Self-publishing News: Indie Writers Are Doing It for Themselves!

My latest guest post for The Huffington Post on the latest trends in self-published writing.

http://tinyurl.com/qcgaazq

It comes just as my own  As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee    self-published book has become a top 20 Amazon chart hit

Just in time for all those setting off to Spain for the Easter Holidays !

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Happy Birthday Laurie Lee – 100 today

 

The End of the Road

Today is a landmark day for me, a day towards which I have been working for over two years. My book As I Walked Out Through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee is officially published today  and available on Amazon.co.uk as a kindle/paperback.9781781322079-PerfectCover.indd

 

Birthday Wishes

Laurie Lee would have been 100 today.

There has seen a plethora of articles and broadcasts in celebration of the writer, including an article by me on one of the Book Industry’s  leading trade websites Book Brunch. I tell the story behind the research and writing of my book and the journey that I made following in Laurie Lee’s footsteps down across Spain in the summer and autumn of 2012.

The Radio 4 “Today ” programme carried a headline piece on Laurie Lee, the podcast is now available, see links to other articles carried today.

Crowd Funding Site Still Live-10 days to go

My crowd-funding appeal at Pubslush.com is standing at 34% with just 10 days to go, if you would like a signed and dedicated copy or a selection of other extras, check out the site and support me in raising money for good causes.

 

 The Wheel Has Come Full Circle

 

In a strange and magical way my journey has now turned full circle. In my book I mention a lost love of mine that still haunted me as I made my journey down through Spain. We shared a life in Spain in the 1980’s. This is us then….

Kay&Paul_Sept1981 002 (1)

Just a few weeks ago, through the book, we were re-united and everything just fell back into place as if it was meant to be !

 

It looks like I have my Indian Summer, my little summer of the quince after all.

 

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A  New Dawning

To cap a lovely day I received a small gift from a friend of my mother’s who had just received a signed copy of my book. Pam had heard on the radio that Laurie Lee, who loved plants and nature, always had his favourite rose climbing up and around the front door of his cottage in Slad. It was called “New Dawn” and Pam just happened to have one growing in the garden. She sent my mum back with a cutting for me and here it is…photo (25)

A new dawn for me beckons…

 

 

 

As I Walked Out in Search of Michael Portillo


photo(1)  gaucin
I spent much of October over in Spain researching and writing my forthcoming book As I Walked Out through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee. The book will be published in the spring of 2014 as part of the celebrations linked to Lee’s Centenary in June 2014. I have to thank Callum Christie who runs a great little Tour Operator “Frontier Holidays” that specialises in walking and cultural holidays in Spain. Callum lent me his home near Ronda as a writing base. Whilst there I met another entrepreneur, Manni Coe, who runs another great little Tour Operation called TomaTours that also does walking, gourmet and cultural short breaks in Andalusia. Manni is a great fan of Laurie Lee too and we had a great evening discussing his books and travels. He tipped me off about a relatively unknown scenic rail route through the Pueblos Blancos region between Algeciras (Next to Gibraltar) and Ronda.

He also told me about meeting Michael Portillo and persuading him to travel the route as part of the opening programme of a new series of Great Continental Rail Journeys that was broadcast last month on BBC2- you can catch it on BBC I-Player though. Michael Portillo does a great job of introducing the delights of Andalusia.

Manni invited me to visit the region and take a ride on the railway. I didn’t need asking twice and spent a great day travelling on Mr Henderson’s Railway and writing about it for Toma Tours. You can read the article here Walking Out In Spain in Search of Laurie Lee

I guess on this occasion I was also keeping a look out for Mr Portillo. I didn’t find him but I did meet him last night at a function in London at the LSE and we did have a quick chat about the programme. He was disappointed that the wonderful meal he had at Caserio ananda adjacent to the Gaucin station platform had to be cut from the programme due to time constraints.

My day spent travelling the railway was a moving one for me and brought back poignant memories.

The Sun Also Rises

It’s 5 o’clock in the afternoon and I stagger across the roman bridge into Allariz in the south of Galicia in the North West of Spain. I have been walking since that morning. It is the hottest day of the year so far in this part of Spain. 40 degrees centigrade in the town of Orense where I started the walk. A real baptism of fire, it is my first full day of walking.

“las heridas quemaban los soles, a las cinco de la tarde.” “the wounds were burning the soles of my feet at 5 o’clock in the afternoon”

I think of the line above from Lorca’s poem “El llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Mejias.”

