Claire King

Author

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Food

Posted on: August 12th, 2013 by admin - 6 Comments

Summer Food

Food has been on my mind lately. (This is not unusual).

I love food. I love the colour and smell and taste of it. I love how tactile its preparation is and I like eating with my hands too. Food is one of the simplest human necessities that is also one of the finest pleasures, and you can do it three times a day. Sitting around a table to a meal can bring us together and it can nourish us. Of course food can also divide us, make us miserable and destroy us.

There’s little wonder, then, that food slips into fiction a lot. It certainly features heavily in my own writing

In The Night Rainbow, food is central to Pea because she’s having to source a lot of it for herself. She picks ripe peaches straight off the trees, waits for the morning baguettes to be delivered by the breadlady, and is very happy to take the biscuits that Claude offers. Her mouth waters at the pans of paella at the market and she tries to improve her mother’s mood by preparing food for her.

Food is also prominent in my next novel, although in a very different way, and I often use food as a metaphor in my flash fiction. Here are a couple of examples up at Fictionaut:

Anything Again

Flesh & Blood

Here is tonight’s supper, cooked and photographed by Mr King:

Since we moved here to France, our relationship with food has changed, and I was recently asked to write a magazine feature about our experience – the way we shop, prepare and eat French food. This week a photographer was sent over to shoot pictures of me with the family, as we took our weekly trip to the market, made meals and ate together. It’s was quite a surreal experience, and a very tiring day, but at the end of it, seeing how we eat through the eyes of someone else made me appreciate more than ever just how fortunate we are.

Here is a picture my husband snapped of me in the kitchen between shoots, wondering what to make for lunch:

Claire in the kitchen

And here is the photographer, Tom Parker, in our very shabby kitchen, taking photos of our pickles and preserves! You can bet when his photos turn up in the magazine feature it will all look very French and glamorous. (UPDATE: And here they are!)

Food_Photographer

But food isn’t really glamorous at all, is it? Certainly around here, the people who produce it work extremely hard for very little pay. If anything, the attitude we tend to have in our family towards food is one of gratitude and respect. Gratitude because we have such good and plentiful food, and respect in terms of our understanding of how it is produced and limiting waste.

This summer we crossed the Pyrenees over into Spanish Catalunya. We stayed at a lovely gîte there, owned by a family who have a few arable fields nearby, plus a farm with fruit, vegetables, chickens and pigs. They also have a Michelin starred restaurant. The farm is called Tancant cercles, which means closing circles, and their philosophy is that they produce the food they serve in their restaurant from start to finish, including growing the grain for their livestock. The owners were happy for us to take our children to have a look around the farm. There they showed us the harvested grain in the hoppers, which they feed to their pigs, they showed us the vegetables they grow and the free range chickens, and let the children go in and collect eggs. They showed us the pigs out and about, and the pregnant sows and those suckling the new litters. Then the owner took us and showed us the fridges, where they hang the pigs which have come back from the abattoir, the sausage and ham making processes and the cuts of meat, ready to be sold, or to be used in their restaurant. Later, we ate in the restaurant, and our children could point out pretty much everything on their plates and how they had seen it at the farm.

I know that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I do feel strongly that when many children and adults don’t have a clear understanding of how the food gets to their plates, seeing the end to end process is an important part of having respect for the food you eat. My children are still young, but they can now make the link between the piglets they petted and the ham they ate. As they grow up, I hope that they can keep that in mind, and never justify eating food produced in a way that they would not be happy to witness for themselves.

If you are ever in the area, the hotel/restaurant is Els Casals and the gîte (which sleeps 14) is La Rovira. They are all within a few minutes of each other, not far from Berga in Northern Spain (Catalunya, about an hour North of Barcelona).

Also, I’m thinking that maybe next year I might run a little writers retreat there, so let me know if you’re interested.

Old farmhouse in Spain



The best thing about publishing a book…

Posted on: April 17th, 2013 by Claire - 10 Comments

Reading a book

…is readers.

Forget the other things you may dream of. Forget the beautiful covers and the thrill of being on the shelves of book shops. Forget the congratulations and the celebrations. Forget royalties and rankings and reviews. Yes, all of these things are good things. But the best thing, the very best thing about publishing a book is readers.

