Authors, Publishing

Book Launch: The Bras and the Bees

This week, I attended the launch of a very special book, hosted by Falmouth Booksellers in Cornwall. I’ve been patiently waiting for The Bras and the Bees by FA Notley to come out ever since I heard about it, partly because it sounds like such a wonderful reflection of true life events about a beekeeper-turned-global-business-entrepeneur, and partly because the cover artwork for this book is simply so beautiful.

FA Notley (co-editor for Cornish Short Stories) is the author of this stunning book. It tells the true life events of Brian Sherriff, now 91, who was at one time a beekeeper and factory director manufacturing women’s bras, before he went on to establish his own business selling beekeeping suits around the world. As a leading brand that’s still recognised today, The Bras and the Bees tells a fascinating and inspiring story of how you can go from one life path to the next with one simple idea. Namely, Why aren’t there any safety measures in place when working with bees?

The Bras and The Bees book_launch.jpgThe Bras and the Bees

As a lover of all things literary, I’m always a sucker for any type of author event, so to meet the author, the man the book is written about, and the illustrator, all in one night was particularly exciting for me. How often do you really walk into an author event and leave with not just one, but three signatures within the first few pages of the book?

This night was full of sparkle and I absolutely loved the atmosphere of the evening at this wonderful independent bookshop.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_BrianBrian signing my copy at Falmouth Bookseller

At the launch, Brian jokingly admitted he never realised his life was so interesting to a smiling audience. He suggested that, to anybody who wants to write their life story, all they have to do is write little anecdotes down about what happens to them, collate them in date order, and then put them all together to create a book. Of course, it’s a little more technical than that, which is where FA Notley steps in and brings Brian’s wonderful story to life with her words.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_FA Notley and Lucy Smith

Author FA Notley and illustrator Lucy H. Smith

Lucy H. Smith, the illustrator, even signed my copy with a unique drawing of a tiny buzzing bee. As a massive fan of her artwork, I loved that she included this; I’ll be holding this book close for a very long time. The detail on the page is exquisite and I particularly love the wings.

Illustrator Lucy H. Smith signing my copy

The exhibition space for this event was also beautiful. It included one of the corsets made from Brian’s factory on a mannequin so gorgeous I wanted to take it straight home with me. There was also an amusing graphic showing how Brian used to wear his own miniature ‘bra-kerchiefs’ in the front pocket of his shirts, a story which is all detailed further within the pages of the book.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_exhibitionExhibition space

I’ve never seen anything quite like it – and it definitely added characterful charm to the event, as well as to the entire book.

The Bras and The Bees book_launch_exhibition_brasThe Bra-kerchief

Feeling happy with my evening, I left Falmouth Booksellers the way you always should: with a book in hand. My TBR pile might be teetering over the edge right now, and I definitely have a lot of my own writing I also need to get to, but I seriously can’t wait to start reading this delightful tale.

Poetry, Publishing, Writing

Sarah Cave and Ben Smith – Featuring Lost in Books!

Last night, I attended a book event in the cosy and intimate setting of Lostwithiel’s very own independent bookshop, Lost in Books. For the event, published poet, Sarah Cave, and debut novelist, Ben Smith, read aloud from their works, speaking about setting and place, how it’s used, and the tantalising consequence of how the absence of human life can have a deep effect on the confines of our minds when left alone out in the world.

Sarah Cave, who has published two poetry collections (with another on the way later this year!), tells the story of Slava, a Russian individual living in the Arctic inspired by the real-life Arctic weatherman in her striking collection An Arbitrary Line. The poignancy of her poetry, echoing themes of loneliness, humanity and the isolation within a huge and harsh climate, such as Northern Russia, is incredibly rich and evocative in its powerful use of language. While her poetry might be deep and wistful at times, there were definitely several shared laughs between her and the audience as she read her work aloud. Inspired by a reflection of the abstract and the effect the human mind can have once humanity has disappeared, this collection is a prize to keep close to your heart. Listening to her work and being drawn in by her rhythmic words was a pleasure.

