween.

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Right, I’ve put my blinkers and the kettle on. If anyone else does anything exciting, it’ll have to wait till next week…

News roundup: a busy week in UK LesFic

19 Aug

Well, a week’s a long time in UK lesbian fiction. So here we go…

Sep issue image #1We’ve been kept pretty busy here at UKLesFic since we started this blog. UK lesbian fiction, beyond the names that have crossed over into mainstream fiction, gets very little coverage in the media but despite this we’re still pleasantly surprised at the number of new names we’re adding to the authors list.

detectiveTo try to redress the balance, I’ve written an article for this month’s Diva. It, in part, answers the question posed by The Guardian last year asking where all the new UK lesbian writers are. My answer “Busy writing”!

Also in the September issue is a review of Crin Claxton‘s new book the Supernatural Detective. Diva describes the novel as “a sexy supernatural thriller” and “A perfect read for the beach”.

91CYqVEe28L._SL1500_On the review front Nicola Griffith‘s Hild has been reviewed by Kirkus: “A book that deserves a place alongside T.H. White, to say nothing of Ellis Peters. Elegantly written–and with room for a sequel.”

Nicola wryly notes on her blog that even before it’s release in November it’s been compared to six authors (Hilary Mantel, Sigrid Undset, T.H. White, George R.R. Martin, Ellis Peters, and Rosemary Sutcliff) and wonders where it’ll end and what the gender division will be when it gets there.

Author Suzanne Egerton has written in to pass on details about the Glasgow Lambda Library. This is a new group that is raising funds for a queer and LGBT library for the Glasgow area. They hope to create a space for a collection of literature and to host book groups, writing workshops, film screenings and literary events. As well as looking for monetary donations, they are collecting books for the library. Any tomes taking up too much room would be gratefully received.

Niamh Murphy has been busy on the blog front. In Filling Blanks of Fantasy she writes about how she goes about writing and filling in her fairy tale stories from her original outline. She also writes about finding time to write and knowing when to stop and recharge

RJ Samuel has also written a very honest post asking whether a writer should write during dark moments, when all they can create are more moments of darkness. Should a writer wait until they can offer a reader something more or do readers like to be drawn into that intense world. The piece has had some nice responses. Here’s the post.

Meanwhile, fans of Devon Marshall will be pleased to hear that she’s come back from the trauma that is a computer eating your manuscript and has finished Book 2 in the Vampires of Hollywood series. Read about how she feels about it all in this post where she charateristically doesn’t mince her words.

allforloveDalia Craig dropped in for the Liz McMullen Show this week. Here’s a snippet from Liz’s description of the show:

“Dalia Craig’s erotica explores D/s power play and often mistaken first impressions. What makes her writing so unique, is the way she incorporates high wire suspense in her short stories. It goes beyond sexual anticipation to the heady heart racing moments you would expect from a thriller… We discuss the craft of writing good erotica, from the perspective of an editor and publisher.”

You can find the epiode here.

cover3Finally, if you have half an hour to put up your feet and have a bit of a giggle, there’s my short story The Dildo in the Kitchen Drawer. Here’s the blurb:

What has Beth’s girlfriend ordered in the plainest, squarest, most non-descript parcel? It certainly isn’t books. No-one shuffles that frantically to hide books when you come in unexpectedly. And what would any right-minded person do when they opened the kitchen drawer to check what had been hidden? But right-minded isn’t a term that’s often applied to Beth.

The Dildo in the Kitchen Drawer is a short story of paranoia, slippery fingers and recalcitrant dogs.

News Roundup: Polari Longlist announced, New Reading from Hild, and a Whole Lot of Blogging Going on…

5 Aug

Morning, morning. I’m sitting here eating a teacake for my breakfast and washing it down with a lovely cup of tea. I suspect the only way I could make that more English is by playing Land of Hope and bloody Glory in the background. Due to also being extremely organised, I’m starting this news roundup during a day off and will likely be finishing it in the middle of a set of night shifts. Feel free to try to spot which bits I wrote with a regular brain and which bits were added during the nights…

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91CYqVEe28L._SL1500_First up, exciting news for those who like to listen to a nice bedtime story; Nicola Griffith has posted an audio file of her reading from the first chapter of Hild. The file is about 8 minutes long, full of lush language and imagery, and Nicola’s accent is simply lovely. Let’s hope she has the time to record the audio book, I mean Hild‘s what, 560 pages or so? She’d get through that in no time!

