Thursday, February 26, 2009

Authors' homes

Spurred on by the news that the National Trust is about to open Agatha Christie's old home to the public, I was chatting to some writer friends about visiting other authors' homes. My friends like the idea and a couple of them had been to loads. I was rather startled to realise that I've only ever been to three: Hill Top, which was Beatrix Potter's home; Brantwood which belonged to John Ruskin; and the Bronte family parsonage at Haworth.

I was very young when my parents took me to Hill Top and I can remember very little about it except that it was rather small, but you could see some of the features from the books such as the yard where Jemima Puddle Duck lived and the fireplace from Tom Kitten. I think that 'made' the visit for me.

Brantwood I remember only as being rather dull, but I think that might be because so much of the house was given over to galleries of his illustrations, rather than showing how he used to live. Haworth was more rewarding, at least in part because it still looks like a family home and you can get a real sense of the Brontes living there.

I'm in two minds about visiting more of these places. For one thing, they tend to get so hellishly busy because they attract both general tourists and fans of the author concerned. Dove Cottage, Wordsworth's home in Grasmere, for instance, attracts simply thousands of visitors a year and it's minute. You wonder how they fit everybody in! On top of that, it can get a little tedious being told endless variations of 'this is the desk s/he wrote so-and-so at' and 'this was the pen they used'. Everybody says 'ooooh' in a suitably impressed way, but there's not much more you can say or do.

However, there are a few places I'd love to see. One is Bateman's, Rudyard Kipling's former home, which I've seen on television and which looks fascinating. Then there's Virginia Woolf's houses: Knole where she was born, Charleston where she lived with Duncan Bell and various other artists and writers in a sort of commune, and Monk's House where she had a holiday home. And finally, if anyone ever opens up any of Daphne du Maurier's former homes I shall be there like a shot, because she's my hero when it comes to writing.

Has anyone else visited any interesting writerly abodes? Were they interesting? Did you get to see anything more than The Desk, or The Chair, or The Pen?

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Boyfriend From Hell...

No, this isn't something better-kept-secret from my personal life. I had some lovely news this morning - From The Asylum have accepted 'The Boyfriend From Hell' for their forthcoming anthology Things Aren't What They Seem.

FTA are an online magazine who publish print anthologies - sometimes of the best stories from the zine, and sometimes with a specific theme. This is one of the latter, with all the stories focussing on the idea of 'aliens amongst us'. 'The Boyfriend From Hell is a short short about a boyfriend with anti-social habits who turns out to be something different - and there's an extra, unexpected twist!

I don't yet have any details on when the anthology will be published but I'll post them on here when I do.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

'Radgepacket 2' released early

I've just had some really exciting news - 'Radgepacket - Tales from the Inner Cities Volume 2' from Byker Books has been released early, complete with my story 'Rock and a Hard Place'. Originally it was due to launch on 2 March, but Byker have had an advance order made up and it's available to buy from their website (for a measly £5.99) right now!

My story is a darkly humorous gritty urban tale about an ageing rock star pretending to be gay in order to sell more records, with unexpected and hilarious results.

I haven't read the other stories in this volume but the first anthology was a hoot, full of stories that were noir but with a humorous or quirky twist, and very entertaining.

You can find much more detail including an excerpt and a link to Byker Books' online catalogue at my website.

And, um, woot. :)