Designing the cover for a book is always a challenging task, but sometimes an image pops in your head. Getting that image down is much harder, however. Fortunately, I found artist Rob Parkinson who paints amazing landscapes in oil, so I approached him for a commission.
This (left) is what he produced. It's truly beautiful and very moving. And it is exactly what I wanted - and so much more. The collection, "Silhouette in the Sunset", is a collection of 100 poems all about war, marking the 100 years since the end of WW1 (I started work in 2018). The politics, the loss...the futility. It's a primarily pacifist exploration. It is inspired my interest in the great poetry of Wilfred Owen, but it comes from a different place - of course, since I have never served.
The poetry includes a range of styles and topics, picking on ideas and themes from the First and Second world wars, the Holocaust, modern warfare, the results of war, such a refugees and innocent victims. Some of the poems wonder at the view of a child. It's not a collection designed to offer answers or propose any simplicity in solutions - it's more about a human look at war from the outside.
So, of course, when Rob was able to produce "The Futility of War" I was blown away. Even as we continued to collaborate through the process, excited as the painting developed, it wasn't until seeing the final image that one can truly appreciate all the tiny little nuances in the composition. The jagged landscape hinting at the horrors of the battlefield. The velvet-like sky that really looks like you could reach up and touch it, giving the image a three-dimensional feel that contrasts perfectly with the anonymity of the flat silhouette. And...oh, that silhouette. To capture a moment of sorrow and private reverence, done without cliche, is amazing.
The plans are to release the collection in May 2019. I am currently exploring ideas for book launches and events and will post these as possible.
I am also working towards getting Advance Reader Copies that can be sent out to people who would be keen to provide feedback that can be used in marketing. If you'd like to be involved in that stage (expected over late April) then please get in touch via my contact page.
The book will be on sale both in Paperback and ebook, available on most popular sales channels. Due to the nature of the book, several copies are going to be donated to relevant charities to sell or use in raffles/events and so on. If you think you might be interested in that, please get in touch a.s.a.p. so I can plan to cost that up.
Last year was a strange mix of tragedy and opportunity for me, but above all, it was a year where I decided that a fresh new start was well overdue. I have enjoyed living in Birmingham and the West Midlands for over fifteen years but it was time...
...a new home, a new lifestyle, and a new start.
In truth, I don't know Dorset especially well, and did consider Wales for a time. But I had fond memories of a holiday down on the Jurassic coast years ago, and knowing someone who lived down there, Bridport was a good place to start looking. A small but fantastically creative town with wonderful people...who love their dogs! I've been here six months so far, and I love it. I am struggling to fit in all the new contacts, groups and potential projects.
I have a new energy afforded to me byb this opportunity, boosted by this new location, and I am determined to use it.
I have longed to go on a writers' retreat of some kind for years and now, owing to changes in circumstances and timing, this year I am going.
It promises to be an exciting week away mixing with writers from all over, of all genres and styles. Staying residential, joining workshops and courses, as well as finding time to write in a richly creative atmosphere, I am thoroughly excited. It won't be happening until August, but I am giddy with excitement already.
I'll be writing about the lead-up and hope to blog about it when I am there and after leaving. The most important thing to do is to go with an open mind and be guided by the word "yes."
Work continues on the second novel in the DI Mike Stone Series. A delay has been caused by needing to do some more research, but as a self-publisher not tied down to deadlines I don't need to panic...other that itching to give my readers part two to get their teeth into, following "To Die For."
Huge progress has been made on my second collection of poems - "Silhouette by the Sunset" (working title). It will be a collection of poetry, some long, some short haiku, all marking the many years since the great war. Provision target release is May 2019...watch this space.