Posts Tagged ‘historical’

As the elderly mutt has apparently decided to stay a while longer, I thought I’d resume transmissions. Where were we…? Ah, yes, the C-word. Here are a few choice definitions, all suitable for a Sunday.

Hand-Knitted Electricity_Cover_MEDIUMCartyfarty (adj): Descriptive of people with more money than sense who invest in works by certain artists. Overheard above the laughter on the way to Tracey Emin’s bank in 2003: “He bought my bed. My bed, for fuck’s sake. £250,000. Cartyfarty twat.”


1. (vb): To avoid buying a round by making sure you are always in the toilet at the crucial moment. Chadging is an established etiquette between fucking hippie bastards, and has gone beyond alcohol and drugs (“y’know, like, lay me on a bit until giro-day, yeah?”) and is now used in all aspects of hippie life. Recently, the Womad festival has had to toughen up its entrance laws after 100,000 fucking hippie bastards turned up, none of whom were part of the audience but all of whom had claimed free tickets because they were “working” in the healing tent or the Chakra re-alignment section. The result was that the staff area was overwhelmed by 48,657 adapted Ford Transit vans with flowers painted on the side and wood-burning chimneys installed, whilst the Levellers, Ozric Tentacles and The Orb played to a field filled with puzzled cattle.

2. (vb): To make use of anything that comes to hand in lieu of toilet paper, eg “I couldn’t get home because I had to chadge my ticket in the station lav.”


1 (adj, US): Of, or pertaining to, chenes. Specifically within surfer-parlance, which no one understands anyway. “That’s like, so duuuu-uh, y’know, like, rilly cheney, man, totally, y’now, bummer. Wipeout, dude.”

2 (n): A self-serving liar, attaining positions of great influence for the sole purpose of accruing personal wealth

3. (vb): To steal electricity from a neighbor, small business, or government entity until that home, business, or entity is sucked dry, for monetary or political gain. “Lisa cheneys from the elementary school for her soy candle Etsy shop.” “Ronald cheneyed from the orphanage to print flyers for his mayoral race.” (see also Cuntrunsoff)

Clart (n): When cooled, the jelly-like liquid that results from boiling a vat of old men’s handkerchiefs. No use has yet been found for this most renewable of resources although, for a brief period, it was thought to cure dandruff when massaged into the scalp, left for a day to harden, and then chipped off. As it took most of the hair with it, the problem was solved, though not usually to the sufferer’s satisfaction.

Codding (vb): Deliberately misusing grammar in such a way as to draw excess attention. From The Apprentice Semi-final (BBC Television 2012):

Sralan: Ooo was the projick mannijer this week?
Contestant: That would be myself, Sralan
Sralan: Wot ’appened then? Aaaa jer mess it up so bleedin bad?

Contestant: Well Sralan, I sent Tamwar and Gav down to the east end with strict instructions to report back to myself, but when they did report back to myself they lied about the red-shelf characteristic of the caravan demographic so I feel that, for myself, the buck might stop at myself, but it wasn’t myself that was at fault this week.

See also The X-Factor’s Louis Walsh. “I want to see you on that stage in that final and that song should be in those charts at the top of that hit parade by this Christmas…”

Usually, codding serves only to show the basic lack of education present in redbrick universities that nowadays provide the BBC with newsreaders who mistake a demeanour of gravitas with a good background in the classics: “Floods have decimated southern England over the last week.” when they really meant was devastated. This is not present in American newsreaders, who err on the side of the melodramatic and seldom attempt to use words with classical derivations: “Tornados smashed their way through southern Kansas today, wrecking dozens of trailer parks. A spokesman from Topeka said earlier ‘it was like the wraaath of Gaaaaaahd’”.

Conjery (n): The thing the banks did with our money over the last thirty years or so. Imagine if you will one of those old street hustles. You’re invited into an alleyway and asked to put a pound coin under one of three upside-down cups, which are then whisked around until the hustler gets to keep the money because you can’t guess where the coin’s gone. Except instead of the policeman running into the alley to break up all the hustling, he’s standing at the alley’s entrance making sure it carries on smoothly.

And the coin isn’t under any of the cups because the hustler has slipped it into his own pocket. Except one day he drops the coin and goes “waaaaaaa—aaaaah!” until the policeman reaches into his pocket and gives him another one and then makes up for it by charging people to come into the alley and then blaming them for playing the game in the first place.

Now multiply this by several trillion.

Corrempt (vb): To correct someone for a mistake before that mistake has been made. A cross between correct and pre-empt. Used mostly in political circles:

From the all-party political debate on BBC’s Panorama (June 2011):
Nick Clegg: For the Liberal Democrats, I believe the only way forward…
David Cameron: Nick, can I just corrempt you there. The real way forward is….

 NB. Some of the definitions that have made me laugh most, even on fourth or fifth reading, are definitely not suitable for a Sunday, or most other times. If you want to read them, you’ll have to buy the book!

