Categories for A Savage Art

October 29, 2017

What a year!  

Today it’s been a whole year since the publication of my first novel, A Savage Art.

I know how much of a thrill publication is for every writer – but the last couple of years have been so difficult for me that it’s impossible to overstate how much I needed this, and how much I’ve appreciated everything about it.

From the first email response from the fabulous Chris McVeigh at Fahrenheit Press, the sheer delight of seeing the gorgeous cover design, the day of publication and then later holding an actual paperback copy in my hands, each new first was a joy.

Best of all, though, was the realisation that people were actually reading my novel and enjoying it.

(My darling Ryan is peering over my shoulder and pointing out that he’s a person, and I should mention that some people previously HAD to read it…)

People I know, and people I don’t know.

Wow.

I keep pondering a quotation from Kurt Vonnegut – his first rule for writing fiction, in fact.

Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

I’m not much of a one for rules, but that’s one I hope I’ve not broken!

Thank you so much to everyone who has read the novel, and to everyone who has taken the time to review – on their blog, or on Amazon or Goodreads. It is very much appreciated. And thank you also to those who shared their responses with me and even their criticisms – that is also very much welcomed.

It’s a funny thing but I was actually quite well prepared for criticism – critiquing and being critiqued helps to develop a thick skin. What I wasn’t prepared for was  how I’d feel when readers loved my novel and said so. So strange a feeling – I come over all emotional every time.

The difficult things about this past year – I’ll spare you most of it, don’t fret – have been a series misadventures with my health. Turns out I’m not very good at having surgery. I have lupus – who could have guessed? The part I was most scared about – the anaesthetic (I like knowing what’s going on, me) – I sailed through with no problems. Only afterwards my poor body over-reacted and I ended up needing two more surgeries to deal with complications following the first – and I’m still not healed from the last one.

Well, you are crime readers – maybe you can take a little unnecessarily gory detail. If not, look away now.

After the second surgery to deal with an infection and a wound which was producing pints and pints of exudate, I was examined by a plastic surgeon…. He put both hands in the cavity in my tum and they disappeared up to the wrist…as if I were his glove puppet. Ryan made his much repeated joke about _that_ scene in Alien, and I was laughing so much (my sense of humour was the other thing that carried me through) that the poor surgeon thought he was hurting me and apologised.

I am beginning to feel much better now, even though there’s still plenty of healing to be done, but the hernia is fixed, the ovarian cyst gone and the wonderful doctors and nurses of our NHS have done a pretty good job of putting me back together.

And I’m back to my writing. I’ve written a short story. I’m working on editing my second novel – there are too many words in the current draft, and it needs structural work as well as a lot of spit and polish. I’m busy making notes for a sequel to A Savage Art,  that I plan to start in the new year when the current monstrosity is cut down to size and I’m ready to let go of it.

It’s been a very eventful time and I am very grateful to everyone who has helped me get through it.

And an extra special thank you to Chris McVeigh, Mr Fahrenheit himself, for making my dream come true – and for publishing some fabulous novels which have kept me entertained while I’ve not been up to much else. I am in such good company, it has to be said!

Ann


July 30, 2017

Top of the Lake : China Girl (No spoilers)  

When I saw that the BBC in their infinite wisdom had released all the episodes at once, I promised myself I would take it slowly. No more than one a day.

I make myself a lot of promises I know I’m not going to keep. Just as well I have low standards.

Friday, I was under orders to rest – slight post – operative temperature. And after last year’s experiences, a little fear. (Don’t worry. I won’t go into detail. Unless I get around to writing that medical thriller, in which case all bets are off.)

So I watched it all.  One episode after another. I let Ryan cook – which, as ever, meant beans on toast.

I loved the first series and had been looking forward to this immensely. It was, after all, Jane Campion’s film ‘In The Cut’ (generally quite unpopular) which inspired my novel ‘A Savage Art’

In a Guardian article last week, it was said that this was deeper and darker – and indeed it was. In places it was positively weird.

But it was every bit as brilliant as I had hoped, and I am feeling inspired again, indirectly, to follow my own weird tangent.

I’m not going to say anything about the characters or the story or anything, knowing many people are more sensible than me and are eking it out.

I wonder if I’ll believe Elisabeth Moss as Offred tonight? Isn’t she fabulous?

Ann


December 6, 2016

Goodreads giveaway of A Savage Art  

The Goodreads giveaway is for UK readers only. If anyone else would like a copy please go and like my Facebook page and comment on my share of this blog post, and at the end of the giveaway on the 18th December, there’ll be another signed copy for a random commenter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Savage Art by A.E. Rawson

A Savage Art

by A.E. Rawson

Giveaway ends December 18, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Facebook page link

Thank you!

Ann


December 2, 2016

On Anger and Revenge  

I was just reading this interesting article about the philosopher Martha Nussbaum’s new book “Anger and Forgiveness” about the dangers of anger – and inevitably given the current zeitgeist, most of the discussion centres on the role anger has played in the American election. Being a political junkie, this is of coruse endlessly fascinating. I am altogether unconvinced that a strategy of meeting anger with calm reason can actually change political discourse, given that we humans are generally very emotional animals, although some of us are especially talented in the use of reason to create convincing intellectual arguments that justify our beliefs and ideologies. We seem to be less capable of using our reason to understand our own or anyone else’s emotions, though.