Because you are the storyteller. Your story has been aching to be told. And now by some kind of miracle it is being told far and wide. Being heard. Being appropriated…by readers.

It’s only two months since The Night Rainbow was published, but I’ve heard back already from so many readers, and honestly, every time it makes my heart sing. When readers take the time to write a letter or a tweet or a review to say what they thought about my story, it’s a gift. And this week I had the chance to actually chat with a reading group for the first time. We did it by Skype and although we had a couple of technical issues overall it worked really well. I would love to do it again. I could get hooked.

What surprised me most was the kind of questions that the readers had to ask. In particular:

  • Questions about events that happened before the story starts. What led the characters to the point where the novel opens?
  • Questions about what happens after the book ends. Do I foresee happiness for my characters?
  • Questions about characters’ motivations for certain actions or comments they made. What were they thinking?

Aren’t they amazing questions? Not questions about structure or voice or writing techniques. But questions about the characters. As though they were real. Because just as for the writer, for the reader those characters were real too for a while. Their story was told, and the readers listened.

 

Readers: The absolute best thing about publishing a book.

 

Photo via flickr creative commons (c) Thokrates. Have a look at some of his other beautiful photos too.

Great Expectations

Posted on: February 21st, 2013 by Claire - 7 Comments

A week on from the publication of The Night Rainbow and lot of people have been asking me the same question – how do you feel?

I suspect the expected response is something along the lines of “Amazing!” But in practice for me the answer is much more complicated than that. I’ve heard some authors say that upon publication they’ve felt numb, or scared, or nothing at all. That’s certainly not the case for me. I have felt elated, thrilled and joyous. I’ve also felt anxious, a bit stressed and possibly a little obsessive. And I’ve felt grateful, a lot of grateful, for those who’ve supported me, knowing that what is to many just one more book out there in the world is to me the realisation of years of ambition and work and hope.

Rainbow in a meadow

Hope?

A lot has been said about hope:

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

“Hope is a good breakfast but it is a bad supper.” (Francis Bacon)

and my favourite,

“I am prepared for the worst but hope for the best.” (Benjamin Disraeli)

Yes, that’s the one. That’s how I feel now – hopeful, but in a realistic sort of way. I hope that things will go well with The Night Rainbow. That it will sell well and people will love it. That it might even get nominated for some kind of a prize. I probably should be being bashful and saying “Oh no, not my little debut, I’m just grateful it’s been published at all.” But let’s be honest, that’s not true. I do hope for still more good things. And I’ve felt this way at every step along my writer’s journey:

  • The sharing of a piece of writing with someone and waiting for their reaction, hoping for a positive one.
  • The submitting of a poem or a story into a competition and hoping for a placing or even a win!
  • Submitting work to a journal and hoping for acceptance.
  • Submitting to agents and hoping every the ping of every email is a request for a full.
  • Hoping that the publishers will want to offer a contract.
  • Hoping for foreign rights deals.
  • Hoping for a nice cover quote or two and then later for good reviews…

It’s not greedy to hope, it doesn’t mean you’re not very happy with what you already have. It’s simply picturing the road ahead in a positive light. Despite the inevitable rejections and disappointments along the way, we dare to hope in all aspects of our lives because if we didn’t, what would the future look like? We have hopes for our loved ones and for others around us, for ourselves and for our societies and beyond. And the fact we perpetually experience things not working out as we’d hoped doesn’t – or shouldn’t – teach us we were wrong to hope.

We can’t give up hope because it keeps us moving forwards, keeps us living.

I titled this post Great Expectations because some people have said things like ‘You must have great expectations for your book!’ But I don’t. Expectations are another matter. If your hopes are not met then there’s a twang of disappointment and you move on. But if have expectations, and they are unfulfilled the disappointment is much more profound. You probably don’t have a fall-back. Expectations don’t allow for being prepared for the worst.

So here I am, hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst, since there’s not much else I can do for this book. However, there’s a lot I can do for the next one, and hope won’t fix my edits… I’m putting my attention to those now so I can hand the new novel into my agent and start all over again…

A canicular, French, late summer morning.