Triskele Books: A Toast to the Power of Three

Several years ago, I was fortunate to receive an invitation to join the online writing group, Writing Asylum – an eclectic collection of supportive writers with keen editorial eyes and unfailing support and encouragement. My work improved and, after many revisions I finally had a novel I thought was fit for public eyes. But my agent was not able to arouse the slightest interest from any of the big publishers. So, what to do? Self-publishing? Poorly-written, shabbily put-together books? Not for me, thanks. Despite these reservations, independent publishing was, however, becoming a more enticing, and the only viable option, to getting a book to readers. Though taking it on alone seemed a fearsome task.

I got together with two of the writers from the writing group who were in similar situations with their novels. We discussed our independent fears: homemade covers, inconsistent typesetting, “hobby” writing, unprofessional presentation, inappropriate marketing, financial incompetence, individual responsibility, and the sense of isolation. We certainly did not want any of this. We wanted to create books that would be indistinguishable from those professionally produced. We wanted the real thing. Suddenly, sharing it all between three seemed far less scary and, after months of planning and discussion, our authors’ collective, Triskele Books was born.

To be successful, we knew Triskele Books needed both a distinctive brand and a focus. The Triskele logo was Jill’s idea, the origin of which represents what we stand for: three independent circles that resemble three scrolls, uniting to create something entirely new. Since we all share a passion for “place” in our story-telling, location as a focal point seemed suited to our books. Gillian’s melange of legend, crime and the “otherworldly” evokes the wild Celtic landscape of Anglesey. Jill’s fast-paced European crime thrillers transport readers from the Basque country to The Dalmatian Coast, while my stories are set in the historical past of rural France.

We all had a similar vision for the Triskele Books website design: simple, clean and bold, which our fourth Triskele member, Jane Dixon-Smith, executed perfectly. A talented designer with valuable publishing experience and incredible insight into our personal aspirations, she created our covers, our websites, and typeset our content, thus creating unity for Triskele Books, all the while demonstrating unfailing patience with our endless questions.

These focal points – location and quality – make it easier to market ourselves and, hopefully, to recruit more Triskelites in the future; authors with the same commitment to quality. We all have to agree, unanimously, on any decisions concerning Triskele. We won’t publish a book without the full backing and agreement of the other members. This is a collective, and we work things out through discussion. There are now six of us on the Triskele “board” and despite being spread over Europe, we are able to tackle tough decisions, fight fires and respect one another’s opinions.

To maintain our quality brand, we work together, providing mutual editing, support, encouragement and marketing. Manuscript critiques, editing and proofreading are far more effective in a threesome, rather than trusting one’s own unobjective eyes. We pull apart each other’s work and argue over it whilst trying to keep in mind the author’s individual style and vision of her work. After final revisions, we proofread each other’s books and try to make each one as striking and as professional as possible in both content and design.

We also share the workload in terms of marketing and promotion. Each member is allocated certain tasks, which the others know will be done to the best of her ability. We rely on each other and take comfort in the knowledge that these mammoth tasks are far less daunting when shared. Not only that, but the pressure not to let the others down is even more of an incentive.

You might be wondering about the financial aspects of such a collective? Triskele Books is a collective, as each author retains her own rights and profits but for the collective to get started, we all contributed an equal sum to cover website, promotional material, design and launch funds. When we need to add funds, we do so, in equal amounts. I think that for something like this to work, trust is mandatory. None of us would have embarked on such a project without total trust in each other, not only for the financial aspects, but also on an emotional level.

So, the result after all these months? We celebrated a fabulous launch day on Saturday 2nd June in London, and the amount of support from friends and family was immensely encouraging and loads of fun! The first books are on sale, and in the world of marketing and networking, the very nature of our threesome is proving more valuable than ever. Each book displays an ad for the other two, thus promoting all three at once. We share helpful sites, information and opportunities, each of us promoting our own, as well as the other Triskele books.

The independent process has proved to be hard, frustrating and exciting work, and we’ve found that our friendship is an asset. When one of us is knocked out for the count, the others push her back into the ring with friendly pats on the back, and virtual glasses of wine. We’ve shared the angst, the uncertainties, the mistakes, and learned an incredible lot in a short time, gaining valuable advice from successful independently-published authors, swapping marketing and networking opportunities and cheering each other on. We’ve connected with other writers, passing on what we’ve learned and discussing our experience. We’ve grown to depend on each other whilst retaining our individuality. And we no longer fear independent publishing. Cheers to Triskele Books!


Gillian Hamer (author of The Charter):

Born in the industrial Midlands, Gillian’s heart has always yearned for the wilds of North Wales and the pull of the ocean.

A Company Director for twenty years, she has written obsessively for over a decade. After completing a Creative Writing course, she decided to take her writing to the next level and sought representation. She is a columnist for Words with Jam literary magazine, a regular theatre goer and avid reader across genres.

