East of England festive update

Hi all

Here's where we are with East of England. The book's done, I've approved the final artwork for the back cover, and the project's being sent to print. It'll be rolling through the presses shortly after the Christmas break.

That means that subscriber copies will be posted out mid-January in advance of the official launch of the book on the 24th, for those of you that have gone for paperback options. If you've got an ebook coming your way, then you'll also get an email from Unbound with instructions on how to download your copy. 

I'd hoped to have included a pic of the full back cover, not least because there's a couple of lovely quotes on there from two writers who have read East of England and claimed to have liked it very much indeed! When I've got something to show you, I'll let you have a sneak preview. 

For everyone else, the book’s out on 24th January.

If you want to read East of England before its release, then you can do that by subscribing (it's free) to the bookclub app The Pigeonhole, and signing up to their serialisation of the book; East of England will be released in 10 daily episodes starting 4th January. There's more details on that here

On the assumption that I don't darken your inbox again this side of 2019, then have a fine Christmas and New Year, and I'll see you on the other side of the festivities. 

Thanks!

Eamonn

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Benches of Louth now available

Benches of Louth is now available!

Paperback and Kindle ebook options for your reading pleasure here.

There’s also copies at Off The Beaten Tracks in Louth.

I’ve got a limited edition of 50 numbered and signed paperbacks which come direct from me. Perfect for those who fancy a signature in their reading matter, are addicted to numbers lower than 51, and/or don’t want to buy their books via Amazon. As of 10th November, I’ve got 25 of these left. Ideal gifts for the sitter-down in your life.

If you fall into any of these categories, PayPal me £9.99 (make sure there’s a delivery address, and it’s clear who you’d like the book dedicated to, if that’s your wish), and I’ll send a copy out. Just click the PayPal button below to get started. Thanks!

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10 questions: Eamonn Griffin, author of East of England

It only occurred some time after knocking up this questionnaire format for fellow Unbound authors to maybe apply it to myself. Trust me, this website isn't a brains type of operation. Anyway, for good or ill, here's the skinny on me and my forthcoming noir-ish thriller East of England.

The artwork shown here isn't official material for the book, but was done as a favour by my younger brother Maxim - information about his own crowdfunding project Field Notes may be found here

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1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

Strangely enough, I’m Eamonn Griffin, and my novel East of England is a noir-ish thriller set over five consecutive days in Lincolnshire. Dan Matlock is released from prison after serving a couple of years inside. He’d like to go away and to start a new life somewhere else, but when his elderly father isn’t there to greet him on the outside as promised, he knows that there’s something wrong, so he’s compelled to return to his hometown to find out what’s gone awry.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because it’s great! Because it’s fast and dark and violent in places, and about family and honour and revenge and inevitability. About immovable objects and irresistible forces, and about the weirdness that lurks under the surface of rural communities.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

Well, East of England is very influenced by US pulp writers of noir crime fiction. I like writers such as Joe R Lansdale, Michael Connelly, and Lawrence Block, each of whom have been something of an influence. So there’s something of the American noir thriller but displaced into eastern England – the book’s set in a slightly-fictionalised version of Lincolnshire – and there’s also something of the kinds of books that people like Ted Lewis, who wrote Jack’s Return Home, the basis of the Michael Caine movie Get Carter (and the two other film versions that are out there) used to write. It’s very much a British take on an American model, and hopefully, there’s some appeal in that for readers.   
 

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

Well, as of the time of writing – late June 2018 – the project is coming to the end of its crowdfunding journey, so there’s still time to back the book and to become a patron of the project. Folk can do that here: unbound.com/books/east-of-england/ - the book should be funded by 4th July 2018, after which there’ll be the chance to pre-order through the same link. It’s up to the publishers quite when the book will hit the shelves and people’s e-readers of choice, but a best guess right now would be very early 2019.   