If you prefer to read not listen, there’s an exclusive preview of the first chapter here .

Sticking with Hild for the moment, US (sorry UK folks) readers of this blog can get a leg up on the November release date by entering the Good Reads giveaway Nicola has just opened. There are five copies available and, as they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it. Closing date is August 31st.

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HanselGretalVoracious consumer of all things LesFic, Terry Baker has been casting her critical eye over one of our regularly featured authors Niamh Murphy. In a recent review, Terry had this to say about Niamh’s novella Gretel A Fairytale Retold:

This is a well written page turner with twists and turns along the way from an up and coming UK lesbian fiction author. It’s a beautiful lesfic variation on the timeless fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel, that has held the attention of millions of children and adults over the years.

All three characters are well formed and easy to get to know. Although this is a novella, Niamh Murphy has packed a lot into it, including the age old subject, homophobia and the outcome of that hatred. At the heart of this story though, is a beautiful and tender sweet romance.

The full text of the review is available here, and the novella can be purchased at amazon.uk for an absolute steal at just £1.

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AMHLast roundup, I gave a pre-emptive heads up about Clare Ashton‘s guest appearance at Kim Taylor Blakemore’s Out of the Shadows of History blog. The piece entitled Something a Little Bit Different has since been posted and a fascinating read it is too:

Publishers like genre. They know how to sell and market a lesbian romance or mystery. But what if you don’t want to write to a formula? What if you love writing that something only you could have written, and it’s not quite like anything else…

Feel free to join the genre v non-genre LesFic debate over on the site; I think it’s a conversation worth having.

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Andrea Bramhall has a lot on her plate at the moment: the imminent release of her second novel Clean Slate, gearing up to start telling people about novel number three, Nightingale, and a trip across the pond to Provincetown, New England in October for Women’s Week. This week however, she found the time to share her inspiration behind Clean Slate and explain exactly why she will be donating half of the royalties she receives for the novel to charity. Go here to read the piece.

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OutLateWithFriendsSuzanne Egerton has been chatting about Out Late With Friends and Regrets over at the ever-popular Women & Words blog. In a candid piece posted on Friday, Suzanne reveals her motivations behind her writing, how her own experiences shaped her début novel, and how the book has fared so far.

When I started to look into the subject of women who find out quite late on that they’re gay (I couldn’t be the only one, surely?) I was astonished to find out just how common a situation it is. Research differs, with some opinions offering a “fluid sexuality” theory, whilst others cite conditioning. I’ve given Fin the latter status, and a Roman Catholic background to reinforce her dilemmas with dollops of guilt. Awfully mean, I know, but we authors can be cruel to those we love!

For the full text of the blog, hop over here.

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VGAnnouncingLongList

VG Lee announcing Polari Prize long list (image Jon Dolores)

On July 30th , The Polari Prize long list was announced by VG Lee, and there is a host of female authors featured amongst the hopefuls.

The Polari Prize is awarded for a first book which explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction published in the UK in English within the twelve months of the deadline for submissions. Self-published works are eligible and two such novels have made it onto this year’s longlist.

When my brain kicks back into gear, I hope to pull together a piece on the five female authors featured on the longlist. In the meantime, get busy with the clicking!

The January Flower by Orla Broderick (Council House Publishing)
The Governess by Rachael Eyre (self-published ebook)
The Murder Wall by Mari Hannah (Pan Macmillan)
Tony Hogan Bought Me An Icecream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson (Chatto & Windus)
The Sitar by Rebecca Idris (self-published ebook)

And if you’d like a taster of what a Polari night can be like, Jon Dolores’ blog is a good place to start.