Posted on: August 22nd, 2012 by Claire - 10 Comments

There is a canicule in France at the moment – a heatwave. Municipal Lidos are full of people trying to cool off. Only the bravest, or the most determined holidaymakers take to the shadeless beaches between 11am and 4pm. Meanwhile the countryside is parched and forest fires are regularly taking hold, even in the higher mountain areas.

There are two weeks left of the summer holidays, and just as with the end of season peaches and nectarines – although we have already had our fill – we are gorging on the remainder, while it is still good, before the time has passed.

Even as dawn broke this morning the air was hot and by mid-morning it was pushing 35°.

I made pancakes (crêpes) for breakfast, to cheers of delight. We ate them with fresh lemons, syrups and jams and cold watermelon from the fridge. It’s amazing how pancakes for breakfast can make an ordinary day seem like a holiday.

Then the neighbour came round, as he does most years at this time and brought us tomatoes. They have stewed and frozen as many as they can, and still his plants keep on giving. He tours the neighbours with baskets and boxes and bags of the ripe-to bursting fruit.

My 6 year old and I took our dogs out for a walk, to let them cool off in the irrigation canal that keeps the fruit trees and fields watered on our side of the valley. We also took a bag in the hope of hunting down some blackberries. My daughter, who is enthralled by insects, spiders, lizards and in fact any kind of local flora and fauna, found this little creature on one of the bramble bushes. We think it might be a crab spider.

 

As we walked home the farmer was turning hay in the fields. The air was heavy with its sweetness and the warm scent of figs from the trees nearby. We dillied and dallied until we were parched with thirst, then ran home fast for cold water.

This is late summer, in the canicule, in southern France. This place is inspirational.

 

 

Website make-over

Posted on: July 22nd, 2012 by Claire - 11 Comments

I’m having a make over.

The plan is to have an author website where news, book info etc can be found, as well as a link to my blog for those that are interested in my ramblings. The address will stay the same.

Here is the homepage work in progress. It’s based on a new wordpress theme that my clever husband has made. If you’re on your phone the blocks should appear in a column, on a tablet perhaps in a double column and on a computer in 3×3 format. But otherwise none of the links etc work yet and the text is placeholders. What do you think?

Is there anything that bugs you about author pages or websites that we should take into account? All thoughts at this stage gratefully received!

Thanks!

 

Very Inspiring Blogging

Posted on: June 25th, 2012 by Claire - 2 Comments

Thank you to two lovely and talented writers Anna JG Smith and Jessica Patient who this week have both presented me with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Hurrah!

The idea of these awards is to recognise blogs we appreciate, and a side effect is to have to tell you stuff about ourselves. Well…in the last two years I’ve already posted twice. Please do check out the blogs I suggested and read the ‘fun facts’ if you must!

  • When Martha Williams gave me the Beautiful Blogger Award in May 2010 I posted here.
  • When Oscar Windsor Smith gave me the Versatile Blogger Award in May 2011 I posted more dirty secrets here.

So for 2012 I don’t propose to add another seven interesting things about me.

However I have added one more or less interesting comment to each of their blogs, so if you’re really all that curious you’ll have to go and have a look!

I will definitely take the opportunity to point you at a few more interesting blogs though.

Do have a look at:

Peggy Riley for original and fascinating posts on writing and researching novels

Suzy Joinson for wonderful inspiration and fascinating illustrations

If you want wry and witty from a writer, do go and read Stephen May‘s blog.

Rachel Carter‘s blog always comes from the heart and hits a nerve.

If you’re hungry, go have a look at Kerry’s French revolution food blog

And if you’ve not seen it yet, go and support this VERY inspirational 9 year old girl’s blog about the quality of school dinners

 

Bloggers beware – “Top Blog Award Nominations”

Posted on: January 7th, 2012 by Claire - 14 Comments

 

This week I received an email congratulating me on my nomination for a ‘Top Writing Blog Award’.