SARAH CAVE READING FROM AN ARBITRARY LINE

Ben Smith, whose debut Doggerland, a dystopian exploration of family, fear and ever-prevalent climate change, also read at this event. Again, weaving in themes of loss, humanity and an isolated setting, hearing Ben’s prose being spoken aloud was mesmerising. Surviving in a world where the only two characters interact with each other and the sea, Ben’s debut has been described as a stylistic mixture between Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam and Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic prose. Needless to say, it was a treat to listen to his words and listen in on the details of how he wrote the book.

BEN SMITH READING FROM DOGGERLAND

And where would a fantastic author event be without its fabulous host? Lost in Books, situated along the idyllic riverbank of Lostwithiel, is a gem in itself – and a wonderful find if you happen to be walking that way in Cornwall.

Recently opened, it shares its space with rustic, home decor shop, Atticus & Willow, filled with natural plants, greenery and delicate trinkets and treasures you can just as easily get lost in. The whole feel of the space as you walk in is like stepping into another world. A world of art and books. Doesn’t that sound just like heaven?

The more I visit, the more I believe that this is such a perfect and unique setting for a landscape filled with books. They line the shelves, creep up the walls, and lay stacked in plucky little piles beneath the rustic table centred in the middle of the room. Those books in turn breathe words, and those words weave into much-loved stories. The only thing they need is for somebody to step in, pick one up, and start reading. Did I mention the shop has a cat who visits frequently too?

SARAH CAVE AND BEN SMITH HOLDING BOOKS

Last night was such a wonderful experience to be among the audience for this fabulous event. Lostwithiel is such an ancient town. To know its literary spirit is being kept alive and well is a gift to its community – I hope to be back for many more events to come!

Fancy visiting Lost in Books? You can visit their website here.

 

Cornwall, Writing

Discovering the #5amWritersClub

Today I had a deadline. That deadline was for a local anthology celebrating Cornwall, written by Cornish writers.

When I was first asked to be involved with the project a few months ago, three emotions ran in loud succession through my head.

First, was joy. I was so happy I just got to be included! I’m always so excited to be a part of anything writing related – and the fact that it’s all about Cornwall? That was just a bonus on top of everything else.

Second, was inspired. Living in Cornwall, it’s hard not to be inspired by the landscape and the stories all around me. You only have to take a wrong turn or visit one of our busy little seaside towns, or have a picnic on our cliff trails to be struck by a story idea.

Third, however, was fear. With all that being said, what the hell was I going to write about?!

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Falmouth, Cornwall, at dawn

So, what’s this got to do with the #5amWritersClub, I hear you ask? Well, this morning I was pleased to discover that over on Twitter there is such a thing as the #5amWritersClub – a wonderful community of hardworking writers – usually working full-time, who communicate via Twitter about their current writing projects and cheer each other on simultaneously. The only thing you need to be a part of it? You must write at #5am, in order to join. It’s a great morning wake-up call!

So I got up at 4am (I know, even earlier, right?), silenced my beeping alarm, and got down to it. And you know what? It was actually so beautiful to watch the dawn break across the sky and hear the morning birdsong of feathered friends so early while the rest of the world was asleep – all the while tapping along on my keyboard until my short story draft was finally finished at 6am.

The #5amWritersClub is a great way to meet new people and communicate globally across the world with writers just like you – either with a deadline to catch, or an ongoing project they’re committed to. It’s friendly, it’s fun, and it’s free! What’s not to like?

Later on, (after I got sent home from work for being too poorly and grabbed some sleep), I snatched a chance to write out in the garden with the sunshine burning down on my back. It was blissful, aside from being full of flu and gross, gunky eyes.

Writing Space

I had my writing plants to spur me along and actually had a pretty productive afternoon, writing blog posts, editing manuscripts and writing an article piece for a local newspaper.