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

When I’m first-drafting, I aim for 1000 words per writing day. I like to write fairly quickly, as I think the speed of getting ideas and action onto the page communicates to the reader. As I’m a freelance writer full-time, the creative work has to fold around the other paid work that I do. Ideally, I’ll do other work from 8am to 2pm, then work on the current novel from 2pm till 4pm.   

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

I’m going to cheat slightly and opt for two. The first is Writing A Novel by Nigel Watts. This is something of a classic of the writing advice genre, and perhaps the best pound-for-pound how-to book there is. If you can, get an older copy as the book's been reissued several times with additions by others after Watts’ death, and for my money these editions aren't as effective as supports for beginning writers. It’s very much about the mechanics of story, rather than the inspirational kind of writing book, such as Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, so bear that in mind, but it’s a very useful book to have.

The second book is On Writing by Stephen King. It’s part autobiography, and part writing advice non-fiction; the former is absolutely necessary to understand the latter half. I’m recommending this because of the audio-book, narrated by King; the personal connection that this gives is very effective. It’s well worth your time.    

If I had to pick a third (I'm a bit nerdy about this sort of thing) I'd go for Into The Woods by John Yorke, which is a great book about story structure, and which contains pretty much everything you need to know on the subject. Then again, you could pay due respect to the classics and pick up a copy of Poetics by Aristotle, which covers the same territory. And so on. I've read an awful lot of these kinds of books, and while there are loads that say good things, there's no one perfect book out there. You have to synthesise your own from your reading and your writing experiences.  

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Blimey. It’s times like this that I wish I’d thought in more detail about the questions that I’d set for other people to answer! There’s a hundred or more, I’m sure, but here’s three to be going on with:

Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall is great, but the sequel is better. A storming thriller, a fine slice of whatever “literary fiction” is, and a marvellous dramatization of well-known history. An object lesson in the old saying that it's not the story, but the storyteller...

The Emperor’s Spy by MC (Manda) Scott – the first of Scott’s Rome series is a wonderful historical thriller as well as a sly commentary on contemporary politics and the follies of organised religion and fundamentalism. 

Freezer Burn by Joe R Lansdale – Lansdale is the real deal, a great writer of Texas-set westerns, horror, SF, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novels, and thrillers, with a fine ear for dialogue and a knack for the absurd. This is one of his weirder creations, the story of a criminal on the run who hides out in a travelling fair because of bee-stings so bad he can pass for a sideshow attraction, and who gets into way more trouble than he could have ever done if he’d just surrendered himself to the law.  

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – my favourite book of all time, and one I re-read every couple of years.

Fletch by Gregory McDonald – perhaps the funniest thriller ever written.

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris – forget the movie versions, this is the real thing. Perhaps the most influential thriller of the last 40 years. Absolutely indispensable.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

In a previous life I taught creative writing in a college context, so in some ways I’ve already covered this to my heart’s content. However, there’s three things I will say:

a) Learn how your word-processing software works. Your laptop is your primary tool, so be comfortable with it. Writers’ needs here are few, so learn how to use the tool you’re using. It doesn’t take long, but it’ll save so much time in the long run. It's bewildering how many people who profess to want to write don't consider the tool they use.

b) Recognise your mistakes, and learn from them. Many’s the student who made themselves willfully blind to easily-rectifiable errors, through a combination of arrogance and ignorance. Try not to be that person.

c) Don’t have any expectations. If you’re going to write, do so because you like the activity for its own pleasures. No-one owes you anything.    

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

A man missing. A debt due. Dan Matlock has had two years to plan revenge, but so have the forces being levelled against him. This won’t end well.

Social media contacts:

Twitter: twitter.com/eamonngriffin (@eamonngriffin)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eamonngriffinwriting/

Unbound URL: unbound.com/books/east-of-england/

Previous publications:

Juggernaut: A Sequel to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Torc

The Prospect of This City

So, big thanks to me for contributing these answers to my own questionnaire! Hopefully East of England sounds of interest to you, and you'll consider backing the book if you haven't already done so.   

