A Haar or a Fret is a cold sea fog, mostly occurring on the East Coast between April and September according to Wikipedia. A sea fret doesn’t sound particularly dangerous. It has a pleasant Anglo-Saxon ring to it or maybe even Viking. I have driven through this kind of fog after evening meetings and it’s scary.
But a tragedy that happened in September 1969 has stayed with me over the years. I found out about it, at first by chance. My future husband, Richard, had his Lambretta scooter stolen that night and went to the police station to report it. He found it in disarray, his scooter theft was a pimple on the back of the horror happening on the beach. While he was there a man came in to say that a horse had been found in the local dock. Knowing no more, Richard returned to my house. I don’t remember how he got home that night.
In the morning we woke to the devastating news that three girls had gone riding with their instructor on the beach. Something, I used to do myself. Unfortunately, a fog came in and it appeared that they had lost their bearings. The tide was also coming in. Imagine their terror, riding as the sea overtook them but with no idea which way was the shore and safety. The three girls, their instructor and three horses drowned that night. You can read the full story here.
I am looking forward to attending my first West Sussex Writers’ Conference a week on Saturday in Worthing. When I was working, I attended many conferences on teaching and learning and all things librarian related. Some good, some bad and some indifferent. But it is a chance to network and meet other writers. Sometimes I wonder if I can really believe that I am now actually a writer.
The last time I attended a conference was in Hobart, Tasmania, for the Female Convicts Research Group in 2015. It was great to meet people I have only ever met virtually before. I wish I could attend the next one partly because I fell in love with Tasmania on my first visit in 2010/11.
The one I would love most to attend in the Historical Novelists Australia Conference to be held in Melbourne this September. I read the line up of papers and novelists and I drool with envy.
I have just finished reading The Dry by Jane Harper because I am reading anything and everything
about Australia as I begin to get my teeth into the third book in The Currency Girls Series. It is indeed a great first novel. Not perfect, but very good. Her sense of place is excellent. The interior of Australia is to live life on the edge, whether it be in the north, south east or west. Away from the coast and even on the coast, you are at the mercy of the weather. The effects of the drought on the people in this crime novel are woven into the story. You feel the heat, the danger and the desperation on every page just as you get to know the unhealthy, social dynamics of the small town setting. Prejudice, jealousy and vindictiveness abound as the two policemen attempt to unravel who killed the Hadler family. A page-turner for sure.
The book I am looking forward to is Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar which is not out on Kindle yet. It is set in the 1850s in South Australia from the point of view of a woman living in Chichester, thinking back on her life. Sounds perfect for me. Lucy Treloar is one of the speakers at that Melbourne Conference. Here’s wishing.
I came across this poster today. The list was compiled from the admissions log from a
WestVirginia for the Insane. In Ranter’s Wharf, I touch on one reason, Novel Reading but some of the others are fascinating. Presumably, the relatives described what they thought had sent their relative insane, or could the reason just have been an excuse to get rid os someone inconvenient.
Some you can understand, such as shooting of daughter or exposure in army (assuming that might mean shell shock or PTSD).
Some I don’t understand such as Gathering in the Head or Hard Study.
I am going to imagine these admissions below were for women/
Consider Medicine to Prevent Conception – what was the story there? Was she terrified of childbirth or already thought she had enough children. How about laziness? Did she not clean to her husband’s satisfaction? Political Excitement – did she campaign for the vote? Each of these, are worthy of a novel in themselves.
The week began with preparation for a talk entitled, A Feast of Flash Fiction and Short Stories at Worthing Writers at the Chichester Festival. It was not a highlight of the festival, it scarcely created a flicker let alone a spark. Although we did our best to tweet, we had an audience of precisely five. Not to put too fine a point on it, if Patricia and I had been organising this, instead of just going along with it, there would have been a different outcome. When I think of all the work that went into our book launch, in comparison to a poster and a few tweets, I am not surprised nor disheartened, because next time, if there is one, we know how to make it work.
I was extremely pleased to receive two great editorial reviews over the last week. The first one from Lincolnshire Life about Ranter’s Wharf and the second from Ingenue Magazine about Search for the Light.
As a newish indie author, I have begun to understand the importance of reviews on Amazon etc. and now try to write them for about 80% of books I read. Why only 80%? There are some books where I feel I have nothing useful to say because they are so unmemorable.
I have just read a book which was so beautifully written, so insightful, so full of emotion that I was in tears for the last part of the book and yet it has a slew of 1 and 2-star ratings on Amazon (the largest majority by far are 5*) – but it just got me wondering how people could view a book in such different ways? Yes, the story was simple – two forty-something single parents literally bump into each other, fall head over heals for each other only to find they live on different continents. But the quality of the writing, the imagery, the way the story unfolded screamed 5* to me but to a few others it was boring, repetitive, sentimental, unsatisfactory. So it did not have the ending one hoped for, but that’s life sometimes. I want to shake the reader and ask, did you not love “the hedgerows now a knitted wall of prickled bare branches” or “her breathing trampolining on his skin right between his shoulder blades.” What about the introspection of the developing relationship, did you not consider it honest and moving? Why did you dismiss it so easily? The truth is, I suppose, that we are all different. A book that speaks volumes to me is irrelevant because of its lack of action or thrills to someone else. It reinforces the view that the author must write what they believe in.
Judge the book for yourself – Freya North – Turning Point
I said I was going to take the summer off and maybe do a free novella but it hasn’t worked out that way. I was sitting with my mother in the garden of her care home. It’s very rare for there to be much conversation between us, other than ‘Have you heard from x’ or ‘How are you feeling?’
So I watched the birds in a rare, cloudless sky. A lone seagull glided along the thermals just for pleasure, I’m sure. But it was the swallows or swifts which grabbed my attention. They looked to be playing tag, swooping low and the next moment high. They reminded me of all the footage of fighter planes in WW2 that you see in films. The first chapter came to me in a flash and less than a week later I have written two chapters and drafted a format for the book. It’s early days so the format may change.
I am lucky enough to have a 91-year-old aunt who lived through WW2 in the area. The females in my family are long-lived. She has an extraordinary memory, unlike my mother, so I will be pumping my aunt for detail and colour.
This little Victorian folly is called Ross Castle. It was built by the railroad company, which also built the pier. You could say the railway company invented Cleethorpes as a popular seaside resort, although there were attempts before the railway arrived. Ross Castle plays a part in the first chapter.
My book, Ranter’s Wharf deals with issues raised about the poor in the Victorian era. Reviewer Jessie Cahalin stated that she wanted to rant ‘on behalf of her ancestors’ when she read the book. Have we learnt anything about poverty? I found this old article
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2012/nov/20/scrounger-stigma-poor-people-benefits We have just called them a different name, scroungers or benefit cheats.
If you finish watching, I Daniel Blake, with tears in your eyes and anger in your heart, you will know what I mean. The so-called Gig Economy or Zero hours contracts are leading us back to poverty, not experienced since the 1930s. Film-makers like Ken Loach become our social conscience. In my small way, I use my family history to point out the similarities with the 19th century. What our ancestors fought for and how we still need to fight.
In Ranter’s Wharf, William says “Those who are rich and powerful will always find a way to be so. It is their nature.”
Someone told me recently that people always vote for policies which are best for them. It surprised me because I believe that we should vote for what is best for the the country and its citizens as a whole. Now I also believe we should vote to help the younger generations. Our generation has been favoured in a way that is totally at odds with those who finish university with £40,000 of debt.
John and Billy, in Ranter’s Wharf, fought for people to gain the vote. We must use it wisely.