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awalkintodarknessSneaking in at the last gasp is an early heads up about a Virtual Living Room Book Flash with Jade Winters. Taking part next Saturday (August 10th) at 3pm (EST) – which I think translates to 8pm here – Jade will be answering questions about her new release A Walk Into Darkness. To participate in the event, sign up to the VLR and pull up a chair next Saturday.

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Right, as it’s now Sunday night and things are getting a little fuzzy around the edges I suspect it may be time for me to pull on my jammies and get a little shut-eye. Sweet dreams!

News roundup: UK GLBT meet, new authors, books and reviews

11 Jul

Cari’s off somewhere in the north of England saving lives (I always picture her wearing a cape over her paramedic uniform) so it’s my turn to get out the ice-cream (home-made strawberry) and bring you the news.

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UKmeetSquare_zpsb289200bThe UK GLBT Fiction meet kicks off in Manchester tomorrow with the main sessions and panels over the weekend. Bold Strokes is well-represented this year with Cari Hunter, Andrea Bramhall and Victoria Oldham all attending. Cari will be appearing as part of a panel discussing British authors in a US dominated market: “Leave my OU alone!”. Vic will be at the Bold Strokes table and on a publishing panel. She’ll also be hearing pitches for Bold Strokes publications (contact the organisers if you want to pitch your novel to her, there may still be time).

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the road to her bigKe Payne‘s new book is off to a cracking start with a great review from Terry Baker. This is what Terry had to say about The Road to Her:

KE Payne has written a wonderful, heart warming story of love, unrequited love, betrayal, self discovery and coming out. She has also giving us a first hand insight into life on a television soap opera. From the dialogue, it was very easy to immerse myself in the story amongst the characters….Personally, I’d love to see more of these characters and more of the soap, Portobello Road.

You can read the revew in full here.

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HanselGretalNiamh Murphy has a new novella out: Gretel: A Fairytale Retold. Here’s the blurb:

Starving and lost, Hans, and his sister Gretel, are saved from a pack of bloodthirsty wolves by a woman, who seems to ask for nothing in return. Seduced by her kindness and beauty, Gretel grows closer to her, while Hans becomes ever more suspicious of her motives. Torn between her brother and a woman she has just met, Gretel soon learns she must make a choice between long held loyalty and newfound love. Gretel: A Fairytale Retold is a six chapter novella of over 12,400 words. Retold as a fast paced, lesbian love story, this novella contains some explicit passages.

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We have two new authors this week. Catherine Blackfeather describes herself as a dancer, live story teller and poet. Her first book is a novella called Mitchie, a tale of self-discovery set in 19th century Canada.

Angie Peach has managed to sneak three novels past us without us noticing, although she does keep very quiet about. She has published The Blurring, In Reflection, and 47 (a novella) in the last year and she’ll be appearing on the Shifting Desires panel with Kiki Archer and Clare Ashton at L Fest.

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Meanwhile Sarah Waters celebrates 40 years of women’s fiction at Virago with this quiz. How many extracts do you recognise from classic women’s fiction? I’ll show you my score if you show me yours first.

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Finally, Crin Claxton is throwing a book launch for The Supernatural Detective, at WW Gallery in London tonight from 6pm-9pm. If you fancy going, be very very quick and drop her a message on Facebook!

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Did we miss something? Then let us know at uklesfic at gmail.com.

News Roundup: Goldie win for Clare Ashton, Ke Payne Giveaway, Stella Duffy, Emma Donoghue, reviews, festivals and more!

3 Jul

My, what a lot can happen in a week. Everyone fell over at Wimbledon (and then blamed the grass!), the word “shitstorm” was added to the German dictionary, and the sun threatened to come out for a microsecond before heading straight back in again.

