Above: "An Audience with Helen Grant & Susy McPhee"
I haven't found much time for blogging recently because I have been frantically trying to finish the revisions to The Demons of Ghent, which is the sequel to Silent Saturday and the second book in the Forbidden Spaces trilogy set in Flanders. I've also been very busy preparing for and participating in the Crieff High Street Arts Festival, about which I blogged recently.
I'm glad to report some success on both fronts - The Demons of Ghent has now gone to the copyediting stage, and the High Street Arts Festival went off very well, with lots of exciting creative exhibitions and performances at nearly 50 locations in Crieff.
I participated in two events at the festival - the first was "Meet the Author" at S.Campbell's newsagent and bookshop on the High Street. I was one of a line-up of authors that included local poet Patricia Ace. This cutting (left) from the Strathearn Herald includes a pic of me at this event together with Trudyann Gauld from the shop, and book fan Kate Walsh, who had heroically come all the way from Dunblane to attend!
On Saturday evening I took part in "An Audience with Helen Grant & Susy McPhee" at the Drill Hall in Crieff. This venue was very kindly loaned by local business Vivace Lichtman and wine for the evening was sponsored by Harrison's Fine Wines of Crieff. Helen Lewis-McPhee kindly volunteered (well, okay, she was press-ganged) to interview us, and we also read from our books and answered questions.
If you'd like to listen to a podcast of the event you can find it here: Audience with Helen Grant & Susy McPhee. It includes a reading from Silent Saturday by me, and - excitingly - an excerpt from Susy's brand-new book Back to you, which is so very brand-new that the reading was done from a print-out of the manuscript! Susy and I also talk about location, whether we ever base our characters on real people, and whether writers are constitutionally morbid!
The sound recording was made by Kona MacPhee, local poet and techie. The editing and uploading to Soundcloud was done by me, a feat which took many hours and a lot of swearing yesterday. I probably should use video tutorials before I throw myself into new software (in this case Garageband) but I prefer the time-honoured method of bumbling through it and occasionally screeching for one of the teens who inhabit the house to come and tell me what to do next.
Whilst I was struggling with MP3, my daughter meanwhile took delivery of a second-hand sound system she has wanted for ages. There seems to be some reverse audio evolution going on in the Grant household, because whilst I have been doing my best to do everything digitally, she was desperate to get a turntable so she can play vinyl records. As we have moved about a lot in the last 15 years (Spain, Germany, Belgium...) we have had to have regular turn-outs of old stuff, so our old turntable and nearly all our old vinyl records had been donated to charity shops. I had however hung onto a single LP: the soundtrack to The Singing Detective. Whilst my daughter was just getting to grips with the new turntable ("It goes round!!! How do you make it move to the next track?" etc) I refused to let her play my LP in case it ended up scratched. Instead she had to make do with some dodgy K-Tel records from the charity shop. I'm quite glad I insisted on this, after hearing her accidentally playing I don't want to dance by Eddy Grant (1st track on an LP) at 45rpm... Eventually, however, we put my precious LP on and spent the rest of the evening listening to Ella Fitzgerald and the Inkspots, Sam Browne with the Lew Stone Band, etc. The very last song on the B side was Vera Lynn singing We'll meet again. Listening to that wartime favourite with the familiar but long-forgotten hiss and crackle of vinyl sent shivers down my spine. Some things still sound better on vinyl.
Anyway, as a result of sitting up until midnight listening to stuff that was cutting edge in 1940, all of us woke up feeling the worse for wear this morning. Having packed everyone else off to school/work I am supposed to be getting on with book three in my trilogy: Urban Legends, but it's hard going on five and a half hours sleep. I think I'd better have more tea first...