As I write my way into the home stretch of this book, here's a sneaky peek at what will begin it.
Debrief is the shortest story in the collection and it looks at one of the effects of war, on an outsider. It is coming home and forgetting how to greet loved ones, forgetting social cues, dropping an apple in a supermarket and waiting for the roof to fall. It is the fractured crackle of PTSD and not knowing how to fit back into what came before.
The spiel that comes after the story does contain one inaccuracy: the book is clearly, now, not coming out in 2013. Blame CFS/ME for that one. (In fact, when I watch this video back I can see the illness on my face - but perhaps that is ok. It is what it is. Video goes places that I can't physically reach these days, and so here it is, evident fatigue and all!)
I am writing as fast as my body will allow, and am thrilled to say that I am approaching the edit stage. I won't be doing any live events until I've finished, as I need all available energy for writing, so until that time, let video-me tell you a story.
(My apologies for the lack of youtube window inside this post. For some unknown reason, my host doesn't want to load it, so you WILL have to click out on the link above. Never mind, all you've missed is a frightening still of my face, mid-sentence, where my eyes are neither opened nor closed.
Here - as consolation, have an old, obtuse punching-in clock from Victorian times, now part of the Jeremy Deller exhibition. This one looks lovely and antiquey, doesn't it? Now at the Amazon warehouse they're yellow and grey and strapped to the employee's wrist. Poor bastards. If you're in Manchester, please please go and see that exhibition. This Sunday's the last day, and then it's off to Nottingham. Manchester City Art Gallery, NOW, and the wheelchairs, as with the art, are free.)
With the words of Matt Haig ringing in my ears - specifically, those about writers going to book fairs being like chickens going to Nandos – I arrived at the London Book Fair 2013 a little, uh, nervous. Mall face strapped securely on, I dove into the maze of gleaming white publicity stands and within moments was greeted by the lovely Roman Simić, my Tramlines writing partner. Up to the corridor of windows at the top of the conference centre we went, till we had a backstage view of the boxes and pallets and abandoned bits of metal behind the City of Urgent Bookselling that had sprung up in Earl’s Court for the occasion.
The Gimbal app, available soon in the itunes shop.
We were there to Gimbal. Not a new internet dance meme, not a 25p candy, the Gimbal is named after an old sea-faring navigational device (the one that kept the compass level while the boat pitched around) and this Gimbal is the coolest little storytelling app I’ve seen.
The culmination of the Tramlines writer residency project that took me to the trams of Zagreb last year, the Gimbal app collects the resulting stories of those six residencies, as well as a whole load more stand-alone shorts from Comma Press authors, and plots their journeys on maps that move as you listen to or read the story. Along the way landmarks pop up, sidetracks for you to follow, markers that hold the edges of the story as it moves through its city and – AND - all of this also comes in more than one language, both spoken and text: English, and the language of the city in which the story is set.
I *loved* being involved in this project and so it was a thrill to launch the app to an enthusiastic audience on Tuesday alongside authors Alison MacLeod and the aforementioned Roman, as well as Jim Hinks from Comma and Alexandra Büchler of Literature Across Frontiers. The Gimbal app will be available in the itunes store next week, though sadly us androids will have to wait a little while for our own version. I believe it will also exist online as a website, so I’ll post the relevant links and whatnot up here as soon as it’s all live.
The highlights of the Book Fair for me were all about translation and so, appropriately, I leave you with a link to Transfiction translation collective’s take on what they called ‘a beautifully intuitive app'.