Thursday, 31 October 2013

Do Not Go Gentle excitement and teasers

So only one sleep to go until Do Not Go Gentle kicks off and I'm been gathering all my books together and getting excited about all the wonderful writers I'll be chatting to around and about (mostly in Dylan Thomas' old house in Uplands). I thought I could get you a little bit excited too... so here are some lines or paragraphs from their latest books and some links... book your tickets, see you there!


On Friday we'll be opening the festival with Dylan Thomas' granddaughter Hannah Ellis at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive at 5pm. At 6pm we'll be previewing Parthian's special 21st birthday anthology Rarebit, with 4 new talents from the 21 writers involved reading their stories. Here are the first couple of lines from each of these...

'Onwards' by Dan Tyte: 

You take a left at the bar nobody could ever remember the name of, the one where the waiting girl wore her hair up and her guard down, where the pool table sloped into the top right pocket and the sharks circled for fresh blood ‘til Vince called time every night by shutting the jukebox off, switching the lights on and insisting you got the hell out. 

'The Bereaved' by Georgia Carys Williams:

For a time, I resembled the coffee mug on 
the window-sill: mendable, but with 
cracks so sporadic, it was difficult to 
predict when I would next shatter.  

'Disneyland' by Richard Owain Roberts:

Happy new year, Robert.  We are very grateful for your hard work over the course of the last year, this effort did not go unnoticed.  We feel this great relationship can go on from strength to strength. 

'Soft but Definite' by Sarah Coles:

I know about grown-ups having secrets.  It’s something to do with the smell of them and their big fingers.  They give each other a look sometimes that they think we don’t notice, but we do, and we store those looks up and use them like an alphabet.  

Other contributors to Rarebit will also be at the festival over the weekend including Holly Müller (Uplands Market, Saturday 11.30am), Robert Lewis (Dylan Thomas House, 2pm), Tyler Keevil and Rachel Trezise (Dylan Thomas House, Sat 3.30pm). 

Here's the first lines of Holly Müller's story 'My Cousin's Gun':

Danny had always considered Ben his best cousin.  The rest of them were losers, or girls.  He thought everyone would understand that he wanted a keepsake to remember him by, so he phoned his sister and asked for the medal.

Then local spoken word night Howl will host a mini session of their finest performers followed by a short hop down the hill to Mozart's for performance poetry queens Mab Jones and Clare Ferguson Walker.


Howl will once again take to the spoken word stage, this time at Uplands Market from 10 -11am. After that I'll be hosting a session from 11.15 - 12.15 featuring poetry, fiction, Speakers Corner rants and occasional vocal riots from Howard Ingham (Writer in Residence, Swansea University, 2012), Natalie Holborow (2nd prize winner in this year's Terry Hetherington Award), Holly Müller (Rarebit contributor), Jeff Towns (The Dylan Thomas Man of Mobile Bookshop fame), Sarah Coles (Rarebit contributor and poet - see Here And The Water), and Martin Wilding (Ordinary Person at Ordinary People Governing Themselves).

Then I'm back in Dylan Thomas House from 2pm, talking to Welsh noir novelist turned non-fiction detective of conspiracies Robert Lewis. For his fiction writing Rob has been compared to Charles Bukowski, Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, and Samuel Beckett. Rob lived in Swansea once, for a couple of months, spending a lot of time in her pubs, all in the name of research. See his novel Swansea Terminal for evidence. We'll be chatting about that and his long, long, long investigation into the death of Dr David Kelly in research for his recent non-fiction title Dark Actors. 

Here's the first line:

One July afternoon in 2003, a scientist went out for a walk and never came back.

Then at 3.30pm I'll be chatting short stories, novels, plays, America and Canada with Tyler Keevil and Rachel Trezise. Rachel recently won herself a bunch of new fans for her brave debut play Tonypandemonium with National Theatre Wales. The inaugral winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2006 for her debut collection of short stories Fresh Apples, her second grown-up collection of short stories Cosmic Latte has garnered rave reviews. I also hear that Rachel has recently finished her next novel, so plenty to chat about there.

Tyler Keevil was one of Parthian's original Bright Young Things (remember them?) and, like James Smythe, is putting me to shame with the release of not one but two books in 2013-2014. His latest novel The Drive launched a few months ago with Myriad Editions, and his splendid debut collection of short stories Burrard Inlet is out through Parthian in the spring. Tyler's short fiction has won several awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.  His first novel, Fireball, was longlisted for Wales Book of the Year, shortlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize, and received the Media Wales People’s Prize 2011.  

