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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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!

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Book auction and other news

If you have yet to purchase a copy of This Much Huxley Knowshere’s an opportunity for you to bid for the novel and help a worthy cause at the same time. The Jemima Layzell Trust supports children and young people suffering from brain injuries by providing funding for specialist equipment and/or specialist therapy. Authors may wish to donate a copy of your book (the auction remains open to book contributions until 11 March). You can register and make bids from today but the official launch and public auction period is from 11–25 March 2022.

Lately, we’ve enjoyed a few lovely walks through the fields around Dorchester and here are some photos to prove it.

Otherwise, we’re in the throes of preparing for next departure. Come 1 April we’re heading to Edinburgh for thirteen weeks. Watch this space for updates.

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Almost a year in pictures

It’s time to thank you for following my blog during 2021 and to wish you all the very best for the coming year. As a way to wind up events, please find some photos of our travels since release from lockdown.

Lambs in Dorchester.
A long weekend in Tenby.
View from a writing retreat at Cape Cornwall.

Our itinerant life continues in 2022 and I look forward to sharing more of our experiences with you. In the meantime, here’s wishing you and yours all the best for 2022.

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Having a blast at the Mani Lit Fest

Over the weekend, I was delighted to present a workshop and talk at the Mani Lit Fest in the Peloponnese, Greece. The invitation came as a good excuse to continue our itinerant lifestyle and we’re spending the next month roaming around the country. Stoupa makes a delightful starting point and the Mani Lit Fest was a wonderful event to be involved with. I delivered a Get Creative! workshop where I shared prompts and exercises to generate ideas for short fiction. One of the participants had read This Much Huxley Knows and throughly recommended my novel to the gathered group. The following day, I gave a talk about my experience of being published by small presses. This was well received and an email arrived soon after from a member of the audience who said my input was thought provoking and reassuring.

There was a real buzz around the Lit Fest. The highlights for me included a talk from James Heneage (founder of the Chalke Valley History Festival and Ottakar’s bookshop chain) who shared stories from his new book The Shortest History of Greece. Carol McGrath gave a hilarious presentation on Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England (the name of her forthcoming non-fiction book) and then there was a delicious introduction to the cookbook Salt and Honey from Nicholas Tsakiris and his daughter. (David followed a chilli lentil recipe last night which was very tasty.)

The Lit Fest was held at a local restaurant where the venue created a cocktail in honour of Huxley. A non-alcoholic drink (Huxley is only seven years old) can you guess what it contains?

There was also delicious cake (enough for two) called Ekmek Kataifi. It’s made with a layer of syrupy shredded filo pastry, another of vanilla custard, a layer of whipped cream and topped with pistachios. It goes very well with Greek coffee although I think it’s also good with tea.

If you’d like to enter the Mani Lit Fest Flash Fiction Competition (I’m the judge), send up to 1000 words on the theme of return. The competition is free to enter and is open until 30 November 2021.

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Two months in Cambridge

We’ve had a wonderful time staying with an old friend in central Cambridge. Although we’re here for another fortnight, I wanted to share are the highlights so far:

Cambridge Shakespeare Festival

Open air theatre is a particular delight and when plays are staged in Cambridge college gardens, there can be few better venues. Over a six week period we’ve seen plays that I know and love including Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, A Comedy of Errors and two plays which were new to me, Richard III and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Richard III wins the prize for the most gruesome and A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a sheer joy.

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Meet Sundy Flor, Book Blogger at Books Unfold

I came across Sundy Flor’s Twitter account when I was investigating book bloggers online. I checked out her website, Books Unfold, and was impressed with the beautiful graphics she creates to accompany her posts and the interesting format for her reviews. I contacted Sundy Flor to see if she would be interested in reading and reviewing This Much Huxley Knows. She agreed and absolutely loved the novel, you can read the review here. We’ve had several email exchanges since then and it occurred to me readers of The Writer is a Lonely Hunter might be interested in learning more about book blogging and the new fangled Bookstagramming. Who better to ask than Sundy Flor?

Q&A with Sundy Flor from Books Unfold

Can you tell readers about yourself, where you’re from and Books Unfold?

I am Sundy Flor from Davao City, Philippines. I am an avid reader of books from Fantasy and Young Adult to Nonfiction. Books Unfold is my blog where I share my thoughts and the things I learned from books.

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