Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Monday 30 October 2017

October's house - perhaps with a Hallowe'en flavour?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by [Rowling, J.K.]
When I mentioned this list to friends, right at the beginning, the first thing they said was ‘Hobbits’ and the second was ‘Weasleys, of course’. Actually again it’s a sketchy description, which was enhanced by the film of the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s Harry’s first time in a non-muggle house and as far as he’s concerned it’s love at first sight – I sometimes wonder if Ginny benefitted from that in their relationship, just as Mr. Darcy benefitted from owning Pemberley?

“It looked as though it had once been a large stone pigsty, but extra rooms had been added here and there until it was several storeys high and so crooked it looked as though it was held up by magic (which, Harry reminded himself, it probably was). Four or five chimneys were perched on top of the red roof. A lopsided sign stuck in the ground near the entrance read ‘The Burrow’. Round the front door lay a jumble of wellington boots and a very rusty cauldron. Several fat brown chickens were pecking their way around the yard.
‘It’s not much,’ said Ron.
‘It’s brilliant,’ said Harry happily, thinking of Privet Drive…
The kitchen was small and rather cramped. There was a scrubbed wooden table and chairs in the middle and Harry sat down on the edge of his seat, looking around. He had never been in a wizard house before.
‘The clock on the wall opposite him had only one hand and no numbers at all. Written around the edge were things like ‘Time to make tea’, ‘Time to feed the chickens’ and ‘You’re late’. Books were stacked three deep on the mantelpiece, books with titles like Charm Your Own Cheese, Enchantment in Baking and One Minute Feasts – It’s Magic!. And unless Harry’s ears were deceiving him, the old radio next to the sink had just announced that coming up was ‘Witching Hour, with the popular singing sorceress, Celestina Warbeck.’”

It delights me to think that even witches and wizards need hens and wellingtons!

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Hallowe'en and shabby houses

Hallowe’en is lurking just around the corner – this is not something I think religious people should ignore or try to lighten up, because it does remind us of the darker side of things, the threat of evil, and such things should not be airbrushed out (or entirely hidden under plastic Spiderman masks, nylon witch outfits, age 5-6 from your local supermarket, guaranteed to disintegrate before 1st. November, and a year’s supply of sweets in one night). Anyway, to mark the time of year Out of a Dark Reflection is free from 26th October for a week, and to accompany it is the novella-length sequel A Dark Night at Midsummer, now available for pre-order on Amazon.

I mentioned recently on Facebook our new chimneysweep who turned out to be a painter, sculptor and writer as well (as a friend remarked, a writer with a third or fourth job? Sounds familiar!). I bought a copy of his book (ah, marketing and distribution idea! Get a job with a van and carry half a dozen copies in the back!) The Concise Field Guide to the Haggis of Scotland by Stephen Bowers, very well illustrated by Katrina McIntosh and altogether a good laugh.

He commented when he arrived, ‘I like your house. It’s a creative house.’ I said, ‘Do you mean messy?’ ‘Yes, that’s right.’ This not entirely unfamiliar analysis of our house (another is ‘It’s like going out to the countryside’ – not quite sure what that means) was endorsed by an article in The Sunday Telegraph the following Sunday, where we were invited to tick boxes to see if we had a shabby home or a ‘fake’ one (shabby chic, I suppose). We ticked every one (to the weeping despair of the younger members of the household) except for the limescale-blocked kettle. Since we don’t live in a limescale area I thought this was an unfair condition – and like Jerome K. Jerome with his housemaid’s knee, or lack of it, I began to defend our miserably bare kettle, and to explain that we used to live in a limescaley area (Sussex) and indeed might well have an old limescaley kettle in the attic if we looked hard enough. Then I relaxed, and allowed those whose shabbiness was not on the same scale as ours to take some comfort in the fact that their kettles are nearly unusable. We can keep the coatrack that requires a degree in physics to hang anything extra on it, and the attic that holds many boxes (possibly containing a limescaley kettle) but only the Christmas decorations are regularly accessible, and the wireless permanently tuned to Radio 4 (why this should be the prerequisite of a shabby home I don’t know, but barring Ken Bruce and forays into Radio Scotland for the Out of Doors programme and local news, that’s our wirelesses).

Oh, editing … Editing A Murderous Game (Hippolyta #3), and Jail Fever is still off with readers. Got to get a move on. Researching a new project, probably a short series (maybe even a trilogy! Oo-er! I’ve never had a trilogy before), which includes a bit of woolwork as well. Any excuse!

Thursday 12 October 2017

Blog Tour: The Unity Game, by Leonora Meriel

"The Unity Game" is science fiction with philosophy

A New York banker is descending into madness.
A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive.
A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.
From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.
Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a 'complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel' from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.

Reviews for The Unity Game
 “A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~~ Kirkus Reviews
“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer
“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer

About the Author
Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm.
In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity.
During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development.
In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet.
Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.

My Review:
This is a very striking book, following three main timelines (and a partial fourth). I say ‘following timelines’, but for good reason some of the chronology shifts about. The easiest line to follow, at least to start with, is that of David, a Canadian gone to the dark side in the financial world in New York. He is thoroughly obnoxious, and the book’s first draw is to see how he will get his comeuppance. Then there’s Alistair, who has recently died: his afterlife suits him very well, challenging his intellect, endorsing his life choices, uniting him with his beloved wife and allowing him to watch over his wayward granddaughter. Thirdly, there’s a being on a dry red planet, whose apparent malfunctions allow it to experience emotions far beyond those it had ever expected. Inevitably these three threads are finally linked in a plot involving alien interference on Earth and an explanation of life and death and overall existence in a way that I found convincing within the plot but ultimately rather disheartening. The writing is good and the links between the plotlines come together nicely, and the ideas in the book will certainly live with me: there is a good deal of intellectual meat to chew over. Be warned: there is also a good deal of explicit and sometimes violent sex, which will not be to everyone’s taste

Monday 2 October 2017

Letho Observer - September 2017

If you subscribe to the newsletter, you should have received your copy of the Letho Observer at the end of last week. If you didn't, and you wanted to, let me know! contact@kellascatpress.co.uk.