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The End Of An Era

A photograph of my cat

On Wednesday morning we lost my cat, Tabitha or Tabby, who had just turned 20. She was a trooper – she survived the shock of the death of her mother earlier this year, made it through two moves in quick succession, made a valiant effort pretending to hate the dog, and in her final days pushed back against the progression of a year-long illness.

Born to our half-wild/half-domestic cat, her ancestry was apparent. She was off the wall and always had to explore every nook and cranny no matter how many times she’d done it before. She could often be found sitting in the empty bath. She’d get locked in the shed by accident. She’d never sit on your lap, she hated being picked up, and would let everyone but me touch her belly. But she was incredibly loyal; she could often be found sitting on the very edge of my desk trying to find a way down from a place she really shouldn’t have jumped to or would sit on the top of the back of the chair I was sitting on, knocking her head against mine. One of the most Tabby-like photos I have is of her lying on her back; she loved rolling around outside and would do it more if she knew you were there.

It would be fair to say this human has lost her mistress; frequently, instead of spending time with me, she preferred to spend time trying to usher away from us the dog (and my parents… and friends…).

Tabby was the last remaining cat of four in our family; Badge, a classic black and white; Dusty, the grey half wild cat, Harry, Tabby’s litter mate who died long ago (another lives with a friend). It’s going to take some getting used to – I loved her to bits, as I know many of you will relate to – but there are plenty of wonderful memories.

 
The Polari First Book Prize 2017

The Polari Prize logo

I wanted to take a moment to feature the Polari First Book Prize. I was given the opportunity to read last year’s winner, The Good Son by Paul McVeigh, and, having it enjoyed it, when I was offered the shortlist this year I said ‘yes’ to a couple of them (time restraints). I didn’t know much about Polari other than the fact there was a prize and so decided to look into it, so, full disclosure, I’ve been asked to review some books which will happen soon, but this post is of my own making.

Paul McVeigh

Photo credit: Krystyna FitzGerald Morris

The Prize is for LGBT books, books that explore the LGBT experience. Entries are accepted in all forms – poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and self-published works are welcome. On the shortlist lasy year was Andrew McMillan’s awesome poetry collection, Physical, that was high on the list for the Young Writer of the Year, too.

This year’s shortlist (lots of independent publishers):

    Expecting by Chitra Ramaswamy (Saraband)
    Guapa by Saleem Haddad (Europa Editions UK)
    We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Fire by Jules Grant (Myriad)
    Straight Jacket by Matthew Todd (Bantam)
    The Vegetarian Tigers Of Paradise by Crystal Jeans (Honno)
    Jerusalem Ablaze by Orlando Ortega-Medina (Cloud Lodge)

I’ll be reading the Ramaswamy and the Ortega-Medina. The first is a memoir/essay collection, the second a collection of short stories.

The Prize was launched in 2011 by the Polari Literary Salon, a once a month Arts Council supported event hosted mostly at the Southbank Centre in London. To mark the Salon’s 10th anniversary (so that’s 2011 for the Prize, and 2007 for the Salon), they are doing an event tour that runs until October. Eighty authors are involved and the winner of the Prize will be revealed on 13th October at the Southbank Centre as part of the London Literature Festival.

The tour started in June. Here are the remaining dates:

    13th September: Printworks, Hastings
    15th September: Lewisham Library, Lewisham
    17th September: The Place Theatre, Bedford
    22nd September: Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
    8th October: Birmingham Literature Festival
    13th October: Southbank Centre (winner revealed)
    20th October: Marlborough Theatre, Brighton
    24th November: Southbank Centre, London
 
Noirwich Crime Writing Festival

A photograph of Norwich

Photo © Writers’ Centre Norwich/University of East Anglia.

No, it’s not a spelling mistake – Noirwich is a festival of crime writing that happens in Norwich. I’d very much like to go but am unable to make it; it’s a good programme so I thought I’d post the details in case any of you are interested. (This post isn’t sponsored.)