10 questions: Maxim Peter Griffin, author/artist of Field Notes

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today's 10 questions is a little different, if only that the subject is a brother of mine who's also currently crowdfunding via Unbound. Here's Maxim to explain a little more: 

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Maxim Peter Griffin. I draw.

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What the book is about is a tricky one – on one level it’s a nice book of drawings of Lincolnshire with some bits of writing about the countryside. On another it’s about the ghost mammoths and Brexit and stellar death and Doggerland.

Half-haikus about flint – big stuff across a landmass – being simultaneously huge and tiny in the face of cosmic indifference and the Jolly Fisherman

Field Notes is sometimes really mournful ( there’s a lot to mourn ), sometimes full of idiot glee –

2. Why should folk read your book?

It doesn’t matter if they do or don’t, really –

Field Notes is beyond the point of failure already, 95% of what is in the book has already occurred, been drawn or walked or what have you – I’ve had my nourishment  … a large part of making these experiences and actions into a book is an administrative procedure… a fun one, mind you

3. What’s the appeal of your book? 

Field Notes is wild. Wilder. Often rather fucking livid. But full of marshes – that’s what people like isn’t it? angry marshes?

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

Soon enough, after the hurly-burly of crowdfunding is done.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

5 am – dogs out

6 am – back with dogs

Make notes after walk

Drawing between 9 and noon

Later – when house is quiet, make more notes – maybe type them up to see how they look.

[Question 6 - the one about books about writing - went unanswered]

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7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Mr Palomar by I. Calvino

Haunted Houses by E. Maple and L. Myring

The Mound People by P.V Glob

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

I’ll have a really sweet atlas please.

maybe Seven Pillars of Wisdom or the old Penguin Book of Welsh Verse

and my copy of Wind in the Willows ( no other editions thanks )

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Read. Look. Listen. Walk. Cook.

Keep dated notes on everything.

Don’t be an Artist, never go on a Journey.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Mad Max 2 but on foot near Mablethorpe and the anti-hero is his own Humungus – filmed on VHS

Get Werner Herzog to direct. Or Alex Cox. Werner Cox/Alex Herzog

Soundtracked by quarter speed Lark Ascending played on mellotron

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Social media contacts: @maximpetergriff

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/field-notes/ 

Huge thanks to Max for playing along. Field Notes is great - I've seen some more of the work in progress, and naturally, I've backed the project myself - it comes at you like a mix of Raymond Briggs and AW Wainwright. Who can resist that kind of combination? Surely not you, which is why you feel irresistibly drawn towards pledging ...

#LincsLore roundup for February and March

Here's a compilation of the #LincsLore tweets I put out occasionally, cherry-picking the quirky customs, festivals and country sayings from Lincolnshire's history. This selection pulls together the months of February and March. January's compilation of the same is here.  

February

Feb 10: Lent takes its name from Anglo-Saxon "lencten", meaning to lengthen. "Days lengthen, cold strengthen" is an old Lincs phrase. 

Feb 10: On Ash Wednesday (or the following day, Clerk Thursday), lock-out your schoolmaster until he grants you a half day holiday.

Feb 14: The first unmarried man you see on Valentine's Day will be the one you marry.

Feb 29: Women may propose to men; by leaping on their back. Men accept the proposal by leaping on the woman's back in return.

Feb 29: If a man refuses your proposal he must buy you a silk dress.

March

March. Saxons called the month Lenctenmonath, as the days were lengthening. The Christian term "Lent" comes from this root.

March 1: Gainsborough. The river Trent is a greedy river, taking seven lives a year. Sacrifice a lamb to the river to spare a life.

March 1: "If the fruit trees blossom in March you won't get a crop, and if it blossoms twice a death will occur in the family".

March 2: St Chad's Day. Patron saint of medicinal springs. "Sow your beans on St Chad's day" is considered sound advice.

Mothering Sunday. A day's holiday for apprentices, who would return home.

