Archive for the ‘photographs’ Category

Fleetwood + Preston Bus Station

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Unicycle Emptiness (‘an irregular guide to the North West and more) is one of my new favourite blogs. Just look at these pictures of Fleetwood, Pilling and Knot End. Fleetwood is where A Kind of Intimacy is set. It couldn’t possibly be anywhere else. I’ve still never been to an eerier place. A place that still provokes such curiosity in me that I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime soon I write about it again.

While I’m here, fellow Fleetwood lovers should make sure they check out Julia McKoen and Jayne Steele’s film, Frozen, a suitably eerie film set in the town. In Frozen, Fleetwood itself is as much of a character as the actors. The thing I loved best about this film was the ambiguity of it. Never sure if it was a ghost story, an allegory, a psychodrama, a thriller, all of them at once, or something else entirely. Like the town itself, Frozen prompts imaginings and is silent enough to hold the space you need to scare yourself with wondering.

My current work in progress (I actually have a title for it now, but don’t feel like telling just yet) is set in a very different place. Mainly Chorley, with little parts in Utah. Chorley is still close to home, for me, but the first one of my novels not to contain, in some way, the seaside, beach, shoreline. Sometimes I wonder if it is harder to capture and evoke the feel of a place that’s very familiar to you – that the uniqueness of a place that you know well can become invisible. So maybe Fleetwood and Preston and now Chorley are not strange, uncanny sort of places. But they have become that way, for me, because I have written about them and in writing about them I need to make them familiar and not familiar to myself at the same time.

I missed, while I was away, this strange Guardian CIF article about Preston Bus Station and (oddly) J. K. Rowling. Preston Bus Station (or a building based on it) features in Cold Light and for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure yet, is one of the main stars in the Cold Light book trailer. I’m not nearly famous enough to do the job, but if anyone did feel like getting a writer in residence for the good ol bus station, I’d be first in line to apply for it. And I’d be dead cheap on travel, as I can near enough see the thing from my house.

So many people think it’s an ugly, unnecessary, pee-smelling sort of place. I think it is a beautiful building and I could quite happily spend days in there, collecting and writing stories.

The photograph is (with permission) from Unicycle Emptiness, taken by Matthew Jones who’s flickr stream is here.

Cold Light book trailer – the stills

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Click on the pictures to see how brilliant they are. Go on.

These are all stills from the Cold Light trailer – which I spent a day out and about in Preston on Friday helping to make.

My bit was very tiny but the guys at Progress let me hang about for a bit afterwards to watch the filming and see how these sorts of things are done. I’ve never had an experience like that before and I was blown away by the detailed and careful attention required to make even a short film. I could offer only a tour of Preston’s less beautiful corners and a styrofoam cup of parched peas as a token of my gratitude. And while filming in the bus-station, some tiny Preston scallies strutting around in their own little cloud of skunk-smoke threatened to stab us all in the neck. Sadly, they didn’t hang around long enough to sign consent forms so they could appear as extras.

Book trailers that show the faces of the characters run the risk of disappointing the reader. So much of the pleasure is to be found in imagining the faces of the characters for yourself. I know that because I like reading as much as I like writing, and so it was something I worried a little bit about. Especially when it came to putting the faces of Chloe and Lola out there. Cold Light is a gripping, page turnery book with a tangled investigation into a decade old murder at its heart but, like everything I write, it is really about the changing and troubled relationships between the characters. And these two in particular. More than event, more than setting – if Chloe and Lola were going to be cast for the trailer, it was important to get them right.

I met with the film makers in the pub the night before to go over the schedule for the next day.

‘You’ve not seen the girls yet, have you?’ one of the guys said.

‘Nope,’ I squeaked, and a few clicks and swipes of a mobile phone later and a picture of Becky and her friend Gemma appeared.

And I came over all teary eyed and emotional, which is unlike me. They are just right. And the the painstaking work that Progress did before filming – reading the book, casting the actors for Carl, Chloe and Lola, visiting Preston to scope out the locations, shopping for clothes, parkas, shag bands, bags of chips and more gold jewellery you can shake a stick at – means that these images are as close to what went on in my head when I was imagining the story as possible.

What do you think?

I’m very pleased, and dead excited about seeing the finished product. Which should be soon.

Big (mega) thanks to Matt, Ben and Amy at Progress, Katy at Sceptre and Andrew, Gemma and Becky the cast. Andrew did a brilliant job of looking appropriately terrifying but is actually not like Carl at all IRL. So don’t send him hate mail because he’s a gentleman. 🙂

# 15 16 17 / 100

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010



A ‘fossilised stone’ found in the school playground by my geologist-in-the-making-daughter who knows that birds are dinosaurs in disguise, reading and writing together, having someone who will go and buy my printer cartridges because I can’t be bothered.

# 13 14 / 100

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Small Fry, unexpected presents, roast potatoes.

#6 7 8 / 100

Monday, April 19th, 2010
A montage of photograph happiness. It’s been a lazy weekend full of dozing cats, Small Fry, LEGO goodness and purple sprouting broccoli. Eat something green and something orange every day. Make purple sprouting broccoli one of your green things (unless you’re having spinach).

#5 / 100

Friday, April 16th, 2010

slightly blurry picture of Jo Bell and me on the Too Much information set at the Kendal Brewery Arts Centre. Note the excellent lamp.

#4 / 100

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Liverpool Central station, Northern Line.

#3 / 100

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Amy at the Kendal Brewery Arts Centre, who joined in with the ‘audience participation’ bit of mine and Jo Bell’s first Too Much Information show last night and made a perfect hand-decorated origami heart bookmark. 

This picture also represents some other things that made me happy that I didn’t take pictures of:

driving there and back without incident
excellent pizza and company before hand with Jo
none of the scary things happening during my performance that I feared would happen
(I did not die)
remembering to breathe in the right places in my stories
people laughing and clapping nicely.

#2 / 100

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

#1 / 100

Monday, April 12th, 2010

cherry blossom, railings, wheely bins outside my house.

I followed the project Emma did for 100 days to make me a better person and decided I wanted to do one too. I didn’t want it to be to do with writing. I thought it would be a good idea to have a break from writing for a while. I wanted it to be to do with noticing things, and trying to retrain my brain to be more positive than it is. I don’t know if it will work. I also wanted to try and get better at taking pictures. I’m not good at it at all, although I wish I was.

For 100 days I will take a picture of something that I see that makes me happy and put it on this blog. It might be that I do ordinary writing blogs too, or I might just leave it at the pictures for the time being. See how I feel. I don’t know if this will make me a better person or not. I doubt it. I might be a better noticer or a better photographer at the end and that would be most pleasing.

If you want to join in and post your own pictures, let me know and I will link to you.


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