Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: September 2014

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Guest Post: Plus Ça Change by Deborah Valentine

Today I'm pleased to welcome Author Deborah Valentine to 'The Story Factory Reading Zone'

About Deborah Valentine
Deborah Valentine's latest book is The Knightmare and is available on Kindle. Her first series of novels, Unothodox Methods, A Collector of Photographs and Fine Distinctions, were published by Victor Gollancz in the UK and were also published in the US. A Collector of Photographs was short-listed for an Edgar Allen Poe, Macavity, Anthony Boucher and Shamus Award. Fine Distinctions was also short-listed for an Edgar. They follow the turbulent relationship of ex-policeman Kevin Bryce and his sculptress partner, Katharine Craig, against a backdrop of mystery and mayhem. They will be available in Autumn 2013 as part of Orion's digital imprint The Murder Room.

She edited a number of niche-market magazines and has a special interest in history, particularly medieval history. She has worked with a number of distinguished academics on historical articles, some of which are now part of the catalogue of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents, Oxford.

With the publication of The Knightmare, she is working on a new series of novels that are a blend of fact and fantasy, history and the present with a bit of thwarted romance on the side, combining all the ingredients she loves best in a story.

My review of The Knightmare

Plus Ca Change from Deborah Valentine

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Its an old adage and deceptively complex. Things do change, sometimes quite radically, while others remain an underlying constant. This struck me as I recently attended the Matisse, The Cut-Outs, exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Matisse was an old man when he started doing his cut-outs. A new art form born out of a stroke, of being wheel-chair bound; his limited mobility left him unable to paint as he once did. But he could still see, he could wield a pair of scissors and, with the aid of a bevy of lovely young assistants, was able to create beautifully flowing works of art. At first, the work seemed child-like, almost primitive, but evolved into ever more sophisticated compositions. Things had changed, changed radically, yet his feel for expression, his artistic eye, remained a constant.

So what has this to do with writing? With the notable exception of Neil Gaiman, who constantly urges writers to make good art, few writers are comfortable calling themselves artists and instead speak of craft. But if Art is an expression of the inner life, of caring and purpose, then however poncy it may sound writers are artists. And we all change.

When I first started writing, with that child-like joy of play, I wrote a series of crime fiction, The Bryce Series. In the happy ignorance of youth, I didnt even know I was writing crime fictionit took my agent to point it out to me (writers couldnt get by with that todaywere all expected to be so savvy, or at least know what were writing!). Unorthodox Methods, A Collector of Photographs and Fine Distinctions were well received and are bound up in my mind with that first thrill of creation, that realisation of purpose in life: oh, this is what I doI write. I love those books and the people within them. But Plus ça change.

With The Knightmarea book with a touch of the supernatural, the historical epic and the romanticmake no mistake Ive changed genres, despite reasonable plaudits in a life of crime (so to speak). So why the change? Arent we supposed to stick with a formulaor at least a genreso we dont, heaven forbid, disappoint or confuse our audiences? I dont think audiences are given enough credit.

Life can throw a lot of things at youdeath, disability, poverty, something as simple as a change of path or as unexpected as happiness. Certainly I had my fair share of rocks on the road. I spent a number of years writing The Knightmare. Like Matisse (somewhat) I started all over again, getting my scissors out from time to time. Yet it was exciting following a new path, with new experiences both comfortable and uncomfortable behind me. It took me somewhere fresh, allowed the imagination to flow in other directions. As life goes on, you discover more things about yourself and the world around you. Perspectives change. There is a shift in the light, throwing up shadows or illuminating the dark.

But of course, some things remain the sameas it is with us all. There is still an emphasis on relationships of one sort or anotherfamilial, romantic or friendly. And however it has evolved through life, there is still a point of view or use of language that is unique to every writer. And a sense of humour (or lack thereof). When I, and when audiences, pick up this book, they still know its me. And I still love my characters.

Ive a new book in the offing, Who is Huggermugger Jones? It will mark a change for the hero and heroine of The Knightmare, as well as for their friends, introducing new characters who will instigate another era in their adventures. If there is one thing that stays the same is that I like a series. Because like the people around youfamily, friends, workmatescharacters grow too and have a life of their own. Not to mention a sense of humour uniquely theirs.

The important thing is not to be afraid of changeit gives a new lease of life to everything. Matisse could have dried up and blown away after his stroke. Instead he worked on his cut-outs for the last 17 years of his life. As a result of working with them, Matisse took the work another step forward, designing stained glass windows for the Dominican Chapel of the Rosary in Vence on the French Riviera. Hugely satisfied with the work he pronounced it the result of all my active life.

So is every book.

Monday, 1 September 2014


Apologies for the lack of update posts on my challenges and readathon. I had planned to update after getting back from holiday on Friday, but my internet gave out on me. Normal service should return shortly.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...