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  • Publisher blogs

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    Penguin recently launched the penguin blog. It hasn't quite found its feet just yet, but its interesting to see another publisher entering the blogosphere. I'm pretty partial to the SnowBlog, the blog (appropriately enough) of Snow Books, but the Harvard University Press Publicity Blog is always worth taking a look at too. Indeed, a number of the American university presses do the blog thing pretty well. I really like Distributed Presses (publicity and news from presses distributed by the University of Chicago Press including news tips, press releases, reviews, and intelligent commentary).
  • Matthew Johnstone

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:38

    Matthew Johnstone is an artist, writer and exhibited photographer. He has battled with depression for over 20 years. New Zealand born, he's worked in advertising in Sydney, San Francisco and New York. He lives in Sydney with his wife and daughter.

    Mark Thwaite: Why did you want to write about your depression Matthew?

    Matthew Johnstone: For many years I wouldn’t accept that I had depression as it didn’t fit with who I thought I was. I dealt with it by changing relationships, jobs and countries. Although these life changing remedies momentarily suspended symptoms, the depression would eventually catch up and when it did it would always be bigger than the time before. You can only continue with that kind of path for so long.

    I had two distinct parts to my life, one was my public, career part where you’d never guess anything was going on, all created with enough energy to run a small nuclear reactor. Then there was the private part of me which was desperate to find answers to this Black Dog that dogged for nearly 20 years.

    I trialed all sorts of different treatments from guru-land crystal gazing to traditional mental health routes. Typically I did all these things when I was in crisis and by which time it was too late anyway, it was sought of like trying to put out a big house fire with the extinguisher you keep in the laundry cupboard.

    I also read a library of books trying to understand what I was going through. Although many were great the one that helped me the most was William Styron’s book Darkness Visible. This book wasn’t helpful in the ‘self-help’ sense, in fact it was down right depressing but what it did was absolutely nail what I was going through. I felt validated, authenticated and for once in my life not alone. I decided I wanted to take it one step further and illustrate it, because being a sufferer myself I had often faced the difficulty of trawling through a word heavy tome when you had the concentration of mist.

    The clincher was coming very close to losing my life in the 9/11 attacks on New York. It made me realize life was very short and, that up until then, I had not been living my life ‘authentically’. I was exhausted of hiding behind a mask. I decided to take my skills from 15 years of being a creative in advertising and put them to a higher purpose of selling an idea that, for many, is a difficult one to understand.

    MT: Was writing therapeutic for you?

    MJ: I can honestly say that apart from marrying my wife and having our two little girls, it is by far the best thing I have ever done with my life. But the funny thing is I went through an extremely uncomfortable time just before the book was published. This, I think, was partly due to the fact that the book revealed the ‘image’ I’d spent so many years carefully cultivating to be a fraud.

    I now realise there is nothing more liberating than confronting who you ‘truly’ are. I’m sure this is the same for anyone who confronts a secret such as alcoholism, gambling, drug addiction or even their sexuality. That first step towards embracing the problem is always a liberating one because you quickly realise you are not alone. It’s not to say that first step is easy BUT, if you are true to yourself and to others there are no shadows in which this dog can hide.

    MT: How long did it take you to write and draw I Had A Black Dog?

    MJ: A few months after 9/11, I went into the office one Saturday afternoon to storyboard some ideas I’d been kicking around on the book. What I wrote and scribbled in those four and half hours is pretty much what is published today. It was the easiest bit of creative I’d ever attempted and it was like a huge weight, a boulder, had lifted off my shoulders. But, as a psychiatrist said to me recently, ‘there was a life time of experience in that boulder’.

    The finished product took about four months to illustrate.

    MT: What made you decide to choose to use the graphic novel format for your book?

    MJ: Because I had 15 years of advertising behind me, doing it visually was the easiest option. I also truly believe the expression that an image is worth a 1000 words. It’s not appropriate for all things but, in this case or subject matter, I think the images are much more visceral and easily absorbed than a lot of words.

    I treated every page like I would treat a print ad i.e. ‘how can I communicate this as simply as possible?’ I also wanted the book to work so you didn’t even have to read the words to understand it.

    MT: Have you been pleased with the responses to your book? Have you learned anything from them?

