States of Independence – A book festival in a day.

Independent publishing | Independent writing | Independent thinking

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Come say hello and maybe buy a book. Hot off the press copies of Love’s Portrait will be available before general release! *£10.00*

If you can’t make it but would like to purchase a copy of Love’s Portrait please contact me direct (postage and packing will apply).

[I will also bring with me a few copies of Highland Fling and Girls Next Door.]


The tenth States of Independence takes place on Saturday 23 March 2019 at Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester. 10.30am – 4.30pm. Free entry!

Workshops | Readings | Panels | Seminars | Book launches

Bookstalls | Independent presses | Regional writers

Fiction | Non-fiction | Poetry | Plays | Artist books | Magazines | Journals


 

 

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Love’s Portrait – 4 weeks until publication (April 2019)

Love's Portrait - Anna Larner 2018

Publishers Weekly Spring 2019 Announcements: Love’s Portrait by Anna Larner (April 2019, ISBN 978-1-63555-057-3). Sparks fly between Molly, an art curator, and Georgina, her museum’s aloof benefactor, as they research the portrait of a 19th-century lesbian social activist and try to convince the museum’s board to display it.

Context of extract:

Museum Curator Molly Goode (central character) has just attended a museum funding meeting with her boss Evelyn Fox and the Chairman of the Trustees Mark Drew. Her suggestions that the museum should focus on more diversity and community based projects are rebuffed in favour of securing the ongoing patronage of the Wright family, headed by Georgina Wright (central character).

Molly returns to her desk defeated and dispirited.

Molly returned to her office, dropped her notes back into the bin where they belonged, and slumped onto Fran’s desk with a heavy sigh.

“You’re sitting on my sandwich.” Fran pushed at Molly’s hip, encouraging her to stand.

“I’ve sat on your lunch? Oh my God, could this day get any worse?” Molly held Fran’s baguette, squishy in her hands. It was now less buoyant baguette and more flatbread and pretty much summed up her morning.

Fran stood with a groan. “Want anything from the cafe?”

Molly looked down, crestfallen, and shook her head.

“I take it the meeting wasn’t exactly a great success.” Fran rested a motherly hand on Molly’s shoulder.

She couldn’t bring herself to mention the annex let alone that she had prompted the idea of a dedicated exhibition in the first place. “Honestly it was chilling to hear them. Everything’s about money or status to them. I thought museums were for and about the people.”

“You’re sounding more like a social historian every day,” Fran said, with an approving nod. “Although isn’t the art world, your world, all about that—status?”

“Not for me.”

“Good for you.” Fran placed her hands on her hips. “I think we need cake.”

“Have lunch in the square with me?”

“Sorry, no can do, I’ve a shopping list longer than David Attenborough’s career. But I’ll see you later. So what will it be—Victoria Sponge or, better still, eclairs?”

Molly mustered a smile. “How about both?”

“Good choice.” Fran turned back at the door. “Do you remember what I said to you when you first started at the museum? That you will always feel disheartened if your approach is to work against them?”

Molly nodded.

“The trick, if there is a trick”—Fran frowned slightly—“is somehow to find a way to achieve what you believe is right but that still delivers for the powers that be.”

“So is this how you handle Evelyn?”

“On my good days, yes. On my bad days, lots of rude words shouted at the top of my lungs in the privacy of the ladies’ loo.”

Molly giggled. “Right. Noted.”

The instant Fran closed the door, Molly was engulfed by images of the chairman with his expression of vacuous power, his mane-like hair swept back, his tie tight against his collar moving with his throat as he spoke. He was confident in a bullish way that suggested at his heart he was insecure. His insecurity made him dangerous, and if she was not mistaken, that was likely the source of his power and influence—not his knowledge, not his experience, but the fragility of his ego, charming when stroked, ferociously defensive when challenged.

Evelyn seemed to be a master at managing him, stroking to calm and cajole. She appealed to his competitive nature by presenting the museum as a place of excellence. A leading institution, indeed. She was the consummate manager of people.

