Tag Archives: publishing

Flesh of the Peach: Netgalley and Finished Cover

 

(the finished cover!)

(it’s all scuffy-looking in real life, which I love)

 

My debut novel Flesh of the Peach is now available to access on Netgalley, an online service that allows publishers to grant early access to their titles to the people who might read it and promote it to others. That means if you’r a reviewer, bookseller, librarian or journalist, you can request a title before it makes it to the shops. Here’s the link to Flesh of the Peach. Review copies have started going out, so I have thrown myself into my work in order not to think about that much at all (I still do). If you’re a bookseller and think you might like to have me read, please get in touch (hlmcclory at gmail). I’m fond of it, and I can go wherever there’s a cheap flight or bus and a friendly face at the other end waiting for me.

 

It’s March and still cold and grim here, so I don’t have many pictures to show you. I hope I will go outside for longer stretches, and then have something green to share. I dream of flowers. One way to fulfil the need for blooms is to follow writer Alyssa Harad’s #FlowerReport every Sunday on her Twitter feed. Flowers from all over the world, showing it’s always Spring and Summer somewhere, even if that somewhere is a vase on an indoor shelf.

 

As soon as I see something more than a sorrowful bent-over daffodil I’ll share it with her.

 

As a reminder, the book launches in Blackwell’s Edinburgh on the 25th of April. Tickets are free and available here.

Flesh of the Peach‘s pub day is the 20th of April, and you can pre-order now from Freight, which is a good way to support the press directly.

An excerpt from Flesh of the Peach appeared in 3AM Press (back before the character’s name changed) and Sundog Lit.

 

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Exciting News (Part Two)

I know it’s coming on April Fools Day, but we’re after noon here in Scotland, so I’ll go ahead:

 

You may have seen that my book Flesh of the Peach is due out with CCM in October of this year – well, things have changed quite dramatically:

 

It’s now, instead coming out with Freight in about a year.

 

The decision to go with Freight, a brilliant rising press based in Scotland, means that among many other benefits, when the book is out, it will be far easier for readers (and bookshops) to find copies. I’m really thrilled at this, and at a chance to work with the team at Freight.

 

I’ll keep you up to date on any other developments with Flesh of the Peach and with my other exciting news.

Now tea, and working on the new witchy book and thinking of projects ahead…

 

UPDATE: Here’s a short piece on The Bookseller about this!

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Read in Banff

1. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
2. The Cove by Ron Rash
3. Red Doc> by Anne Carson
4. A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay
5. If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho trans. Anne Carson

And most of these I had to donate to others before I left, given the weight of my luggage full of Christmas presents. And maple syrup.

I don’t think I’ll have the energy to review these. I’m only now just stepping out of my fog, my soul stepping back into me. This month is turned over:

To the work I missed.

To writing an essay for The Female Gaze due in before I even left.

To hanging lights against the gloom outside.

To processing what has happened, plotting what has not – in fiction and reality.

I’ve already applied for another residency, the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. In a few years, I want to apply to Banff again. Something about being in the mountains, in the woods. Unlikely chances seem more possible after Banff. So too why I am going to be doing this side project on fortune in flash and poem and anecdote.

I’m also sending Flesh of the Peach. Well, have sent it out once in particular to somewhere its weird yearning pieces might fit. But I can’t say much beyond hope hope hope. Real open updates on this when I can, when whatever has happened. When I have teeth and fingernails for the process of telling or starting new.

Until then,

shuffling my little pieces around, and wishing you all, sparks.

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Overlap the little farm and the wood

 

It’s remembrance Sunday here, and it seems fitting to think of memory. I have been reading a very interesting article on The Frailest Thing, about how memory, place, and new technology are overlapping. About the loneliness of remembering something. Read it here.

 

It’s made me think of how I was trying to use memory in Kilea – both in the construction of the book, and within the confines of it. Kilea takes place on a remembered, and therefore fragmentary and mythologised island. The similarities should be clear to anyone who has been to the real island – but perhaps not. Because of the experiential base of memory.

 

Within the book, the landscape is continually distorted and enhanced by individual memory, mixed with folk-memory too. The Highlands have so much folk-history present in their absent spaces, their Cleared land, their war-built forestry plantations.  The whole landscape of the book heaves with it, with poison and beauty and inaccessible places and roads that are frequently covered by soil slipping from the hills. The landscape of an island as more memory than reality. The tides move the borders, and the dead have moved the dead. The stones of crofters’ houses fall into the bogs created of long-dead forests.

 

Mrs Sabine, an older woman who looks after the young Kilea, has accrued decades of memories of place, though few people she can share these memories with exist. She remembers open fields, each rock and abandoned rusting plough, and gauges the passing of her life by them, by the way they appear unchanging and she so frail and mutable.

 

The town square’s war memorial, dating from WW1, causes her a lot of pain.  It is a touchstone of the past, wreathed in poppies, carved all over with names of people she has not known, and might be judged for even reading – a foreign, German-born woman of the WW2 era, browsing, consuming, the names of the dead. Nothing is known, precisely, about her involvement or culpability in Nazi Germany. She has self-effaced, though there are hints that she suffered greatly. A  desire not to be seen remembering that crushes her.

 

Remembrance. Acknowledgement, however painful. It is required of us, though we can go about remembering in all sorts of self-protective ways. We can lie to ourselves, about the glories of war. We can lie about our culpability in wars of recent past. We can lie about pain. Or we can sit still and take it in, these memories. We can stand and watch the landscape shifting under our gaze.

