The twice-yearly writing courses at Ty'n y Coed, near Conwy, has become a firm fixture in the Cinnamon calendar. This November's autumn course was fantastic example of why the courses are so important to our ethos: eight writers coming together to find support and inspiration, each of them making a breakthrough with the work and leaving with a stronger commitment to writing than they had are the start of the week. But don't take my word for it. Here's Diane Woodrow's take on her time at Ty'n y Coed this November.
An irresistible sleeping sickness had Perl in its grip.
Hard to imagine two more different people than Alfred Kubin and Eric Basso. Kubin: print maker, illustrator of the works of Poe and E.T.A. Hoffmann, sometime associate of the Blaue Reiter. Basso a novelist, poet, playwright and critic, a modernist in the best sense of the term, a man located far off the mainstream. Yet, they've both offered visions of societies collapsing under the grip of plagues of sleeping sickness. In Kubin's 1908 novel, The Other Side (quoted above), the sickness gradually overruns the city of Perl, a strange, failing utopia located outside customary space and time. In Basso's 1977 cult classic, The Beak Doctor, the sickness has already consumed an unnamed town whose deserted streets are choked by swirling fog and which teeters on the verge of collapse:
It's never easy judging a competition and this year's entrants to the Debut Novel Prize were a particularly knotty group to unpick. But, at last, we managed to decide on a 15 strong long list to go over — and over — to arrive at the final short list of:
Another weekend, another Cinnamon launch? Almost. Well, hardly. It looked as though Liz Hayward wasn't going to make it at all, rushing in just in time — thanks to them wonderful English roads — but she didn't let the flusters get in the way of a great reading from her contribution to In the Cinnamon Corners.
In this fascinating article, Maria Jastrzębska talks about the genesis and background of her eagerly awaited new book.
It's been a bit of a wait but we're happy to announce that the annual short story prize has now been adjudicated. The competition for the winning slots was close, the gap between third and first place was tremendously narrow, so the job of deciding was particularly hard. However, here are my final choices:
If you've been following Jan's blog you'll know she's been hard at work on the sequel to her extraordinary novel, This is the End of the Story — a book described by one reviewer as "incredible … one of the finest examples of experimental contemporary fiction I have read" and one we're very proud of indeed. Meanwhile, Cinnamon's intrepid team of artists have been labouring over the cover to this next volume, A Remedy for All Things (okay, not so much a "team" as me and Freyja, who generally works in an executive capacity although she's not above rolling up her sleeves and helping by, say, sitting on my keyboard or swatting the mouse to the floor). A much anticipated and debated cover it has been, too (at least by Jan and Freyja … mostly Jan, if the truth be known) and, at last, in this exclusive preview, we can unveil the finished artwork. Drum roll, Don …
Saturday, 22 April saw the 'New Eden Poets' plus cellist Kenneth Wilson performing and fundraising at a great new venue, The Old Fire Station, in Penrith. Jacci Bulman, who organises events through 'Eden 4 Poetry', was very glad to see a happy audience enjoying a night of brilliant poetry and music, all raising funds for the charity 'Practical Action'. Over £100 was raised, and everyone enjoyed a great evening together, celebrating poetry in Cumbria.
It came as quite a surprise to find my collection, High City Walk, shortlisted for Best Short Story Collection in this year's Saboteur Awards — a very pleasant one, I might add. Voting in currently underway to decide the winner and we'll find out the results on 13 May.
Anjana Chowdhury launched her novel, Under the Pipal Tree at an event organised by the wonderful Irene Hill of in-words. West Greenwich Library was filled to capacity by a very enthusiastic audience who were thoroughly enjoyed what was a warm and captivating launch.
As part of this year's York Literature Festival, three of our novelists took part in a panel discussion about historical novels set during the First World War. Jane Austin (News from Nowhere), Rebecca Gethin (What the Horses Heard) and Marg Roberts (A Time for Peace) joined Jan Fortune to talk about their novels, the process of creating historical fiction and to read extracts from their work before a large and rapt audience.
Jane Austin's gipping World War I novel, News from Nowhere received a warm welcome at its London launch on 15 March. Rowan Fortune introduced the reading — a novel he knows very well as he mentored it as a part of the Cinnamon mentoring programme — talking about the family letters that inspired the book and about the central character, Bronwyn's, development as a result of the upheavals caused by the war.
It was a delight to travel down to Brecon last Friday (10 March), to be with Ruth Bidgood as she read at The Hours bookshop, as part the Brecon Women's Festival, coinciding with International Women's Day. Ruth was once again joined by Mary MacGregor and our own Jan Fortune, to read selections from her wonderful Land-music/Black Mountains collection. The audience hung on her every word — a wonderful reading and a great afternoon.