Finally on Saturday I'll be chatting to the lyrical raconteur Niall Griffiths at 6.35pm in Mozart's. Niall Griffiths was born in Liverpool in 1966 and now lives in Wales. He has published seven excellent novels: Grits, Sheepshagger, Kelly + Victor, Stump, Wreckage, Runt, and A Great Big Shining Star. The film of Kelly + Victor was recently released across the UK. We'll be talking about his latest book, seeing his characters played out on the big screen, absurdity, the state of society and anything else Niall fancies probably. Come along and buy us both a drink.

Here's a few lines from his brilliant satire of fame and pornography A Great Big Shining Star:

    The weight of the dressing, as if there is another face on Grace's face. Or the swelling of her own, as if another face inside her face is ripping its way through to be seen, with talons, scalpel-talons.
    The car leaves the carriageway and moves down the slip road and through a village which suggests a world removed from that one in the mechanical thunder on the overpass above which keeps the beamed pub in almost perpetual shadow below. Here, red-brick cottages abut fields, all traffic is stilled, two hunched smokers huddle in the doorway of the Farmer's Arms and the branches of trees still bear traces of off-white snow like growth, like mould. They pass horses, Grace and her mother in the car, two big brown horses standing at a fence, their breath fogging their faces as if they burn inside. Grace takes them in at a glance. Says it again:
---It really hurts, Mum.

Then you'll all run over to The Chattery for the brilliant music and spoken word collaboration In Chapters run by Richard James and John Williams. Or watch Twin Town. Or something. and party late...


...So we'll start late on Sunday. Perhaps you'd like to play a game of Scrabble while you wake up or have a hair or two of the dog? Then head over to my last session of the festival, where I'll be cosied up in the lounge with two of my favourite people, debut novelists Katherine Stansfield and Francesca Rhydderch (3pm). A former long-serving editor of New Welsh Review, and also of Planet, Francesca launched her wonderful first novel The Rice Paper Diaries earlier in the year and inspired by the experiences of her great-aunt in wartime Hong Kong. It is beautifully written in precise, poetic prose and reveals her to have a keen eye in observing the subtleties of the human condition. Here's a brief extract:

Marge seems to gather ill feeling around her, like the flesh that bowls out around her hips. She has a way of staring at people and holding their gaze when they catch her eye by mistake. She is unnerving.
    She isn't much of a tea girl either. People who ask for milk get it slopped into their saucer as well as their cup. Mostly, though, they keep quiet as it is handed over. 'Thank you,' some of them say, in the same pleading tone of voice they use with the nurses. Marge takes no notice. She understand they don't mean it; what they mean is they'd like someone else to come pushing the tea trolley past their bed, someone who'll talk about the weather and call them 'dear'. Someone homely. Later they shuffle along the corridor in their dressing gowns to Elsa's side room for a chat.
   'That Marge,' they say. 'She doesn't know if she's coming or going.'
   But nor does Elsa, that's the problem. She's lost the shape of the day, so that beginnings are the end and then the beginning again.

Born in 1983, Katherine Stansfield shares Francesca's love of Daphne du Maurier and grew up on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. She moved to Wales in 2002 to study at Aberystwyth University where she now works as a lecturer in Creative Writing. Her poetry has appeared in Cheval, the anthology of commended entries to the Terry Hetherington award for Young Writers. Her first book of poems, Playing House, will be published by Seren in 2014. The Visitor is her fantastic first novel. Here's an mini extract:

'Keygrims,' Nicholas says, 'will call you by name. You'll be sleeping. This is how they will sound.' He scratches his knife across his plate. It's answered by a shriek of wind down the chimney. A cold gust blows round the room. She moves closer to his chair, hunching into the wood and biting her sleeve. 

Finally I'll be sitting back to watch the Dylan Thomas Prize short-listed writers read from their books. All under 30 and bright talents. Pleased as punch to have Parthian Books' Jemma L. King on the list, she'll be reading from her debut collection of poetry The Shape of a Forest which we launched in London in the summer. Here are the first couple of lines from one of my favourite of her poems 'Amelia Earhart': 

For someone so accustomed to speed,
silence and stillness was something.
It fell to a hum.
It widened.


Can't wait! See you there! There will be opportunities for you to ask the authors questions too, and buy books and get books and other things signed.

Susie x

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