Meanwhile, in the UK LesFic world, all this has been going on…

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GCLS-2x2Blackweb---2Top of the Pops this week is Clare Ashton, whose second novel After Mrs Hamilton scooped a Goldie award in the Romantic Suspense/Intrigue category. Saturday’s awards ceremony was the highlight of the ninth annual Golden Crown Literary Society convention, which celebrates everything there is to celebrate about lesbian literature and creative non-fiction. The conventions are held in a different American city each year and the 2013 awards were dominated by American authors and publishers, so it was lovely to see UK LesFic being represented. Congratulations to Clare and all the other winners and nominees. If anyone is looking to expand on their To-Read list, a full breakdown of the 2013 Goldie awards can be found here.

Sticking with Clare for the moment, After Mrs Hamilton and her début novel Pennance and will be the focus of this month’s read on the LesficREADER Facebook group. Clare will be discussing both books through the weekend of 18th-22nd July weekend. The group is invite only, so try hitting the link and smiling sweetly at the admins.

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BSB_The_Road_to_Her_smallSpeaking of sweet, Ke Payne has free stuff to give out! She is holding a GoodReads giveaway for signed copies of her new novel The Road to Her. There are two copies available and the giveaway ends July 5th, so get your skates on. Hit this link to enter. The Road to Her will be released by BSB on July 16th. To read more about it, head to the New Releases page.

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I’m trying to write this news update in some semblance of order. Y’know, like a proper journo would. So, a word now about another new release (see what I did there?)

emma-donoghue-illo_2373764bEmma Donoghue has been talking about her forthcoming novel Frog Music over on her Facebook page. The novel is due for publication on 1 April 2014 and its blurb looks a little (well, a lot) like this:

Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heatwave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice – if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts. In thrilling, cinematic style, Frog Music digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue’s lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boom town like no other.

Aww, crap. Now I have this stupid song in my head. Quick, someone whistle something else. ANYTHING ELSE.

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Stella Duffy, writer, actorOkay, I give up. I can’t find a way to link frogs with Stella Duffy and it’s far too early to try. The lovely and very unfrog-like Stella will be teaching a two-day improvisation for writers/writing workshop on 22nd & 23rd August at MakeBelieve Arts in Deptford, as part of her Chaosbaby show week. Both days will run from 10.30-4.30pm and just £95 will get you your spot at the workshop. All the necessary info is on this image. For more details about the fabulous-sounding Chaosbaby project go here.

If any readers/authors do attend this workshop, be sure to let us know how you get on!

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Cherry PottsAnyone in Oxfordshire (or thereabouts) who may be looking for entertainment over the August bank holiday need look no further. Cherry Potts will be at the Towersey Festival, where David McGrath (a fellow Arachne Press author), Esther Poyer (a poet) and Cherry – otherwise known as the #SpreadtheWordThree – will perform on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday in various venues at various times, and run workshops to explore the joys of writing with the festival audience. If that’s not enough of an incentive to head on down, there will also be folk music, and more Real Ale than you can swing a stick at. Seriously, this is a festival that’s very proud of its booze!

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Nicola_05-08-30_003rA recent Reading In the Closet feature at the Work In Progress blog saw authors discussing the novels that helped them to come out. In a heartfelt piece, Nicola Griffith chose Mary Renault’s Alexander, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword:

The problem was loneliness: all my friends were turning into squealing, boy-fancying aliens. So I turned to books. I wasn’t looking for queer role models—or perhaps I was but, hey, Catholic school, north of England—just people I could understand. I found them in stories of adventure set in unknown and sometimes dangerous places.

Go here to read the full article where you can also watch a short video with Nicola.

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Back in May we gave you a heads up about a Niamh Murphy short story Is She? that was being posted as a work in progress over at Wattpad. The six chapter story is now complete and you can catch up with it here. Niamh has been chatting to readers over at the site so be sure to leave her some feedback.

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JK realityClosing out this roundup now with a little feedback in the form of reviews. This last weekend, The Guardian reviewed Jackie Kay‘s recent collection of short stories, Reality Reality, and ranked it “among the best of the genre.”

