the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other Dorset writers

Off again …

I’ve been advised that following publication, there are six months to promote a debut novel to maximum effect. So, I’ve been getting out and about with The String Games by offering input at Dorset literary festivals, including the BridLitFest where I shared a platform with Maria Donovan and Rosanna Ley.

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(I’m also at the forthcoming inaugural Blandford Literary Festival at the end of November.)

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I’ve given talks with Dorset Libraries (love a public library) in Dorchester, Poole, Wareham and Creekmoor. An author event in Wellington Library was a good excuse to spend a weekend in Shropshire and meet up with an old friend. There have been talks for ladies’ groups, workshops with writers, public readings and even performances (one in Loughborough and the other at Scratch & Spit in Bridport). The String Games won an award for its cover design and is a finalist in The People’s Book Prize (voting for the winners commences in March 2020). Phew! I hope I’ve used my six months wisely.

As this period comes to an end, I’ve decided to refocus and use my experience of working with children and families to volunteer with VSO  at the Bidibidi refugee settlement in Yumbe, Uganda. I’m heading off at the beginning of December for four months to support enrolment of girls and children with disabilities in Early Childhood Care and Education as these groups are currently under represented. Uganda has a progressive policy in supporting refugees fleeing the civil war in South Sudan. Families are given a plot of land on which to build a house and grow produce. There is access to health services, adults can work and children are offered places in schools. After several years of working with refugee families in London, I’m excited to have this opportunity. But it doesn’t mean a hiatus in blogging and writing. On the contrary, I hope this experience will generate new and important work.

Indeed, writing plans for later in 2020 are already taking shape. I’ll be at the Stockholm Writers Festival sharing my experiences as a debut novelist in May. This is a wonderful event for new and emerging writers in a great city.  And I’ll be delivering a talk and a workshop at the Mani Lit Fest in October where reading and writing are celebrated at a town near to the home of Patrick Leigh Fermor. My children’s picture book Pan-de-mo-nium is currently with illustrator Fiona Zeichmeister and will be released next year.  The contemporary novel I’ve been working This Much Huxley Knows is nearing completion.

Watch out for post from Uganda in the coming months. David is incredibly supportive and is 100% behind me. I’m very lucky to be married to him!

 

 

 

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Jessie Cahalin AKA Books in my Handbag

Jessie Cahalin is a prolific book blogger who is also a published author. I was delighted to read her recently published novel You Can’t Go It Alone which has received many four and five star reviews. Jessie kindly dedicates much support to other writers through her blog.  You can find my cover on Jessie’s very popular Handbag Gallery. Here you can click on any cover you fancy and the link takes you to further information about the book. Here’s a picture of what to expect:

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She hosts a Blogger’s Cafe, too. This works on the same principle as the Handbag Gallery but this time showcases the blogs of a range of authors.

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I’ve been fortunate to be interviewed on Jessie’s blog and she’s posted one of my stories. You can read both here. All Jessie’s posts are accompanied by wonderful images to compliment the text. The care Jessie takes in presentation makes it an absolute delight to appear on her blog.

To top all this, Jessie has just posted an outstanding review of Paisley Shirt. She’s taken prompts from my collection to write the review as a piece of flash fiction. This not only demonstrates her talents as a writer but is a wonderful tribute to my collection. I am absolutely thrilled and can’t thank Jessie enough.

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It’s well worth taking time to browse Jessie’s blog. It is a celebration of reading and writing where you’re bound to find something of interest.

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Big Heads and Others

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Really pleased to see Big Heads and Others an evening of comedy sketches co-written by Sarah Scally, Maria Pruden and me in the autumn brochure for the Bridport Arts Centre. The show will take you on a journey from the topical and tropical to the meticulous and ridiculous. Do come along if you’re in the area. It is being staged on Thursday 8 November 2018 at 7.30pm. For tickets click here.

