Friday, 28 March 2014

Guest post: Sophie: on being an outsider

Last night's poetry slam was an experience; my first. 

I am in awe. 

I applaud any one who stands on a stage & bares themselves in such a raw & honest way. I know it's something I couldn't do.

But as a writer there is an inherent part of me that wants to be read & admired. I want someone to say "I get it, this is cussing genius". Though I know that what I do is not what they do. I do not, nor feel that I should, call myself a poet. I know nothing of the form, nor do I read poetry on a regular basis. (do I need to?) 

I simply write.

I've arrived at the conclusion that anything I do have to say I can express in few words (& that it's okay to do so). Andrew wrote a whole novel based on a six word story I shared with him. He needed 80,000, I needed only six. I am not verbose.

Perhaps that's down to my crippling shyness, my inability to make eye contact with anyone but my partner, or to hold a conversation, the anxiety that floods my body before I even step out of the door, or the way I struggle to formulate my thoughts into something coherent.

But is my writing, which doesn't stick to set parameters, as valid as theirs? Could I, as someone who writes short obscure surreal subversive sentences, that have no real point & are layered with sexual intent, be taken seriously? Do I have the right to call myself a poet?

Can I legitimately take to the stage & recite the following:

Electroshock blue 
orgasms & daisy coated
Volcanic honey-soaked
grazes & your
molten tongue on 
stark concrete

or will I be laughed at, misunderstood, dismissed as just another writer?

& there is my fear.

My subversive side thinks I should continue to do whatever it is I do, to call it what I want, & to be proud of it.

Yet I live in Norwich, a renowned city of literature, & I'm still to meet any one who writes surreal alt-poetry, or accepts & praises what I do with my own writing & with Fur-Lined Ghettos. 

Sometimes it feels as though I am living in a void, where anything remotely outside of the mainstream simply isn't welcome. I hope I'm wrong.

Monday, 24 March 2014

New Novel: The Immortalists

Very pleased to announce that my eighth book, "The Immortalists", was published by Telos over the weekend and is now available to buy both as an e-book and in paperback.

This is the first of two novels coming from Telos to feature my irascible PI, Mordent, who so far had only made appearances within a handful of short stories. The second novel, "Church of Wire", will be out either later this year or early next. A third ("People I Know Are Dead") has also been written and will hopefully be placed assuming these first two novels are relatively successful.

Here's the blurb:

Is There Life After Death?
Ex-cop, Mordent, is an irascible, anachronistic PI with a noir sensibility and a bubblewrap fetish. Hired to investigate a missing person case he believes the job to be an easy pay-check, but when the kid turns up dead and appears to have aged beyond death, Mordent finds the mystery is only just beginning. When a second body is found similarly aged, Mordent is pulled into rival gang leaders’ quests for immortality, a race where the objective is not to finish. And it becomes personal when Marina, a psychic, disappears after tipping off the police about the second body. Mordent had unfinished business with her.
The Immortalists is the first in a series of exciting crime novels putting a neo-noir twist on the genre conventions of bums and dames, corruption and perversion, and cops and informers; all played out on rain-soaked streets amid a shadow-filled city.
‘An excellent writer and stylist, reminding me of Raymond Chandler, Malcolm Pryce and Jasper Fforde. Suitably creepy and sometimes laugh out loud funny.’ Emlyn Rees, author of 'That Summer He Died'
‘Andrew Hook's fiction is always recognisable, but never predictable. He has that rare, lovely ability: to mess with your expectations while entertaining you at the same time.’ Mat Coward, Dagger and Edgar shortlisted crime writer
The book is available as follows:
I'm planning a blog post on the gestation of this novel, but for now I just want to get the information up there. Stay tuned for further blogs!

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Writer's Fear Of The Book Event

To be honest, I'm not particularly nervous before book events. I'm happy reading my material, doing workshops or signings, and talking about my work. But maybe my subconscious thinks otherwise. Here's the summary of a dream I had last night which addresses virtually every 'event fear' a writer might have in one simple nightmare:

1. Arriving at the wrong venue - I had the choice of two bookstores in my dream. I was sure the one I chose was the wrong one, but I didn't even check out the other store;

2. Being late - Other writers were also giving readings and I had to noisily make my way to a seat whilst they were doing so (this is before I'd even checked it was the right store);

3. Checking details - I hate approaching people to confirm they know who I am. In the dream I eventually plucked up courage to ask if I was in the right bookstore - and whilst they said yes, I was still convinced that I wasn't;

4. Needing the toilet - Whilst another writer was reading I had to go to the loo. Of course, I had to walk past the podium to do so. Steps led down to a basement which had a full-length window through which the public were visible. I decided not to use the loo, turned my back to the window, and peed for a good five minutes onto the floor;

5. Occupied seat - Of course, returning upstairs I found the seat I had next to my partner was now occupied by a man eating ice-cream. Whilst the other writer was reading I had to loudly insist on regaining my seat only to find there was now chocolate ice-cream on it;

6. Deciding what to read - I flicked through the pages of my soon to be published novel, The Immortalists, only to find that the typesetting on several pages was skewed and illegible. I couldn't make any decision as to which chapter to read - due to length, legibility, appropriateness;

7. Equipment faults - Finally at the podium to do my reading I was so wary of getting the right volume on the microphone that I tried speaking with the end in my mouth (later in the dream, the mic disappeared and changed into a horn-like tube);

8. Disruptions - Before I could begin reading I was disrupted by the previous writer coming back to collect her stuff, and someone knocking a glass of Coke which had been provided for me all over my trousers as he knocked against the podium (thankfully not spilling onto the book);

9. Inappropriate material - It wouldn't be the first time that I've chosen something to read at an event to find children in the audience with their parents for whom the material wouldn't be appropriate. In the dream I made an announcement that some of the content might be considered sexually or verbally offensive for some people, only to find the back of the bookstore drop away and see my words broadcast over a wide plaza containing all kinds of townsfolk going about their daily business - with the guarantee of offending somebody;

10. Unable to find chosen text to read - In the dream I repeatedly searched through the book in front of the waiting crowd whilst inexplicably I was unable to find the passage I had chosen, the tension and fear mounting continuously. People begin to leave;

11. Inability to do the reading - In the dream, once I found the chapter I wanted, all the pages turned to coloured tissue paper and it was impossible to turn a page without scrunching it into a useless unreadable ball, whilst all the time muttering apologies for my uselessness;

12. No confidence in the material - Finally, having surmounted all the obstacles, I began to read only to realise my delivery was flat and without enthusiasm as I realised what I was reading was utter rubbish;

It was then that I woke.

Hopefully when I do take part in promotional events for this novel I won't be beset by anything like the above. But all eventualities are possible.