Search

EXPLOITS OF THE VOLEQUEEN

On Being Creative, A Mother & Bipolar

Category

Uncategorized

Light Crisis now serialising on Radish.

Delighted to announce that my zombie novella, Light Crisis, is now being serialised on Radish.com.  A new chapter every week.  Why not go and see what all the fuss is about and if you like what you read – subscribe!!

https://writers.radishfiction.com/stories/HJWgXKPYOx-/chapters/rkeF75tdxW

Tabby x

 

Pitch Party Heaven – Waterstones, Gower Street 24th April (Update)!

I lived in London from 1993 to 2005 and when I left, after falling in love with a Scotsman, I really felt my love affair with our capital city had come to an end. But I should have known that you can become very cross with London but you never stop loving her.

Unbound’s inaugural Pitch Party was hosted by Waterstone’s Gower Street deep in the heart of Bloomsbury. My first love attended UCL and I wrote my first novella from a fashionable squat near Great Portland Street tube but it was a very different atmosphere to soak up this time.

London has been cleaned up in the most glorious of ways.  And I mean literally cleaned.  Everything looks brighter, less shabby and remarkable. Unsurprisingly, the old squat on Albany Street, visited quite regularly by a middle-aged Eddie Ten Pole Tudor in his tweeds, had morphed into a gorgeous townhouse but the Police station that we used to play ‘squat and pig’ with almost every day still remains.

The Met in those days had a fearsome reputation and ‘human rights’ were only just beginning to become a ‘thing’ so messing with the cops in any way could result in quite severe consequences.

Being idiots, we never stopped trying.

I arrived in London about 2.30 pm and was immediately scooped up by some ex-Navy old-timers (I did know them!) who plied me with ‘courage français’ ( Remy doubles).

This ploy worked because as  I poured myself along the streets of Bloomsbury, staggering gently, probably mumbling to myself about whether I should have prepared something or not and laughing to myself as I remembered places & people I felt pretty good.  I must have looked utterly barking but as this is nothing unusual I went with the flow.

Thankfully, the place filled up quite fast and there were some other Unbounders who had come to support us like the totally gorgeous Lev Parikian and the man with the best hair & a fabulous Agatha Christie mystery set in space, Damon L Wakes.  I also saw a couple of old writer friends that I’d never met in the flesh including the magnificent Tina Rath, a member of the Dracula society and talented gothic storyteller.

There were eight of us lined up to pitch.  I was away with the faeries by then so I wouldn’t have cared where I was in the running order (penultimate as it happened) and just before William Horwood.  Yes! The one who wrote one of my favourite books ever ‘Duncton Wood’.

But I feel I must mention the other pitching authors by name because they were brave and so talented. Please have a look at their pages, there is so much brilliance to pledge for.

Emily Hill David Quantick Henrietta Heald Emma Jones and Ian Ridley

 

As always, my wonderful supporters, my gratitude to you and don’t think for one minute I’m not working away editing to get ‘our’ book into the hands of readers as soon as possible.

And remember that you can pledge twice, thrice of multiple times for Blood On The Banana Leaf.  There seems to be quite a buzz about it now which is pretty exciting.

Love, Tabby x

Out now: Paws and Claws

Source: Out now: Paws and Claws

 

The brand new Cake & Quill Anthology out.  Some of the writers are new and some are regulars but all share a talent.  ALL proceeds go to an animal charity – the contributors elect to receive zilch!   My story about Hitler and Binky is in there and you will have to buy it to find out who Binky is.

Great anthology from big-hearted writers.   Buy Buy Buy!!

Love Tabby x

There is no heartbeat, Mrs Stirling.

Miscarriage is a terrible loss.  I had one.  This what came out after half a bottle of whiskey and hours of those painful hacking sobs.  My heart and love to everybody who has experienced this in any way. x

 

I lost a baby four years ago.  At 8.5 weeks after seeing her heart beat.  I haven’t been able to talk about it, but I can write about it.  My throat cracks and splinters when I begin to form a thought or word or phrase.  I took such great care when pregnant that I think I overheated.

