Oof, after the last slightly bleak Overly Honest entry, I think I owe this site some sort of more cheerful update. Relevant to that entry: I’m on antidepressants now and I’m in a far better headspace than I was. Thank you to everyone IRL who is both giving me room to get back on an even keel, but also checking up on me subtly and sweetly. I do notice and I do appreciate it. Unexpected meds side-effect: I have discovered that I’m of an age where, when I say I’m not drinking at the moment, people give my belly a knowing look and I find myself explaining that I’m not pregnant, actually, that’s just my shape. So that’s fun.
Anyway, that shape is going to be squeezed back into my old wetsuit for the first time in years at some point this week, as I find out if the thing still fits – because I’m going swimming near* seals next weekend! So so excited. So so worried about the suit, which I bought when I was doing triathlons and was a bit skinnier than I am these days.
(*crucial difference between near and with. It’ll only be with if they decide to come over.)
Moving on: books. Lets talk ’em – though not in the sense of any proper reviews. This is just a recap of stuff I’m reading and enjoying and would thus far recommend (unless the endings let me down *glares in disappointed reader*)/
I was at a work event last weekend where I (briefly, because there was a lot of running around and doing Stuff going on) met loads and loads of lovely writers at various stages of their careers. I picked up a couple of books from Fox Lane Books, which had a stand there, partly based on particularly lovely interactions with the writers in question – and then I got the books signed, too. Special thanks to Maggie Gee, who shared with me the trick to keeping a one-in-one-out policy going, which is to get the book signed for someone else, and then read it before you pass it on (so my kid sister has a signed copy of Blood coming her way after I’ve read it). So I’m reading four different books at the moment, and I’ve got loads of others in the pipeline:
Water Shall Refuse Them, by Lucie McKnight Hardy. There’s a total bias to me having bought this to read – I know Lucie, and as well as being extremely talented, she’s flipping lovely. What I never am, though, is biased when it comes to the actual enjoyment of the story – and this one is brilliant so far. Dark and visceral and strange and well-observed – and sticky-close with the claustrophobia and heat of the drought it’s set during. Still reading, so I have nothing to add at this point, except to say it is most certainly causing some odd dreams.
The Night Brother by Rosie Garland. Oh my God, I mean – Rosie is my idol and I want to be her when I grow up. Generous and friendly and a total star and completely rock and roll. I adore her. This is the other book I got signed – it’s my train read at the moment (I started it on the way home from Leeds) and I went into it having no clue what to expect. It’s vivid and heartbreaking, and certain parts of it have brought me out in upset goosepimples as I was reading. Other parts have made me laugh. Massive thumbs up, and no I’m not giving any clues as to what it’s about.
Pharricide by Vincent de Swarte, translated by Nicholas Royle. I am always fascinated by stories of self-isolation, and so this – a novel in which someone already very disturbed and at a remove from others lives alone as a lighthouse keeper – appealed. I’ve only just started it, but have already been pulled into the narrative. It’s compelling as hell. Also dark. There’s a theme here.
And last but not least: House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski, which is scary enough that I’m having to read it in stages, and big enough that I can only read it at home because it’s just too much of a brick to carry around.
Waiting in the wings, aside from Maggie Gee’s Blood, is Julie Pike’s The Last Spell Breather. Stephen at my local Waterstones, who I love because he’s a star bookseller (unfortunately for me and my wallet), always interesting to chat to, and is quietly doing loads for writers and readers – both adults and children – recommended it, and he’s never steered me wrong. I’m putting off starting it, though, partly because, well, I’ve already got four books on the go, but also because I’m two-thirds of the way through writing a new MG one-day-please-may-it-be-a-book, and wary of getting sidetracked. Also up next is Tana French’s The Wych Elm, which I’m saving for a full day with three bars of chocolate and no interruptions.
Anyway, there you go. Music-wise, in case you’d like an update:
I’ve got a (currently exclusive) track on this awesome vinyl compilation album: Noisy Daughters. There was a brilliant launch for it, er, right before my mental health went utterly haywire. The album is fantastic, and there are limited numbers available – if you’d like a taster of some of the music coming from women around the North East, I recommend nabbing a copy. My song on it, Great Escape, will be released elsewhere some time over the next few months, but not yet. It WAS played by Tom Robinson on Radio 6 which was just very much an ohmygod moment.
I’m doing some writing/singing with/for a couple of other people – slowly, because I’m finding it weird and quite tough to write to other people’s tunes and styles and I want to get it right, but it’s a learning curve I’m enjoying.
Probably going to write about the seals next week, I hope, if we see any….