Who says you can’t write when you’re ill?

So if you’re an early riser, or want to dip your toe into a pool of new writer friends, why not try out the #5amWritersClub? They’re a happy bunch, I promise!

Hobbies, Writing

Pent Up Energies

Tomorrow I want to do things. Actual things. Tonight I’ve just scrolled endlessly through my Twitter feed and changed my Facebook profile picture and cover photo. All this has, coincidentally, amounted to very little.

I want to change this.

So I’ve made a list and I want to stick to it! If only to stop me checking my Twitter newsfeed every five minutes.

1. Go for a walk

I want to go for a walk through the woods, across farmland, or simply just walk somewhere near the sea. My creative energies are all pent up right now and I feel like a walk – alone – will help me get what I need. Ironically, perhaps getting lost in the woods will help me find what I need right now, creatively.

2. Write a fresh post

I am guilty of not posting here as regularly as I could. Whether I write about my day, post a picture I took out on my walk, or tell you all about my new writing project I’m taking on for Camp NaNoWriMo, I want to do more. I don’t want to just let this blog die.

3. Write 1,000 words

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Here’s the tricky part. I’ve signed up to Camp NaNoWriMo again this year (which I am insanely thrilled about) and want a head start in the game. So I’ve promised myself to write 1,000 words of my novel, even if it’s a load of dribble. At least it’s something, right?

4. Do some work for Cornish Story

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I work for an online publication called Cornish Story magazine. We celebrate all things to do with Cornish culture. Although we have an academic background, we are always looking for fresh material on any subject from anyone who’s passionate about Cornwall. So if you’re looking to submit to us, just drop me an email! My email is emily@cornishstory.com. We’re really friendly, I promise.

And voila!

Of course, if I could get some more research done for my dissertation (which is on cowboys and country music, y’all!) then that would be marvelous. But, you know, I don’t want to take on too much.

Until this is done, I don’t feel like I’m going to be a very happy writer person. So I guess I’d better get started.

Authors, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Red Witch

I wrote a book review for Cornish Story recently. You can view the website here (psst.. we are always looking for new submissions!) so I thought I would share here.

Mostly because I am so looking forward to meeting Anna McKerrow again (the author) at the Porthleven Lit Fest next month, but also because I forgot to post this when I actually wrote it.

Red Witch by Anna McKerrow

Last year, Anna McKerrow released her debut novel Crow Moon which tells the story of the wayward sixteen year old Danny Prentice, a witch, who cares more about chasing girls than being loyal to his magical covenstead. The exciting debut saw Danny thwarting his own demons and gradually learning to accept responsibility to protect his homeland known throughout the series as Greenworld.

Now, with the release of McKerrow’s second book, Red Witch, readers get to hear the story of Demelza Hawthorne, who flees Cornwall at the end of the last book in search of refuge and tranquility after discovering that the boy she loves has died on the fields of battle.

The Young Adult author came to Cornwall last year on the release of Crow Moon and chatted to visitors in Waterstones, where she held a book signing with other writers. Though she lives in London, the author has a deep love for Cornwall and its unrelenting mysticism. These factors alone give the author an abundance of stories focusing on paganism, magic and witch stories which she focuses on throughout her books.

Although the first book is initially set in Cornwall, the narrative of the second book takes place in Glastonbury, somewhere which has close links to pagan rituals and magic,  an echo of the Cornish landscape. For protagonist Demelza, a life on the run constitutes leaving Cornwall, escaping Greenworld and crossing over into the Redworld, a landscape similar to ours which McKerrow describes as ‘a crime and corruption-riddled Britain’.

Set in 2046, the Redworld is a land where fossil fuels are running out and political unrest is at large with the working class and the poor. For Demelza, her journey is a cathartic one and one that leads her towards Bran, a handsome and intriguing individual whose attraction is undeniable.