Mothering Sunday. Also: Apprentice Sunday, Refreshment Sunday, Laetare Sunday, Simnel Sunday. "Mother's Day" = C20 US invention.

Mothering Sunday. A fragment of folk memories of worship of Cybele, mother of the Gods.

March 6: Refreshment Sunday. A day's relaxation from Lenten abstinence. Wild flowers given as gifts. Simnel cake.

March 6: Mid-lent fairs start today: Stamford's dates back to at least 1224. Tradition is that the mayor has the first dodgem ride.

March 17: St Patricks Day was celebrated in expat Irish communities across Lincs (Lincoln, Caistor, Woodhall, Louth).

Palm Sunday. In Lincs, pussy-willow was used for palm. Beat a child with pussy-willow (or "withy"), & you'll stunt their growth.

Palm Sunday: Caistor Gad-Whip: a ceremony involving cracking a whip throughout the morning's service, and 30 pieces of silver.

Caistor Gad-Whip links to a child murder, being an act of penance written into land tenancy; seen as "desecration"  by mid C19.

Spring equinox. Throw a piece of silver into the Eagre tidal bore at Gainsborough to prevent you from being drowned that year.

I was away from home over the Easter weekend and so didn't have the reference work used to source the bulk of these sayings. That book, by the way, is A Lincolnshire Calendar by Maureen Sutton and is a fine repository of Yellowbelly arcana.

 

 

#LincsLore for January

Over on Twitter, my social medium of choice (I've never really got my head around Facebook, so my presence there is a bit vague and sporadic), one of the things that I like to do is to tweet little bits of Lincolnshire folklore. Being Lincolnshire-born, and having spent the bulk of my life in the county, it only seems right to repay the county with a little bit of attention.  

So what I'll do every month, at the end of the month in question, is to round up the tweets I've published under the hashtag #LincsLore. 

The bulk of these are sourced from A Lincolnshire Calendar, by Maureen Sutton. The book's well worth tracking down if you've an interest in the area. And in the area, if you what I mean. 

Doubtless some of these rituals, notable dates, traditions and other assorted bits of arcana have parallels in other parts of the country. Some, though, are particular to Lincolnshire, a county that guards its particularities well to this day. And, as a writer, you never know when a concept or a practice might pop up that makes you think "There's a story in that"...

Anyway, here we go with January:

New Year. It's unlucky to do laundry at New Year. "If you wash on New Year's Day, you'll wash one of the family away".

The "robin dinner"; a New Year charity-funded feast for the poor. A parade, free music hall/cinema too. Lincoln, until 1930s.

5th Jan. Shooting the trees. At Twelfth Night, shoot apple trees to encourage the sap to flow, and so a good crop.

Twelfth night. Take down evergreen and mistletoe trimmings. Holly represents Jesus' crown of thorns; burning it is bad luck.

Twelfth night. Save a piece of Christmas holly to burn on Shrove Tuesday; use it to light the fire you cook your pancakes with.

Twelfth night. Plant holly at your boundaries. It's bad luck to those who seek to cut it down and so interfere with your land.

Twelfth night. If you burn holly in your house you'll stir up the spirits and they'll stay in your house all year.

Twelfth night. "Dorcas" charities gave coats to widows this time of year, as in the Bible: Acts 9:39

Twelfth night. Or, "Old Christmas", if you're not down with the newfangled Gregorian calendar.

6th Jan. Haxey Hood. An annual match; a cross between quidditch, rugby, and a beer-fuelled riot.

The first Sunday after Twelfth Night is Plough Sunday. The plough is cleaned, oiled and take to church for its blessing.

Plough Monday (1st after Twelfth Night): ploughboys parade the decorated plough round the village; rewards of food and drink

The Plough Light. Carried with the plough on its tour round villages; paid for by ploughboys and kept in the church all year.

Jan 20. St Agnes' Eve. Sow a handful of barley seeds under an apple tree, and you'll have a vision of your future husband. 

There's more about the Haxey Hood, including photos from this year's event, here