Archive for the ‘novel’ Category


Monday, March 1st, 2010

Pop is the noise of the champagne corks popping, for yes, I have finished.

For the time being. I’m sure there’ll be edits and proof-reads and the checking of galleys somewhere along the line, and like poems, novels are probably only abandoned and never really finished. But I can’t see anywhere to make Cold Light better for the time being, which means it is time for me to stop. And be finished.

It’s a peculiar, deflating feeling. A bit blue and ‘is that it?’ when life everywhere else goes on the same.

It seems novels take me about three years. A Kind of Intimacy did, and this one, very roughly, did too. Three years. I should get some sort of certificate. It’s as long as my degree or a PhD or the hard bit of bringing up the Small Fry. And second ones are supposed to be the hardest, so that’s got to be worth something – maybe the posh organic satsumas and not the suspiciously vague supermarket brand ‘citrus’.

I’m done though. Whoop!

Going to spend this afternoon drinking tea and reading the latest issue of Bewilderbliss. I’ve a soft spot for the magazine – issue one and A Kind of Intimacy shared a launch party, I invited them to come and read from issue two at one of my Word Soups (video readings for your viewing pleasure here) and now they’ve asked me to pick a theme for issue three – which I did. Untruth. Fellow Prestonian Andrew Hurley is featured, which is excellent to see.

And then planning readings and workshops for two ‘appearances’ this month. First up, I’ll be reading and speaking at Edge Hill’s Rose Theatre this week – and may give a bit of Cold Light an airing. Seeing as it’s done, and all. And then later in the month on the 22nd together with Jen Hadfield – hosted by the Manchester Centre for New Writing. I’ll be hanging about after both these events, so if you’re a blog reader, come and say hello.

Politico Review + Interview + Cold Light Update

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Here’s another review of A Kind of Intimacy – this one from the Politico website. Shane Creevy, the reviewer, also interviewed me for the site – and if you skip past the swathes of my opining, you’ll get to the last question, where I give a sneak preview into what Cold Light is going to be like.

You might have guessed I missed my Valentine’s Day deadline. A Small Fry who was sick through half term and me being exhausted after programming and hosting two literature events knocked my plans out a little bit.

But now, I am done. I’m going to proof read, again, over the weekend, and it’s out of here on Monday.

I am pathetically excited. Second Novel Syndrome my arse!


Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Here’s a link to another very kind review of A Kind of Intimacy over at Dirty Sparkle by Jacqueline Christodoulou – who was quick off the mark and won a book in the giant blog-give-away extravaganza.

Beware – there aren’t spoilers, but she does mention more about the ending than I’ve seen on-line before.

The Great Blog Giveaway

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Hello Readers.

You may not know this, but the C-format paperback (the little, less expensive one) version of A Kind of Intimacy is out soon, published by Arcadia on the 25th February – although the beady eyed among you might already have seen it in bookshops here and there earlier in the month.

I’ve got ten copies that my publisher are keeping safe, ready for me to give away. It’s not a competition – the first ten people to email me or comment on this post (I’m jenn dot ashworth at gmail dot com) will be getting a book.

To tempt you, you can read a tiny extract of the book here.

There’s only one catch. In return for a FREE book, I’d like you to promise to review it somewhere on-line. This could be your own blog, a guest post on someone else’s blog, a reader-review on Amazon or even a video on You-tube. So long as it’s public and can be linked to, we’re on.

And by ‘review’, I’m fairly flexible too. If you want to interview me, we can do that instead. If you want to take some pictures of you reading the book in amusing places, that will do. If you want to live-tweet your thoughts at the end of each chapter, okie dokie by me. Write an alternative ending or invent some deleted scenes? That works for me (in fact, I’d LOVE it). Dress up as Annie and invite yourself round to your next door neighbour’s house? Be my guest.

If you didn’t like the book, that’s okay too, just remember, once I’ve posted it, I know where you live.

I know many readers of this blog (all seven of you) have already read and invested in the big version of the book. That’s all right. You can help out too. Feel free to re-post this give-away on your own blog, on facebook, twitter and where-ever else you hang out. I’m not picky.

Thank you.

Tinkering with Cold Light

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Even at this stage, I’m still writing new material for the novel. There are two new scenes I want to write – both of which are about developing the relationship my narrator has with one of the other characters. They sit very nicely together – one taking place in 1998 in a teenage girls’ bedroom, and another happening ten years later – the middle of the night in the bathroom of a run-down studio flat.