 

I think – moving away from the painful matter of war – of the setting of Kilea, and I think of the shape of absence within it,the great gnawing pain of unremembering and trying not to recall. Sometimes too I think of the book as an object of the past. An absence of concrete form. A space that is not even left empty on a bookshelf.  A phantom limb that never was.

 

But a book, even unpublished, is more than a memory. It has the near infinite capacity for creation, for sturdiness. We lose our oral histories all the time, but a book is hard to lose. It can become, it can endure. I just wonder how, with Kilea,this will enact itself. How it might become, transcend memory through memory’s opposite.

 

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Autumn Endless Reads

 

I look outside and cannot understand why the leaves have not already turned.  I’ve set my mind on Autumn and now I’m impatient for the season to make a clear announcement of its arrival. It’s already cold and damp now, the hours are drawing in (sunset before 9pm, now, a sure sign of the year heading towards late middle age), the festival is winding down, and Winter coats are coming out. Come on, decay, we’re ready for you.

 

In the mood for this chill turn, I begin planning autumnal reads. Not that I stopped reading over the Summer, but I think it’s good every season to pause for a moment to see what’s on the cards. Up for September:

 

 

 

NW, of course. Maidenhead I received today from Canadian publisher Coach House. Lots of people on twitter recommended this book to me after I decried my embarrassing lack of Can Lit reading. Coach House very generously sent it my way. The package brought with it an interview with the author, Tamara Faith Berger, and an insight into the themes of the novel – sexual and political awakening, feminism, slavery, art and pornography. That’s a promotional condom that was included with the book. I’ve just finished The Listeners by Leni Zumas which was, while well written, full of imagery of injury and blood (of which I am very phobic) so Maidenhead, while likely to be graphic and very challenging, is less likely to make me nearly faint every few pages.

 

The other book is one I’ve had for a while and have yet to get to – Now Trends, a collection of stories by Karl Taro Greenfield. The cover design and portability is meant to imitate a travel guide, and the stories themselves range across the world. Armchair travel for a dreichit time of the year.

 

I hope to review the latter three books on PANK in due course, and NW some time later here.

 

What do you have lined up to see you through the warm weather’s disappearance? That’s if it’s ever Autumnal in your part of the world.

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Fur Luck

 

This is Lego, a leucitic reindeer living in the hill enclosure at the reindeer centre we visited. Leucitic is not albinism, not the absence of melanin but any pigment at all. There is a delicacy to Lego that is surface only – his pink antlers, his translucent hooves, though he is in robust health, friendly and hungry for the food we offered.

 

Why for luck (or ‘fur luck’ – in a dialectical form)? Because white deer are lucky, harbingers of good, rare things. Because Kilea is leucitic, something she shares with the character she is modelled after, Chariklea from The Aethiopika. It is a curse and a blessing to be  unique. It gives her a particular worth in the eyes of collectors, suitors, and a divorce from her people, her origins wiped from her skin, so she appears blank.

 

And now Kilea is out wandering, not out in the world yet, but in among the trees, a haunting presence for me while I work on the next book, with a new girl needing to be realised.

 

Writing and dreaming. Looking for symbols of fortune when I should be looking to those of endurance. A mixture of these. More pictures and stories, at any rate, to follow.

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Vignettes and some Kilea news

My friend C's front door has a holy peacock on it

My mind is a little jostled today, along with my body, so please excuse the slight disorder here. I made it back to the city of smoking chimneys at one thirty last night, after a long but blessedly uneventful bus journey – but most importantly, after a successful trip to London.

Shoreditch, towards the Gherkin building

The visit was not at all about sightseeing, and most of the time was spent nattering, dining, browsing and film watching with friends.  I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures around the East End, in Bow, where C lives, and trendy Shoreditch (I love calling it this, and wish they could rename it on the signs) where I met my friend G on Kingsland Road and where there is a Vietnamese restaurant for everyone.

An old industrial building in Shoreditch

On the side of a former Tea warehouse, there are lots of rather forceful missives

“War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength, Time for Tea”  – I’m not sure Orwell would approve of this hijacking.

A gritty looking street - called Cotton's Gardens.

In contrast, C's windowsill in Bow, like Shoreditch, also in East London

I am happy to report that the meeting with my agent went well, aside from delays in her flight. I sat waiting for her in a pleasant cafe, drinking tea and reading of the exploits of Isabella Bird in the Rocky Mountains. All snow, wild beasts, ‘ghastly vistas’ and handsome ruffians with ‘neglected tawny curls’ – the wrought Victorianness of things keeping me well occupied.

The news on Kilea is that the wait will continue: word has not been received from all the editors the manuscript has been sent to – this apparently is not uncommon, and so is not something to fret about. The agent will be sending them a nudge to let them know I have won the Unbound Press Best Novel Prize, which will hopefully sharpen their pencils a little. It may be months until I hear more concrete news from these parties, and until then I can’t share the other good piece of news I had on the novel (I don’t want to speak out of turn and hex my chances).

There are a few things I can be doing – writing this blog for example, and continuing to reach out to fellow writers and readers.I’ve started a twitter account, as you can see down to the right under the bird noises (@HelenMcClory): I’d love suggestions of people to follow as well as anyone who’d like to follow me. Mine will probably feature a fair amount of ephemera alongside articles of interest. I’m still chary of the brevity of tweets, but hopefully there will be ways to connect to others, and that poignancy and poetry are there to be found.

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