She splits her time between Birmingham and a remote cottage on Anglesey where she finds her inspiration.

Gillian is represented by Shelley Powers, of The Shelley Powers Literary Agency.

The Charter is the first, but not the last, of Gillian’s novels to be based around the dramatic Anglesey coastline.

J.J Marsh (author of Behind Closed Doors):

Jill grew up in Wales, Africa and the Middle East, where her curiosity for culture took root and triggered an urge to write. After graduating in English Literature and Theatre Studies, she worked as an actor, teacher, writer, director, editor, journalist and cultural trainer all over Europe.

Now based in Switzerland, Jill consults on language strategy, works with the Nuance Words project and is a columnist for Words with JAM magazine. She lives with her husband and three dogs, and in an attic overlooking a cemetery, she writes.

Behind Closed Doors is the first Beatrice Stubbs novel, a European crime series set in compelling locations all over the Continent.

Liza Perrat (author of Spirit of Lost Angels):

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years. When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her husband and three children for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator.

Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine and France Today.

She has completed four novels and one short-story collection, and is represented by Judith Murdoch of the Judith Murdoch Literary Agency.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in a historical series set against a backdrop of rural France.

Triskele Books website

Triskele Books Facebook page

Jane Dixon Smith website

Travelling backwards –
and taking your readers with you

When you write about the distant past, you’re aiming to take your reader somewhere neither of you have ever been. You’ll need to be both a convincing liar and an engaging one. How do you combine historical authenticity with storytelling that feels fresh and true? How do you avoid getting bogged down in period detail?

When I embarked on my own novel, I realised early on that I needed to know a lot more than I did about a whole host of things: the Luftwaffe, Kindertransports, musical life in Dublin, the physical fabric of pre-war Berlin. I went for total immersion; at my lowest point I could have told you pretty much anything you wanted to know about a Heinkel He-111. When I started to write, though, it was dead on the page.

I put the whole project to one side. When I came back to it a few years later, something strange had happened. The research seemed to have evened itself out, and all those insistent details clamouring for inclusion had piped down. This time, I wrote from the heart. I started with universals – jeopardy, betrayal, isolation, exile, hope, desire – the things that always feel the same. I tried to tell a truthful story and not to worry about the barrier of time between my characters and me. When I needed to know something, I checked it. If I found a little snippet that would light up a scene, I used it. Everything else, I threw away.

If I have any advice to give, it’s this: try to see things with a period eye. Don’t highlight things your character would take for granted as a means of shoehorning in your research. I was lucky to have Oskar capable of playing the role of the observant outsider. For him, everything about Ireland is odd, different. He notices the advertisements because he hasn’t a clue what Bovril is, or Bird’s, or why a trolley bus might have Gold Flake written on the side. Your characters are creatures of their time. Don’t give them your attitudes or the security of your vantage point. Remember that you stand in a privileged position because you know all about outcomes and have the benefit of moral hindsight. My characters don’t know who will win the war, if Ireland will be invaded and, if so, by whom. The tension between their ignorance and our knowledge is part of what differentiates historical fiction from other genres, at least some of the time.

You need to know the historical context, of course, but people living through a period don’t spend every moment reflecting on the great canvas on which their lives are painted. In your research, what you’re really looking for is texture. What did people eat? Were they cold? What did they fear and desire?

If you’re lucky, you’ll come across a detail that will take your breath away. Cherish it, but don’t smother the spark by trying to find out everything about it. If you let it work as an imaginative trigger, it will be much more potent. Let it find its own place in your fictional world. I came across a brownish mural in a bar in Northern France, a depiction of a very German-looking village. I’ve really no idea how it got to be there, but I decided I could use it in my own made-up way. Direct testimony is valuable for its emotional link to the past – a schoolgirl meets Hitler on a choir trip, a Luftwaffe crewmember swims in the Golfe de Morbihan on his day off, a refugee watches a small boy stretch his arm out towards the retreating coastline.

When dealing with research, absorb the facts, then liberate yourself from them. Your story must be plausible, but it need not be true. Know your period inside out, but don’t push your research at the readers ad nauseam. They want to lose themselves in the narrative, to forget that you’ve made it all up. Don’t keep dragging them back to Wikipedia. Remember that, whatever the period, human emotions were no different then than now, a daisy was still a daisy and milk turned sour.

Total immersion lends confidence to your writing, but you must be prepared to take imaginative leaps too. You can’t know everything. Hold tight to the things that don’t change, then close your eyes and jump! It’s fiction after all.


Annemarie Neary is the author of A Parachute in the Lime Tree, published by The History Press Ireland in March 2012. She is an award-winning short story writer and former lawyer. This is her first novel. Further information on Annemarie’s website.  To get updates on the historical background to the book, check out the book’s dedicated Facebook page.