I thought of these scenes at separate times but now I’m coming to write them I’m seeing the similarities and the ways the present works as an echo of the past. I wonder if anyone else will notice this. I mutter to myself. Three years to write it, and it takes three hours to read. I feel curmudgeonly, and carry on scribbling and underlining and typing.

The rest of it though, is tinkering. This is how I do it:

1. Take the file on my memory stick to Granthams, get it printed out two pages to a sheet of A4, landscape, and then comb bound across the top. It sort of looks like a book, but it doesn’t work like one. Wide margins, so there’s plenty of room to write. And only one side of the paper.
2. Gasp at how much the printing costs, and
3. gasp again when I realise I’ve left my memory stick in the shop.

It’s lovely though. At Granthams, they put it in a box and wrap the box in brown paper. They are politer and dishier than the lot at Staples. I pretend I’m special – that I get the box and the paper because the Granthams-printing-and-comb-binding-massive know this is a novel and not a thesis or a catalogue or a report but a novel.

There’s a certain, breathy way you should be hearing that word in your head right now. It’s the first time we’ve ever seen it printed out before, yes? We’re concerned about the environment. We work on screen and save the wasteful treat of paper until the very end.

4. I get hold of the heft of the paper in my hands for an afternoon and then I give it away and pretend it doesn’t exist.
5. I get a friend or two to read it with pens and pencils in their hands.
6. I leave it a few weeks, and do something else / earn some money.
7. (a) I pretend I’ve forgotten.
7 (b) I get (even more) bad tempered.
8. Then it comes back, dog-eared and tatty and smelling like someone else’s house and I go over it and read it myself with another pen. Scribble away. Scissors. Post-its. The Small-Fry’s Christmas Crayola Marker Set.
9. Then there’s a day or two in bed with my ego and a bag of oranges, groaning. And feeling pleased, too – because it’s big – thousands of words, and I wrote it myself.

I’m there now. It’s going to take me another four weeks or so to translate all those scribbles into the document on my computer, and write those two scenes. But when I’ve done that, I’ve done with the book.


Nearly There!

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Less than a week to go! This getting very near finishing the novel is exciting. If you’d like a sneak preview of what I’ve been doing with myself, you can read an extract of Cold Light here – it’s a chapter from the first third of the novel, and I’ve called it ‘Same Old’.

The editor of The Manchester Review, the poet John McAuliffe, told me that in the extract, Lola makes ‘whole family’ sound like a swear-word. There isn’t, I don’t think, any other way to say those words.

Other interesting things this month included the third meeting with my mentor. We talked a lot about my characters, and their motivations for doing the things they do. I have a very self-absorbed first person narrator, but I didn’t want her lack of interest in the people around her to mean that the other characters in the novel were pale and insubstantial. Working that out took a few long conversations and some fairly brutal rewriting – but I think I’m nearly there now.

We also talked about where to go next – and what to do once I’m finished with Cold Light. I have an idea for another novel, and some ideas for ways to make money while I write it – but I can’t have a mentor forever. I need to figure out a method for writing and living as a writer where I can hold my own hand through the tough bits and cheer myself on when it is crap and also give myself the much needed kicks up the arse, when needed. I’ve already learned some good techniques for managing my time and working out how to do a really, really big project without going mad, so I’m sure I’ll work this out too.

I wish Creative Writing MA courses covered this kind of thing. I should probably write an extra module…

I’ve been doing lots of outsidey things this month too. Readings at the Chester Literary Festival and the Liverpool Chapter and Verse festival at the very swish Bluecoats. An interview with a Swedish journalist and creative writing workshops in Morecambe and Freckleton as part of the Lancashire Library Service’s Adult Learning Festival. A Special Word Soup for National Poetry Day in Blackpool, and planning another one which will be tomorrow, in Preston – and specially Spooky for Halloween.

If you feel like seeing Jenn in the flesh, I’ll be reading (again, from Cold Light) at the Manchester Blog Awards on Wednesday, at Lancaster Literature Festival on Friday and at the Birmingham Literature Festival on Saturday. In-between, I’ll be sleeping and frantically writing.

And buying wedding shoes…

Research and Research Assistant

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

A most productive day out. Morecambe, Heysham Port, and tea and ice-cream in Heysham Village afterwards. Click on the pictures to make them big.

And this might come in handy too. And this.