Molly closed her eyes at the image of Evelyn with her pen raised to silence her. Her temper rose. She needed to find a place to shout rude words.

Leaving the frustrations of her meeting behind, she headed to her sanctuary, a small public garden next to the museum. Aptly named Museum Square, the simply designed square patch of civic ground was bordered on two sides by parked cars. A collection of benches placed around the inside edge of the square separated the grass from wide borders. A diagonal path, broken up by tree roots, stretched across, splitting halfway along to encircle a large horse chestnut tree. This tree marked the seasons, signalling the changing patterns of the year. In winter, bare and stark against white skies, the tree seemed to shrink, huddled with those brave or crazy enough to stop awhile and sit. In spring, tentative buds relaxed in the welcome return of the first rays of sunshine. In summer, students rested against its weathered waist reading their books, cool in the shade of branches laden with the soft flutter of green leaves. And in autumn, the debris of crushed conkers bashed free from its branches, littering the ground with evidence of battles won and lost and of time passing as the empty husks curled and browned.

She cherished those moments spent sitting on her favourite bench eating her sandwiches, with her lunchbox at her side and with the sprawling horse chestnut her faithful companion.

Basking in the calm stillness of the beautiful September day, she took off her shoes and let the grass brush against the soles of her feet. She lifted her chin to the cloudless sky. The air was changing from the dry sandy notes of summer to the sweet musk of autumn. The leaves above her were fading, and their greens had softened to mossy shades from vibrant lime. Even the midday light beaming through the canopy seemed weaker now, less luminous, its strongest rays falling on another person sitting on another bench, in another square, in another land.

 

*Now available to pre-order at the Bold Strokes Books webstore*

*Now available to pre-order at Amazon*

ISBN-13  978-1-63555-058-0 ebook

ISBN-13 978-1-63555-057-3 paperback


© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.

Poetry – Writing is a leap of faith

Writing is a leap of faith

How awful the gap between the ‘authentic me’, the person you see when you look in my eyes, and the ‘me’ defined, confined by my peers, my achievements measured against my years.

How awful that gap, like the door left ajar to creak, inviting in a chilling breeze that dries eyes, cracks lips, so that tears of indignity are pointless and the humiliation of explanation hurts to speak.

How awful that gap, like a crevasse, deep and shocking, dizzying if I cared to stare down over its icy lip, to gauge the drop, to see how terrible the injury would be if I were to slip.

How awful the gap, and how hopeless my attempts have been to close it.

But that was then. I see now that you don’t need to heave that boulder that will leave you weak to fill that void, or to climb that rope that burns and cuts or traverse on a ladder that asks you to balance too much.

No. Find the paper, grasp the pen – an act of faith, and leap.

 

Note

My poem ‘Writing is a leap of faith’ has been inspired by the extract from ‘Autobiographical Fragment’ by Charles Dickens. In the extract Dickens expresses ‘the secret agony of his soul’ when the reality of his situation of working in a rat infested warehouse is set in stark contrast to ‘his hopes of growing to be a learned and distinguished man’.

This sentiment struck a chord with me, as I have felt ‘the agony of my soul’ in relation to what I define in my poem as ‘the gap’ between ‘my authentic self’ and ‘the self’ measured and defined on society’s terms, and how exposed I have felt by this. The act of writing, becoming a writer, described as ‘the leap of faith’ in this poem has offered me identity on my terms. I no longer seek to close ‘the gap’ but rather have found my own way to traverse it. I can imagine myself in nightmarish dreams, like Dickens, looking back and shuddering at the awful thought I might not have found writing.

I have utilised the prose poem form to speak to the flow of Dickens’ narrative.

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‘Writing is a leap of faith’ has been published by Leicester University’s Centre for New Writing in a pamphlet and online.

ISBN 978-1-9997526-2-0

 

© 2016 All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.