What does it mean to care about the deaths of distant strangers? What does it take to bear the loss of a child?
In an isolated house surrounded by fields and woodland, Anna sits at her kitchen table, her cramped writing fills the notebook in front of her steadily, inexorably - people die at such a rate.
Anna scans the news for reports in which the victims of war or terror are presented only as a number. Dismayed by the indifference in the news items to people who die in distant lands, she writes portraits, one for each of the victims, in an attempt to acknowledge the real impact of their deaths. Her own life is held in check, restrained by grief. It is only in this vigil, this act of love for strangers, that she allows herself an emotional connection to the world.
Her daughter Caitlin had wanted to be an engineer, to build bridges. But she was killed on the eve of her twentieth birthday by her violent boyfriend. Since her death Caitlin has been subject to a perplexing dark odyssey, pushed and pulled past stars and distant planets. Sometimes, with sweet relief she finds herself once more held by gravity, as the unpredictable journey brings her briefly back to the earth. She pieces together her story, combining what she has learnt since her death and what she knew before, until she is finally able to reclaim herself from the debilitating effects of the violence that eventually ended her life, freeing herself at last.
With the release from prison of Caitlin’s killer, Anna’s uneasy equilibrium is thrown into disarray and she falls into long-suppressed fury and mental breakdown. As Caitlin is able to free herself from the tyranny of violence, will Anna be able to unburden the debilitations of grief and live her life with love and happiness once more?
“Twice the Speed of Dark is both lyrical and cerebral, exploring grief and loss from wholly original perspectives. It investigates how grief impacts on our humanity with a sharp clarity. It is a highly accomplished debut from a writer with a genuinely original outlook.”
Suzanne Harrington, journalist and author of The Liberty Tree.
There had been a bomb in a distant market place. One of many bombs, the deaths caused by this event barely noticeable amongst the dreadful losses that filled the news every day. But a filament snagged and slowed the story down. Somehow that detail caught her; a market place, perhaps the most domestic public space there is. People shopping for food, plastic buckets, scarves, aluminium pans. Markets all over the world selling plastic buckets and aluminium pans. A place providing easy acquisition of the humbler tools of life; domestic wares, phone parts and gaudy cases, vinyl handbags, potatoes, eggs, cabbages. Mothers buying an evening meal, teenagers shopping for the excitingly new and obligingly affordable. A man buying a bucket so that he could clean his house. These ordinary people doing ordinary things, they would be the dead.
She thought of there being no dinner in some households, because the shopping never came back from the market. A husband whose anxiety makes him fear, as if finally by prophecy rather than grinding habit, that his wife has been killed. A family who wouldn’t know for long hours where their father had gone. Somewhere in a town where death might just as easily come at the hands of a check-point soldier, a sniper, a drone. Somewhere in a world where escape from such horror resulted in thousands of drowned bodies day by day as boats and brutal business men cast people to their fate in the deceptive, seductive glint of a blue sea that pretended to show the way to safety.
How are we doing?
Saturday, 10 March 2018
Pretty well I think - thanks for asking! Twice the Speed of Dark is getting some wonderful reviews. Here is a sample:
I love hearing what people think about my book. Writing a book is, afterall, predominantly an act of communication and the most interesting kind of communication is two-way.
I hope that I can persuade some of you to add to the reviews. If I can reach 50 it will start to make…
I come bearing gifts
Sunday, 8 October 2017
I am preparing gifts for my subscribers.
There will of course be pledge rewards making their way to those who backed Twice the Speed of Dark soon but in adition, I am putting together a free gift, a series of ebooks, for all those on my mailing list - which is separate from this Unbound list. I would love you to join up. Letters will be infrequent and will contain news on my book, on events…
Friday, 29 September 2017
My first library experience was the library van that came once a week to the village where I grew up. I loved it. Both the access to books, the neat little van, and the small bustle of village life. Once I got in enormous trouble for throwing Jeanie's coat onto the roof just before the van drove off. In my defence, on the walk from primary school down to Alma Green where the van parked, she had thrown…
Nearly nearly there.......
Monday, 18 September 2017
It is not long now until Twice the Speed of Dark comes out. The cover is nearly finalised and I am really thrilled with it. There is proof reading to do. I am still not sure of an exact release date but all of you backers will be getting notice from the lovely folk at Unbound.
This close to publication can I just take the opportunity once more to say thank you all for being a part of this…
Return to the Wetlands
Thursday, 20 July 2017
The editing of Twice the Speed of Dark is near to complete. I don't have information on when publication will be, but we are getting closer. I am looking forward to the design phase, which will start very soon.
I am also looking forward to resuming work on my second book, Wetlands. In the time I have been away from writing it, I have come to see that I need to make some significant changes…
What's this editorial development all about?
