Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Singing Over the Bones at Moniack - Pt 2

Dawn from the iron age fort
 Writing retreats are strange things - you’re taken from one world into another - a little bubble of solitude, but solitude within a group.  There’s a feeling of life suspended, other worldly.  A writing retreat is a threshold - you can step back into your own life afterwards, or you can cross the threshold and come out of it seeing the world differently. 

Highland Cattle

There were some big questions to think about. 
What exactly is a sense of belonging?
How do we re-learn living in a way that doesn’t harm the planet?
How do we deal with the sense of impotence and despair faced by pollution and despoilation on a global scale, that we as individuals feel powerless to change? 
Is one person giving up plastic carrier bags in Tescos going to have any effect at all in a world where millions of tons of plastic is jettisoned every year in places like Asia where we have no influence?
Have old myths and stories anything to teach us about the way we relate to the landscape today?
And how do we deal with the disconnectedness that is increasingly felt by people living in Urban environments?

A birch tree decorated with lichen
I was a little apprehensive when I arrived. I’m not a group person - I like people in ones, twos and possibly threes and I’m definitely no good at disembowelling myself emotionally in front of others.  But this was a week of like-minded people, there for a common purpose - a generous and supportive group that included a farmer, an ecologist, a psychotherapist and someone running a tourist company - all of us poets and writers.

We walked to Loch Ness but didn't see the monster!
We explored our own wild sides, which included sampling malt whisky, howling at the full moon (not necessarily in that order), watching the dawn from an iron age hill fort, walking in the rain, as well as more mundane things like early morning conversations over tea in the kitchen, cooking and washing-up together, and late night huddles round the wood burning stove.

Waking up to snow
We had quiet writing sessions and workshops designed to stretch us, expertly run by Roselle Angwin and Sharon Blackie.  Some of the work that came out of these sessions was mind-blowing!
Sharon under the mirror, Roselle unfairly at the edge of the photo. Apologies!
And, yes, some of us did miss our men-folk.  But it would have been different if men had been around.  We wouldn’t have talked so openly, or bonded so tightly.  There’s something about same-sex groups that permits free thought and discussion - there’s no inter-gender dynamic to distract or censor.  Ironically, one of the things we looked at was the negative effect of dualism and the necessity of working together if anything is to be achieved.  We left vowing to Do Something - to Make a Difference, individually and together.  Watch this space .....


If you would like to read one of the things that came out of the course, Finchley Road, by Vivienne Palmer, please click on the link.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Moniack Mhor - a week in retreat - Pt 1


I've just come back from Moniack Mhor, north of Inverness, where I've been 'Singing Over the Bones - Women Writing from the Wild'.  A week of silence, no computers, blogging or mobile phones and a lot of landscape!
This was my room - like a monastic cell, but with central heating -

my writing table


with views of this -

The object of the week was to explore our relationship with our own wild selves as well as the landscape. We spent as much time as we could out in it, despite a scouring wind that howled round the house for 3 days and nights, and brought rain and snow.  It's amazing what you see when you go out and really look.  I spent some of my time in the woods - forestry plantations, not remnants of the original Caledonian Forest, and sadly lacking in the kind of bio-diversity that old forests possess.  But with the kind of mysterious beauty that all woodlands have.
 
Despite the wind, the wood anemones were just beginning to open out in sheltered places

and there were trees like this


and rocks like landscapes in themselves.

All of which we talked about and wrote about round the big table at Moniack (with biscuits!).

There were eleven of us and we were all very different - ages and backgrounds and disciplines, but all passionate about the environment. From the beginning it was going to be a very interesting week!  Which way did it go?

It was a week full of wonderful surprises, which I'll talk about in a couple of days.

'Singing Over the Bones - Women Writing the Wild' was being run by Sharon Blackie,  writer, story-teller, editor of Earthlines and Two Ravens Press, and Roselle Angwin, poet, novelist and mentor.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Tuesday Poem: Sharon Olds - Stag's Leap

Then the drawing on the label of our favourite red wine
looks like my husband, casting himself off a
cliff in his fervour to get free of me.
His fur is rough and cosy, his face
placid, tranced, ruminant,
the bough of each furculum reaches back
to his haunches, each tine of it grows straight up
and branches, like a model of his brain, archaic,
unwieldy.  He bears its bony tray
level as he soars from the precipice edge,
dreamy.  When anyone escapes, my heart
leaps up.  Even when it’s I who am escaped from,
I am half on the side of the leaver.  It’s so quiet,
and empty, when he’s left.  I feel like a landscape,
a ground without a figure. . . .

