The Exhibition with a long name closed at 17h00 today, and then a large group of exhausted exhibitors had to start packing away and clearing out.
I am now officially more bushed than the Amazon Forest.
Anyway, it was a good show providing many highly interesting learning opportunities – some we gave, but many we received. From the Society’s point of view, a highly successful enterprise demonstrating great teamwork and imagination.
Yes, P’kaboo Publishers have announced the date on which Marie Marshall’s long-awaited teen-vampire novel From My Cold, Undead Hand will be available from them in e-book form. Other forms will become available later, but for those readers with the facility to read the ePub format, buying direct is the way to go!
The story itself is fast paced and gripping. The protagonist is Chevonne Kusnetsov, a teenager from New York City a generation or so into the future. The ecology is in crisis, electricity is scarcer and mainly generated by wind turbines mounted on top of buildings. Meanwhile, vampires stalk the dimly-lit streets after dark. But their very existence is denied by the government and the media. Expose!, a shadowy organisation formed to blow the vampires’ cover wherever it can, is routinely denounced for conspiracy-theory, anti-semitism, and downright insanity. The Resistance, a secret guerrilla army of vampire-hunters, organised in a cell-structure, is denounced as a ‘terrorist’ organisation. Chevonne has been recruited to the Resistance by her history teacher, and she’s tough – straight from the school kick-boxing club, she can use her fists and feet, but also a sword, a stake, and a laser-gun. What is the vampires’ ultimate plan? How does it involve the government? How does it affect Chevonne and her friends Di and E.J.?
The title, From My Cold, Undead Hand, is adapted from a famous slogan popularised by the National Rifle Association in the USA in defence of the right of American citizens to own and carry firearms. One of the features of the novel is that vampires, who in traditional fiction arm themselves with nothing but their teeth, exercise this constitutional right. Well, so do the vampire-hunters! By the end of the book there is a twist to this ‘right’. I asked Marie if her novel was deliberately politicised or partisan on this issue.
No, indeed not, but it did occur to me to introduce gun-carrying vampires and to have elements of the plot which developed the consequences of guns in this kind of conflict or adventure. Of course I have my own views about the issue, but there are two points I’d like to make. Firstly, I’m not American, and it’s America’s call. And secondly, no author worthy of the name lets her own views affect the way a plot is developing. The story goes how the story goes and that’s that. Anyhow it’s not ‘about’ guns. If it has a theme it’s about how young people tend to be marginalised.
That theme turns the dramatic crisis of the novel into a cliffhanger, leaving readers wanting more. Thankfully a sequel is half-written already, and there is even the possibility of a threequel. So who should read it?
It’s pitched at ‘young adult’ level, but it’s not ‘written down’. I think it will be snapped up not only by teenage readers but by adults who are into vampire fiction – and there are many, many of them ‘out there’. I just hope people out there will enjoy the ride as much as my ‘beta readers’ did.
From the point of view of this agency, it is encouraging that P’kaboo have shown faith in Marie once more, and are publishing her third novel on the 15th of September. Keep a watch for updates here, and by following @ColdUndeadHandon Twitter
I’m sitting here preparing my article about today’s visit to the Edinburgh Book Festival for The Mumble, the up-and-coming site where reviews of artistic events in Edinburgh, and increasingly more widely in Scotland, are posted/blogged. Part of the preparation is downloading the day’s photos, and I’ve found that as well as illustrations for that article, I have sufficient pictures for a photo-blog entry, so that’s what I’m going to present here. So, the Edinburgh Book Festival is all about…
Kudos. I’m a regular attender of the Book Festival, and have been for some time, but this is the first time I have ever attended as a hard-working journalist rather than in my other role as a literary agent. But this time, with The Mumble out to make its mark and with myself as one of its new team of reviewers, I have ‘Media Accreditation’. This means I get to walk around with a name-badge hanging round my neck, looking like I belong there.
The Book Festival attracts a wide range of people from literary and public life. Perhaps one of the biggest draws in 2014 was George R R Martin. Tickets for his two appearances were sold out within minutes of the Box Office opening several weeks ago. The popularity of his A Song of Ice and Fire series has been enhanced by television’s Game of Thrones which of course is based on it. The most remarkable thing about the series, to my mind, is the way the author has sustained its narrative impetus. Now, though, even he says the TV version is catching up with his books at too fast a rate!
Other ‘names’ in this year’s festival include Carol Ann Duffy, Tony Parsons, Jack Monroe, Alexander McCall Smith, Roy Hattersley, James Naughtie, Seumas Milne, Paul Muldoon, and Billy Collins, to name only a few. It’s likely that a lot of the tickets have been sold, but maybe… just maybe… there might be a few returns? Who knows. It is well worth trying your luck.
The House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha provides a stern, mounted presence, complete with an impromptu seagull…
Sitting in the sun.
Damo! Seriously, it wouldn’t be a visit to Edinburgh if I didn’t manage to meet up with Damo Bullen, grafted-on son of Edinburgh, prolific poet, and brains behind The Mumble.
‘Glory be to God for dappled things…’
Doing brisk business. The Festival staff were kept busy in their various roles…
Ice Cream. Di Rollo’s tricycle-mounted stall was on site again today, and their ice cream is delicious. I spoke to the owner of this family business, who was glad about the warmth and sunshine today. Some of the preceding days had been wet, and the visitors’ appetite for ice cream had been at a low.
Queuing. It’s traditional. This one stretched right the way round the Square. I kid you not.
Now, there was something else… what was it? Ah yes – Books! We can’t ignore the main purpose of the whole festival, its raison d’être, and the centre of attraction, can we.
Books were, and always will be, the driver here at Charlotte Square. Rows of them, stacks of them, poems from Burns to Bukowski, novels, non-fiction, children’s, literary, light – books, books, and more books.
Room for one more?
Nae chance, pal! Find yer ain royal heid tae sit on!