Thank you to everyone who helped to launch Atlantic on the evening of 23rd July!
It was hot as blazes in the basement of the Poetry Cafe, but the room was packed despite the heat, with about 40 people (or however many can fit into that basement, including people sitting up the stairs…)
It was a pleasure to share the stage with poet Bill Trubb, whose book All Men are Afraid also came out with Cinnamon Press recently.
The reason the night was extra-special for me was the presence of my mom Kathy, my Aunt Debbie and Aunt Robin, and Uncle Ed, all of whom happened to be on tour through Europe and the UK this month, with their ‘London day’ happening to fall on the 23rd. Though I always miss friends and family who are not able to attend, it was amazing to be surrounded by so many beloved friends and family members from both sides of the Atlantic!
I’m especially pleased to have photos by the talented Marcos Avlonitis, whom I recommend to all in need of a photographer.
My thanks to Royal Observatory Public Astronomer Marek Kukula, who is holding Double the Stars in front of the remains of the 40-foot reflector, one of many Herschel ephemera on display at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. We’ll launch the book there at 2pm on Sunday 28th September – save the date!
Also, my thanks to a sister alumnae at Randolph(-Macon Woman’s) College, who sent me a photograph of a poem about Caroline Herschel that she saw on display at Riverviews Artspace in Virginia. It’s interesting to see Caroline’s story from such a different angle – I’m used to thinking of Caroline as rather cynical and down-to-earth, and this is an ephemeral poem, but I particularly enjoy Long’s use of light.
We’re officially launching the novel in September, in order to coincide with some exciting events. But, if you can’t resist reading it sooner, please do save those dates, and help me celebrate! I especially hope to see the many friends (if they live in the UK) who have been so supportive when hearing me talk about this book for the past six years or so…
Several curious readers have said, ‘Wait, what? A novel? I thought you had another poetry book coming out!’ This is true. It’s a very unusual year. I expect there will never be another like it.
Cinnamon Press took on my poetry collection, Atlantic, for publication three years ago. We knew it wouldn’t come out until 2014, because of the list of books Cinnamon had already taken on for publication. This isn’t an unusual waiting time. Though Cinnamon Press took the manuscript on as it was three years ago, this past January, I spent a lot of time revising and editing Atlantic so it would be a book I am pleased to publish now. Please do join us for the launch of Atlantic on 23 July: details here.
Writers will appreciate that their work must evolve along with them, and if one’s writing doesn’t keep up with one’s thoughts and feelings, there can be a great deal of dissonance between the book that is published and how one feels as a writer. I was intimidated by, but also glad for, the editorial opportunity offered by Cinnamon Press.
As for the novel, Double the Stars has been in the works since I moved to Greenwich/Blackheath back in 2008. Learning about Caroline Herschel – I first heard about her at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich – and immersing myself in research both in the NMM Caird Library and at the Whipple Museum of the History of Science in Cambridge, helped me begin to feel at home in the neighbourhood, in London, and in the UK. I feel that Caroline’s story (the tale of a young woman tossed from Hanover into the confusion of Bath, London, and Windsor,) somehow became my own story; that, as the years passed and I learned more about her, whilst living out my twenties, my story became hers.
In the midst of this, a serendipitous thing happened: I met John Herschel-Shorland, the direct descendant of William Herschel (Caroline’s brother,) and his son William Herschel-Shorland. William introduced me to his sister Cassie – who happened to live down the road! I’m honoured to say that Cassie and I have become dear friends, and Cassie has made the hand-crafted paper-cut which is the cover design of the novel.
The novel has been through at least five or six drafts, and at least three complete re-writes, where I scrapped it and began again (though each new draft built on those previous drafts). I keep looking at the book in disbelief, holding it up to other novels on my bookshelf…gosh. A novel. Really? Amazing!
On Goals: I made it a goal to publish a novel before I turned 30. I’m 29 (my birthday is in January). I find it especially rewarding and encouraging to set myself goals, and to work out how to make them happen in the healthiest way – a constant juggling act that I don’t always achieve. It’s probably the most-said thing about writing, but if you want to be a writer, you have to write – and I am grateful and conscious of how generous life has been, to unfold in a way that allows me to, almost exclusively, write.
I also constantly make choices that make writing a priority, though some hard lessons have been learned about valuing friends, family, and relationships above all. I used to focus on the (hell-bent) motto, ‘sacrifice everything to writing’ of Hughes and Plath. Don’t. Don’t sacrifice everything.
Above all, maintain yourself, your well-being, and a balanced perspective. I intend to slow down a bit now, but some people will laugh at that. We’ll see what it means. I’m spending my summer writing up an MSc dissertation…hmm…
Dear reader, I hope you read, and enjoy, these books.