Skip to main content


It's been a long day. This morning I was up very early, walked the mile and a half to Acton to pick up my two hard bound theses, as well as two soft bound. I was told they would be ready for 7:30am, the time they opened. But they weren't ready when I arrived, about fifteen minutes later. And so I waited in the small foyer of this bookbinders in a grubby unit on an old industrial estate that one wouldn't usually associate with London. Industrial estates always remind me of god awful places like Telford. Magic FM blasted into the main room, where a couple of ageing men, an obese woman and another woman who looked like a supervisor, were busy binding. Well, I say 'binding', but what I really mean is lifting and bringing down heated machinery onto PhD theses and books on local history by small press and self-publishers. A range of these stood forlornly on a few shelves in the foyer, waiting to be collected like scruffy kids with their noses pressed up against the classroom window long after the bell has gone and their friends are home. Mine finally arrive and I am somewhat underwhelmed. I am given two carrier bags - one for the soft bound and the other for the hard bound. I walk the few minutes to the bus stop and make a note to avoid ever walking down that particularly desolate street on any evening. I then make the journey by bus, tube, train and finally taxi, to Kingston University to deliver them, thus lightening my load. But now I am in the process of pitching it; getting it 'out there'; out there where no-one knows a damn thing, barely even their own likes, except fluctuating market trends, which only ever really say one thing: celebrity biography. That's not strictly true - there's chick-lit, lad-lit and sci-fi, as well as the crime powerhouses and the established literatis. But the bit about no-one knowing anything is true. I remind myself of amazing books, beautifully written and full of depth and character that cannot fail to resonate - such as Paul Harding's Tinkers. That book, his debut that he wrote whilst on an MFA course in the US, could not find a home. Nowhere with the commercials. In the end, a few years after he finished the MFA, he placed it with a small non-profit press. When it was published it promptly won the Pulitzer Prize. Not that my book is like Tinkers; I simply remind myself, like lots out there, that this process requires... Persistence.

So why did I suddenly think yesterday that publishing it straight to the Kindle platform should be the next step, when I've barely even started pitching it? A few writer friends said 'no, not yet - could be an option, just not yet'. This is unlike A Clockwork Apple, which I'm in the process of digitising and publishing on Kindle. Well, the publisher went bust, the rights are mine, and I may as well have it somewhere where it may yield a few quid - at least enough for the postage and printing to send my new one out! Onwards, my friends, it's the only way; the future is my friend and the past is but an archive.


Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.

-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-

And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…

Midwinter Break - Bernard McLaverty

The only other book that I've read of Bernard MacLaverty was the sublime Grace Notes, published in 1997, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize of the same year. That prize was awarded to an author of another similar hiatus recently broken, Arundhati Roy, of the widely acclaimed The God of Small Things. I was certain, when buying the kindle version of Midwinter Break, that MacLaverty's first book in seventeen years (Cal, 2001, was his most recent) had made both the Booker Longlist and Shortlist - but having just double-checked - am disappointed and confused to find it had made neither. MacLaverty's prose style feels Yatesian, after the late Richard Yates, US author of Revolutionary Road, and TheEaster Parade
Midwinter Break, set in Amsterdam, is written in the same deliciously clear and poignant prose that so widely marked out Grace Notes. The husby and I have not long returned from a late summer break in that same fabulous city. With the visit to the Rijksmuseum still fre…