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Good news: it’s all happening at the minute

Firstly, my interview ‘a conversation…’ is on the Greenacre Writers’ site now. Why not pop over and have a read?

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Secondly, I have a poem in the fabulous print publication Words for the Wild. You can read more about the project here.

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And lastly, I’m off to the Thomas Hardy Society‘s fiftieth conference this evening to hear Paul Henry read from his acclaimed poetry collections The Brittle Sea and Boy Running. It will be good to touch base with Paul again (we were both lecturers at the University in South Wales in 2015).

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On feeling a little teary…

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An absolutely stunning review for Paisley Shirt appears on Being Anne an award-winning  book blogging site by Anne Williams. Quite overwhelmed by her praise:

Every single story is perfectly crafted, not of uniform length, but each one marked by the perfection of its writing and its insights into people’s lives, exquisitely captured.

She also offers an interview where her insightful questions led me to reflect upon my writing journey. Do pop over and have a read by clicking here.

 

 

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Tips for writing and working collaboratively

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I’m in the author spotlight on Jaffareadstoo today. Instead of focusing on Paisley Shirt, I share tips and strategies for writing and working collaboratively. Click here to pop over and have a read.

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Visiting Troutie McFish

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I’m pleased to join fellow Chapeltown author, Mandy Huggins, on Troutie McFish Tales today. You can read about my experience of writing about place and how I create characters. Do pop over and have a read.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Paisley Shirt and you live in Dorset, Serendip in Lyme Regis and The Swanage Bookshop hold copies and I’m in negotiations with Gullivers in Wimborne, The Book Shop in Bridport and Waterstones in Dorchester to stock Paisley Shirt, too. You can also find Paisley Shirt in October Books,  Southampton.

 

For those who prefer ordering online, Amazon continues to show an ‘out of stock’ message so try ordering through the Book Depository  or another online retailer such as Waterstones. Any good bookshop will be able to order a copy if you quote the  ISBN  9781910542293.

 

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Women and shawls in 19th century art

In the style of Marina Sofia’s Friday Fun Reading Women post, I have collected images of women in paintings wearing paisley pattern shawls. These shawls became popular in the nineteenth century when mass production of the design (which originated in Kashmir) started in Norwich and then Paisley in Scotland. Thus paisley shawls became an exotic, must-have garment that became a marker of respectability. Although popular in Britain, the shawls were widely available in Europe, too.

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Paisley Shawl by Robert Lewis Reid (1862-1929)

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Sunday Afternoon by George Morren (1868-1941)

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Portrait of a Young Lady by Eduard Friedrich Leybold (1798-1879)

 

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Irish colleen wearing green plaid shawl (1890)

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Will you go out with me Fido? by Alfred Stevens (1823-1906)

If these images have pricked your curiosity about the place of paisley pattern in the arts, why not read the story in my collection Paisley Shirt which was inspired by this design?

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Visting Patsy Collins

Check out the power of purple – I’m chatting with Patsy Collins today. Why not pop over to her blog for a read?  Click here.

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Enjoy!

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About Paisley Print

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According to the Textile Glossary, paisley pattern “is a droplet-shaped vegetal motif, similar to half of the T’ai Chi symbol, the Indian bodhi tree leaf, or the mango tree. The design originated in India and spread to Scotland when British soldiers brought home cashmere shawls.”

The East India Company began importing shawls from Kashmir and Persia and due to their popularity, production of paisley shawls began in the small town of Paisley in Scotland. By the 1850s six thousand weavers were employed to produce paisley shawls made from wool. Although the pattern produced by these weavers became known as paisley due to the link with the town, this pattern is known as palme in French and bota in Netherlands.

Over the years, paisley patterns continued to be worn, but it was not until the late 1960s that the print was once again fashionable. More recently in 2012 the print also appeared in fashion shows.

Paisley Shirt is the title of a story in my new collection of short fiction which bears the same name. Can I encourage you to purchase a copy here? The paperback edition is available from 7 March 2018.

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