Thursday, 28 June 2012

Book Review: Austin Nights by Michael Davidson (herocious)

Austin Nights
By Michael Davidson (herocious) 
Published by Tiny Toe Press

Austin Nights is a novel made up of journal entries written by Michael and his girl Bridget, as they travel across America from Miami and settle into their new apartment in Austin, Texas. 

Through these sections of memories, the reader discovers that Bridget has been accepted on to a psychology course and Michael is unemployed and left to wander the streets of Austin, write down his memories, visit the local library and watch the crazy characters who also sit, waiting for something to happen.

Austin Nights shuns the conventional beginning, middle and end and instead has the journal entries out of sequence as a way of showing that memories are jumbled and never obey timelines. The reader is forced to join the dots, form the narrative and engage with the novel.

This novel blurs the line between fiction and non-fiction. Michael Davidson wrote the novel under the name of Herocious and is also the main character. The reader is left to decide what is real. 

"In writing this memory of our life, I don't want to restrict myself to a straight line of casual prose. One section doesn't necessarily cause or affect the next, or even have a say in the general drift."

Herocious has tried to bring together the mundane routines of life and the profound 'why are we here and why do we exist' into the same novel. He shows this successfully through the two main characters. Bridget proves the reader with perspective and insight to their lives while Michael is the dreamer, trying to understand his way through adulthood. Michael is a character who seems to cling to the past and is afraid to move forward unless it is perfect and it is something that he really wants to do. Michael is a character stuck in a bubble and is unaware of the real world around him. The reader see this when both Michael and Bridget go out walking and Bridget witnesses two men selling drugs. Michael doesn't not register what is happening.  The reader is left to guess who is telling the truth and 'what is real' in this story.

Austin Nights shows the mundane struggles and obsessions of everyday life and tries to bring the reader as close to reality as possible and to the fact that not much happens to people in real life. People absorb the big transitions into their lives and this is what this book shows. 

There were lots of red herrings through the book. Some are built up so much that you think someone is going to try and hurt one or both of the characters. I found that some parts did not add to the overall narrative and hindered the plot. Herocious does a good job of building up tension and the sense of doom in a novel where nothing much happens. 

One thing that annoyed me: The over use of 'cancer stick' when ever someone was smoking. 

The writing is tight and engaging. If you like your realism to be 'real' and to be as near to real life as possible then Austin Nights is for you. 

Austin Nights is via as a Kindle ebook via Amazon.

The author kindly sent me a copy.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

The very lovely Lesley Richardson at Standing Naked At A Bus Stop (great blog name!) has nominated my blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Thank you very much!
I do feel like a fraud for accepting the award because I haven't been blogging as much lately. I really want to blog about the last few months and how I got a 'Revise/Resubmit' from a Literary Agency, which I did and then it was a no. Close, very close! But I don't know if I should expand it from that one sentence. And I want to talk about my recent reads. My blogging mojo (and writing mojo) seems to have flatlined. But this award is just the like perk I need. So I will be back, full of news, reviews and boring you with wedding planning.

These are the rules for accepting the award:

1. Display the award logo somewhere on your blog.
2. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you. (Me!)
3. State seven things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs.
5. Notify those bloggers that they have been nominated and of the award’s requirements.

Right, things you don't know about me...

1. I really want to write a cook book along the lines of Toast but about being a picky/fussy eater.
2. When I was younger I never named my teddy bears or dolls.
3. I have been writing/redrafting/submitting my novel for nearly four years. I am getting to the point where I want to put it in a box, stick it in the loft and finally move on.
4. I have never been on a plane but it is changing this summer. Our honeymoon is a tour of East Coast America and Canada.
5. I don't like being called 'Jessie.'
6. I nearly did a textiles degree...
7. I'm not a dog fan but I wouldn't mind a corgis.

Here are my nominations. Each blogger / Tweeter is inspirational. Either they have book deals and they are giving insights to that process, they having fascinating writing lives, they provide insightful links and finally because they are inspirational!

Sorry if any of you have already have the award but you are that fabulous!

Kerry Hudson - Her book comes out in less than two weeks! You can read my review here.
Jessie Carty - The busiest writer I know! Jessie also runs Referential Magazine.
James Hughes - Great Tweeter with great links! He also has a website and blog here.
Tricia Sullivan - Great blog and great juggler of life! Her backlist is coming out as ebooks soon!
Teresa Stenson - Great blog!
Kirsty Logan - Her website is very handsome and her column for IdeasTap is great!
Mike French - His second book launches later his year. Mike also runs The View From Here Magazine.
Ray Morgan - Fab poet, great photographer, fab person!
Keris Stainson - The things are children say always make me laugh. Keris's third book launched recently.
Alex Thornber - Great blogger and writer!
Caroline Smailes - Caroline is inspirational - she has done ALOT without an agent, showing us it can be done. Caroline is great.
Claire King - Informative blog and also Fiction Editor for The View From Here Magazine. Her book launches next year.
Nik Perring - Great blog!
Sarah Hilary - She is one busy writer!
Valerie O'Riordan - Great blogger and she has recently published her first chapbook!

I am not going to apologise for all of the exclamation marks!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Not Writing But It's Not The End Of The World

I have not been writing* but it’s not the end of the world. I know there are a lot of writing books that say that you need to write everyday or you are not a writing. I don't really believe that idea. Writing may not mean 'writing.' It could be thinking about an idea while peeling potatoes or editing or reading.

Instead of writing, I have been:

I recently finished watching Fringe seasons one and two. The first half of season one does feel like X-Files but then it does develop into its own. I’m really looking forward to season three.

I also finished the Hunger Games trilogy – My favourite book was book one. I enjoyed book two and found book three was jam-packed with characters in the beginning and less structured. I did find it hard with book two and three because in my head I had changed the ending of book one. (Watch out spoilers in the next few sentences). My version of the ending had Katniss killing Peeta in the Hunger Games and therefore turns the book into a happy feminist book.

Last weekend, the Mister and I went to Cambridge and ordered our wedding rings! Very exciting and very scary that it is only a few months away and there are still lots to do! Getting married is the ultimate organising-project and I am loving it. We had a lovely dinner at Browns to celebrate the Mister’s promotion and also my new job (still at the same company but I’m moving into a different department). I now have a new favourite cocktail – the Cham Cham – very refreshing!
I have finally written down a very basic premise for my next novel. I also have a name for one of the characters. Calling her ‘Blank’ was starting to get confusing.

* Well I have been editing a short story inspired by Robert Carver’s Why Don’t You Dance? And spending some time thinking and writing some more ideas for my short story collection.