Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The WIP trap

WIP progress report: I have been sitting still for so long now that I have a sore knee - argh! And because of that, and because I'm so near the end and tying things up, I hardly slept a wink last night. Other consequences are: a filthy house, an absolutely messy garden, my social life in utter abeyance and my awareness of the cultural events around me - theatre, film etc - at a minimum.

I do NOT recommend this working method, but I just can't help it myself: if I try to stop, I just sit there thinking about it but not doing it, and unable to put my mind to a single other thing, apart from Killer Soduko (numbers are such a great relief from words!).

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Helen Walters reviews Used to Be

Another review of Used to Be to bring me back to my blog in spite of the demands of the WIP. Helen Walters writes a lovely response to the book on her blog, Fiction is Stranger than Fact.

She says:
One of the most appealing things about this collection is that, although all the individual stories are very different and cover different subjects, there is a real unity of theme to the book,

goes on to explain that
All the stories look at alternative explanations and viewpoints on things that have happened or are happening. They examine the nature of memory, the complexities of interpretation and the possibilities of alternate reality. The y also put the microscope on the art of storytelling itself,

picks out her three favourite stories, and concludes:
All in all, an enjoyable collection of well-chosen stories with a fascinating linking theme. Recommended.

WIP bulletin (for those the slightest bit interested): woke at 3.35 and couldn't get back to sleep for thinking about it, so overslept and lost an hour's working time this morning. Stopped for lunch, a walk in the park and a coffee in Nero's and then rushed back to it. Have just finished at 7 pm, and this page keeps blurring!

Monday, February 08, 2016

Review of Used to Be on Our Book Reviews Online

Still stuck like glue to my manuscript, so still not blogging properly, but in the meantime here's another nice review for Used to Be, this time by The Mole on Our Book Reviews Online. He concludes:

A really great collection that you will enjoy, identify with, wish that worm hadn't got into your head - and each of these in equal measure.

Whole review here.

You may or may not be interested to know that I am typing and rewriting so hard and for such long hours that my back aches and my sight keeps getting blurred, which is about all the other writing news I have at the moment. The thrills of the writer's life, eh?

Monday, February 01, 2016

Bookmuse reviews Used to Be

Pretty thrilled with this review of Used to Be on Book Muse. It's short, but then it's not how much you say but what you say:
Baines reminds me of a scratch DJ, taking a conventional format and messing with it, expertly, to give the audience a whole new experience... 
...Highly readable, thought-provoking and with beautiful use of language, this collection is a rich and unexpected delight.

Read the whole review here.

I haven't managed to blog much since the New Year, in spite of my hopes. As I said, I'm typing up a draft of something long, and I thought that this would give me more headspace than I had during the actual writing, but I'm so obsessed with it that I just type and type (and edit) all day, right into the evening when I'm too whacked to do anything else. Soon be finished, I hope!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tim Love reviews Used to Be

Tim Love's review of Used to Be, based on his previous blog notes, is on Everybody's Reviewing.

He begins:
The Mandaeans of southern Iraq had a demon called Dinanukht, half man and half book, who "sits by the waters between the worlds, reading himself". This demon could be the patron saint of Bainesland, where characters interpret symbols that seem to belong to the external world, but turn out being part of the character's past.

I'm gratified by his grasp of what I'm trying to do in these stories. 'Explicitly or otherwise,' he says, 'the characters are story-makers, reassembling their life-arc from stirred memories.'  He discusses three of the stories in particular, and lists as his favourites three stories earlier versions of which happen to be online: the title story 'Used to Be', 'Falling' and 'Tides, or How Stories Do or Don't get Told'.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

An interview in the Didsbury Community Index

Before Christmas, on the publication of Used to Be, Deborah Grace came to interview me for the Didsbury Community Index magazine. She asked me about the themes of the book, which include memory, and got me spilling some very early memories of my own. Read the interview here.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Review of Used to Be on A Life in Books

The New Year (well, the working New Year) kicks off for me with a great review of Used to Be on the A Life in Books blog. The poet Gillian Allnutt once said to me, 'It's so wonderful when people understand what you're trying to do', and that's just my reaction this review by Susan Osborne, in which she says that the collection 'niftily overturn[s] apparent certainties, often in a series of small revelations and delivering the occasional killer punch.' After considering several of the stories, she concludes:
There are several quotations I could have picked in which Baines neatly sums up her theme but here’s my favourite:  ‘your life might go one way, or a completely different other’. Most of us like the idea of certainty – it makes us feel safe – but as this thoughtful collection reminds us there’s precious little of it in life, although sometimes – as in fiction – that makes it more interesting.