Saturday, September 12, 2009

books, buddies and backbone

Peoples, hello. I was waiting for Ms North to put up something on her blog about winning the Kelpies Prize, drumming my fingers, wondering what my small tribe of dearly beloved writer friends have in common, and I think it is that no sooner have they dashed off one fine thing than they are on with the next and attending to the work in progress rather than trumpeting about the one that has just been published, though trumpeting, one feels, is in order.

So yes, she, (a.k.a. Janis Mackay), did win it, and I was there to witness the event which took place in a beautiful building close to the Edinburgh book fair, with wine, crisps, chocolate muffins and sweeties in little dishes – well it was a children's book prize, and it was Scotland. It will be published by Floris at the end of October and it will be lovely – a story about a boy called Magnus Finn who is half selkie. I have always been drawn by the selkie and even wrote a short story myself about one of them. Ms North has written an adventure story. I remember speaking to her on the phone after she had begun it. She was working on another project at the time but something on the beach where she lives caught her attention, she says, and she went home and the story of Magnus began. In her own words about this here. So it goes with creative process. You go hell for leather after one story and then another one comes and pulls at you.

Another long time writer friend I would like to trumpet is Wendy Wallace, whose book Daughter of Dust was published by Simon and Schuster in August. In Wendy's words:

Leila began life in an orphanage where most babies had been abandoned after being born outside marriage. Later, she uncovered the complex story behind her abandonment. She met - and looked after - her mother, and discovered not one father but two. She sang for President Numeiri, and came within a breath of living on the streets...
I met her when in Sudan in 2007 researching a piece for Woman's Hour on the issue of abandonment. In northern Sudan, babies continue to be born to unmarried women, despite the strict Islamic laws. Mygoma orphanage continues to receive abandoned newborns.
Leila's story moved me. I wanted to tell it, and she had always wanted it told. We formed a close friendship and agreed that if we succeeded in finding a publisher, we would split any proceeds.

Most important to Leila is that people in Sudan and elsewhere think again about their attitudes to those without families. The aim of her charity - Sunrise - is to dispel the stigma faced by 'children of sin' and its message is simple. "We are not guilty."

I love this book. I love Wendy's writing. She has a talent for creating mood and place (from which the story unfolds) which catches at the breath. I hope the book grows wings and is read by many. You can find it on Amazon, in Waterstone's or Borders under Biography, or you can order it for the discounted price of £6.50 plus £3.00 p&p (UK 1st class) by contacting Wendy at

Already mentioned (and on my sidebar), if you haven't already spotted it, is Julie Corbin, whose first book, a thriller called Tell Me No Secrets was the only good reason I found for staying awake into the small hours. An erstwhile student of mine, she came into the classroom and one knew from the outset that she was one of those can write/will write people with both talent and determination.

Three writers, all different, but what they have in common is something I can't really find a satisfying word for: they are dedicated to the business of writing and have given themselves to the work, for the love of it, the doing of it. The success, when and if it comes, is good, but they are busy with the new work – dedicated.

Next post will have something about the life and strivings of Signs. But for the moment, suffice to say that today I fell on the patio, bashed my head and put my back out. But I wrote my thousand words.


Montag said...

Usually bashing one's head is easier than writing. It's nice that you pulled it off.

Reading the Signs said...

Montag, hello. I must confess that the bash happened after the words were writ. I am thinking it must be a Sign of some sort, or something akin to the Zen master's tap on the shoulder. Today, though, it hurts. But I am pulling it off, nonetheless.

Cusp said...

Well I think you're dedicated too. Sorry about the fall --- sounds nasty.

Good to have you back and look forward to the next post

Reading the Signs said...

I suppose I am, Cusp. I do keep on, in my fashion. The bruise on my forehead looks impressive but it's the lower back that took the real impact. It will be ok, though. I'm Arnicing.

north said...

thank you for that dear heart. you are a part of my inspiration and hope very much we can continue to be that for each other -a long with allthe other wonderful inspiring things. I wrote my little blog -and one on youngscottishbooktrustblog

Reading the Signs said...

lovely North, it was because I spotted your new post that I put this one up - wanted to wait for you to give the news before I did.

Yes, and yes. I am bashing on. By November, and our next meet, I will have stopped needing to use that word. Bish bash bosh.

I just read the nice young scottish book trust thing and will amend my post to include it.

Cusp said...

Ahhhhh, arnicing....sehr gut but vot you need tooo is ze hypericum which is very good for the sort of jolting bump/bash you had. Happy healing ;0)

Reading the Signs said...

Ist so? Danke, Cuspchen, I get some heute for bruise/bash is rippling out to other parts of body.

nmj said...

Signs, Daughter of Dust is goin to be my sis-in-law's Christmas present, she used to work with Sudanese refugees in Holland.

Well done to Ms North too. Great news.

I hurt my back too, on Saturday, playing with nephews. I am rubbed raw with Ibuprofen!

word ver: fastrate

Reading the Signs said...

NMJ, what a (literal) pain! I hope it heals quickly and that there isn't some kind of back-bashing virus going around - we have enough else to deal with.

Nice to hear of the book being given as a gift, I hope your sis-in-law enjoys (and that you can sneak a read of it beforehand).

Kahless said...

I hope you have recovered from your fall now Signsie.

Maybe the fall would inspire a story?

Reading the Signs said...

thing is, Kahless, the definitive story of The Fall has been so thoroughly set down in Genesis. Different kind of Fall, I know, but -

at the time it was very dramatic, my face covered in blood (like the poster from the Carrie film), and all I have now is a bit of a Harry Potter-shaped scratch and yellow bruise to show for it.

anyways, I think I'm ok now, but lower back pain has inexplicably transferred itself to the body of Mr. Signs.