I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

Forums, Angels, India And Candle Wax

Yes! I no longer have to resort to hopping across to the UK to get my fix of English-speaking literary events!

I'm very pleased to see that Lyon's International Forum On The Novel is taking place again this year, from May 26 to June 1. The theme is: "The novel - what an invention!" Last year's forum was the inaugural event and it attracted some big names. Here are some of the anglophone authors showing up this year:

Annie Proulx, Joseph O’Connor (Ireland), Nelly Arcan (Canada), Karen Connelly (Canada), Dennis Cooper (USA), Kirsty Gunn (New Zealand), Jonathan Lethem (USA), Daniel Mendelsohn (USA), David Peace (UK), Suhayl Saadi (UK), Adam Thirlwell (UK) and Alissa York (Canada). There are in fact some 80 writers attending.

However, I really hope the format this time round allows for a bit more discussion and improvisation on the part of the authors. There was a tendency for things to get a bit dry last year: the writers read out prepared pieces on the given theme (sometimes very academic and inaccessible) and then there was only time for the odd question from a panel of two or three "experts". I prefer more time for raw questions and answers, and more of a chance for the audience to interact with the authors. This is France, though, and they do seem to like these events to be very orderly and controlled. We'll see.

* * * * *

Oh, and there's some wonderful news about an amazing book I've just finished reading.

The Vintner's Luck, a novel about a 19th century French winegrower who has an affair with an angel, is being made into a film. This was a superb book, with writing that made me shiver, and it'll be brilliant to see it portrayed on the big screen. The author is the New Zealander Elizabeth Knox, who received widespread acclaim for this book. I found it to be a little pearl of a novel, which is very hard to fit into any category or genre. It takes a little bit of time to get into the story, but once you surrender to the strange universe and poetic prose, the experience is unique and memorable.

The cast for the film looks interesting: the Belgian actor Jeremie Renier and the French actor Gaspard Ulliel will play the winegrower and the angel, while the New Zealand Oscar-nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes (star of the film Whale Rider) will play the winegrower's wife. American actress Vera Farmiga will play another important role. Filming has already started in a vineyard in Auckland, New Zealand, and it's reported there will also be scenes shot in France and Belgium. I can't wait to see what the director, Nicky Caro, does with this.

* * * * *

A few things have kept me away from writing and reading recently, and I am so eager to get back to normal!

First of all, my computer blew up! I smelt something burning when I was downloading some video footage and I didn't figure out what was going on until it was too late. Bang! I'm praying that no important data has been lost; my last big "saving spree" was a few weeks back. This is a timely reminder to those of you who have not saved copies of your precious words or photos. Do it now! Computers, no matter how new, can go on the blink at any moment! We bought ours in 2006! (I'm writing this on the "courtesy" laptop they make available while repairs are carried out. Thank goodness we paid extra to extend the warranty!)

The other anti-writing/reading event was the flu. It hit me between the eyes and forced me to take a week off work. The last time I remember being confined to bed was about 10 years ago. A dry, annoying cough is still hanging around, but I'm trying to make it feel unwelcome. I'm now enjoying a great blend of plants and essential oils after an overdose of horrible chemicals!

The good news, though, is that my visa has come through for our two-week trip to India in April (I won't even begin to tell you about the administrative nightmare this entailed!). What should I read to get in the mood? What literary sights/activities should I seek out in New Delhi and Nagpur? Do share your thoughts if you've been there.

The other good news, in terms of trying to nail down more time for creative writing, is that I've finally managed to reduce the hours at work by about 10 percent, which will give me two weeks off every two months. Yes! It was crazy not to do this earlier. I will earn 10 percent less, but I will be happier. I will also have fewer nasty nightshifts to do! Now there's no excuse for not making lots of writing progress in 2008!

* * * * *

Oh, by the way, if you ever spill oodles of candle wax over a shiny black piano (how stupid could I be? I will blame the flu) then just remember that a credit card is your answer. No, I used it to scrape, silly ... not to buy another piano! I was beside myself, thinking I'd burnt and scarred my lovely, until good old Google gave me the reassuring advice I needed. All is well. She is still managing to reach the tricky high notes and look dazzling at the same time!


WH said...

An affair with an angel?! Wow, if I were an agent, that would get my attention in the slushpile. Welcome back!

aims said...

So glad to see so many Canadian writers will be attending the event! Way to go!!

I have put The Vintner's Luck on my list of books to purchase...thanks for that! I am rubbing my hands with anticipation already!

Glad you are back...fortunately I have a couple of backup computers at my disposal with The Man being a geek...I don't know what I would do if mine blew up! I don't know how many times I have thought I lost all the chapters I have written so far....

S. Kearney said...

Billy - LOL. Yes, the story is definitely unique ... this angel visits the winegrower once every year and then finally they fall in love, with all the inevitable complications and heartache. :-)

Aims - Yes, great to see that Canadian writers will be there in force! I'm really looking forward to it. I do highly recommend The Vintner's Luck. Knox has a magical writing style, and that coupled with a strange, moving story set me on fire! :-) Maybe that's what got the computer all sparked up too! lol

virtual nexus said...

Great post and sorry about the cough and the frazzled computer. ANNIE PROULX coming to Lyon - phew...saw a good TV docu on her awhile back....

Thanks for the timely reminder to burn to disc again. I routinely clear camera memory cards now.

PS - You do know David at Authorblog
knows India well and often posts on it?

S. Kearney said...

Julie - Thanks for your kind words. Yes I'm really keen to see Annie Proulx at this festival. I've enjoyed several of her books.

This is my second "burnt out" computer. The last time we lost the hard disc and lots of stuff we hadn't saved, so I got into the habit of saving all the time. In danger now will be the little things I didn't save over the past few weeks. And I fear that includes passages I added recently to my novel in progress. Eeks!

Thanks for the tip re Authorblog. I will head on over there to have a browse. :-)

Lane Mathias said...

Big names at the Lyon forum! Joseph O'Connor is one of my favourites. Hope the Q&A format is looser this year.

Glad the piano was unscathed after wax attack. Perhaps we'll be hearing another of your compositions soon?:-)

Hope the cough is banished soon:-)

Eric Valentine said...

Sorry to hear of your computer problems Seamus, hope you get your lost passages back, it's amazing what they can recover these days.
I'm afraid to even look at my back up situation.. it's all the way back to day one.. :(

Good luck with the cold & cough my friend.. :)

Art Durkee said...

Glad the piano survived.

I grew up in India, and my first advice to you is get out of New Delhi as soon as humanly possible, it's the worst city in India for anything. The only thing nearby that's a must-see is Agra, and the Taj Mahal.

More on that later, but the main thing about India to remember is that it's a gigantic place with a gigantic diversity. No matter where you go, or what you seek out, it will be totally overwhelming. (In a good way.) So, immerse yourself wherever you end up and magic will happen. Trust the gods there, they're not at all absent.

Kay Cooke said...

Things are certainly buzzing on your side of the planet. I am glad you have got more time to write. I just know you'll have that book published soon. Can't wait!

S. Kearney said...

Lane - Yes, I've heard quite a bit about Joseph O'Connor and I'm keen to read one of his books before the forum. And yes, big relief about the piano. Whew! :-)

Eric - Thank you for your thoughts. I need to do weekly saves re computer data, but life seems to get in the way! I need to be more disciplined! :-)

Art - Wow, I can't believe it's coming around so fast ... we leave on April 12. Yes, Agra and Taj Mahal will be must-sees. Nagpur is part of a mission: my partner's cousin is Indian and was adopted to France when she was little. This is her first time going back there to see the orphanage where she was raised. I've always wanted to go and I think this will be like a taster ... before a longer more involved trip. :-)

ChiefBiscuit - Thanks for your words of encouragement. Yes, I really want to push ahead this year with my new project, which I think is the best of any choices for a decent novel. I just need to pull out little finger! :-)

aims said...

Just thought I'd let you know that the search is on for The Vintner's Luck. Apparently there isn't a copy to be had here in Canada or the States at the present time. Hard to believe isn't it? Was wondering if it was out of print or just so good that everyone is out of stock. Will let you know.

S. Kearney said...

Aims - I do hope you manage to find a copy. Second-hand on Amazon? I must admit that I bought my copy in NZ last year ... and I do know that it did sell like current buns in the US after lots of good reviews. :-)

Unknown said...

Interesting piece, It will be great if you can publish your articles in SiliconIndia also as I am a member of Siliconindia, I am sure that most of the members will like reading it. http://www.siliconindia.com/register.php?id=T49I1Fh5

Pearl said...

How lovely to have a lit conference in your back yard.

Hope that flu wanders off away again.

Seamus, I have a chapbook out now: abovegroundpress.blogspot.com/2008/02/new-from-aboveground-press.html

S. Kearney said...

Sanjana - Thank you and welcome. SiliconIndia? Um, I'll need to check out what that is. :-)

Pearl - Yes, it's nice to have something international come here. It seems like it will be an annual event now. And I will check out your chapbook soonest. :-)

Marja said...

Oh that sounds like a great book, movy. Thanks for the tip. I even didn't know they filmed in Auckland. Yeh these New Zealanders are real good in that area.

Hope you have a great time in India. Both my mum and my brother travelled in India and they both found it one of the most interesting countries. i would love to go there one day.

Sounds good that you work shorter. Helps to get the best out of live.

S. Kearney said...

Marja - Yeah, that will be a movie to watch out for. I hope it's well done. The director did a wonderful job with Whale Rider, so fingers crossed! And India! I really can't wait. :-)

Debrina said...

Great blog! Can't wait for the Vintner's Luck movie - loved the book but reckon it will easily stand in a different format.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I know I'm 100 years late here... and I've missed it SO much, but I have returned to wander about and delight in all the wonder and smiles that your place always fills me with; it's like wine and chocolate for my mind and soul.

Thank you so much

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

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