My husband grieves with friends and booze and long, arduous bike rides.

I grieve like a stone.  Relentless, petrifying and depersonalized.

But it is so personal, you know, this loss.  Must have been something I did or didn’t do.   I wasn’t able to hold my child in my womb for long enough.  She gave up half way to heaven and didn’t look back.

Her name is written in the night.  Her face is imagined by her mother.

Her fingers not to be held.  Skin as soft as honey oil never to be reckoned with or kissed by an inappropriate lad.

Grief is heavy.  Not tweed-heavy but shackle heavy.  The stench of summer makes me retch.

I am lost amongst the dusty rebels.

Lacklustre and heartsick.

An Interview with the wonderful Lesley Glaister.

  1.  You have had 13 books published by major houses, which, for most of us reading, is the ultimate dream.   How do you view writing?  As a job or a compulsion.

Both. It is certainly a compulsion as it would be a bonkers career to embark on without that inner impulse. But it’s also a job. Writing a novel means sitting down and putting in the hours …

 

2.   Do you enjoy the writing process?  Do you have any rituals?

Sometimes I love it; sometimes I loathe it. There is nothing like the satisfaction when it is going right and nothing like the frustration when it isn’t. I prefer to be alone when I’m writing. I like quiet and space and privacy to pace about and speak it out loud, or laugh or groan. If there’s no one else in the house I feel as if my face drops off and I’m not quite a person, in the social sense, any more. If there’s anyone else there I feel constrained. If I’m writing a particularly difficult bit, or just needing to work but feeling delicate, I nurse myself, get into bed with a hot drink, hot water bottle and write from there. Bed is a good place to write from – sometimes the dreams are still hanging around.

 

  1. Which authors would you ascribe as influences?

Woolly answer I’m afraid, but it’s hard to say. There are writers I love: Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Rhys, Barbara Pym, Dickens, Ford Madox Ford, John Updike, I could go on and on! But I think really that everything I’ve ever read has probably had some influence, good or bad, and this is the same for any writer.

 

  1.  What do you think of the Scottish Crime Noir?  I noticed your were popping off to Arran with Val Mcdermid and Denise Mina.  That must have been enormous fun?

It was Colonsay actually, and there was Val McDermid, but not Denise Mina. Christopher Brookmyre was there too. it was enormous fun to hang out with them. But I have to admit that I’m not much of a reader of crime. An interesting question though is why so much dark, crime fiction is emerging from Scotland. Perhaps something of the legacy of James Hogg, and Robert Louis Stevenson?

 

  1.  An English writer in Scotland?  How did you get here?

I am married to a Scot! But ever since I was a child I’ve had links with Scotland – I actually started school in Glasgow as we lived there for a few years when I was a child. And every summer we’d drive to Skye or some other beautiful part of Scotland for our holiday. I have been spending summers in Orkney for the past seventeen or so years and working in Scotland for 7 years now, so it feels quite natural to me to be here. I live in Edinburgh, a city I love. I have a son and two little granddaughters who live near Fort William and another son in Glasgow. It’s a great country. It does make me feel ‘English’ in a way I didn’t feel particularly when living In England – and that is interesting.

 

  1.  You are a teacher of creative writing at St. Andrews University.  That is quite an achievement in itself.  What aspects of teaching your subject do you enjoy most?

I enjoy the students. It’s privilege to get to know such bright, creative people and I enjoy watching their work develop – when it does! Some of them are quite humblingly brilliant. I also like the contact and the feeling of dipping my toe into the outside world. I have had patches when I have done nothing but write and I think there’s a danger of staleness, and a sort of agoraphobia setting in. After weeks of talking to no one but family and living a largely imagined life, it can be quite hard, almost frightening to face the world; so a place to go with an office and a pigeon hole with my name on it, colleagues, students and all the rest of it help me to feel properly human. On the other hand, I do rather wish I taught something other than creative writing. But I don’t know anything else! Being so focused on explicable aspects of the craft of writing in the work of others makes it more difficult to lose myself in my own story worlds without self-consciousness. For this reason, I rarely write first drafts while teaching. I only teach for one semester a year, so I have plenty of writing time too. An ideal balance. For the above reason, I’d advise any would-be writer to learn another trade, or skill, or find another profession, so that they can bring something other than writing back to their writing. Plan on finding a way to pay yourself to write, in case no one else does!

 

  1.  How do you keep focused during writing.

On the best days, focus is no problem. I put in earplugs if my husband’s in the house and playing banjo. Otherwise just plain old-fashioned will-power.

 

  1.  Your husband is also a well-known poet and author – does he read your work and help with the re-write process?

I don’t show Andrew my work until it is as polished as I can make it on my own. Then he is my first reader. I can’t bear to let anyone read anything when I know there are problems with it – a bit hypocritical perhaps for a teacher of creative writing! Andrew shows me his work as he goes along. He needs encouragement to carry on; I need privacy. Both of these, of course, stem from insecurity. Show me a secure writer and I’ll eat my desk.

 

  1.  What about rejection?  Do you think the way we handle it as writers is about personality?  The more sensitive we are the harder we find it?

It’s unbearable. Full stop.

 

  1.  What gets you excited when you read a book?

I want to forget about the craft and just become submerged in the story. I can’t do this if the prose is weak or if it is too self-consciously showy. I want characters I care about, and stories that make me need to know what happens next. I want to believe in a story world, whether familiar or alien and I want emotional satisfaction at the end. If I’ve laughed and or cried in the process, then that is perfect.

 

  1.   What do you feel about self pub authors flooding the market?  I buy ebooks but always commit to the ones I love in print too.

I like the democracy of everyone having a chance. Until recently the big publishers and book-sellers had too much influence on what the reading public were directed towards, concentrating largely on best-sellers and no-brainers, piling them high, discounting them savagely, and largely ignoring writers who weren’t slap bang in fashion or likely to make shed-loads of money. I trust readers to distinguish the good from the bad, and really like the way social media, as a form of word-of-mouth, is becoming important in terms of book publicity. It feels much more genuine somehow than leaving it all to established book reviewers who perceive everything from within the canon of the literary world – and often have an agenda of their own.

 

  1.  What about publishers relying on authors to self-market?  I find this incredibly unfair.

Well, I’ve been marketed and it wasn’t all that successful – and publishers tend to take the credit if it works, blame the book if it doesn’t. I don’t know. I am not a publicity hound by any means and would gladly hire a body double to do it for me! On the other hand it’s nice to have some sort of contact with readers, and if this helps with marketing, then that can’t be a bad thing. It’s embarrassing though and having been brought up with the phrases like, ‘Who do you think you are?’ and, ‘Don’t blow your own trumpet,’ and the like, it’s hard to do it without cringing.

 

 

Quick Fire Silliness 

 

Favourite place to write

Bed.

 

Music when you write?

Absolutely not. Andrew comes in and plays the banjo when he makes his morning coffee, which drives me mad.

 

Guilty pleasure genre?

Neighbours!

 

Do you think getting noticed as a writer is more difficult now?

It’s always been hard, there are more chances now that big publishers don’t have a monopoly. It’s heartening how often small independent publishers (who in the main care much more about the work itself than just how much profit it might make) are getting work on prize shortlists etc.

 

Dog or Cat?

I admire cats but have a dog. And walking the dog is part of my creative routine.

 

Pirate or Spacewoman

Neither!

 

Chocolate or Pistachio

Pistachio. With chocolate sauce.

 

Jane Eyre or Mrs Rochester

I think the latter would be more realistic!

 

I can’t thank Lesley enough for taking time out of her busy routine to answer my questions.  Lesley is an award-winning and critically acclaimed author so I was particularly thrilled that she reviewed my novel which, is crowd-funding on Unbound.  Lesley’s wonderful review is posted below and please click the Unbound link above to pledge for my book, Blood On The Banana Leaf, and be part of my literary journey. Thank you!

