Notes on My Family with condiments

Hello!

It’s a wet and windy evening here and I’ve only been back in a London a few days. I want to wish you a very happy New Year. I can’t believe it’s nearly 2018. These last few months have been busy ones for me and I wanted to do a quick round-up before January.

My younger sister, Lydia, married her (now) husband, Ben, the last weekend in September. The ceremony took place at Kensington and Chelsea Register Office followed an afternoon of tea and cake at the Savoy. Here I am reading ‘Us Two’ by A.A. Milne at their ceremony.

And here they are, just married!

I spent most of October and November preparing for the publication of Notes on My Family on the 27th November and working on my new YA novel (more news on that soon!)

The launch party for Notes on My Family took place at West End Lane bookshop in West Hampstead. It was such a lovely evening and a fabulous launch for ‘Notes’. There have already been some wonderful reviews and I’m hopeful Lou might have been snuck into a few Christmas stockings.

The week after the publication of ‘Notes’ I attended the launch of London Metropolitan University’s 2017 creative writing anthology and competition held on the Holloway Road campus. I was honoured to be asked to judge the competition and choose the five category winners from all the stories and poems published. The students read from their work and I gave a reading from my novel and spoke about my journey to publication. We had a great evening.

I have also been pretty busy these last few months with my MA in Creative Writing which I am studying at Birkbeck, University of London. I have had weekly assignments, lots of reading and coursework. I’ve really enjoyed meeting everyone on my course along with reading and critiquing their work.

December brought with it a day of snow! Even though the snow only stayed for a few hours it was truly magical and I managed to get up to Hampstead to take some photographs.

I spent Christmas in Lincolnshire visiting my parents who live in a small village about forty minutes from Lincoln. Here are the beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds.

Just before Christmas, my mum and I went to the Kinema in the Woods in Woodhall Spa which is a small, very beautiful old-fashioned cinema. There is an organ below the screen and if you go on there on a Saturday evening at a certain time there is a man who plays the organ before the film begins. There was also an interval and Mum and I had gingerbread lattes. We watched The Man who Invented Christmas which put me in a very Christmassy mood.

My younger sister and her husband joined us from Cambridge for Boxing Day. They gave me a beautiful blue mandarin dress, brought back from their honeymoon from Hong Kong. 🙂

Now I’m back in London and looking forward to setting new goals for 2018. I hope to have more to share with you soon.

What I’ve loved: October – December 2017

Film

I was fortunate enough, back in November, to go to a talk given by Julian Barnes about his Booker winning novel, The Sense of an Ending. The talk was so much fun. Not only did I re-read the book but I watched the film adaptation starring Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling. I believe an adaptation of a novel should be able to stand on its own. It didn’t bother me at all that this particular film had many additions that were not in the book. It’s a beautiful film set mostly in London. The adaptation was written by Nick Payne, who wrote the super successful play, Constellations.

I also really enjoyed the film Wind River. Set in Wyoming on the Wind River Indian Reservation the film stars Elizabeth Olsen who plays an FBI agent and Jeremy Renner, a wildlife service tracker. They set out to solve the murder of a young woman that no one else seems interested in. Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, this is an intelligent thriller with a huge heart and I would absolutely recommend it.

Books

I’m currently reading Maurice by E.M. Forster. I’ve read both A Room with a View and Howards End and decided, after watching the recent excellent BBC adaptation of Howards End, written by Kenneth Lonergan, that I needed to read more Forster.

I am really enjoying Maurice. Forster captures the emotional restraint of the English middle and upper classes of his time so well. I’m still reading, but Maurice isn’t just a novel about homosexuality at a time when it was illegal and considered immoral, it’s about forbidden love, un-requited love, and the pain that occurs when love dies for one, but not both, of the two people who make up a relationship. Maurice also has some truly fabulous lines such as this: ‘Religion and relatives faded into the background as he rolled him up in the hearth rug and fitted his head into the waster paper-basket.’

In November I read Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You. The book is an aftermath novel and begins after the murder of a teenage girl, Lydia. Celeste Ng shows us the events in the life of one American family that led to Lydia’s death. Celeste Ng writes beautifully and adroitly about race, identity, family dynamics, lost dreams, and what it means to be different. Everything I Never Told You is well wroth a read.

Its always hard to remember exactly what I’ve read but these last few months I have also really enjoyed A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin, First Love by Gwendoline Riley, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion and Leviathan by Philip Hoare.

Music

Whenever people ask me about my taste in music, I always follow threads and recommendations and tend to listen to music that reflects my emotions, mood, and where I am in my life at the time.
Over Christmas I discovered a band called Fairport Convention. I’ve fallen in love with two tracks; Meet on the Ledge and Who Knows Where the Time Goes. When I find a song that resonates with me I tend to listen to it over and over again (probably something to do with me being an Aspie). My songs for October were T. Rex’s Cosmic Dancer and Black Mason Hills by Bee Caves. November’s song was Dark Side of the Street by Cat Power and December’s has been Who Knows Where Time Goes. The song was written for the band and sung by the incredibly talented Sandy Denny.

That’s all for this quarterly round-up!

Emily
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