The pair embark upon a dangerous romance, meandering through the different avenues and pathways that the Redworld has to offer to a young witch escaping heartbreak. However, as the story unfolds, she begins to question whether she can really trust this handsome Bran, and has to face the possibility that she might not belong there after all.

At the end of the novel, the inclusion of the traditional Cornish folk song,The White Rose, shows a certain sensitivity and gratifying nod towards Cornish culture while simultaneously keeping it well within the theme of the Celtic, witches, spirituality and the dazzling realm of Greenworld.

The book is an exhilarating sequel to the first, a book which is full of passion, adventure and, above all, forces of magic! Read this book and you will fall in love with the story, the characters and the dire struggle for a Greener way of living as opposed to the harsh, chemical Redworld. It is a book not only for teenagers but, as stated on the back of the book by Irish author Louise O’Neill, ‘a terrifying cautionary tale for our times’.

Alongside working on arts projects for the famous reading charity Book Trust, Anna McKerrow is currently writing the final book of the Crow Moon trilogy, which will be published in March 2017.

Red Witch was released on the 10th March 2016.

You can find Anna McKerrow on Twitter and view her website here.

Originally published on Cornish Story Magazine.

Personal, Publishing

Goodbye London!

It’s officially my last day in London! Tomorrow I’ll pack up and leave early in the morning to drive back down to Cornwall,  where there’s an abundance of tractors, pasties and wide open spaces. Yay!

But I won’t lie – London has been an amazing experience I won’t forget and I can’t believe that, before now, I spent most of my life absolutely terrified of it! I was shocked when everybody (well, most people) were so friendly towards me and you don’t get mugged in the streets every two seconds like I thought.

Okay, yes, I was a little naive.

But, now I’ve done it, it feels incredible to have stood in a crowd amongst London streets, seeing sights that people have seen a million times over THROUGHOUT HISTORY and to miraculously be less than a few minutes away from Oxford Street.

Now, sadly, I haven’t been able to take many photographs, 1) because I have zero memory left in my phone (stupid me) and 2) I haven’t really had the chance as I’ve been inside a building most of the time!

But that building is Penguin Random House. So, of course, this makes it all okay!

(*Credit to Carrie WishWishWish)

I still can’t really wrap my head around the fact that I got to do work experience at Penguin for two weeks. It’s incredible and I learnt so much.

I dreamed for so long of walking through those doors of Penguin HQ – either to work there or as signed author and, now, one of those things has come true! Even if it was only temporarily.

Maybe the next one will come true at some point in the future. *Fingers crossed.*

It’s been amazing.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching London go from a pitch black canvas of darkness in the sky at the end of every day to slowly lightening up into shades of inky blue and lighter indigo’s as time hurried on by. As I was heading towards Charing Cross station I could never help but smile at this! Because it meant – tah-da! – that spring is actually – finally -on its way!

And when I think of spring, I think of beach. And when I think of beach, I think of home. I honestly can’t wait to roll around in the sand, even if it’s freezing when I get there.

Yes, I’ve missed home.

So, my last day in London will mark perusing book shop shelves and darting into fancy shops I wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to go in. Also eating sushi for lunch, just because I can.

I’ve enjoyed my time here an insane amount – and read roughly four books since I’ve been here (thank you train journeys) – but now it’s time to go home and snuggle with my cats. I’ve missed them loads.

*Happy smiles.

 

 

Writing

What Beautiful Days We Had

We thought we were so grown up sitting in that restaurant by the sea. Soft music played and fairy lights twinkled there at dusk. You put your hand over mine and laughed when I slurped the soup.

We had our beginnings in Cornwall. Now it’s time to watch you leave, to go on and make your life beautiful.

I always found peace here, yet you never could.


“Good luck,” he said.

“You too.”

Writing

Hurlers

Hurlers. I wanted them to swirl, to lift me up with the wind, to dance like they used to. But all around them was snow. I gathered it up in my hands. I ran laughing and playing in the cold.

The dogs barked and I knew I was home.

Eventually, we climbed to the top of a boulder and our eyes found their way across the fields, the green and the ever-crowding trees.

I had strawberries and they tasted fresh in the age old land.

Cornwall, Writing

Finally Getting Somewhere!

I’ve been selected to write for two magazines! I cannot believe my luck! I’m bouncing off the walls right now and just want to tell everybody!

I got invited to an interview last week for a magazine based on Cornwall and, as I live in Cornwall, I have a huge passion for it. I think my enthusiasm showed through when I met the guy interviewing me. I’m usually terrible at interviews and never know what to say and spend a lot of time fiddling with my hands or chipping some old nail polish off my fingernails … but this time around I was all for it! I think I rather startled him to be honest. I’m never usually so charismatic and passionate about things, but if you want to talk to me about any aspects of writing – especially in a job sense – then I will be practically sitting on your lap and telling you all the things I know or that I’d like to contribute. I was pretty much like this at the interview, apart from I wasn’t sitting on the guy’s lap. I don’t know how he would’ve taken that but I don’t think he would’ve seen me as particularly professional!

They emailed me yesterday asking me to be involved, voluntarily at first but they said it could turn into something paid eventually if the organisation takes off and they get the right funding! I’m so pleased! I cannot wait to start doing my part!

As well as that, I emailed Eevee Life magazine which is a new up and coming online magazine – go check them out! – and they emailed me back saying they would love to have me involved too as a features writer to contribute regularly!

If you told my fifteen year old self that in roughly four years time I would be getting somewhere and making my mark within the writing/publishing/editorial industry I would never believe you. It always seemed so distant and a dream that I would never even dare try to accomplish! But, well, I’m doing it! And I honestly couldn’t be happier!

Fingers crossed my interview goes well for this Friday too as I have an appointment with the Eden Project to be a part of the digital team which would include writing blogs for them and whatnot! Who knows, if I ever get it – and that would be amazing, as I expect there are a LOT of applicants for that position – I might even get the chance to interview the acts that go onstage there for the festivals! Maybe even The Pixies?! 

But, hey, this is the Eden Project we’re talking about here so I am definitely not getting my hopes up. That would be amazing. 

Remember to applaud your progress and not worry so much about the end goal!

All in all, I am a very happy budding young writer!

Cornwall, Fashion

Vintage Fair at Killerton

This weekend I’m going to a Vintage Fair at Killerton in Devon.

I – can’t – wait! If you live anywhere near Devon and have access to transport I highly recommend you go! It looks like it’s going to be fantastic. I am missing a kind of belated house warming party for it (it’s actually my own house warming party but hey I live in a student house – I’m sure my roommates will tell me all the shenanigans I miss!) because as soon as I got told about it I WAS IN. As far as I was concerned, all other plans could be thrown out of the window!

Not only does it feature lots of vintage clothing and – wait for it – fashion shows! but also there will be beauty parlour workshops too where attendees can have their hair and/or makeup done inspired by vintage fashion trends! Of course you have to pay and book in advance for these kinds of treats but if vintage/retro is ‘your thing’ then you owe it to yourself to book in and get a proper professional makeover to show all your friends! There will also be a professional photographer there to take your photograph if you wanted to keep the memories even longer!

There’s so much going on and it’s happening right throughout the entire weekend 21st – 22nd June so you won’t be bored! There’ll be fairground rides, classic cars, workshops, dancing, a Jazz band, a wedding marquee and, even better, there’ll be lots of stalls with over 100 antique/vintage inspired items to choose from, including clothing, accessories, homeware and knickknack things to indulge yourself with. It looks fantastic and the line up makes me feel all kinds of giddy inside.

Seriously, what is not to love about this?

It’s a ticketed event so make sure you get yours here.
For adults tickets in advance cost just £6. For children just £4. If you decide to buy tickets on the day these are slightly more, with adults costing £10.60 and children £5.30.

To visit their Facebook page for more information click here.

I hope to see you there!!