    MJ: The response has been absolutely amazing and incredibly humbling. I never claimed to have the answers but, what I’ve since realised with this little book, is that it acts as a drawbridge for people to be able to say: ‘this is what’s going on for me and this is what I need you to understand.’

    It has also proved to be a good tool for people in the mental health industry as a way of getting patients to open up. There is something about having your feelings validated by someone else’s experiences that makes it OK and easier to talk about your own.

    I think one of the reasons the book has been received well is because it’s not written by an armchair general but rather a struggler from the trenches.

    Through letters and emails I am amazed at other peoples’ insights and understanding, much of which has come though their own journey. I feel really privileged to have these stories shared with me.

    I’ve also come to realize that all people want is a voice and to be authenticated. Although our experiences may all vary the lyrics are always the same.

    MT: How do you write? Longhand or directly onto a computer, straight off or with lots and lots of editing?

    MJ: I write broad stroke thoughts, then storyboard those ideas, then go back and write till it’s right.

    And how do you illustrate: draw or paint or use technology?

    I draw in pencil (HB and 2B), then scan the images and colour them in photoshop.

    MT: What do you do when you are not writing/drawing?

    MJ: If I’m not working on new book projects I’m either, freelancing in advertising, taking photographs or being with friends and family.

    MT: Did you have an idea in your mind of your “ideal” reader? Did you write specifically for them?

    MJ: In the instance of I had a Black Dog I basically wrote for me. I wrote what I thought I’d like to find in a book store if I was going through depression (which I was). Anything else I write is purely tapped from my own experience, I always think if it doesn’t write or draw itself it can’t be true or it’s not quite right.

    MT: What are you working on now?

    MJ: I’m currently working on three different book projects but the one that is the most pressing is the follow up to I Had a Black Dog which I am creating with my wife Ainsley (yet to be titled).

    It will be the same format as I Had a Black Dog but targeted towards the partner, friend, parent, teacher, employer and caregiver of someone who has depression.

    People who have any form of major illness, be it physical or mental, are always the centre of their immediate universe and the people who look after them or live with them are the ones trying to keep everything together. They have to deal with the illness itself, the pain, the sadness, the oss, foul moods, overseeing medication, keeping spirits up and so on.

    Through interviews, research, insight and experience from our mine and Ainsley’s relationship, the new book will offer a road map on how to navigate any kind of relationship when going through a depressive illness – from what you may have noticed in someone, to what not to say, what to do, how to do it, and how the caregiver can take steps to fortify and protect themselves.

    MT: Who is your favourite writer/artist? What is/are your favourite book(s)?

    MJ: The Fountainhead by Anne Rand, Perfume by Patrick Suskind, (recently) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Ian McKewan & Iain Banks.

    Visually: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Jimmy Corrigan and anything Michael Leunig.

    MT: Do you have any tips for the aspiring writer!?

    MJ: Create what feels natural, write from a place of truth (even if it is fiction) and, if you really believe in what you’re doing, you’ll get there in the end. Remember that publishing companies are made up of people with opinions and their opinions are not always right. If your work is good it will find the right home.

    MT: Anything else you would like to say?

    MJ: If you want to know anymore please go to my website: ihadablackdog.com

    Woof woof!

  • Megan Taylor

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:38

    Mark Thwaite: What gave you the idea for How We Were Lost?

    Megan Taylor: How We Were Lost is a dark coming of age story, centring on Janie, a lonely, precocious teenager whose obsession with finding two missing girls leads her into the tangled mysteries within her own family ...

    I wrote the novel partly in response to the haunting and often iconic images of missing children in the media. Like many others, I found these images difficult to shake off – but as devastating as stranger abduction cases are, they’re thankfully rare and I wanted to look beyond the tabloid hysteria to the ‘quieter’ tragedies of domestic abuse that make little impact in the news.

    More generally, I’m also interested in exploring the individual isolation that can exist even within a family, and the skewed perspectives and misunderstandings that can arise out of such loneliness.

    Mark: How long did it take you to write it?

    Megan: The first complete draft took about a year to write, mostly in short intense bursts during the evening and in the 2 hours a day when my daughter was at nursery. I then spent around another six months rewriting and editing.

    Mark: This is your first novel, have you been pleased/surprised with the response to it? What have you learnt?