I rest for 2 days in a lovely shady restored farmhouse two miles outside the village. A Palleira, the name of my farmhouse, like much of Allariz, has been beautifully conserved. Much of it, no doubt, with public money. Money well spent because much of Galicia is now quite poor and suffering again from the emigration of its young, seeking work, much as they did centuries ago when they went off to find the New World and their fortune. Much is made of the reckless spending of the autonomous Spanish regions in the press and media but Galicia, much like many English northern areas,has no natural industry bases and no large conurbations. It needs support and investment in its tourism infrastructure.

Allariz is celebrating its annual festival “Festa da Bois”, a festival of bull running. 90 years ago,Hemingway went to Pamplona ,to the San Fermin festival and ran with the bulls and wrote about it in his book “The Sun Also Rises”. I read this book as a young man. I had recently heard an old BBC radio recording of Laurie Lee , talking of attending a similar small village bullfight festival in the Basque country. The tale he told was one of the English visitor, Lee, taking on the experienced and wily bulls, that the locals would not touch with a “bandillero”, and emerging as a much feted hero. Like much of Lee’s tales, it is possibly best taken with a large pinch of salt.

As the excitement builds , waiting for the first bull to be released into the small winding streets of the old town, I shelter in a tiny packed bar in the main square. I am there hiding,not just from the bulls,but from the incessant downpour that has followed the heat wave. Everyone is wearing their “fiesta” bright red “panuelos” (neckerchiefs) tied around their necks in what Lee would have called “cravat style”. The stylish young women were back home in their “pueblo” for the Corpus Chrsti holiday , escaping from their professional careers in Madrid. They mix with their brothers,sisters and nieces and nephews. The chatter is a mix of Castellano-purely spoken Spanish-and Gallego, the Galician language. Gallego has Celtic cousins like Welsh, Cornish, Breton.

Gallego Is the first Spanish language that Lee would have heard following his arrival in North West Spain. The large country of Spain is home to a rich melting pot of languages, Catalan, Basque, Andaluz and many people have died over the years to protect their right to speak them.  Many were executed in the Civil War for their allegiance to their region rather than to the centre. Ironically , Franco himself was born in Galicia. When in Orense, the day of 40 degrees plus, I came upon a plaque and a trail commemorating a local activist,singer and writer, Alexandre Boveda He was executed by Franco troops on the 17 August 1936, for simply being a local patriot. The date is now designated as a “Dia da Galiza Martir.” A salutary reminder that you did not have to be a cultural icon like Lorca to be hunted down. In those desperate times it was sufficient  to be a simple man with values who believed in something.

Six loud blasts are heard, the signal for the first bull to be released. We all rush outside. The bull appears, disappointingly but sensibly, not running totally loose but tethered to ropes, skillfully managed by a team of men in white outfits. The crowds scream and the bull is chased by a posse of young men, high on alcohol, adrenalin and machismo. I experience a fleeting sense of fear and awe and then almost immediately, complete empathy with the bull which is clearly scared out of its wits.

I return to my rural escape. My taxi-driver, a corpulent gruff fellow appropriately enough called “Macho”, spent the short journey singing the praises of the bull.

I guess I am no Hemingway and retire to my bed consoled by this thought.

SECOND CHANCES IN LIFE

Getting it Right First Time Round

Swimming Home is the title of Deborah Levy’s latest well reviewed novel, her first for 15 years. She was speaking about the novel at an event, hosted by University College Falmouth Department of Writing, last Thursday 25th November 2011.   

For me one really interesting story emerged from the Q and A session that followed the reading of an extract from the novel. This told of a serendipitous encounter that radically changed the course of her life as a writer.Levy had been asked what had been the most critical step in her finding her true voice as an author and becoming the writer that she is.

  This is what she told us: during a gap year before she was due to go to a traditional English university to study mainstream English Literature , she had been working at a small art house cinema in Notting Hill, London. One week it was showing films by the illustrious director,Derek Jarman.Jarman had asked Levy what she was planning to study and Levy had shared her plans.  He took her under her wing for the day, a remarkably kind act by the distinguished director and took her to an art exhibition by Joseph Beuys     a performance and installation artist.

The exhibition switched a light on in Levy’s head and she, as a result, decided to change course and study Performance Writing.  She ended up studying at Dartington College of Art , now incorporated into University College Falmouth  and the rest, as they say, is history.   

So: what’s this story doing in a blog devoted to grasping Second Chances in Life?

Simply, I guess,  that it illustrates that getting it right in the first place can save an awful lot of time  further down the line.

 We are not all as lucky perhaps as Levy, which is where” Second Chances in Life” come in.