Surely anger has been the fuel that has brought much needed political change – even if right now it’s fuelling a backlash against the liberal quest to eradicate inequality in all its guises?  Her whole argument that anger is not socially useful seems to me to boil to the “Calm down, dear” approach to injustice.

On a personal level though, I cannot quite get my head around the idea that Nussbaum claims to have never been angry. To my mind, that makes her analysis suspect. Either she is being honest, or she is unaware of her own anger – and either makes her less capable of understanding the impossibility of what she’s asking of us ‘lesser’ beings.

Of course, I am fascinated by the impulse to revenge – I’ve just published a thriller exploring the question of whether it can ever be justified.  There’s a reason why we have a long tradition of revenge stories ending in tragedy. And we know the quotation from Confucious, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”  In the case of my heroine Kate, perhaps it might be wise to dig more… we shall see.  Culturally we are aware of the risks of anger. We are brought up to hide and disguise our anger – this is especially true of women, of course. And I sometimes thing squelching down on angry feelings, bottling them up, can make them more dangerous.

I suppose the difficulty is deciding where it is appropriate to draw the line. Someone who has never been angry probably isn’t best placed to decide that, any more than someone who is always angry.

In this context, I am reminded of the parable of the snake who refused to hiss.

Once upon a time, a holy man went from village to village visiting the people and giving assistance wherever he could.  One day he came to a town and entered the market place.  The people were all looking so unhappy.  “What is the matter, good people?” the old man asked.  “We are so frightened,” they said.  “We can barely do our work for fear of the snake.  It bites us all the time.  We don’t know when it will appear.  We are afraid to go to work in our fields, to let our children play in the streets, to even be here in the market place.”  The old man wandered on and soon came upon the snake.  “I hear you have been biting the people,” he said, “and I would like you to stop.  They are frightened of you and don’t get a moment’s rest.”  The snake realizing how much the holy man loved it agreed not to bite anyone again.

The old man continued on his journey and a few months later came back to the same village.  When he got to the market place he found the people were laughing and shouting.  Everyone was so happy.  “What has happened?” he asked.  The villagers told him that the snake had stopped biting them, that it came out each day from its hiding place but no longer attacked them.  The old man wandered about the village and soon came upon the snake lying in the gutter.  It was bleeding, and badly cut and bruised.  The old man could see that the snake was dying.  He gently picked it up and took it into the forest and laid it down out of the hot sun.  “What has happened to you?” he asked the snake.  The snake on its last few breaths said to the holy man, “ I did what you told me.  I stopped biting the people, but they started attacking me.  Wherever I went they would throw stones at me and kick me, and thrash me with sticks.”

The holy man held the snake with great love and tenderness and stroking the snake said to it ever so tenderly,  “I told you not to bite, but I never told you not to hiss.”

My favourite quotation on anger and revenge comes from Charlotte Bronte.

Jane Eyre is talking to Helen Burns (a girl who shares Nussbaum’s views on morality, as I recall) who has just been punished by the cruel teacher Miss Scatcherd

“… you are good to those who are good to you. It is all I ever desire to be. If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people whould have it all their own way; they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should – so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.”

The best revenge, they say, is living well.  But living well must also include taking action to prevent further harm. Sometimes that might require no more than hissing. Sometimes it might require more drastic action. Or so my protagonist, Kate Savage, would argue…

Ann

Sources

Article on Nussbaum’s book in The Nation – here

The parable of the snake who forgot to hiss – here

Jane Eyre Chapter Six – here


October 30, 2016

A Savage Art is published!  

It all happened yesterday – and I meant to finish this post then but I was too excited to sit still for long enough. And in an odd way I also didn’t really believe it until I woke up this morning – late even with the extra hour – and discovered that yes, my novel was still there on Amazon, and that people were still talking about it on Twitter and on Facebook. It wasn’t just a dream.

tinybook_savageartIt’s been a long journey.

One of the stories my family tell about me is that I was thrown out of the first class in infant school after two weeks for non-co-operation. I refused to play with the educational games and simply demanded to be taught how to read.

By the time I was ten I’d read every Enid Blyton adventure story I could get my hands on, and then discovered the Lone Pine adventures written by Malcolm Saville. In the back of the library books was an address to join the Lone Pine Club. I wrote my own Lone Pine mystery story and sent it off. A few weeks later I receieved a letter from Malcolm Saville, apologising that the club was no longer in existence, but encouraging me to carry on writing my own stories. I wish I still had the letter, but sadly, it’s long gone.

In the years in between I wrote several short stories, some of which were near misses, but it wasn’t until I did the Open University creative writing courses a few years ago that I started taking writing seriously. Again, I started with short stories – but my final assignment turned out to the very beginning of this novel, A Savage Art.

I’ve had support and encouragement from lots of people along the way, and I’d just like to throw out a general thank you to them all here and now. And yesterday was no exception – I am very grateful to all the people who shared links on Twitter and on Facebook and to everyone who bought a copy of the novel.

And thank you as well to the fabulous Chris McVeigh, the founder of Fahrenheit Press, who made my dream come true.  I am starting to read my way through the rest of the Farenheit authors, and I am in very good company. If you love crime fiction, you really should check out the Fahrenheit book club – here!

Thank you all. And I promise not to go on about it too much…

Ann

P.S. My value of “too much” may not be universal.