 

‘Tabatha Stirling’s brilliantly achieved first novel, Blood on the Banana Leaf, explores the relationships between maids and their employers in Singapore, exposing deeply unsettling truths about what goes on behind the glossy surface of that society. Told in the superbly nuanced voices of four very different female characters, it’s a great read; tense, vivid and involving, both heart-breaking and heart-warming. Tabatha is a talented, brave and accomplished writer and I do hope her novel gains the recognition and success it deserves.’ 

Lesley Glaister is the critically acclaimed author of thirteen novels and the winner of the Jerwood Prize for Fiction 2014 for her novel, Little Egypt.

Irish Roots, Irish Thoughts

The Agreement

 

Discontent and the tragedy of poverty

starve our bloody English history of

truth as the political tanks, soldier boys and

girls march past peace and hope. A simple

twist of fate and green bullets have masked a ceasefire and

nothing is left but blood and havoc to wreck a longing for

tolerance. See the defiance deep in Phoenix Park, religion

and farce unite while idle, drunk children spray paint

‘Fuck The Brits’ on pocked brick walls and

dear, old Louis sleeps twenty feet under.

‘Father Ted is a lovely old bloke but all priests are paedos’ and

confusion soaks ignorance and keeps rolling on.

Our Irish tradition is rich in Yeats, drenched in Bushmills.

The Maze, a legacy of famine, meaning

spuds sands dirty protest and a clean, fresh start.

An opportunity for murder at Enniskillen brought retribution

and a commitment to the legitimate suffering of ár fir.

 

My New Venture

(now with working links thanks to the utterly sublime @sarahkmarr)

Don’t worry I’m never going to give up writing but because my darling husband is unable to work at the moment though illness I had to think of something to support my family and my writing.

So with an American chum, Oscar Lilley, an American Vet and Wyoming native we created Stirling Robyns Publishing.

We are starting with BANG.  A short story competition with cash prizes and all sorts of other good things.  And, LESLEY GLAISTER, winner of the Jerwood Prize for Fiction and criticially acclaimed author of 13 books, will be judging the competition.  Wow!

We have four gorgeous imprints reflecting all sorts of genres so why don’t you check out our website and see what we have to offer. You can also submit your work through our submittable portal HERE!  So many links you can’t possibly get lost!   Looking forward to seeing you there!

Tabby x

 

contest-poster

Thank you.

I just wanted to thank you, my established followers, and you, my new followers for supporting my writing.  It means so much.  You are all wonderful.

Thank you,

Tabby x

Meds.

Sometimes, I come off my meds and it can be for varying reasons. But the one that never changes is my visceral need to ‘feel’.  My medication is wonderful stuff.  It keeps me from being actively suicidal or embarking on high-risk behaviour (you know, the fun stuff).  It keeps me fat.  It keeps me flat. It keeps me slow.

So sometimes, I stop taking them to feel again and this is what it’s like.  This jagged, blunted cycle that I am for the rest of my days and nights.  Dedicated to all of you who know what even some of this feels like. xuntitled-crazy

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

shysociety.co.uk/

News and opinion for you, the silent majority

Sophie E Tallis - Author/Illustrator

Home of the Mistress of Wolves: writing, publishing, fantasy, epic storytelling, art, life, creativity and everything in between!

Little Fears

Tales of whimsy, humor and courgettes

Timothy Graves Author

London-based writer of gay fiction

Claire Fuller

Writing and art

shona kinsella

Writer in Training

Adam Oster

Adventure Novelist

Dr Gulara Vincent

Re-write your inner story to (re)launch your writing career

therebemonstershere.com

A wee anthology of dark yarns.

mother puss bucket

by Victoria Briggs

The Dead Queen of Bohemia

The online site of poet and novelist Jenni Fagan

The Triumphant Weed

Hetti's Musings.

Zouxzoux

*Poetry*Prose*Photography*

%d bloggers like this: