Thursday, 27 March 2014

Aviation, literary agents and flying the nest

In a week when missing Malaysian flight MH370 was very much in the news, Chris brought to the group a handsome, newly-published book called Beyond Flying: Rethinking Air Travel in a Globally Connected World. This new anthology of essays, edited by Chris Watson and published by Green Books,  is less about the risk of tragic and exceptional airplane incidents and more about the everyday danger of aviation pollution, with suggestions for more environmentally-friendly alternatives. 

While most of us would think twice before cycling from England to China, this is precisely what fellow Severn Valley Author Chris did and why he was invited to contribute a chapter to the book called The Human Engine: Bicycling to Beijing. As our Chris writes, 'the faster you travel, the less you see.' In this spirit the group discussed, in an unhurried way, their various bits of authorial news. (Sadly, Annie couldn't make it to this week’s meeting.) Izzie has had some success with features for online magazines and this has further boosted the popularity of her blog The World According to Izzie. Linda and Rob are both busy submitting their novels to literary agents and Rob mentioned the website Agent Hunter which could be very helpful in this process. 

We moved on to hear and critique Izzie’s submissions is to the group -- two short articles on the theme of what we miss about our teenage children once they leave home. Of course, lots of parents nowadays complain that more and more grown-up children remain in the family home well into adulthood. The 2001 French comedy Tanguy was about a 28-year-old still living with his mum and dad and the lengths his desperate parents go to trying to persuade him to leave home. But Izzie’s bittersweet features contained a mixture of exasperation at her daughters’ incompetence and nostalgia for the noise and chaos of a houseful of teenagers. 

Linda wondered how many 18-year-olds could reasonably be expected to use a kitchen timer appropriately and Chris, too, seemed to empathise more with the hapless but fun-loving teenagers than with their practical parents. Rob wondered whether it was ever really possible to experience 'extreme apathy' and, for my part, I would have preferred a quieter, more reflective ending to the pieces, what Rob called 'a softer landing ‘-- using a metaphor in keeping with the aeronautical theme of Beyond Flying.

The range of the Severn Valley Authors is impressive -- short stories, nonsense poetry for children's picture books, philosophical travelogues and quirky, creative non-fiction. But next time, (Tuesday 8 April) it will be back to Rob’s for some more fiction, as we discuss his latest novel-in-progress. 
Tony Gillam

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