Katherine May has a track record of ghost stories, but this tale of a woman whose life unravels after a chance encounter is more haunting than haunted, and for me that’s a good thing.
The premise is intriguing. On a visit to her home town, Violet catches sight of a girl whom she sees to be herself, ten years younger. She is sufficiently traumatised by this to question her subsequent lifestyle choices, and just as we see how bizarre these choices have been, she casts herself off from all of them and goes in search of the girl. This is a neat way of framing what is in essence a voyage of self-discovery, in which the only ghosts are those who spring from our own lives, past, present or future. The younger girl of the pair also has a voice, adding a layer to the mystery and providing a melancholy but satisfying conclusion.
Yes, I liked it! But it wasn’t the plot (which is only just enough to carry us to the end) that drew me in, so much as the writing, which is achingly precise, especially in the opening chapters. I loved the ‘hypnotic crunch of sleep’ and ‘she shuddered …; big hungry jolts seized her body’ and all the other things which made me feel part of Violet’s emotional meltdown. There are bigger issues in here too, with sharp digs at 21st century values and the emptiness of corporate life, so that it has something of the dystopian feel of Never Let Me Go.
I bought Burning Out to see what Snowbooks is publishing right now. I’ll be looking out for any more like this one.
I’ve only ever read one title from Snowbooks (it could have been two but a gargantuan tome on Schuman defeated me)and that’s the admirable Needle in the Blood, but I do think their blog is excellent. There’s something added every day (including weekends!) and it’s always worth a look. Tuesday was no exception with Emma providing a fascinating insight into the life of a small publisher. As I guess is the case in most small businesses, the productivity of individual staff is prodigious – also the enthusiasm. I left a comment but didn’t dare ask if they have got around to viewing my own submission, entered last July (oops- January!)
I’m sure they are doing all they can and as, unlike some, they do send out rejections, I guess it’s just a question of time!
Meanwhile blogging is very much in the background as I wrestle (some more) with Ailsa’s story. I’ve had a stab at a new opening and feel I am beginning to successfully reimagine (great word, Jane!) the whole thing. But next week I’m off for a one-to-one tutorial at Bristol Uni where my plot will be subjected to the scrutiny of Our Course Leader, so until then it’s at least one double maths session each day. Since I’ve never got the hang of plotting on index cards, I’m currently grappling with a Word table which looks like going 3D or at least full colour any minute now. I even found myself considering using Excel.
What kind of madness is this?
More wanderings on the web this week. A while ago I signed up for Google Alerts, a good way of finding new stuff on the web. My alert for Carte de Tendre usually throws up sites on a French folk singer, but this week I found myself being notified of my own post - something I found sadly gratifying!
But the mighty Google spider also unearthed Places and Spaces, another website dedicated to all kinds of maps, including concept maps like the Carte, of which they have a very nice image. A couple of emails to the project team failed to obtain copyright clearance to use it here, but I shall persevere, and it turned out my contact also does proof-reading and copy-editing on the side. In the end we didn’t do a deal, but it was fun even not doing business with one Bryan of Indiana University.
I’ve also been keeping my eye on the Snowboooks Snowblog – for obvious reasons! - which is a lot of fun to read, and think I should start to list the best blogs for and by writers. Not that it hasn’t been done before, but we all like to reinvent the wheel to our own particular design from time to time. A project for a rainy day, I think.
I heard about independent publisher Snowbooks earlier this year when they launched their free book club and was impressed not just with my free book but also with their open submissions policy for writers. Then this week I spotted in Mslexia that they also accept 500 word submissions to be ‘snowcased’ on their blog. A couple of emails later, and here I am in Snowcase 33! So it’s a big thank you to the unbelievably speedy Emma and everyone at Snowbooks. I’m a fan! If you want to get snowcased this is how you do it.
BTW I submitted the opening of my WIP. Do get over there and take a look at Snowcase 33