. . . Oh my mate, I was vain of his
faithfulness, as if it was
a compliment, rather than a state
of partial sleep.  And when I wrote about him, did he
feel he had to walk around
carrying my books on his head like a stack of
posture volumes, or the rack of horns
hung where a hunter washes the venison
down with the sauvignon?  . . .

Sharon Olds won the TS Eliot Prize last year for her new collection, Stag’s Leap, and the judges were apparently unanimous, something that rarely happens with literary prizes. I’m always in two minds about Sharon Olds’ poetry - it’s musical and muscular and beautifully constructed, but a part of me feels . . .  What do I feel?  Slightly embarrassed, squeamish even, about the frankness of her revelations, particularly about other people.  I would never be able to expose my family like that - but perhaps that just being British!  In the beginning, such frankness was very original - a woman ‘writing the body’ in a way that had never been written before.  But then it became a little boring - I sometimes wanted her to write about other things.  So I approached Stag’s Leap with caution, and was bowled over by it.

Stag’s Leap is the label of a vineyard - the favourite wine of Sharon and her husband of thirty years.  But it became the symbol of her husband’s leap for freedom when he left her for another woman - a medical colleague.  In the sequence of poems that tells the story of the breakdown of her marriage and its aftermath, she freely admits the part her own revelatory poetry had played in it.

Her husband was a very quiet, private man, and she was the opposite, and she had never realised the impact her very frank and uninhibited poetry was having on him.  In revealing the details of her own sex life, she had also revealed his.

One of her poems describes how her husband would stand up whenever there was a call for ‘a doctor in the house’, and she would be proud.  But she realises now that ‘when words were called for, and I stood’ it was very different for him.  Now when the call comes he and his new wife can stand up together - partners in everything.

During the break-up, Sharon Olds is astonished by the courtesy with which they treat each other, the habit of physical intimacy that still exists in those last days.
     . . . ‘He shows no anger,
I show no anger but in flashes of humour,
all is courtesy and horror.’

 She goes through all the phases of relationship grief - bewilderment, anger, self-blame, the pain of loss, numbness, to acceptance.  Being able to see things from his point of view is an extra pain. 

     . . . ‘did his spirit turn against the spirit which
tolled our private, wild bell
from the public roof top, I who had no other
gift to give the world but to hold what I
thought was love’s mirror up to us.. .

. . . ‘but then one day
I woke, and feared he felt he was the human
sleeper, and I the glittering panther
holding him down, and screaming.’

Stag’s Leap tells the story from the moment of discovery when Sharon finds another woman’s photograph in her husband’s running shorts - a woman she knows.  The night he tells Sharon that he is in love with the other woman and that he will ‘probably’ leave her.  The story moves through the dividing of possessions, the construction of a life alone, the realisation that what she had taken for granted was a good relationship was quite the opposite for him. ‘I hadn’t known he could lie’.

The sequence is very moving, perhaps because of its absolute honesty and humility, but it also thrills in the way it uses language - this is a major poet in complete command of technique and language. The complex rhythms and linguistic twists in ‘Left-Wife Bop’, ‘Red Sea’ and ‘Left-Wife Goose’ leave you giddy.   The ending is very powerful - in ‘Years Later’, they meet again, briefly.

    . . . ‘And then there is the spring park,
damp as if freshly peeled, sweet
greenhouse, green cemetery with no
dead in it - except, in some shaded
woods, under some years of leaves and
rotted cones, the body of a warbler
like a whole note fallen from the sky - my old
love for him, like a songbird’s rib cage picked clean.’

Stag's Leap, by Sharon Olds, published by Cape Poetry.

This is Sharon reading at the TS Eliot Awards, introduced by Ian MacMillan



for more fantastic Tuesday Poems, please click the link to visit the Tuesday Poem hub and check out the posts in the sidebar.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Off into the wilderness .....

I won't be blogging for the next week, or twittering and Facebook will have to get along without me.  I'm off tomorrow to the wild reaches of northern Scotland, north of Inverness for a week of retreat at Moniack Mhor, the Arvon Foundation's most northerly outpost - a location of bleak beauty and extreme weather.