Monday, 22 May 2017
It's about getting closer to publication, and about getting to know your book even better. It's about stretching your head to keep a picture of the entire trajectory and keeping in view a tiny detail. It's about understanding more clearly the structures that instinct, bravado and sheer dumb luck pulled out of the thin air of imagination and teeth grinding effort. All of these are tremendously…
Flickers of light
Thursday, 13 April 2017
- Twice the Speed of Dark began as a project in which I wrote portraits to imagine what the real lives might be of the people who died in terror attacks overseas, whose stories were presumed to be uninteresting to us, or irrelevant. I wanted to engage with the complexities and tender beauties of ordinary lives that had been suddenly and brutally ended, then ignored.
I decided that I would revisit…
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
The manuscript for Twice the Speed of Dark is currently with the editor for the first phase of the editing process. As I've never written a book before, I've never been in this positiion before. But I am really excited about it. I've never been worried about the interventions of others in my work, having discovered over many collaborative art projects that other people have so much to offer us in…
Filling Time Most Happily
Monday, 20 February 2017
I can't wait to get the editing process underway. My manuscript is, according to my inexpert eye, ready to go for round one.
I look forward to filling you in with progress on the publication of Twice the Speed of Dark as I go through the process, but in the meantime, I have a window of time for some good reading. Here is a link to my website where I have written a review of The Sympathizer by…
In Every Corner
Friday, 3 February 2017
There has been a film going round my social media contacts, originating, I think, from a Danish television channel. I liked it very much, once I had got over the resentful expectation that I was about to be manipulated. And I was manipulated, but it was done with skill and the outcome was elegant, not directly of financial benefit to the makers. In the end, I can’t be sure that it is so very different…
The Thrill of the Ride
Monday, 23 January 2017
I don't stop being blown away by the support of people, the goodwill that is shown when a pledge is made for an unknown entity, a book you can't even hold. From that alone, the world is made a better place. My own personal version of the world is made an enormously better place of course, but in a more general way, qualities that are an antidote to the frightening politics of the moment must surely…
Monday, 9 January 2017
I hope that you have all had a great christmas and that 2017 has started happily. It is traditionally a time to be thinking about new things and perhaps more importantly to be rounding off old ones.
I think of January and February as the Sunday of the year, a time for catching up on what was missed, setting what has been in order. It seems barmy to characterise this most depleted part of the cycle…
Passing Strangers and what they want...
Monday, 12 December 2016
My funding is now at 63% which, in a bit over a month, is way more than I had expected. Almost all of what has been funded so far has come from people who know me. I am so grateful for the huge support. I had expected that I would need to reach a wider audience at some point but had anticipated that it would be for a great deal more than the remaining 37%.
I have been wondering how I can make…
Gift Pledges - Christmas gifts
Thursday, 1 December 2016
As christmas shopping kicks in with the usual mix of joy, dread and panic, here is an option for the book lovers. If you make a gift pledge, I will email you a certificate (below) customised with your message and the name of your recipient. Any pledge at super-patron and above, I will, if you send me the address, mail out some information, a letter of thanks and a card. If the pledge is for any of…
If you go down to the woods today
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
Anna, one of the main characters in Twice the Speed of Dark, is stuck in a pattern of avoidance, of flight. She exerts huge efforts to skirt the traps and pitfalls that live, echoing loudly, chiming their danger, within. It is memory that she evades. She cannot think about her daughter without thinking about her death and being tormented anew by the pain of it. The book in part is an exploration…
Monday, 14 November 2016
Firstly, I want to quickly acknowledge my most recent patrons, I will thank you personally elsewhere, but none of this happens without you all so a huge collective thanks, on behalf of myself (and independent publishing) for your support.
I think most of us will be feeling post-election dwoners. I discovered this film today and it felt like an uplifting vitamin B shot in the arm, so I thought I…
Nothing to do with my book, but....
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
It's a kind of solace to throw around black humour on days when inexplicable events happen. I have been re-posting some very funny responses to Trump's election, feeliing bleak, but glad of the shared sense of sardonic doom to help me through the baffling day.
But as I was just making myself a coffee, I thought about the conversations I have had this morning with my two daughters. Both of them…
Monday, 31 October 2016
I have been working on images (paintings) for the hand-made booklet that I am calling Gravity. It will be made up of a combination of these imagess and the words of Caitlin as she tries to explain her experience of death. The images will also be availabe as original artwork and as a giclee print. She describes Gravity as an entity, something that has let her go so that she is subject to the wilder…
Eight Feet High and Rising
Wednesday, 26 October 2016
Thank you so much to early supporters, it is a thrill to get to eight percent over night. Really, thank you.
I feel that it will probably get harder as it goes along, but I have lots of ideas to build momentum. One of the things I am quite clear about is that at some point, I would like to be making a contribution to domestic violence charites and refugee groups, given the subject of my book, and…
These people are helping to fund Twice The Speed Of Dark.