Woo-hoo, eh? Great. I’d never heard of the organisation that nominated me though, so I Googled them. They seem to be a broker for online education. So far they have a dozen different categories of these “awards”

Top 115 parenting blogs!

Top 70 foodie blogs!

Top 75 music and arts enthusiasts!

Top 50 Wellness Guru!

In total 735 blogs have won their awards…and that’s 735 blogs who have put this website’s award badge and *link* to their site on their blog. Can you imagine how that boosts their search engine rankings?

This feels like an opportunity to take up space on my own blog with a badge that means nothing to most people and provides a link to a site I don’t endorse.

Right then…

 

Death and Life

Posted on: January 2nd, 2012 by Claire - 15 Comments

A dear friend of mine died suddenly on New Years Eve and since then I’ve been grieving, in its various guises.

Whilst most have my thoughts have been about the loss of Annie in our lives, and the pain of those left behind, other strange thoughts have crept in.

Here is one that I’m not proud of. Annie was always very encouraging about my writing and so delighted when I told her my first book was going to be published. We talked about the novel and she was really looking forward to reading it. Of course now she never will.

It’s an odd thought, and not relevant at all to what has happened. Why would I even think about that?

I suppose that we all project how things will turn out in the future – times we are looking forward to, who will be there and what will happen. This story evolves, of course, but when we are forced to re-write that story abruptly it knocks us off balance.

In amongst all of the sadness, there is something healthy about this rupture, because it reminds us that the future is not certain. That there are no guarantees which of our loved ones we will get to keep, or for how long.

It should tell us how we ought to be living.

 

 

40

Posted on: November 25th, 2011 by Claire - 17 Comments

I’m one of those human beings who needs the symbols and ceremonies that mark our little lives.

The beginnings, endings and milestones along the way. I believe that they are important, psychologically.

I like birthdays, weddings and although I don’t enjoy them, I very much appreciate funerals. I always loved the first day back to school, and last day of school before the summer holidays. I love launch parties and recognitions of success. So what am I trying to tell you? OK, I’ll spit it out. I have a birthday with a zero at the end coming soon.

In forty days and forty nights, I’m going to be… (can you guess?)

Forty gets used a lot in religious texts. They seem to use it to mean ‘a big number’.

I remember my mum turning forty. I was sixteen. And forty did seem like a big number to me then. It was the age of mums and dads. An age to joke about, to celebrate, but in a mocking sort of way. In an ‘Over the hill and off the pill, get your slippers out’ sort of way.

For my mum, forty came in the heart of a storm. She was too busy surviving to worry about celebrating, reflecting or looking forward. It was all she could do to keep the boat afloat with her kids in it. My mum, by the way, is amazing. And her life since forty has just got better and better.

For me, forty comes in fine weather. I loved my twenties, although I was rather volatile for much of the time. I loved my thirties too, although I was in rather a hurry and sometimes a bit overwhelmed. I’m thinking that my forties are going to be brilliant, and for now I’m just thankful.

I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for our good health. And I’m thankful that we are bouncing along the regular ups and downs of the day-to-day, living the little trials and joys of our lives, with clean drinking water, untouched by earthquake, famine or flood. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had so far, and the opportunities I have now.

And there’s no big wish list from this blogger. Everything I want from my forties has to come from me. I want to be a good mother to my girls, a good wife to my husband, a good daughter to my mum. I want spend as much time with my family and friends as I can, while I can. I want to seize the opportunity I have to write novels and have them published well. I want to be true to myself, and try and make myself a better person at fifty than I am today.

Hello, 40, you’ll be welcome.

Raw

Posted on: June 23rd, 2011 by Claire - 13 Comments

Today, the 23rd June, is the Fête de la Saint-Jean. Every year a fire is lit at the top of Mount Canigou, and tonight the fire is brought down to all the villages around the mountain, ours included, and villagers celebrate, and leap over the flames to celebrate the summer solstice, and the spirit of our community. The Mount Canigou is a mountain sacred to the Catalan people. There is something magical about it.

I had a friend who loved this mountain. This week he died on it.

This friend, this man, he loved the mountain. He knew the mountain and spent a lot of time there. It was his passion. Two days ago a storm fell as he was climbing to the peak. He was struck by lightning and died instantly.

Today I find myself immobilised by this news. Today I should have been writing. But I cannot even find the right words to express my condolences, never mind a scene in a novel. People say that you can write through grief. That you can turn the emotion into something positive. That writing can be therapeutic, or a tribute to someone we loved.

But this is not my grief. The last time I properly chatted with this person was last year at his 50th birthday party, although I see his wife most weeks.

Andrew’s death makes me feel mortal. It makes me terribly sad. It reminds me that I am profoundly grateful for my own family. It makes me want to reach out to his wife and help her in any possible way I can, and I feel helpless, because I know that there is no real way I can comfort her. But I feel, rightly or wrongly, that writing about the tragedy that has left a friend devastated, would be disrespectful in the extreme.

I don’t feel bad creating fictional grief from my darkest fears and imaginings.

I don’t feel bad creating fictional grief by drawing on feelings of grief that I have experienced personally.

But I find someone else’s grief impossible to approach through writing. It’s personal. I don’t want to write about it.

Although maybe I  just did.

Versatility, Baby!

Posted on: May 26th, 2011 by Claire - 17 Comments

I love it when people say kind things about my blog. Recently Oscar Windsor-Smith said kind things, and then passed me a Versatile Blogger Award.

These things come with rules – tell your blog readers 7 things they probably don’t know about you, and pass on the award to seven more blogs that you appreciate. Righty-ho.

I have already posted a number of nuggets of mis-information over here, when awarded a Beautiful Blogger Award by Martha Williams, so have wracked my brain to think of new things you may consider interesting and I may consider (more or less) prudent. I’ve decided to include an untruth in this post: one of the following statements is made up. See if you can spot the lie.

1) I talk in my sleep. A lot. Apparently it is usually quite ‘creative’.

2) Twenty years ago I appeared on The Crystal Maze. Knock yourself out.

3) I often have dreams that someday soon Bloomsbury will call and tell me they re-read my manuscript and it’s all been a big mistake. When I wake up I have to go back and read all the saved enthusiastic emails from my editor to calm myself down.

*

4) I was once attacked by a hippo in Uganda. This is a mountain gorilla, not a hippo, because I didn’t take a photo of the hippo, you know because it was sort of…cross.

5) I invented The Rule of Jenga. This is a useful rule for travelling around France in a convertible, using a Michelin 1-50,000 scale map, to find wine regions to sleep in.

6) At university I represented my college at rugby. I played prop. I also represented my university at Modern Pentathlon. I was great at show jumping, very good at pistol shooting and fencing, highly average at running and an appalling swimmer. I am still an appalling swimmer (and am now a well below average runner). In fact I’m crap.

7) When I was 24 I moved to Ukraine to sell soap powder.

 

That’s all folks.

Now, here are some truly great blogs for you to go and have a look at:

Inky Girl aka Debbie Ridpath Ohi, who probably won’t do the posting seven things thing as she just posted about internet distractions…which in itself is a good reason to have a look!

Marcus Speh because versatile is what he does.

Vanessa Gebbie who was also awarded the Versatile Blogger by Oscar, but I wish to second it because her blogs are so good.

Jane Smith at How Publishing Really Works. Jane handles the debates that go on there with professionalism and aplomb…

Emma Darwin at This Itch of Writing for her straightforward, no-nonsense writing tips.

Nik Perring for interviews, commentary and now literary flash mobbing…another one nominated by Oscar but that just goes to show!

Joanne Harris This is not actually a blog but a website. And it’s a treasure trove.

 

Double Standards Recycling Angst

Posted on: March 30th, 2011 by Claire - 20 Comments

I am having a clear out. I am recycling many things.

This is a good thing. Good because I am lightening the accumulation of stuff which loafs around my house getting dusty and looking reproachfully at me as I fail to dust it in favour of doing some writing. Good because recycling is not the same as tossing things into landfills. So far so good.

My problem is with the books – I have Oh So Many books that, sadly, have come to the end of their days. I have given as many to the local library as they would accept, and am now left with several large boxes of dusty paperbacks, some of these are more than 25 years old. I will never read them again. I will never recommend them to visitors. I have no room to put them on book shelves. And yet I feel very twitchy at the idea of recycling them along with cereal packets, junk mail, envelopes and magazines.

And there’s the thing – why do I feel OK recycling piles of monthly magazines (costs £3 – £4 each) and yet vacillate over each novel (cost £5 – £8)?

Why does disposing of a book feel so personal?

Books given and received

Posted on: December 26th, 2010 by Claire - 3 Comments

Santa has been kind in 2010. Amongst a truly treasure filled Christmas I was lucky enough to be given lots of lovely literature. Choosing books as gifts takes a lot of thought, so I thought I would share with you what my relatives think of me. Here are the books that I received this year:

The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobson

Whatever You Love – Louise Doughty

At Home – Bill Bryson

Chocolat – Joanne Harris

The Daily Coyote – Shreve Stockton

Nothing To Envy – Barbara Demick

Thoughts on The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

Real Fast Food – Nigel Slater

Ice Cream & Sadness (Cyanide & Happiness Volume 2)

‘Keep Calm and Carry on’  (Also noting that my husband received ‘Now Freak Out and Panic’)

It’s very interesting to see my friends’ and relatives’ impressions of me reflected back in their choice of books. This lovely little pile of books hits the nail on the head for me. All these novels are perfectly to my taste and It was hard to decide which one to open first. I’ve plumped for Howard Jacobson, a new discovery.

Mustn’t forget the Metazen Christmas e-book, a charity publication from Metazen featuring amazing festive writing from Marcus Speh, xTx, Roxane Gay, Kirsty Logan, Susan Tepper and many, many more, and including a rare poem from myself.

I now wish I’d written a ‘Books Given’ post. Here are some of those I can remember (and I may update the blog post when there are fewer demands to build lego helicopters):

  • The Flavour Thesaurus – Niki Segnit (2 copies given)
  • Across The Blood Red Skies, Under an English Heaven &  Upon Dark Waters – Robert Radcliffe (all three given as one gift)
  • The White Road and Other Stories – Tania Hershman
  • The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • How To Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog – Chad Orzel
  • Calm Down Boris
  • Rapunzel

What books have you given and received this year? Any you’re particularly delighted with?

PS: I have also been given a Kindle, which I’m very excited about. Although I am very much a paper girl, I read recently that many of those who use e-readers to read books are extremely loyal to this format and, if a particular book is not available for an e-reader, will choose a different book rather than buy the paper version. So I’m going to be asking for e-books for my upcoming birthday and blogging about the Kindle in the near future.

Notes from the Engine Room

Posted on: July 3rd, 2010 by admin - 2 Comments

Scotty here, or some other equally oily minion from the sweaty boiler room.

Hold on, I’ll wipe some of this anonygrease from my hands… onto some appropriate recepticle…  like my forehead.

There, now I’m slightly less unfit to touch The Mac.

A horrifying train wreck.  Horrifying, and yet strangely amusing.  Like George W Bush.

oops

So.  It’s been a busy day hereabouts, I can tell you.  Lulled into a false sense of security by the ‘Click Here To Upgrade’ button that the Gremlins leave, all honeyed and innocent, to trap the gullible and foolish, Wifey (‘cuz that’s what we call The Boss hereabouts) Clicked There To Destroy Her Blog.

“I seem to have destroyed my blog…” she mentioned casually.  To the uninitiated, this might look like a conversational gambit.  A call to share similar blog-destroying stories around the still-glowing embers of her devastated site.  I know better.  It’s a Request To Repair.

“Have you a recent backup?” I ask.  Stupid.  Nieve.

Not only is it stupid, but also I shall no doubt be required to spell ‘naïeve’ later, when I write the whole thing up.  I hate spelling ‘naive’.  Especially with a greasy forehead.

To cut a long story short, a) because I’m getting Looks and b) because supper is ready, there wasn’t a backup – but all is fixed now.  Fixed and backed up.

To avoid the uncomfortable afternoon The Boss has had, cooking supper, keeping the kids out of my hair, all the stuff she was reduced to doing in order that I might get her baby fixed, I have taken the liberty of compiling some tips for you.  Now that its upgrade season and all.

