Sunday 12 April 2020

Eley Williams - pen for hire

Last night's Leap in the Dark was so absorbing that  forgot to include interval. We had sublime music from Melanie Pappenheim and Esme Herbert, including a performance of Yellow Fever Song by the composer Jocelyn Took which, palindromic in form, is sung first forwards and then backwards.  It was, messaged Steph, 'gnidnidlles'. You can buy it here. We had book talk with the 'increasingly visible' Anna Vaught, whose third novel Saving Lucia is published this month by Bluemoose Books, and is recommended (I finished reading the pdf version last night, accompanied by Max Richter's Sleep on Radio 3). Gibbs & Hayden picked the bones out of literary recycling (and I liked David Hayden's view that short stories are 'all bones'); Aea Varfis-van Warmelo read 'Renunciation' by Alice Meyell ('the only perfect sonnet written in the 19th century') followed by an excruciating extract from Coventry Patmore's An Angel in the House, almost keeping a straight face as she did so, and The Pale Usher read 'A Tragedy' by 'Theo' Marzials, surely the worst poem ever to be perpetrated in any language. Oscar Mardell, dressed as a ram for the occasion, delivered a Letter from Auckland, outlining the governments highly successful containment of the coronavirus, reflecting on the New Zealand idea that home is only home once you've been away, on the difficulty of lock down in a culture so aligned with the great outdoors, the current state of all things Kiwi and, to our collective delight, concluded by having his partner Briar demonstrate the Kiwi tradition of sheep-shearing, with Oscar as the guinea-pig (if that makes sense). Shear genius.  My thanks to them both, and to all the contributors, and to the audience of over thirty for their good humoured participation, their patience, and their impeccable taste.

A planned appearance by Eley Williams was postponed as she had other commitments, so below is a summary of her Flash Fiction Auction, as revealed on Friday's Leap. A great idea, a very good cause - please get involved!

 Eley made a spectacular literary debut two years ago with the publication of Attrib., a collection of short stories which won the Republic of Consciousness Prize in 2019. Here's the Guardian review, the kind of review authors and publishers dream of.

Attrib. was cool, clever and unclassifiable and Eley's keenly-anticipated forthcoming novel A Liar's Dictionary will be a book we'll all want to read in 2020. 

Now Eley and indie publishers Influx Press have come up with a lovely idea, a variant on crowd-funding, as a creative response to these dark times.

She will write 19 flash fiction stories from scratch, each one based on a title submitted by bidders, with proceeds shared between Influx and to the @BTBSCharity hardship fund, which supports booksellers past, present and future.

Influx are conducting this auction, and details are here.

Here's how it works:

1) You send (one time only) a closed bid to the Influx Twitter account via Direct Message @Influxpress

2) The top 19 bids win (and I was slow to realise it's Covid-19 that prompts that number)

3) Eley will then write 19 flash fictions, each based on the titles provided by winning bidders.

4) All winners will receive a typeset PDF of their story.

5) Influx Press will produce a limited edition chapbook of all 19 stories, with each story dedicated to the relevant winner.

6) This chapbook will be produced in a collectible limited edition of 200 copies, for sale in September. Winners will get a copy for free.

7)  The proceeds will be split 50/50 between Influx and The Book Charity

Isn't that a great idea? Come up with a title, make a bid and you'll have a bespoke and dedicated short story by one of our best authors to brag about to your friends. And it's in a very good cause.

Bidding starts on TODAY (Monday 13th April) at 12pm and finishes on Wednesday (15th April) at 12pm.

(Anything sent in before or after will not be eligible.)

That's it. Message ends. But expect more Leap in the Dark content tomorrow. Stay well.

Eley (right) with Republic of Consciousness Prize founder Neil Griffiths and the winner's certificate

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