Review: The Magician’s Lie

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

[This is the UK release of an award winning and soon-to-be-filmed US best-seller.]

When does an illusion become more than an illusion? When does a story, our personal history, become more than a story we tell ourselves and become the truth that defines who we are? Is it, perhaps, only the unlikely nature of the tale that makes the onlooker think that they are being told a lie?

But what if it is all true, or mostly true bar one, little lie…

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Review: Song of the Stork

Song of the Stork by Stephan Collishaw

War is not a grand narrative, but the accumulation of grief on individuals and, here, a specific individual. I was unsure of its exact location, though there is a renowned Selo in Poland and numerous villages of Selo in Russia. Frankly, the exact location of the village doesn’t matter as the The Song of the Stork by  Stephan Collishaw follows the life of a Jewish teenage girl during WWII, firstly after the Nazis come through and kill her friends and family, and then as she tries to survive the constant threat.

And the soul-crushing impact of the atrocities of war on an ordinary individual is what The Song portrays.

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The fruition of an MA project

I’m delighted that ‘The Honey Killer’ is finally available on Kindle:

The_Honey_Killer_Cover_for_Kindle

This was a book started as an MA project, a deliberate exploration into a different genre for me (hence the pseudonym) but one which I found quite useful. It traces the history of an assassin – an ethical assassin, but a killer, nonetheless – from his appalling childhood involving isolation, bullying and manipulation through to being a loner who knows how to do one thing only: kill in strange and unusual ways.

It is also a book about a platonic love, about worship of individuals who show kindness, and about reconciliation. The settings – London, Paris, Amsterdam adn the fictional village of Snoddington Beeches – are all based on my own experiences working here and in Europe. The history, from Operation Pied Piper (1939) onwards is as accurate as a work of creative fiction can be.

What’s interesting from a process perspective are the changes that were made after it was assessed for one of the MA modules. I’ve blogged about the realisation before and that the book was missing a character, but having added much more to the character (I’ll leave you to guess which one it was) the book took on a much more rounded form. It enabled an ending that reflected and completed much of the interaction throughout the historical components of the book (even the narrator’s ‘present’ is 1984).

Whatever teh experience and learning, for me, it’s wondeful to see something from the MA in print. 🙂

Inspiring and Relaxing …

… the perfect break. I’ve just come back from a short break down in Dartmoor. We go down there whenever we can, stay at the excellent Lydgate House Hotel (which I’d recommend) and walk and read. That’s walk lots with a little reading whilst we break, or walk a little then read for an hour or more surrounded by beautiful or inspirational scenery. This time, for me, it was as much inspiring as breathtaking.

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Trafalgar, 1805

This is an oddity, perhaps, but I recently rediscovered the notes and display material I made for a display and diorama I arranged in 2005 for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. I put together a host of display materials and arranged with some friends to have some 1:1200 models of the ships involved placed on a large, seascaped table to illustrate the centre of the battle – the main part of the British columns and the centre of the French and Spanish lines. I no longer have any photos of the final layout (rats!) but have the main display materials.

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Recharge: Walking and Castle hunting

I had a quick break last week: a few days in Wales, the Black Mountains. I was camping, alone, and in a very not-glamping style. The purpose was for a recharge before I was pinned back into one place by travel or other commitments.

From a Pain Management perspective, being alone was risky and useful. Useful, as it meant I could take as long as I wanted to get up there; risky, in that pain may overtake the situation. However, on the way up I took frequent breaks, one even being a sight-seeing break and wander around Raglan Castle. Further, since I was alone, I could just crawl into the tent at the end and resst my arm up for a while.

Such a trip, though, was a recharge in several directions: creatively, walking and looking at natural and ancient, man-made sites and allowing the imagination to roam; and physically, going to a place I loved and in which I could have some time for retrospective thinking (meditation, some might call it) and release.

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