Tip 1: Take back-ups of your site.  A lot.  ESPECIALLY take backups before doing something rash and foolhardy like trusting a ‘simple one-click upgrade’.  WordPress themselves tell you how to do that [ here ].

Tip 2: Having taken a backup, follow the instructions about upgrading your site [ here ].  In any event, disable all your plugins first.  By all means, then try the automatic update… be prepared, however, to try the manual one if it fails.

Tip 3: What with you having a backup, and all, if you end up with a dead site, you may well be able to resurrect it by applying a manual update over the failed site.

Tip 4: If all else fails, restore your previous version and go on a quest for knowledge in the WordPress Forums. (At the time of writing, the WordPress Forums are ‘temporarily unavailable’, according to the curt message.  You don’t think they… no… No, that would be too funny)

Right, I should go now.  There’s a clanking noise downstairs that makes me wonder if some sadberge has slipped into the peridontal atrium.  I ought to go and have a look.

Pimp my blog

Posted on: May 29th, 2010 by Claire - 7 Comments

Thank you to my one-woman writing group, Martha Williams, for passing this Beautiful Blogger nomination my way. If you don’t already know Martha, hop to her homepage here where you will find links to her fabulous fiction and her blog.

So, this award comes with conditions! First, I have to tell you seven things about me. Presumably things you would want to know, but nothing incriminating that will come back and bite me in all those 2012 interviews when I’m on the Times best seller list, right? Here goes:

1. I can summarise my novel succinctly, but after eight years I still can’t do the same for my day job. One of the reasons I have to be a writer is because my inability to articulate my day job to my daughter led to her saying “When I grow up I want to be a Nothing, just like you, Mummy.”

2. The first time I did a parachute jump, the guy in plane thought I’d fainted, because I didn’t finish shouting my ‘One thousand, two thousand, three thousand, CHECK CANOPY!’ In fact I was rendered speechless with awe halfway through. It is the only time in my life I have been rendered speechless. Truly. I landed safely shortly afterwards, perfectly centred on the cross where I was supposed to, to everyone’s relief.

3. When I was 21 I drove to Climax, Colorado. This was a very long drive. The only reason I did this was so that I could legitimately say things like ‘It took me a long time to reach Climax’  and  ‘When we did finally reach Climax it was so disappointing that I wasn’t even sure that was it.’ Sad but true. But I still say those things and people still laugh.

4. I once hijacked a fire engine in Kiev, at gunpoint.

5. Clothes hangers without hooks in hotel rooms drive me insane. Not only are they annoying and impractical but they show cheapness and distrust.

6. As a result of conflicting financial priorities there is a big hole in my bedroom wall. Lots of things use this hole as a convenient way of entering our house. This includes pottery wasps, rats, scorpions, sparrows and, in winter, snow. The children’s rooms, by contrast, are perfect.

7. At the moment I am perpetually crossed.

This is because, for the first time in twenty years, I have started entering writing competitions again and the results are all due. Plus I will be querying this summer with my new novel, which I am utterly in love with. It’s an exciting time. I am trying not to obsess.

8. I am extremely bad at following instructions. I feel hardwired to try and bend the rules just to see what happens. This is now coming back to haunt me in the shape of my two year old daughter, who applies the same philosophy to stairs, fireplaces, me…

Now, I get to pass the award on. So if you have a moment and want to meet some great new women, please check out these beautiful literary bloggers!

Diane Becker – Not Designed to Juggle. A writer with mind maps. I love mind maps.

Marisa Birns – Out of Order Alice. Short stories and flash fiction.

Sarah Salway – A quiet sit down. A Sister blog to Sarah’s writing journal. This one is all about benches!

Beate Sigriddaughter – The Glass Woman Prize for fiction and much more

Caroline Smailes – In Search of Me. An inspirational author. And her latest book ‘Like Bees to Honey’ has just launched.

Anna J. Grace-Smith – Flying, Not Falling. Beautiful poetry and fiction.

Alison Wells – Head Above Water. Finding the space to write (successfully!) while mothering four young children.

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