A good week. Well, okay, a good fortnight or so since my last post, if you’re being picky. Still, better than the months-long gap I sometimes leave. You’ve got to admit, I’m getting better…
Right, so what’s been going on? Well, the most important thing is that Quiet Houses is completed! Completely! On Thursday of this week, I placed the acknowledgement and notes sections into the manuscript and then sent it all off to John Prescott, my handler at Dark Continents Publications. Julia, the editor from DCP, has done a great job is curtailing some of my longer sentences and pointing out my wilder grammatical inaccuracies, and I’m really, really pleased with the final text. All that remains is for John and me to have a discussion about the internal layout of the book, and then my work is genuinely done. After that, it’s just a case of talking Quiet Houses up, launching it, selling it, generating reviews and good word of mouth and it becoming a bestseller. Easy. Marvellous.
The other fun this this week was that I made my third appearance at Lancaster’s spoken word and music night, Spotlight. As ever, I struggled to find a story to fit into the fairly short time frame (15 minutes), as my best stuff is longer than that, and I don’t like doing sections but prefer instead to do full pieces. Also, I’m beginning to realise that what I consider my best written work is not necessarily the best spoken work: the stories that work best out loud tend to be the ones that I call my ‘twilight zone’ stories, less emotional horror and more pulpy. ‘N is for Noodle’ and ‘Borough Station’, both of which I consider to to be good but essentially slight, work really well as spoken pieces whereas something like Baking of Cakes I don’t think would work at all. It’s partly, I think, because reading the emotional stuff is hard and listening to it is harder: it’s slow, and internalised and not plot-driven, whereas the actions in the pulpier stories are quick, external and therefore have a better flow. They’re exciting. Interestingly, people laugh at key points in the stories, which I’d never realised they would do – it’s a good laugh, incidentally, one to break tension rather than because of any any unintentional comedy on my part. Well, I hope so, anyway… For this Spotlight, I decided on an older story, ‘Button’. I spent the week rewriting it to make it better for performance, adding and removing and generally buggering about with it, until I had it in a version I was happy with and that I felt I had the measure of, and on Friday night at about 9.45 I got up on stage and read it. Did it work? See for yourself!
If the link doesn’t work, go to Youtube and type in Simon Kurt Unsworth! While you’re there, check out the other performers from the night: the ace Norman Hadley, whose poetry tends to leave me wishing I could write that well, and the fab Mollie Baxter, who was airing some of her new songs, which are as superb as her old ones. There was also some great short poetry from Rowena Ward and performance poetry from Mihkel Hassan. Headline act were the grammy award nominated The Low Countries, and they were also excellent. Check it out, lords and ladies, you won’t be disappointed!
So, what next? Well, I’m getting back into the novel. I’ve reread what I’ve written so far and have tentatively started to add to it, and will be plotting and carrying on with the rest of it soon. I also have the additional stories for the Spectral Signature Edition to do, and will no doubt feel like writing some stories just for the hell of it. I’m wondering about another Spotlight appearance, have this year’s Halloween Cancer Research appearance to sort out and am going to look at trying to arrange other events in support of Quiet Houses‘ launch (including, possibly, one with Dave Jeffries, whose Young Adult collection Campfire Chillers is being released by DCP at the same time as Quiet Houses). Should be a busy, fun few months!
Right, that’s your lot. Back about your business, lords and ladies, and I’ll see you soon.