Creation: The Scampering In-between States

Scamper‘ is, I think, a good word for my gait as a creative writer, a novelist: I tread lightly and eagerly, with excitement, trying not to press too hard upon the grass of story, letting it tell itself between the unspoken moves. I am not, in the strict sense of things, a narrative writer – and, yes, I scamper all around plot!

I’m not a great one for talking, me, never have been. In fact, I would say that, as a race, we are over-dependent upon the sound of the human voice and the words that trickle and flood from its facial orifices.

As a writer, I have always been more interested in what lies between, and beneath, the words that pour from people in such abundance – because it is my contention (and this is hardly a new thought) that we communicate a whole world of atmosphere as well as the stream of story: That what we give off is just as clear as that we give out in the verbal sense.

In ‘Heneghan’, and without going into any extraneous details, I attempt to pin down and explore the world of hesitant or reluctant speakers; people for whom emotional damage – often deeply buried – or natural inclination casts clouds of thunderous power and intensity over gatherings. But not only that: I am working, as a writer in this novel, with those more comfortable in the realm of virtual silence; those who express themselves through land or paint or metal or pen and ink; those whose very creative impulse comes from the thrumming of the in-between states.

I write of people whose mere presence booms and blasts, who create waves (not always in the positive sense but always, ultimately, in the cathartic) and bring their own brooding atmospheric pressure with them: Those, in a fine irony, who cannot be pinned down by words (no matter how apt they may be) – but need to be read, like our weather system, in isobars and trends and connection with the earth, sky, sea. It is not enough to say/write that someone is scary, intense, light of spirit or whatever; words need, somehow, to penetrate to the centre of the vibrations behind and to express that menace in a verbal, yet non-speaking, way: To touch the essence and translate it into something closer to painting or music than writing.

That is the challenge I have set myself. That is the struggle I – as someone who is, many ways, a non-native speaker – have engaged with from the earliest age. How do we transmit the ineffable using the twenty-six letters our alphabet gives us? My answer: We use something of the wordless immediacy of other art forms to help us, to add richness and depth: We dip into the emotional effect of music upon the soul and give our written language rhythm or cadence or timbre. We use the infinite palette of colour to sketch and dot impressionist scenes. We sculpt figures out of the marble or stone of the personality, hacking away the words and leaving the shape of the human being below.

We adopt and adapt our materials in order to let words rinse and wring the ear – as Gerard Manley Hopkins expressed it so beautifully – so that all of nature can be heard trilling and chirping, thundering and crackling, brooding and boiling, and the mountains attain a life force fully equal to that possessed by the chatty little chimps at the centre (or so they believe) of it all!

Not at ease with the spoken work, I sing and doodle and talk and hew out through writing – with the in-between states at the centre of my philosophy as an artist!



My Books: Conquering the fear of being thought pushy…

It hit me, seeing the word ‘conquer’, that there is a huge barrier between me and getting my books out – and it is this I need to conquer: the fear of being thought big-headed, arrogant, repetitive, unfeminine, untalented and delusional; the fear of pushing myself forward, of being brash and insensitive.  I cannot conquer the world of literature if I am not able to conquer my own dark and foetid fears, to break free from the restrictions, originally germinated in others, which I enforce upon myself.

If I cannot conquer my terror of being read and disapproved of, read and disliked, read and scorned, how can I hope to persuade anyone else to read my words?

I wrote the words below, 70% conquered by this thought: ‘No one will want to read about my books…’

But, in a genuine attempt at vaulting this barrier, I am sending my post out again with the prompt attached. Doing this brings profound anxiety, but I will not be held back by my own fears and inhibitions any longer. I will conquer this!

This is me – and this person lies behind all of the novels, blogs and diaries I have written. Some writers are distinct from their creations. I am not of their number!

Each one of my books represents a part of my personality, or a facet of my wide-ranging interests; each book is a key to my character’s bureau. This is, I am sure, true of every author (whether published or not) and I am not claiming anything new or revolutionary in penning these words – just that such a conceit has only just occurred to me.

I have always had a flourishing inner bawd – since well before I knew what such a concept, such a word, meant – and was one of those, no-doubt-tiresome, little girls who could be relied upon to pass on the most vulgar limericks to her primary school classmates. The humour inherent in sexuality and sexual congress (heehee!) was obvious to me well before I surrendered (with no reluctance) my maidenhood. I am, in many ways, unreconstructed, rude, vulgar and, to some, downright offensive. So, ‘Come Laughing!‘ was, in many ways, inevitable – a series of thoughts and feelings just waiting for me to be old enough to write down; just waiting, I should perhaps say, for me to pass through the ‘giving a shit what people think’ phase and out the other side!

I have always had a ripe, robust, ribald, raucous – and, some would say, inappropriate! – sense of humour, and was able to see the funny side of secondary school teaching very quickly. I could have written a far more serious novel than ‘LLB’ had I chosen to do so because there is much about the education system that infuriates, upsets and worries me. But, while my reactions are, I think, very clear to read, albeit subliminally or as a kind of buzzing sub-text, I have chosen to wrap them up in a light-hearted and colourful literary duvet cover!

Since childhood, I have loved, and studied to degree level, literature: Poetry, prose, plays – all grist to my mill. And, as someone who did History A’level, and had an abiding interest in history anyway, the lives and times of my favourite authors absorbed and intrigued me. My fascination with the Bloomsbury Group – and particularly the splendid Stephen sisters, Vanessa and Virginia (who became Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf when married) – started when I was at university and I read most of the books then available about their lives. I identified especially strongly with Woolf (whom many people said I resembled as a young woman) – and it was, perhaps, unsurprising, that my first full-length novel, ‘Riding at the Gates of Sixty’, should have been a re-telling of parts of her story through the eyes of Vanessa, Virginia herself and her husband, Leonard Woolf. By a sublime irony, given that we were both born in January, I am now almost exactly the age VW was when she killed herself (on March 28th 1941) – and am, indeed, myself now riding at the gates of sixty!

Another part of me is an enduring love of landscape, of seasons, of the tides and times of the Moon – and this has come out in most of my novels as a backdrop. But, in ‘The Lyre of Logres’, I pay homage not just to the physical landscape, but also to its mystical counterpart, the ancient land of Logres. This book, which consists of many short stories, also draws upon my life as part of the Pagan community (for want of a better word).

The Pagan link is made much more specific in my fifth book ‘My Esoteric Journey Volume 1′, in that I discuss much more openly the journey I have taken, from training in the Craft Tradition with Paddy Slade, through my association with SOL and ritual magic and on to my links with the Silent Eye School of Consciousness.

My output has been eclectic, to say the least, and this has had both positive and negative results. On the one hand, I am difficult to categorise because I do not stick to the one genre; on the other, there is a versatility and freshness about my work (though I say so myself) which is, I think, appealing – and, for all that I do not adhere to any one tradition, I think I have an easily recognisable style, an Alienora way of writing!

As some of you will be aware, I have five copies of each book being shipped over from the US – and am hoping to find a home for some of them in the local area.

Have a look, if you haven’t already: