Nibfest, Tunisia, and Cork-Lined Rooms

For a moment there it looked like spring had sprung, but today the famed English weather has returned to London. Is it harder or easier to write when the sun is in? I am torn between the inspiration of the solitary, introverted winter's morning, seeing the cold dawn in with a steaming cup of coffee and my notebook before setting off for the office - and that totally different sort of pleasure when the mind is freed to dream up narratives while the body basks in the warm rays. 'A sun bath' - one of my favourite phrases (and not a bad way in to a poem or story).

What are your favourite writing settings? Or does it just not matter? It's always fascinating to find out about other people's habits/techniques – and often very helpful to experiment with imitating them as well. Writing in bed in a cork-lined room anyone? (Marcel Proust's choice)

Proust’s Bedroom – replete with cork walls – which you can visit at the Musée Carnavalet in Paris
(Image courtesy of jen-the-librarian on Flickr)

 Either way I count myself pretty lucky to be heading off tomorrow to explore Tunisia for a week. I am hoping to get plenty of horizontal sun-beach-writing time, and a lot of sun-beach-reading time too. I'm taking with me Patricia Highsmith's 'Tremor of Forgery' to sink into while recovering from endless visits to Roman ruins. There's a special excitement in reading a book in the place it is set, so I've been saving up this psychological thriller located in Hammamet for just this trip. Still, it's all too possible to overplan holiday reading - often the real joy is that beat-up novel you find squeezed down the side of an armchair.

But to the highlights of this week’s reading - our story of the week is RJF’s ‘The Exchange’ – one of the most thrilling and effective horror stories I’ve read on ABC in the past few months. It’s got it all, well-rounded characters, the sudden onset of the uncanny, a quick development and a hard twist. This is tautly written and brilliantly plotted!

Our poem of the week is Silver Spun Sand’s At Holcombe Beach – a poem about a man collapsing on a beach and seeing the phantom of his youth in a young girl playing there. The theme of resurrection is so effectively, subtly done - the whole thing is deeply moving, evocative and wise, and the ambiguity of the end had me reading and rereading. This is Tina at her best.

And in other news – literary agency Watson, Little is offering an exciting opportunity to sit down for lunch with one of their agents (with a representation deal on the cards for dessert). The challenge – write up to 5000 words of fiction on a prompt that they’ll be revealing on Sunday, May the fourth. Well worth a shot – and as I know there’s a good dozen ABCers who could easily take this prize I hope some of you will have a go:

I'll still be avidly reading your tales this week, but maybe not as often as usual as I'm not too sure of internet reception in North Africa. Have a great week, all,



Ah, I remember Nibfest! But now you're my agent.