the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

A few developments in my writing life

I’m now getting back into a regular writing routine after a happy and very sociable summer. The winner of the Dorchester Literary Festival Writing Prize was announced at a launch event on Tuesday and my congratulations go to Tess Burnett for her novel The Hanging of Hettie Gale. Tess wasn’t able to attend the prize giving but alongside the other shortlisted writer, Philip Beale, I hobnobbed with celebrated Dorset writers Tracy Chevalier and Minnette Walters. On hand to announce the winner was Kate Adie. Here’s a photo of me with co-director Paul Atterbury – you might recognise him from the Antiques Roadshow.

I’ve just be told that an interview I did with 10Radio back in March has been uploaded to SoundCloud. If you’d like to tune in and hear me chatting with Suzie Grogan about all things connected with writing This Much Huxley Knows, here’s the link.

Meanwhile, the publisher of my debut novel, Victorina Press, has been busy producing new graphics to market The String Games. I liked them so much, I thought I’d share them with you here:

That’s all my news for the minute. I look forward to catching up with you again soon.

2 Comments »

The joy of an itinerant life

I’m back in Dorchester after five and a half months away. Although the weather is autumnal, I’m still feeling the buzz of summer. We had a splendid time in London, renting a room from friends and travelling into town for visits to theatres and other venues. I enjoyed Witness for the Prosecution based on an Agatha Christie short story and staged in County Hall. My grandpa worked for the London County Council until retirement and it was great to be in a grand committee room and imagine he was once there.

The one musical I saw was Dear Evan Hansen about a young man who sells his soul to Facebook. I enjoyed the show where meaningful songs and ideas around redemption provide counterbalance to tragedy. Twice we went to Holland Park Opera where free shows were offered on the steps outside the building. Here’s a photo of two performers from the opera Little Women.

Our niece sang and played during Piano Friday nights at the Tabard Inn in Chiswick.

We also did a lot of walking in preparation for our trip from Porto to Santiago de Compostela at the beginning of September. It wasn’t a proper camino as we didn’t have enough time to cover the distance but with friends we walked 15 miles each day for one week (and took three train journeys). Here are some highlights.

It’s great coming home after an extended period away to see Dorset in a new light. I’m looking forward to what the autumn has to offer.

6 Comments »

A little writing progress

The completed novel I’ve been querying with agents since January has a new name. It started life as Little Swot, then changed to Extra Lessons. Following advice from a bestselling author, it became The Girl and the Tutor and now with feedback from a publisher it’s become The Secret Life of Carolyn Russell. The novel remains the same, a dual timeline mystery with a menopausal journalist digging into the cold case of a missing teenager from 1979 to create a true crime podcast. I came close to gaining representation for this novel from a literary agent when we had a Zoom call to discuss the project last month. There were a few things she said which caused concern so I was almost relieved when she emailed the next day to say we weren’t a good fit. Now I’m back in the querying trenches – wish me luck!

Can you find my picture here?

In the meantime, I’ve had a little success with competition entries to the Page Turner Awards. I submitted my completed novel into the Writing Award and my work in progress Escape Village Resort into Writing Mentorship (for unfinished manuscripts). Both have been awarded a finalist badge which means they’re in the running but against many many other entries. Next hurdle is the longlist. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

4 Comments »

Sweltering season in London

After leaving the cooler climes of Edinburgh over a week ago, we’ve since done a quick flit to Dorchester to check our house is ready for holiday letting over the summer. There was a lot of weeding to do, we discovered a swarm of bees had taken up residence in a bush and we’d completely run out of toilet rolls. Thankfully we were able to rectify everything and there followed a detour to visit family. Now, we’re now back in our old stomping ground of New Malden in South London and it’s rather hot here (although a nice change from wearing three layers and a pair of boots).

As some of you may be taking a holiday over the coming months, it’s timely to mention a promotion Victorina Press are offering during the month of July. You can purchase many of their books with a 50% discount. Everyone knows you can’t hit the beach without a book, so how about grabbing in copy of The String Games? With the setting of a campsite in France, it’s an ideal choice.

Photo: Victorina Press

Leave a comment »

Busy bees

June has been packed with activities! As we only have a fortnight left until we leave for London, we’re trying to make the most of our remaining time in Edinburgh. My son visited last week and we went on a couple of outings which involved obligatory photos:

A view of Arthur’s Seat from Blackford Hill
Jonny and David in Circus Lane, Stockbridge
Read the rest of this entry »
Leave a comment »

At a loose end around 10:30am today (BST)?

Why not tune into Suzie Grogan’s Talking Books radio show on 10Radio (or use your usual world steaming service) to find me giving away the inside story on writing This Much Huxley Knows and much more. Alternatively, if you’d prefer a breath of Scottish air, here are some photos from our walk in the Pentland Hills (south west of Edinburgh) yesterday.

Leave a comment »

Don’t get the flags out yet…

I promised an update on submitting The Girl and the Tutor. Although the news isn’t an offer of representation or publication, it is encouraging. Since 31 January, I’ve received two further full manuscript requests and one partial. The initial full has since been declined. As part of a Twitter pitching event three weeks ago, I was invited to send the full manuscript to the digital-first publisher Bookouture. Although I can’t understand why people think it’s a good idea to send rejections out on a bank holiday, I heard back on Good Friday. So as one door closes, another (potentially) opens. In the feedback I received, it was suggested I develop a dark thread in the contemporary story to echo the one of exploitation in the 1978 timeline. This idea absolutely chimed and I will start revising the novel to show how bad things happen in cozy, beautiful settings. Onwards and upwards!

In the meantime, life in Edinburgh continues with several new walks discovered. Yesterday, we took a bus to Balerno (near the Pentland Hills) and walked back along the Water of Leith walkway. Here are some photos from the eight miles we covered in returning to Stockbridge.

What a lovely day!

Leave a comment »

First week in Edinburgh

We’re tuning into city vibes and finding life in Stockbridge very agreeable. We’ve stayed in the one-bedroomed flat many times before and like the locality. Step outside the front door and to the right is Raeburn Place with its many independent shop, cafes and restaurants. Turn left and there’s the Water of Leith Walkway which goes down to the sea at Leith and inland towards the Pentland Hills. We’ve discovered a route where the Water of Leith passes under the Union Canal at Slateford Aqueduct which makes a great circular walk. There’s also the chance to go along wider footpaths which were once railway or tram tracks. We followed one to reach the Colinton Tunnel where there’s a fabulous community project to decorate the tunnel with murals.

Volunteers have illustrated the words of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem From a Railway Carriage which describes a child’s first journey by train. Here’s an image of the exit to the tunnel.

I was on special look out while walking to the tunnel for a spot where it’s possible to go wild swimming. Although most of the Water of Leith is shallow, here’s an area of deeper water. Who knows – I might don my costume one day for a dip.

There’s a great stopping off point too, at Saughton Park where the cafe serves the best breakfast rolls I’ve come across.

And I mustn’t forget a shout out for the Edinburgh Botanic which we’ve visited once already and we’re looking forward to popping back regularly to watch the plants bloom as the season warms up.

There’s not much to report on the writing submission front although I’m still joining Writers’ Hour each weekday morning at eight o’clock. It’s one way to keep the new novel barrelling along.

Leave a comment »

On the road

Me and David are heading off to spend time on the road. It’s hard planning which clothes to take given the weather will be variable. We’re going to Edinburgh first, then London, then Spain, Portugal and Greece. Although I’ve decide to abandon my fleecy coat, I will take my electric blanket which I’ll use while we’re in the UK. Oh, and I’ve packed lots of outfits which involve layers.

I’ll continue writing while we’re away. My work in progress – now titled The Escape Village Resort – is developing well. I’ve fine tuned the elevator pitch to 280-characters – the length of a tweet – to aid online querying. Which version do you prefer?

ABIGAIL’S PARTY x THE SERPENT (This relates to comparable TV programmes)

Six mismatched millennials live it up at a tropical resort: one couple are honeymooners, another get married, the third approach the seven-year itch. A storm threatens. Who’s to blame when one of the women goes missing? 

FOLEY x LOGAN (This relates to comparable authors, Lucy Foley, author of The Hunting Party and T M Logan, author of The Holiday which was recently televised on Channel 5)

Three mismatched couples live it up at a remote island resort. Amongst the group are a flirt, a bully and a show off. During the shenanigans coercive control rules. The temperature rises, storms threaten. Who survives the tropical party? 

Read the rest of this entry »
8 Comments »

Graphic to illustrate a manuscript

From a post by The Supercargo about header images, my friend and fellow writer John Nixon at Pens Around the World has inspired me to play around with pictures to illustrate my manuscript The Girl and the Tutor. It’s the story of a girl who never grows up due to an early obsession with her maths tutor and here’s what I produced:

I’ll refrain from going into the whole plot but suffice to say I chose a copyright free image of a prefect from Unsplash and another of a tutor from Pixabay. In Canva, I was able to select the heart-splattered background and the leaf image to finish the job. What do you think?

Interestingly, there’s a pitch party launching in April called moodpitch. This is where authors get a chance to write a tweet-length pitch (280-characters) for their novel in the hope of attracting interest from agents and publishers. At this pitch party, there’s also an expectation that the tweet will include a moodboard. Looks like I’m all set to go!

3 Comments »