On My Travels

Monday, August 24th, 2009

A little post before I’m off on the train tomorrow to Edinburgh to read at the Writers’ Retreat tomorrow evening, alongside Ray Robinson. I’ll be reading from and talking about A Kind of Intimacy and Ray will be reading from his second novel The Man Without. Apparently, the two of us write ‘superb and unsettling fiction about damaged individuals and their effect on others.’ So now you know.

I’m kind of excited about this one. Would you believe I’ve never been to Edinburgh before? I’m not going to have time to stay for more than a night because we’re in the getting ready for new school and uni terms frenzy here at chez Jenn, but I did manage to bob into the Debenham’s sale to get a new dress.

It is spectacular (as was the fact it cost me only 9, yes NINE of your English pounds) and will also be the outfit of choice for Word Soup #5 – not until the 22nd September but already shaping up to be a top night with another great line-up. Ace!

Something else that is exciting is the 2009 Manchester Blog Awards. Can’t believe it is that time of year already. I remember last time, short-listed for the Best Writing on a Blog Category and reading a draft extract from Cold Light that had just appeared on my blog. A Kind of Intimacy hadn’t even been published yet.

This time, I’m going back as part of the entertainment (which makes it sound like I’m dancing, or telling jokes. Neither of which I’ve been asked / am able to do.) I could read a bit of A Kind of Intimacy, but I know that lots of people in Manchester have already heard me read it, so I might opt for something different this time. I’m quite excited about Cold Light, so it might be time to give that its first proper outing.

Hmm. Thinks thinks.

Nominations for your favourite blogs can be made via this link. There are several categories, and you can nominate blogs in more than one of them. It isn’t a vote, so if your blog has already been nominated (or you’ve nominated it yourself – it is allowed) then there’s no need to get all your friends to do the same. Can’t wait to see you all there.

And no, don’t ask me about how my shiny new writing schedule is going. When my mentor comes back from her holiday, I am going to be For It. I’m sure she’ll have some crazy punishments up her sleeve, but nothing is as bad as the guilt.

Lift Off

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Yesterday was my first day on the new job. Despite common assumptions (names withheld to protect the innocent) that I’d be spending it loafing, I was in a variety of meetings all day concerned with some freelance projects I’ll be working on.

The work trousers, you’ll be glad to know, stayed in the wardrobe (by wardrobe, I mean dangling over the side of the washing basket).

I did, however, also manage a couple of hours writing – which is going to be my primary task over the next few months. A ‘time to write’ grant from the Arts Council has made it possible for me to be picky about the other kinds of things I do, and has also, since I’ll be being mentored through the next few months, impressed on me the need to get some kind of plan together for how I’m going to tackle this last bit of my book.

I am such a messy writer. I go back and forth through the manuscript, taking seven or eight or nine drafts to turn something that is nothing more than a hand-written note form plot-outline-with-dialogue in seven A4 notebooks, into a document that is fit for someone else to read. I don’t work in a linear fashion, and there are still a few gaps in the book where I’ve been merrily typing around issues I promised myself I’d ‘sort out later’. Later is now, which is the long way of saying that I realised I needed to do some more research.

(This is a hint for lazy writers: don’t, whatever you do, start writing about a character that is very knowledgeable (near obsessed, in fact) with something that you know nothing about. If you are going to do that, don’t structure your book in a way that means you’ll need to have the facts about these things explicit. Even if they are really, really interesting and fit fantastically well with your theme.)

I know some writers go and see people and conduct interviews. Others read books or take pictures. I’ve read a lot of books: my favourite was There Are Giants in the Sea: Monsters and Mysteries of the Depths Explored, by Michael Bright.

Sometime in the next couple of weeks I’m planning a day trip to Morecambe Bay to research setting, and another to Lancaster to visit this museum. I’m not sure yet what it is exactly I need to find out, so I think it will be a day of wandering with a camera and a cagoule, picking bits up here and there like a magpie.

Unless anyone has a better suggestion?


Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Is it only in Preston that everyone flocks to the nearest, biggest, nicest park and rolls their chocolate eggs down the hill?

I spoke to someone a few days ago about Fleetwood, and this place here. He rolled his egg there. Weird. So maybe it is just Lancashire.

Do other people roll their eggs?

Here’s an interview with me at the new-look BookMunch. If you haven’t read the book yet, there are one or two little spoilers, but not much.

Sorry about the lack of words on this blog. I’m saving all my words for novel 2, which is flying along at a cracking pace.

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