    Megan: I’ve been overwhelmed by the response! The positive feedback has been amazing – to be honest, I still can’t believe that I’m a published author; it really is such a dream come true (huge apologies for the cliché!) I’m not really sure what I’ve learnt yet, except that I’ve been reminded how generous people can be.

    Mark: Your book is written from the perspective of 14 year old Janie -- how difficult was it to make her real and get inside her head?

    Megan: It was actually surprisingly easy – this probably says something about my lack of maturity, I’ve never really felt like a proper grown up! She was very real and complete to me right from the start and I think writing in the present tense as well as in first person helped to keep her character immediate and grounded.

    Mark: How do you write? Longhand or directly onto a computer, straight off or with lots and lots of editing?

    Megan: I write both longhand and directly on to the computer, but at the beginning, particularly when I’m trying to capture characters, I prefer a pen and notebook. Although I later revised How We Were Lost, it was mostly written in a headlong rush. These days I seem to spend much more time editing as I go, perhaps because I’ve grown more aware of potential readers.

    Mark: What do you do when you are not writing?

    Megan: I love reading as much as writing. I also like being out, walking, in parks and the Peak District. I love country pubs – pubs generally! - spending time with friends and family. I have two amazing children (aged 11 and 5) to keep me busy and I’m also studying part time for an MA in Creative Writing with Manchester Metropolitan University.

    Mark: Did you have an idea in your mind of your "ideal" reader? Did you write specifically for them?

    Megan: I didn’t have a specific ideal reader in mind. I’m afraid that I think I wrote How We Were Lost mostly for myself, though perhaps for a 23 year old me.

    Mark: What are you working on now?

    Megan: I’m currently halfway through the first draft of a new novel, another dark domestic drama, though it’s very different from How We Were Lost. It’s written in the third person, from the viewpoint of several family members and most of the action is set over the course of a single cataclysmic night.

    Mark: Who is your favourite writer? What is/are your favourite book(s)?

    Megan: This is a tough one. There are so many writers who I admire and books that I love. I think Joyce Carol Oates is a genius and William Faulkner is stunning. I also really enjoy Daphne DuMaurier, J D Salinger, Helen Dunmore, Lesley Glaister, Julie Myerson, Jon McGregor, Ellen Gilchrist, Don DeLillo, Alice Hoffman, Joy Williams, Anne Marie Macdonald, Angela Carter, Sarah Waters ... I could go on!

    Mark: Do you have any tips for the aspiring writer!?

    Megan: Mainly, keep going! Take on board others advice and criticism, but write the story that you want to write. Don’t let rejections get you down and never forget how completely wonderful writing can be - all those brilliant moments when you are lost entirely in your story.

    Mark: Anything else you would like to say?

    Megan: Just a shameless plug, if that’s ok? I’ll be reading from How We Were Lost at Manchester Central Library on Thursday 27th September at 1pm, along with fantastic debut authors Caroline Smailes (In Search of Adam) and Shanta Everington (Marilyn and Me). Everybody’s welcome!

  • Gerard Donovan

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:38

    Gerard Donovan was born in Wexford, Ireland. His first novel, Schopenhauer's Telesceope, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2003 and won the Kerry Group Fiction Award 2004.

    Mark Thwaite: What gave you the idea for Julius Winsome?

    Gerard Donovan: I live on a farm surrounded by woods where hunters are active, most of them illegally. (In a 1970s essay, Jim Harrison refers to such people as ‘violators’ who get their sense of adventure from shooting up the woods and everything in them.) One day the neighbour’s dog, a hound/rotweiler mix, about 140 lbs but gentle and playful, was shot at point-blank range by an unknown person using a 12-guage shotgun. The dog made it five hundred yards back to us before collapsing in a bed of flowers. She was brought at some speed to the vet and survived. She still has parts of the shot inside her. I don’t know to this day how she is still alive, but it speaks volumes about the will to survive. This actual shooting was the catalyst, first for a deep anger on my part, since I love dogs, and then the plot of Julius Winsome, since I transferred my reaction to the shooting to that of a fictional character called Julius Winsome, who incidentally lives in a cabin in the woods eerily similar to my cabin in the woods, and with a dog shot at the hands of an unknown hunter. He also possesses a temperament not unlike mine. The idea for the character and situation came to me as I was crossing a street in Manhattan a week or two later. By the time I made it to the other side of the street, the character’s name, his situation—and most importantly his voice, because that’s the key to the novel—were in my head. I used my own dog, Hobart, as the model: he’s a pit-bull terrier. (Here’s the rant: This breed, and the bull terrier breed in general, gets very bad press in the UK, but they are a model of friendship and playfulness, especially if they have enough space and aren’t sold by puppy-mill operators to unscrupulous buyers who use them as fighting dogs or cooped-up guard dogs. They are fantastically mistreated. I wish someone would set up a sanctuary for them where they could live out a decent life.)

    MT: How long did it take you to write it?

    GD: I wrote the novel in seven or eight weeks. I added the middle part a few months later to give some background to Julius’s character, and that part grew to about sixty pages. I then cut it back drastically because the proportion was wrong and it took the momentum out of the narrative. Between all the back and forward, the middle part took about four weeks.

    MT: Julius Winsome is your third novel -- does writing them get easier?

    GD: In Julius Winsome I applied everything I learnt from writing the first two. My philosophy now is to tell the story. First tell the story. Second, check that you’ve told the story. The writing takes care of itself. The voice, I find, assembles naturally around the characters and the situation. I spend more time researching now, and I try to incorporate the research seamlessly into the narrative. I don’t want to be throwing it into the story, which I did in the first novel, Schopenhauer’s Telescope, though I think in that case the obvious and ham-fisted use of research the Baker employs, a creature who could have been made by Frankenstein, was suited to such a strategy.

    MT: Your character Julius lives in cabin in the Maine woods with only his dogs for company: is that an existence that part of you envys?

    GD: That goes to my response to the first question. I do lead an existence similar to the lead character’s, on a farm in the woods with a dog and books, though not nearly as many. What interests me thematically in the novel is what kind of moral compass we have as humans, or more directly, what kind of moral compass I have. What would people really do if a beloved dog or indeed companion of any kind were shot and they could exact revenge without legal consequences? This is a question that haunts me. The answer is that I don’t have a moral compass aside from the basic agreements regarding normal behavior I hold with other humans, but, as I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t quite trust fiction that showcases characters who in the end demonstrate what good people they are. Where is the border between grief and revenge? And who stops at that border, and who continues beyond? Julius Winsome continues, using increasingly archaic English as the violence continues. I envy him that, I envy his ability to pursue, I envy his complete preparation to bring violence ruthlessly to those who have practiced it themselves.

    MT: How do you write? Longhand or directly onto a computer, straight off or with lots and lots of editing?

    GD: I write both on the computer and longhand. One complements the other, and it’s a continual back-and- forth. I don’t like editing on the computer: the sense of the page is artificial. There has to be the contact between pen and page for me in the editing. Then I return to the computer with the results.

    MT: What were the principle challenges of writing Julius Winsome?

    GD: The voice was a challenge, and I was lucky, very lucky, that it came to me so quickly. I wanted the novel to whisper to the reader, and that meant employing diction that met a particular phonetic quality, a kind of quiet speech that whispered to the reader. I had to pace the novel and yet give the reader some sense of who this strange man is. And finally, I wanted him to be overwhelmingly sympathetic. He is a serial killer by definition, but I wanted him to be the hero of the novel. In other words, I wanted the psychological problem to reside in the reader’s mind, not in Julius’s. I hoped the reader would ask: Why do I like this man so much? Julius Winsome is not insane, far from it. He is relentlessly sane, and readers may find that they want to swap that sanity for the category of insanity in order to create a moral compass, which I don’t believe exists. To respect the reader enough to create problems for the reader and yet keep the whole thing moving along at a clip and be compelling. These were the principal challenges in the novel for me.

    MT: You are Irish, but you now live in New York -- how do you find the American life?

    GD: I am shortly leaving New York for a destination unknown to me at present. American life has transformed itself utterly in the past seven years. The America I went to in 1989 contained all of the elements that made the country so captivating (and with luck and the right circumstances, may make it so again one day): a sense of being able to make things up as it went along—that fabled quality of improvisation in daily and in national life—and a willingness to let people have their say. The coldness that is natural to American life was a byproduct of the mental expanses upon which America drew its energy, and I accepted a certain cultural isolation as such. And of course the optimism. A man could declare at eighty that he was going to be a concert pianist and people would applaud. You can’t help but be attracted to such people. That America is dying and may be already dead. Together with their core support group of about one in four of the population, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have together created a benign police state where people watch each other and the rest of the world. They have engineered a state where people react to key words by using other approved key words: Terrorism, security, terrorism, security. The final word is fear, a peculiar late-1600s variety of Puritanism. The loudest people don’t listen to opposing views anymore: they react to them. It’s particularly tragic in my view because Americans are a very literal people: imagination operates on conditions of clarity. The worst instincts and the worst people have risen in stature. But I also remind myself of the hope that this philosophy will have its day and another philosophy will emerge. There are many other voices at work in America: thoughtful, realistic people.

    MT: What do you do when you are not writing?

    GD: I am always writing, and most of the good stuff comes to me when I am not sitting at the desk. ‘Being at your station’ for me means keeping the radio switched on to receive, night and day. But when not physically writing, I like to train in the gym and go for drives to nowhere.

    MT: Did you have an idea in your mind of your "ideal" reader? Did you write specifically for them?

    GD: My ideal reader is a non-specialist, intelligent and open-minded ‘ordinary’ person who wants to read a story and be prodded while doing so by an invisible elbow.

    MT: What are you working on now?

    GD: I am working on a novel set in early twentieth-century Europe, but my next release in the UK will most likely be a collection of short stories already finished and set in Ireland, the first time I have used Ireland as a setting in my fiction. I like these stories, so it will be interesting to see the reaction to them, particularly the situations I’ve created. I wanted to avoid traditionally ‘Irish’ subject matter completely, and I hope I’ve succeeded. We’ll see.

    MT: Who is your favourite writer? What is/are your favourite book(s)?

    GD: I don’t read as much as I ought to. Lately I’ve been reading John Ruskin and Christina Rossetti.

    MT: Do you have any tips for the aspiring writer!?

    GD: Tips for the aspiring writer. Well, first write. Ask yourself: What is my story? Who has something to lose? Who has something to gain? Understand the craft: dialogue, description, proportion, setting, movement. And once you have absorbed the rules, try not to let them rule you, because a story must surely in the end be a story of the heart, at least to some degree. Over-workshopped, clinical stories are visible a mile off. Listen to constructive criticism from people who know what they’re talking about, but don’t follow every piece of advice. Take on influences and let your voice develop from inside them: the influences will fall away naturally. You cannot write in a vacuum, so read: don’t be like me.

  • Julie Maxwell

    Tue, 09 Dec 2008 11:38

    Julie Maxwell is Fellow and Lecturer in English at Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge. She has published articles on Shakespeare, and on the English Bible, and is currently working on a book about religion in the life and works of Ben Jonson. You Can Live Forever is her first novel.

    Mark Thwaite: Julie, what gave you the idea for You Can Live Forever?

    Julie Maxwell: A four-hundred-year-old-play that everyone should read: Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair. It features a puritan loony called Zeal-of-the-Land-Busy who proclaims the sinfulness of cakes. Very much like my novel, the daughter and son-in-law of a puritan matriarch have to get around the rules of the religion in order to do what they want. I decided to write a modern story about Christian extremists (in my novel they are an invented sect, the Worldwide Saints of God) because I thought it would be funny. And particularly because I was interested in the psychology of a person trapped in a bizarre religion.

    MT: How long did it take you to write it?

    JM: When I first got the idea I wrote for about a year, but what I wrote was no good. It took about 50 pages of preliminaries, for instance, for my heroine even to get born, and as I wasn’t writing Tristram Shandy I thought I’d better start again. In the re-write I decided to get straight to the point. In fact, the book begins with the ending of the story. I can’t remember how long it took to get those first few chapters right, but after I’d done them the rest followed quite quickly. Most of the book was written in three months in the summer of 2005.

    MT: What were the main challenges you found in writing You Can Live Forever? How did you overcome them?

    JM: At first I couldn’t write readable sentences. They were all torturously convoluted, like the doctoral thesis I’d just finished writing. Academic writing can be horribly bad. I showed a few chapters of the draft novel to a writer, who explained where I was going wrong. He said that if I looked after the ‘pennies’ (that is, the sentences of the text) then the ‘pounds’ (the plot and structure of the book, etc) would look after themselves. I was very skeptical about anything looking after itself, but discovered that what he had said was true. Once I learned to write a decent sentence, everything followed.

    MT: Your novel is about sex and religion. The battle between the body and soul is old, but still highly relevant. Why and it what way do you think a novel is a good place to investigate these issues?

    JM: I think literature can make ideas interesting, because literature is much more interesting than ideas. Yesterday was I reading C.S. Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism (1961) which says that we don’t need the ideas of critics in order to enjoy literature, but literature in order to enjoy the ideas of critics. Literature wins hands down. There’s much more of it, too. Interesting ideas seem pretty thin on the ground to me compared to the number of, say, interesting lines of poetry there are. An example would be Marvell’s A Dialogue Between the Soul and Body. A title like that makes you approach the poem with weary dread – you’ve heard it all before. But then you read a line about the speaker’s soul, which, ‘stretcht upright, impales me so, / That mine own Precipice I go’. You can see he’s trying to visualize the idea of the soul tugging upward – making his body bolt upright, crucified, the steep edge of a cliff. And if you put ideas into a novel, then other things can happen too. That’s because a novel has got a lot more interior space than a poem. It can take you vicariously into the minds of characters as they experience sex, or religion.

    MT: What place does religion play in your own life, Julie?

    JM: None at present.

    MT: You are currently working on a book about religion in the life and works of Ben Jonson. What do you make of the current wave of the New Atheism from the likes of Richard Dawkins?

    JM: I have mixed views. I found Dawkins’ open letter to a ten-year-old in A Devil’s Chaplain touching. And in my novel the heroine finds Dawkins’ books intellectually helpful, if alarming. But when I watched Dawkins’ documentary about religion as the root of all evil I started to doubt. I wondered if he had not become as intolerant as the zealots he was investigating. The root of all evil isn’t religion, it’s intolerance.

    MT: How do you write, Julie? Longhand or directly onto a computer, straight off or with lots and lots of editing?

    JM: All of the above. When I was writing You Can Live Forever I adhered strictly to a 500-words-a-day rule. Sometimes when I’d achieved the word count I’d write new paragraphs in a notebook, to be typed up the following day, so I could feel like I’d already made a start on the next day’s work. (I know, it’s sad.) Also I like writing in notebooks because computers sometimes make me nervous. (I know, it’s sad.) When my computer’s thinking it makes a sound like swallowing. Sometimes that’s off-putting.

    MT: What do you do when you are not writing or teaching?

    JM: Sleep! And I even eat. I also like walking and looking at trees and water.

    MT: Did you have an idea in your mind of your "ideal" reader? Did you write specifically for them?

    JM: No. I was writing it for anyone reasonably intelligent with a GSOH. (I’m hoping that’s quite a big market.)

    MT: What are you working on now?

    JM: I’m revising my Jonson book to make it accessible to a wider readership. It now tells you things like Ben Jonson invented steamy sex (or at least the expression) about 450 years before the Oxford English Dictionary says it could be done.

    MT: Who is your favourite writer? What is/are your favourite book(s)?

    JM: The first question reminds me of a joke in a Wendy Cope poem. It goes something like ‘you’re my favourite poet – and I like your poems too’. My favourites are the ones I’ve known a long time, like the Bible. When I was 17 I read T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land and other poems, and Ian McEwan, Black Dogs – both my ‘own’ discoveries because I didn’t know anyone who knew about books. I really thought I’d stumbled onto something! (I was right.) The authors/books that have stayed with me since I was a student are: Shakespeare/Hamlet, Milton/Paradise Lost, Richardson/Clarissa, James Joyce/Ulysses.

    MT: Do you have any tips for the aspiring writer!?

    JM: Be interesting and clear right from the very first sentence, otherwise it’s a disaster. If you think of an opening like:

    It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me ...
    Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers

    or:

    Ever since his young wife had given birth to a cat as an unexpected consequence of his experiments in sexual alchemy ...
    Louis de Bernieres, Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord

    don’t you just want to read more? Well I do.

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