The retreat is being run by Dr Sharon Blackie, editor of Earthlines Magazine and Two Ravens Press and Roselle Angwin, and it's called 'Singing Over the Bones - Women Writing from the Wild'.  I don't really know what to expect from it.  One part of me is very excited at the idea of being cut off from computers and telephones and other modern gadgetry for a week with nothing to do but write; the other is rather afraid that nothing will happen at all - that I'll arrive so exhausted I'll spend the week sleeping rather than thinking and writing.  Will I find my own inner Wild Woman? And will I like the other wild women I'm sharing a house with?


And how can I leave Italy, now that spring has arrived and the cherry tree is in full bloom and the sun is (at last) shining on my little patch of garden?




So, it's everything into the suitcase again and print outs of boarding passes and train timetables....  I've scheduled a couple of blogs for next week in my absence and will catch up with the world again on the 28th of April.  Oh, and I mustn't forget to pack a hot water bottle.  

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Best Indie Book Awards

There's just over a week to register for the Best Indie Book Awards, but the prizes are worth going for.  This is the second year they've run it, but this year it's being judged by panels rather than the Kindle Book Reviewers themselves.  A limited number of genres only, and you have to have published within the time frame they've set out (May to May1 2012-13).


Just follow this link to the page for Registration, which costs $20.00

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Five Things I've Learned About E-Publishing

It's the London Book Fair this week and I'd love to have gone and supported other Indie authors on the ALLIA stand, authors such as my fellow Electric Author Roz Morris,  but it couldn't be fitted in this year.  However, I'm there in spirit and thought it might be useful to others thinking of E-publishing, if I shared some of the things I've learned in the last 3 years.

What have I learned about e-publishing?

1.  Not to be snobbish about indie publishing

As a traditionally published author, I’d been brought up to believe that any kind of self-publishing was vanity publishing.  Then as a creative writing tutor, I watched some of my students putting very sub-standard work out through firms such as Author House, claiming it as genuine publication, and it horrified me.  I was a very slow convert to Indie publishing and came into it initially just to put my back-list into print. This seemed a legitimate use of the POD and e-book capability - after all, those books had the gatekeepers’ seal of approval so there was no shame attached. What a lot I had to learn!  

2.  What fantastic things are on offer out there!

That was the first thing I discovered as I began to explore the Indie-book jungle. Not only were there lots of exciting new writers, victims of the recession in publishing, but some of the best-selling writers were putting their back-lists out, and they were publishing new books too.  I went to a London Writers’ Club event where an author publishing main-stream romantic novels with Random House gave a talk on her experience.  In four years she had gone from having big advances (around £80,000) offered for her books, to a miserly £10,000.  There had been complaints that her books weren’t selling as well as expected.  She complained that they weren’t making much of an effort to sell them.  So she decided to do it herself using Lulu and Amazon.  She’d sold almost £8,000 worth of books in the first two months with very little effort. Her experience with her publishers was fairly common among the writers in the room.  We’d all seen reduced advances, books that were still selling taken out of print, been victims of conscious decisions not to promote our work. It was soul-destroying.

3.  That it’s the only way to go now

When I sent my last manuscript to my agent - a lovely person and very over-worked - she simply didn’t have the time to read it.  The reader’s report she commissioned was glowing, but my agent warned me that it was not ‘in genre’ enough to fit marketing slots.  The process of submission and response took months and months and months.  In the end we agreed that I would publish it myself.  The current system of agent submission (always supposing you have one), reader’s report, (often around 5 or 6 months) followed by approach to publishers (who can take more than 6 months to respond), simply can’t be justified with today’s technology.  Even if your book is accepted it will be at least another year before it hits the bookshops.  With e-publication and POD I can have a book edited, proof-read and on sale within 3 months of finishing the manuscript - just like it used to be in the old days.  And most of the money it earns is mine.

4.  That it’s not enough to write - you have to learn how to be a publisher

That’s been a big learning curve.  Once upon a time I would have been rung up by an enthusiastic young girl with a media degree working as an intern, and she’d send me a questionnaire, followed a few weeks later by a list of talks, bookshop events and literature festivals.  Not any more.  Now I have to do my own editing, proof-reading, publicity and arrange my own author events.  And it is hard!  Most literature festivals aren’t even looking at Indie authors, even if they have a long track-record with traditional publishers. 

5.  The importance of friends rather than competitors.

I found the traditional literature scene very competitive and, though I have met some kindred spirits, I’ve also witnessed, or been the victim of, petty rivalries and jealousies, often conducted in the press under the cover of honest reviews.  In the indie world I’ve discovered a friendly, supportive group of people, all anxious to help each other navigate the maze.  We’re sharing information, rather than guarding it, with the kind of generosity I’ve rarely seen in the marketplace. This is completely new and probably the best thing I’ve learned from the two years I’ve been in Indie publishing - the importance of cooperation, not competition.   


www.kathleenjones.co.uk

Friday, 12 April 2013

Embedded in Biography


Welcome to the private view of my very own Tracey Emin!  In England I have a lovely writing space up in the roof space, designed for me by Neil, but here in Italy I have to improvise.

It's not easy writing and researching a biography - you need a lot of space to spread out papers and books so that you can put your hand on a reference at a moment's notice, and - because you spend long hours poring over a book or the computer screen - it can be hard on your spine.


The solution for me here, has been to write in bed. They have huge beds in Italy - so wide are the 'Matrimoniale' that you are hard put to find the other person in the dark at all!  Ours is more than six feet across.  But it's ideal during the day.  I can spread out my books and papers, prop myself up on pillows with the lap top in its proper place and work comfortably.  At the moment I have about 7 books, four notebooks, and a file full of loose bits of paper strewn around the duvet.  I have two word processing programmes open on the computer, with several tabs open so that I can flick to and fro through chapters and research notes.  It's all chaos and at the moment only I (possibly not even I!) have the vaguest idea of how it all fits together.

Currently I'm reading Kathleen Raine's various autobiographies and biographies and working through the poetry she and Norman Nicholson wrote while Kathleen was in the Lake District at the beginning of the war.  And I can't help remembering how fascinated I was as a young writer with the story of her tragic relationship with Gavin Maxwell and his beloved otter Mij.  Now I find her poem again 'He has married me with a ring, a ring of bright water/ Whose ripples travel from the heart of the sea' - Gavin's book, the Ring of Bright Water, was one of my favourite books, at that time, and I still feel the magic of her poem, also written at Gavin's croft on the Scottish coast, which I knew by heart when I was sixteen;  'Reaching down arm deep into bright water/I gathered on white sand under waves/Shells, drifted up on beaches where I alone/Inhabit a finite world of years and days'. So I've been straying a bit from the Nicholson pathway - one of the temptations of research, to get side-tracked.  But the back lanes are so attractive!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Tuesday Poem: Death of a Bee

Death of a Bee


On the sill,
stumbling towards light
with legs crutched under
and one wing askew.
I place a teaspoon
of supermarket honey.
Open the window.

In the morning,
a crumpled tuft of brown
and gold - one irridescent flake
tilted as if for flight.

My garden trees are bare.
No blossom;  the sun
still in its winter quarter.
All elegy.  I tip the tiny
carcass out onto the grass
a meal for microbes.

In the room, something delicate
has shifted.

© Kathleen Jones


We're having a very late spring here in the north of England - usually daffodils and crocuses would be flowering outside and my magnolia stellata is always in flower at the beginning of March.  This year there's nothing in the garden but a few clumps of snowdrops shivering in a Siberian wind.  Finding dying bees is always distressing - these aren't domestic honey bees, but wild bees, whose plight hasn't had much publicity.  They are dying catastrophically in droves and apparently their role in the pollination of crops and wild plants has been very under-estimated.  This is a world-wide problem and even remote and protected eco-systems, like New Zealand, are being affected.  Climate change is obviously a factor, but chemical interventions in agriculture are also believed to be significant.  I live in an area where pesticides and herbicides are used freely by farmers - their role in the devastation of the wild environment simply can't be ignored.

I know it's been over-quoted, but I can't help thinking of the prophetic speech attributed to Chief Seattle in 1854, about the environmental consequences of western 'civilisation' and its lack of respect for the natural world.

'Where is the thicket?   Gone.
Where is the eagle?  Gone.
The end of living and the beginning of survival.....  All things are connected.'

See Article in Science News.
How Darwin's Humble Bee became the Bumble Bee

The Tuesday Poem is 3 years old this month and to celebrate, participants are constructing a group poem based on rhythmic variations - a kind of jazz poetry!   Take a look over at the Tuesday Poem hub.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Book Launch: Dreams of the Blue Poppy, by Angela Locke

It's a week of book launches - my first e-single on Wednesday, and now Angela Locke's historical romance 'Dreams of the Blue Poppy'.   This novel is the second fiction publication by The Book Mill - our own small venture into independent publishing - and our first by Angela Locke, who has had a distinguished career in traditional publishing, journalism and children's television.  Dreams of the Blue Poppy was initially published by Robert Hale, but shamefully allowed to go out of print.  It's a lovely, historical romance, with a botanical twist, set in the Lake District and the Himalayas (you couldn't have a better setting!) and beautifully written.   I asked Angela to tell me about the history of the novel.

Angela with her two dogs in Cumbria

1.  Angela, when and where did you get the idea for this novel?

If it hadn't been for my sister buying a Victorian garden and building a house there, looking over the Pennine Valley, I would probably never have written 'Dreams of the Blue Poppy'. It was there that my sister showed me meconopsis grandis, the Tibetan Blue Poppy, growing against a sandstone wall. I had never seen a flower so beautiful and such an amazing blue, and despite never having really taken an interest in gardening before, I set out on a quest to find out about this incredible flower. I was already very interested in Tibet, and when I began researching the book, I felt I had to go to the Himalayas to see where the Blue Poppy grew naturally on the mountainsides.

2.  I know that this was the start of a life-changing journey for you - what happened?

When I was due to go to the Himalayas for the first time to start research, I was doing a big shop for the kids and my husband before I left, when I met a Tibetan monk in Safeways – he was wearing a black tracksuit, not robes - and was over in Britain teaching at Conishead Priory in Cumbria. We started talking about Tibet, and I told him I was going to the Himalayas the following week to research my book. He came up to me at the checkout again and said, 'The book is not important, but the journey is important!' I hadn't the first idea what he meant. But now I realise that I had to make that journey before I could ever finish the book. On the journey, I trekked in remote parts of Nepal, worked with the Tibetans-in-exile and met the Dalai Lama in a Scottish monastery.

How did you develop the story?

I started with the idea of the search for something non-material, spiritual even – and the Tibetan Blue Poppy came to symbolise that search. The book is about letting go of material possessions – in this case a mansion in Cumbria which Charles inherits, but where he's been very unhappy – in order to pursue what seems to be an impossible dream. There is a natural link between Cumbria and the high Himalaya, as we have so many mountaineers living here. Also Cumbria was one of the first places to employ plant hunters to develop their great gardens, as the soil and climate are very similar.

I wanted to turn the idea of inheritance and riches, which in many books is the goal and happy ending of the story, on its head, as it were – so the hero starts off inheriting wealth and privilege, and ends up with nothing, having nonetheless fulfilled his dream and found happiness.

I spent 15 years on the research, including four visits in the Himalayas, endless visits to Kew and to the great gardens of the North, and a whole library of books on plant hunters, Tibetan Buddhism, geography and botany of the Himalayas. I became fascinated by the lives of the plant hunters and the obstacles they overcame in order to find that delicate and ephemeral thing – a new flower. I grew several different meconopsis in my garden and was always astonished by their beauty.

What else did this research lead to?

I went 4 times to Nepal and fell in love with the people and the Himalayas. As a result, I founded Juniper Trust www.junipertrust.co.uk which helps support sustainable communities, especially villages in the mountains, and particularly helps with education and health of children. Juniper Trust has now built 4 schools in the poorest parts of Kathmandu, and also works all over the world with the most disadvantaged communities. It was such an unexpected journey, beginning with the sight of that wonderful blue flower in the hills of Cumbria, and it changed my life. 

5.  I know you went to great lengths to get the botany right. Would you like to talk about it?


I was about to lead a writing course on the island of Iona, and crossing Mull, when I decided to take a detoured to Tarasay Gardens. As I walked into the tea room, I saw a bowl of blue poppies on a table, with a notice saying that this was a new Blue Poppy grown there for the first time, and they would like suggestions for names. I was excited by the coincidence, and went in search of the Head Gardener. Mike Swift told me that it was he who had developed the  meconopsis at Langholm Gardens in Cumbria, when he was head gardener there. It is now sadly closed. We started talking about blue poppies, and I told him about writing the book, and how I had been inspired by seeing my sister’s flowers, and also from growing meconopsis sheldonii, another Blue Poppy, in my own garden. It turned out he had actually developed that Blue Poppy himself while he was at Langholm. I'd often visited there to look at the blue poppies growing in the Woodlands, and to experience the Himalayan vegetation which is so wonderfully recreated there. Mike turned out to be a real expert on meconopsis, and later became a crucial adviser during the writing of the book. I even found him while he was on the ferry to Oban, where he was going to do his washing, just before the book went to press, to double check an important technical point.