The festival runs from 14th – 17th September and tickets can be purchased per event, per day, or for the entirety.

On the Thursday, Val McDermid will be discussing her latest novel as the launch event. She’ll be in conversation with Stav Sherez.

Friday sees The Times/The Sunday Times crime club. Arne Dahl will be at UEA. Later that evening at the same venue, Martina Cole will be in conversation with Harry Brett.

On Saturday there are a few multi-author events. ‘Female characters and writers’ with Laura Wilson, Mel McGrath, and Erin Kelly. Later, Lone Theils, Daniel Pembrey, and Nick Quantrill will be talking about fiction further afield; Mark Billingham and Christopher Brookmyre will take to the stage (though this event is sold out), and there’s a 2pm chat with Anthony Horowitz.

Sunday, Stella Duffy, Felicia Yap, and Cassava Republic’s Leye Adenle look at international crime writing; Karen Maitland, Andrew Martin, and David M Mark look at historical crime fiction, and closing the festival will be Stuart McBride.

There are also fringe events: a murder mystery evening; and book group; a writing exhibition; a short film, and there are writing workshops on the Friday.

A photograph of the Noirwich Crime Writing Festival

Photo © Writers’ Centre Norwich/University of East Anglia.

It’s an excellent line-up and three weeks away. If you’d like to go and haven’t tickets already, get planning.

What festivals, literary or otherwise, have you always wanted to go to?

 
Back Monday

As above. The reviews I had scheduled for this week will be online next week.

 
Extract From Julia Chapman’s Date With Death

Date With Death

I’ve been pretty interested in this book; in light of my recent slow reading I’m posting an extract before/instead of a review.

Julia Chapman is a pseudonym for the writer Julia Stagg and Date With Death is out on 9th March. It’s the first novel in a series and published by Pan Macmillan. This is the prologue:

Mist. Fog. Or even brume. Dense cloud lapping at the muted glow of the station lamp; twin tracks emerging suddenly from the murk, the edge of the platform softening into nothing. It was too far inland to be a haar or a fret. But however it was labelled, it made the dark, early-morning hour redolent of death.

Richard Hargreaves, alone in this cold, shadowy world, stamped his feet, the sound smothered by the dampening shroud, and lamented the paucity of words to describe this recurrent feature of autumn in the Dales. Unlike the Inuit in the frozen north with their wealth of terminology for snow, the locals here had very few ways of representing these dark, damp, drizzly days.

Fog, then. It was too thick for mist, visibility almost zero, and gave no hint of being burned off, should the sun ever rise above the hills to penetrate the low-lying vapour mass. He pulled his scarf tighter against his chilled neck, thrust his hands in the pockets of his overcoat and smiled into the gloom.

Last day of the week. Two days without having to get up to catch the six-thirty train. And this evening with her. There was a lot to look forward to, despite the dreary weather.

He had no idea how wrong he was.

To his right, the flare of an approaching light bled into the blanket of grey. Richard Hargreaves, for the last time in his life, hunched his shoulders, shoved his hands further in his pockets, and stepped towards the edge of the platform.

When the blow struck him in the back, he had no means of defence. No means of stopping himself falling.

The press release looks to fans of Alexander McCall Smith, Robert Galbraith, and Midsomer Murders. Author Cath Staincliffe describes it as ‘A classic whodunit set in the spectacular landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, written with affection for the area and its people’. If you like the sound of it and would like to know more, there will be further extracts and other posts this week:

The list of blogs on the blog tour: 7th March My Reading Corner.co.uk; 8th March The Book Trail.com; 9th March Linda's Book Bag.com; 10th March Hollie In Wanderlust.co.uk; 11th March The Writing Garnet.wordpress.com; 12th March Novel Kicks.co.uk; 13th March Is This Real Life.co.uk

Do you enjoy reading ‘whodunits’?

 

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