Christien Gholson's Blog Entries
Black Friday deals are on for kindle users! Find The Visitor by Katherine Stansfield and The Flight of Sarah Battle by Alix Nathan on Amazon Kindle Store for £0.99 until the 29th of November.
Katherine Stansfield's debut is a poignant and intricately crafted story of love and loss, picturesquely and memorably set on the sea-coast of Cornwall.
--Stevie Davies, author of Awakening
An evocative record of a lost age... unmistakably heartfelt.
This is a continuation of a six-part series presenting the songs - and a lost manuscript - of a musician friend named Zak Jourek.
The first section gives a more in-depth introduction to Zak and can be found
I met Zak while working in a dining hall at a small university in Iowa and then we both ended up in Boulder, Colorado at the end of the nineties. I got a package in the mail last January from one of his old girlfriends with an old manuscript of his and a demo cassette tape of his songs. As far as I can tell, he disappeared without a trace about thirteen years ago. Did he wander up into the Rockies? Is he homeless and mumbling, going through dumpsters in Portland? Did he become a juniper in the desert, charred by lightning? I have no clue.
The Festive Book Fair
We would like to thank British Council Wales for inviting the writers John Harrison and Rebecca F. John to Guadalajara International Book Festival later this month. They will be joined at the festival by our Publishing Editor Susie Wild, who, along with other creative companies, will be on a Welsh Government trade mission to cultural extravaganza – expecting up to one million visitors as part of the book fair – and launching celebrations of music, theatre, technology and the arts.
Menter Rhosygilwen have uploaded a video of author Angela V. John talking about her new book The Actors' Crucible and explaining why Port Talbot has built such successful links with Hollywood, ahead of her event there on Thursday 19th November. Angela, herself from the steel town, has written a biography with a difference, exploring the lives of some of the town's best known actors and those beginning to make a name on the scene. She'll be giving a talk at 8pm on the 19th at Rhosygilwen mansion, Cardigan. Tickets to the event are £5 and can be bought here.
John Lavin, Fiction Editor at Wales Arts Review and Editor of the new short story journal The Lonely Crowd, has reviewed the debut short story collection Clown's Shoes by Rebecca F. John and Gee Williams' new novel Desire Line for the latest issue of The Welsh Agenda, praising both titles.
Of Desire Line Lavin writes:
'Gee Williams' prose style calls to mind a somewhat unlikely hybrid between James Joyce and Martin Amis. First person, unreliable, not-quite-murder-mystery [...] And in Williams' hands, Rhyl, the book's setting becomes a noir-ish, too-bright-early-technicolour otherworld [...] much like fellow Welsh author Jo Mazelis' recent work Significance, Desire Line is a work of great philosophical depth and profundity masquerading as a murder mystery. And like that book it leaves you both disorientated and yet somehow awoken. A must read.'
Of Clown's Shoes Lavin writes:
With Christmas approaching, we've put together a shopping list for all booklovers. We've a wealth of gifts for you and your loved ones. Don’t forget the special early bird offer! For the rest of November use the code EARLYBIRD at our checkout for a 20% discount on all our titles!
Popular Backlist Titles
For lovers of intelligent chic lit: This September Sun, Bryony Rheam
Set against the backdrop of a country in change, Ellie – burdened by the memories and the misunderstandings of the past – must find a way to move forward in her own romantic endeavors. In the process, she has to face herself as well as the tumultuous past of her family.
For your mother/aunt/nan: Between Two Rivers, Dorothy Al Khafagi
What is the first thing you ever wrote?
As a child the first thing I have a memory of writing was a fake newspaper report about Freddy Kreuger. My parents were horrified. I even did a little drawing of his face and glove so it was laid out on the page like a newspaper. Exactly the sort of thing you consult a child psychologist on nowadays. I must have been about eight. I hadn’t seen A Nightmare on Elm Street, of course – my parents were and are extremely good at their jobs of parenting. But I had heard about it, and seen pictures, and it had been blown out of all proportion on the school playground. So I guess it captured my imagination – far more than if I had actually seen the film. And it compelled me to write. I have always been like that. It’s difficult for me just watch anything – I have an urge to do it for myself. That’s where the writing comes from, I suppose. All the skill is in your head. So, whereas I was an achingly average sportsman as a kid, a decent enough musician growing up, I could draw a bit, etcetera etcetera; work at writing and you need no physical back up and almost no financial outlay. Perfect for me, really.
In January of this year I received a large manila envelope in the mail. No return address. The postmark was from Denver. Inside the envelope I found a manuscript, a couple of old cassette tapes, and a short letter. This is what the letter said:
You don’t know me. Our connection is that we were both friends of Zak Jourek. I was his girlfriend in the winter of 2002. We were only together a short while. One day, he walked out on me – just a note on the kitchen table that said “Going out to the desert to clear my head.” This wasn’t unusual, he spent quite a bit of our brief time together disappearing, reappearing, and disappearing again. Staring at that cryptic note I gave up on him, prepared to end it when he deigned to show up again. He never did.
To be honest, in the months that followed, my reaction was relief. Our relationship had been a bit bipolar – up and down and up and down. Crazy. Zak was angry much of the time. The drinking didn’t help. When he wasn’t drinking there was a sadness about him, deep, some place he couldn’t reach. From what, I never knew. In retrospect, I think that he was in the middle of some sort of mental breakdown. I probably suspected that at the time, but kept the realization locked away from my own consciousness for years – what would that say about me, my attraction to him? How was I haunted?