How easy was it to get the novel published initially and how many disappointments did you suffer on the way?

When I first started to pitch the book to publishers, no one was really writing about gardens – it just wasn't a sexy subject – and no one really knew about the plant hunters. It's very different now! However, Little Brown did decide to publish, and the Editor was very committed to the book. Then, on the day when we were waiting for the contracts to be faxed through, we had four pages with Sorry! written on every page. Apparently the sales team had vetoed the book because the Americans would not understand the dialect. Later, for Robert Hale, John Hale, the grandson of the founder, was very helpful – recommending some cuts which were actually very useful, and asked me to remove most of the dialect. It taught me a lesson about how to keep the inflection and lilt of language, with a few keywords, and not make it incomprehensible to a wider audience. If I had done that to start with, Little Brown would probably have gone ahead with publishing! There was a rather nice coda to that story in that the Editor at Little Brown, under her own name, wrote a very kind review on Amazon for me about the book – I only wish she had put CEO Little Brown underneath, but perhaps that's ungrateful!

7 Did you feel your first publishers were totally committed to your book and how much effort did they put into promotion?

Robert Hale were fantastic, especially the Marketing team. They paid for a big launch up in Cumbria with very good posters, flyers and bookmarks, and also a launch on the island of Iona. They gave me a great deal of support, really behind the book. Unfortunately, they don't have a paperback house, and though there was talk of foreign rights, they came to nothing. I also think that the cover artwork let it down – I should have vetoed it at the time. It was a mistake to try to market the book is yet another country house novel, with a hand-painted cover, when I had tried to subvert the form and bring in other elements. However, in fairness it did sell reasonably well, and I had some good royalties initially.

8 Now that you've dipped your toe in the water, what do you think of E-publishing so far?

If it's Kath, Neil and The Book Mill I would do it again any day! The Book Mill have been fantastic. I am absolutely delighted with the cover, and the artwork that Neil has created, and the service you have both given to me. I think that if that had been the original cover, it would have sold like hot cakes!

9.  Thanks for the reference Angela!  What are you working on at the moment?

I have just finished writing my new book Days of the Tamarisk, set in France from 1943 to 1947, about the work of the French Resistance and the reparations after World War II. Dreams of the Blue Poppy took me 15 years to write, but this one has actually taken 33! I began the research in the Imperial War Museum when my children were toddlers, handling classified material which I had been given clearance to inspect – and it's gone through many incarnations since then. I've also been doing the final edits and polishing on a new Mr Mullett book for children – Mrs Mullett and the Cloak of Gaia, which I hope will be properly finished in the next few weeks.

Thanks for your time Angela and for allowing us to publish your book, which we hope will be a big success. You can read my review over at my bookblog.  Dreams of the Blue Poppy is available on Kindle, Kobo Reading Life and on Smashwords.  For more information about Angela and her other publications please take a look at www.AngelaLocke.co.uk  Now to break out the virtual bubbly!



Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?: Death of a Kindle - Kathleen Jones

Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?: Death of a Kindle - Kathleen Jones: I was recently in Cambodia - which proved more of an endurance test than I'd expected.  What with being ill, my email and Facebook acco...

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

'I think . . . I am going to die...' the new E-single from New Zealand

'I think . . .  I am going to die . . .'

by Kathleen Jones

 Just released today - among the first group of 'E-singles' being published by Bridget Williams Books - a new independent publishing enterprise in Wellington, New Zealand.  I was absolutely delighted to get the email from BWB this morning to say that my contribution is now officially 'live'.  It's a stand-alone piece on the final day of Katherine Mansfield's life at Fontainebleau and the reactions of her husband, John Middleton Murry and her friend Ida Baker, and hopefully it's a good introduction that might tempt people to buy the full biography!

Described in their blurb as:

'A moving, beautiful description of Katherine Mansfield's last days'

This stunning chapter from Kathleen Jones's biography Katherine Mansfield: The Story-teller (2010) describes Mansfield's last days and death at chateau near Paris, the centre of a spiritual movement led by the mysterious Russian philosopher-mystic Georges Gurdjieff.

View the media release (PDF) for 'I think ... I am going to die.'.