Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Blossom and the Bee

The standard of blogs for the Severn Valley Authors becomes more witty with each post, from 'Five Writers In Search of a Home' to Chris taking out his frustrations on his computer.

We continued in this vein at our last meeting when Tony suggested that we dress up for our Christmas meal: Rob as a parasytic worm, Chris as Karl Marx and me as a budgerigar. I know I should follow Twitter but really.

Rob introduced us to the (revised) first chapter of his new book, 'The Blossom and the Bee'. The book begins with a bang - literally - with a clever description of the destruction of the twin towers. I loved the surreal parallel between the aircraft plunging into the tower with 'a stray dart embedding itself into the soft panel of a loudspeaker'.

The opening sentence was enigmatic to say the least and completely lost on me, although everyone else nodded in admiration when Rob explained its meaning. I still don't entirely understand 'I am the life form spawned when something that does not exist fails to come into being - the positive product of two negatives'. Rob wants his readers to be kept guessing which is something I enjoy in a book but I think that most people will give up if they find it too challenging.

In this first chapter, Jon, the main character, witnesses the destruction of the World Trade Center, forcing him to think about his own mortality and spirituality and the answers that his Jewish background may be able to offer. Later on in the story, Jon meets Willie Keel 'a survivor of the Holocaust death camps'. Both Jon and Willie are suffering from survivor guilt which Rob describes as 'Like a parasitic worm'.

It will be exciting to see how this story unfolds and how Rob manages to manoeuvre through the many twists and turns of a complicated plot.

Talking of twists and turns, we will be back on the road with 'Karl Marx and Careful Driving' next Tuesday at the Black Boy. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Ninth Step

Apologies for the lateness of the blog. Having been woken up at 2 a.m. by the usual drunken morons yelling in the street, I got up at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning with one of those 'sleep-deprivation headaches'. After spending over an hour attempting (and failing) to send a press releases about the Tenbury talk to the Tenbury Wells Advertiser, I did what any reasonable human being would do. I threw the computer onto the floor.

Accordingly I was unable to write this Blog on Sunday because the computer screen was cracked. They should make the bloody contraptions stronger so we can regularly throw them across the room with out necessitating expensive repairs. I am now £100 poorer - but I have a computer with a new screen and enhanced memory that allows me to send emails with press releases attached.

The Severn Valley Authors have found a new home, 'the snug' in The Black Boy pub on Kidderminster Road. We reunited on 5 October to trade the usual insults and discuss Annie's short story entitled 'The Sign'.

News: Annie has enrolled on a ten-week novel-writing course at Evesham College and is thinking about setting her first novel on the island of St Kilda. Tony announced that his article on the therapeutic value of writing has been published in the British Journal of Wellbeing, so I'm thinking of submitting an article on the therapeutic value of throwing a computer across the room. Rob's entry for the Bridport Prize, an annual competition that attracts some of the best writers in the country, was shortlisted in the top 100 out of 6,000 (see the entry on Rob's blog entitled 'Close but no Cigar' ( So congratulations to Annie, Tony and Rob.

Annie deserves congratulations too for her short story, an insightful, perfectly structured and thoroughly researched tale of a woman's escape from the brutality of a drunken and violent partner that was inspirational rather than bleak. Rob drew our attention to the expert build-up of tension as the narrator makes preparations for her escape while her partner snores upstairs. Linda's suggestion that the title should be changed from 'The Sign' to 'The Ninth Step' met with universal agreement. Tony's concern about the authenticity of the narrator's voice led to a general discussion point. How, for example, does one write a narrative from the point of view of a child? And if we wrote dialogue as we truly speak to each other, it would be unreadable. The art of writing lies in the author's ordering and interpretation of events and of the interaction of protagonists rather than an exact reproduction of them.

Annie has entered 'The Ninth Step' for a competition. I have little doubt that it would be accepted (and paid for) by a women's magazine.