Welcome - The International Writers Magazine
- August 2009
writing from across the globe.
need cheering up, especially as headlines now say that by 150,000 people
in the UK have Swine Flu and Two Billion will have it by next year in
the world. Ok, only 800 or so have died from it so far worldwide, but
what if it gets worse? I have said before but say again, download my book
Another Place to Die
if you want to be ready for when the flu pandemic goes critical and mutates.
They have announced that this variant of Swine Flu is resistant to Tamiflu,
who is to say this vaccine they are preparing will work on the next variant?
Sure, its summer, it seems to be tailing off but tell that to people in
Mumbai where it has just taken off big time. Plenty of milage in this
Damn. Just as you are heading off on your hols, mine come to an end. Here
I am back at my desk and even that is changing as they moving me to another
building. Sigh. Miles from the famous Cafe P.
So how was it for
you? July that is. I was back in the South-West of France east of Bayonne.
The weather was extraordinary. Gales, hail, baking hot sun followed
by evening hot winds that curled the leaves off the trees. Fantastic
lightning, hard rain and baking sun. This went on day after day.The
waves in Biarritz are always high, but it was punishment trying to get
in under them this year. The cost of living in France is prohibitive
for those of cursed with pounds. Everything is around thirty percent
more than the UK, except the wine of course. Getting a decent Cafe Latté
takes skill and you have to go to places where they don't resent giving
you milk with the coffee. Everyone complains about surly British waiters
in restaurants in the Uk, but the French could teach them how to be
really rude and affronted if you should question anything they bring
you. Ah well, I eat home a lot but couldn't resist the pastry shops.
My daily activity
consisted of feeding chickens, with the angriest Coq in the world. (only
two hens missing this year after a month. God knows where they go).
I was given a list on instructions upon arrival. One was 'feed the rats'.
I thought at first there had to be a translation error but noooooooooo.
They are dead now, the rats, not the chickens.
Then there is the
matter of the dog. Dogs have fleas but I have a trick up my sleeve.
Garlic. Chop a glove of garlic up into the dog food and theoretically
the fleas will spit the dog out eventually. It has helped, but getting
the dog to eat garlic was problematic. She'd eat all her food and every
bit of chopped garlic was left ina little pile. However if I let her
eat what I am having for lunch, she'll eat anything. So toast, marmalade
and garlic it is. Not that dogs chew, they just swallow.
I was watching sheet
lightning the other night. The skyturns white, lightning spins out of
it spreading in about twenty directions, it is truly spectacular, the
thunder shakes the house. Hours before it had been 36C and breathless
it was so still and hot. I went for a paddle in the River Nive. I don't
know about you but in the UK if the temperature reached 36C, aside from
the roads melting, half the town would be down in the river trying to
cool off. But I was on my own. The water was freezing, thanks for asking.
Sadly Bayonne has
introduced bus lanes beween itself and Biarritz. Luckily I found a fast
route between the two towns but if heading there, you will only want
to drive where there is a bus lane once. Total nightmare. (use the A63).
So I spent a whole
month in France. Drove down rather than use Ryanair. I promised myself
I'd never fly Ryanair as long as I live and Ok that means it is 800
miles from door to door and another 800 back, but I did the first joourney
in 12 hours from Calais and there wasn't one cone the whole way. The
tolls cost 75Euros though both ways. It makes it very expensive if you
are on your own, but I hadn't planned to be on my own. Just happened
The advantage of
not flying of course is that I don't have swine flu. I'd be a hypocrit
if I flew, since it is one of the keys ways the virus is spread in my
novel 'Another Place to Die' and I figured I had better take
my own advice. I'm not going to see Harry Potter either as ithe
cinema will be filled with kids, many of whom will be shedding the virus.
The rate of infection is growing exponetially and it will mutate this
winter, I am sure. Read my book and learn just how bad it could get.
I did have the luxury
of seeing 'Derringer- Public Enemies' Directed by Michael Mann and 'Whatever
Works' Directed by Woody Allen. Biarritz has the Royale Cinema which
shows some VO films (Version Originale) I was the only one in the cinema
both times but I kind of like that. 4pm is clearly a time when the French
are doing something else. Christian Bale stole 'Derringer' wholesale
and I found 'Whatever Works' amusing for about five minutes then about
as real as French farce but not as funny.
beaches are full and I do mean full, and the girls are half naked,
and often stunning. Something that would require a month of Sundays
and ten blue moons to happen in Portsmouth sadly. But my pleasure
of getting roasted on the sand and battered by the Atlantic was
tempered by an article in The Herald Tribune (Three quid
for about 20 pages) that stated that contarary to popular belief
the salt water in the ocean does not sterilise the sand at high
tide and fecal matter stays embedded in the sand and that kids who
bury themselves with sand run a high risk of infection. It almost
put me off my tart au pomme that afternoon. Just so you know. I
still go the beach, I still go swimming, but perhaps draw the line
at being buried in sand from now on. Roxy had their annual surf/rock
jam by the old harbour. One or two attractive girls turned up...as
you can see here.
Aside from starting
a new novel myself, I managed to read five. It's not much, but I had
a word target to reach 40,000 if you are curious. But I had to buy Stieg
Larssson's The Girl who Played with Fire and it is reviewed in
the review section. I can't recall a book I was so engrossed in or so
gripped by in years. Stunning stuff. But even here the French have a
way of making a proifit. it retails for six pounds ninety-nine p in
the Uk. Twelve Euros here. Bookshops must make a killing.
Now comes the serious
business of catching up on my MA students, the marking to come, the
moving of office and waiting, as we all wait for Gordon Brown to call
an election so we can all be finally rid of him. Pray for that day.
13th 2009 -
* The MA
in Creative Writing at Portsmouth
University - Lst call for 2009 entry:
current students are completing major projects. Novels, children's
fiction, dystopic fiction, crime novels, you name it... If you need
support and like a good encouraging peer group, join us. Might do
you good to live in Portsmouth for a year, but you don't have to.
Students come down from London once a week and further afield. We
have had students from the USA, Canada, France, Finland and others.
Apply now to avoid being disappointed. You
do not have to be published to join us, but you do have to have
a portfolio of some interesting writing already to hand.
* Linda Regan who graduated from the MA last year sold her crime
novel to Creme de Crime. Quentin Bates has gained a two book deal
on his crime novel... several more students now completing their
novels and submitting to agents.
want to help Hackwriters keep going, buy my new book Mean
Tide. A young adult ghost
story set in Greenwhich, London.
All profits go into the magazine.
Mean Tide by Sam North
'Extraordinary novel about a child's psychic
Lulu Press - ISBN: 978-1-4092-0354-4
Review: 'An engaging, unusual and
completely engrossing read'
- Beverly Birch author of 'Rift'
to live with his spooky Grandma by the river in Greenwich, Oliver
(12) discovers a whole world of disturbed people who are probably
even crazier than the ones he left behind. When he finds a dog with
its throat cut on the beach, everything changes.
range 12-16 and adult
Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
by Sam North
Retail - 300 pages - Lulu Press USA
will never be the same again' - Sunday Express
Buy from your favourite on-line retailer
and Noble &
Diamonds - The Rush of '72
now from Amazon.com
terrific piece of storytelling' Historical Novel Society Review
Also printed in the UK and available from
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