Listening to the voices in these interior monologues is like eavesdropping on the private thoughts and secret lives of a host of disparate women, many of whom share a quiet desperation and self-delusion. We all know that older women slowly become more invisible in our youth-obsessed society, so for Kay to place predominantly middle-aged and older women centre stage feels like a radical act.

The full text of the review can be found here.

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Desolation Point desktopHaving spent the last few news roundups blowing everyone else’s trumpet (so to speak), it seems a little daft not to blow my own. Queer book review blog Out in Print recently gave Desolation Point a smashing review, warning folks not to read it “too close to bedtime, or you might find yourself late for work in the morning”.

The result is a fully engaging and absorbing read that will keep you up at night in order to finish it. I found myself saying, “Just one more chapter, and then I’ll go to bed” until I finally turned the last page. I particularly liked the way the balance of power and responsibility shifted between Alex and Sarah and back again, both of them alternately courageous and vulnerable. Their dialogue is also well-turned, sounding spoken rather than written.

You can read the review at this link.

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Arrgh! It’s now an hour and a half later, and I’m still humming that bloody song. Please feel free to head to the earlier link and share my earworm pain.

News Roundup: Loads of bits and pieces!

22 May

Whew, been a busy old week on here but we just have space to squeeze in some news, so I’ll stop blathering and get on with it, shall I?

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Following on from last Friday’s conversation piece between Jane Fletcher and Nora Olsen, the concluding part of their blog-hopping chat has been posted at Women & Words. Be sure to get over there before May 24th to be in with a shot at winning a signed (or e-book) copy of Nora’s new novel Swans & Klons.

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UKmeetSquare_zpsb289200bSticking with Women & Words for a moment, Stevie Carroll – a veteran of all four UK GLBTQ Fiction Meets – has been blogging over on W&W about why this summer’s Manchester event (12-14th July) will be absolutely splendid. With tickets selling fast and the date approaching at a rate of knots, now is a good time to find out why you should be signing up for the weekend. Here are three reasons just to kick off with:

  • Thoroughly British organisers, who’ve put together an appropriately British programme in a northern city with a thriving (and world-famous) gay village (aka Canal Street)
  • A small and intimate-feeling event, due to the organisers keeping attendee numbers within limits they are comfortable with
  • Social, workshop, discussion panel and speaker-based elements spread across two rooms to provide a range of ways for readers, reviewers and writers to learn more about their favourite brands of fiction.

I’ll be there with bells on** – will you?

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bold books logoSpeaking of Fests, the UK BSB website recently published the programme for their upcoming Nottingham festival (8-9th June.) You can find details of all the panels and panellists, timings, and event locations over at this link.

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For any prospective authors thinking about publishing their work online but floundering a little when confronted by the numerous available platforms, Niamh Murphy has been weighing their pros and cons over on her blog. If, like me, you are someone who gets confused by all kinds of technology (including the telly remote control), having Niamh do the hard work for you can only be a good thing.

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vgleeVG Lee’s one woman play, The Lady of the Wild West Hill seems to have gone down a storm in Brighton this last week. If you missed the play this time around, she will be performing it again at L-Fest on Friday 19th July. For more information on the festival’s arts line up, head here.

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Over on her personal blog, Stella Duffy has been ruminating on the joys of writing a book (her Stella Duffy, writer, actor14th!) with no contract attached:

This has been sold to no-one and promised to no-one, I hope they’ll all like it. I’m really excited by it and have been since the idea first started bubbling up about 8 years ago. But I didn’t start writing it until last year because there wasn’t time and it wasn’t the right book. The Theodora books were the right books for the last 6 years. This is the right book for now.

Ahh, writing for the love of it; Stella, you are a woman after my own heart.

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Rounding up the news this week with a bit of international flavour for any of our readers who might live Stateside. Nicola Griffith‘s first public reading of Hild will be taking place at McNally Jackson Books in New York city, May 30th at 7pm. For more details, hit this link.

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** It is actually unlikely that I will be wearing bells. I’m taking part in a panel and they would be far too bloody distracting.