Monday, July 9, 2012

Zombies and Mansfield and me

Zombies - nothing to do with KM - it's a short film my daughter
(centre, white jacket)  is in called A PARTY FOR ME (dir. Amy Brosnahan) 
Oh the bliss of language. Just now, this morning, sitting with coffee in dressing gown (yes, a bad habit, but if I get dressed there will be things to do), I am filled with it, like Bertha in Katherine Mansfield's Bliss is filled with the glowing pear tree against the jade sky.

I have been reading Mansfield you see - but not via the usual route. The book I am close to finishing is Mansfield with Monsters (Steam Press) to review on Wednesday on Nine to Noon (Radio NZ). These are Katherine Mansfield's classic stories but with the gothic/troubled element developed by authors Matt and Debbie Cowens via zombies and vampires and other beings of the horror genre. I know, weird. But I'm enjoying it! The version of The Doll's House in here will not allow me to read 'I seen the little lamp' the same way again.

It's been bliss reading KM's marvellous language again, fun to try out this zombie stuff (not my usual milieu), and then there's the added pleasure of digging out my copies of her original stories and enjoying those too - the ones I know and the ones I don't.

More language tumbling about me this week the form of tantalising extracts of Kirsty Gunn's new novel The Big Music out there on the internet (see previous blogpost) and I see there was a rave review in The Independent this weekend calling The Big Music a masterpiece! Fantastic.

And there's more. I have finished my children's book. I thought I had finished it a couple of month's back, I told a few close friends and my children so, but I couldn't quite let it go (another bad habit). I let it sit on the computer here. Popped in and out. Fiddled. Yesterday. Done. I can't quite believe it (which is probably why I've buried the announcement in the middle of a post).

I have also finished a short story to share with my lovely local writing group tonight. It's been sitting on file for 25 years  - weirder and weirder - and troubling me for some time. I loved it as it was but no-one else did that I showed it to. I started revamping it for the Grimm fairy tale competition (rewrite one of the classic fairy tales as a modern tale) but failed to get it done in time (fancy that).

I believe the new version is better, although the old story is ghostlike behind it... and having read KM's Bliss this weekend, I realise that what I had before was something that had that sort of rush of unmanageable feeling about it - I hadn't thought that until now - while the new story doesn't, is more prosaic somehow, but despite that, is more engaging emotionally? Anyway, I'll be interested to see what the group thinks. 

It just shows what a writing group can do. Deadlines and expectations are good for me. Trust, too - we trust each other with our work: drafts, meanderings, rewrites .... There are seven of us - men and women - ranging in age from 40s to 80+ and writing a range of genres including spy thriller, horror, children's fiction, creative non-fiction, literary fiction, poetry, memoir... with half of us shifting around between those genres from week to week and the other half sticking to ongoing projects. We meet monthly and we have a meeting tonight. I am so looking forward to it. 

Meanwhile, I guess I should get dressed and walk the dog. In its own way, bliss. 


Helen Rickerby said...

Oh wow! Congratulations on finishing your book!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your book and short story Mary! What a star. Mansfield and Zombies sounds like so much fun, I would love to catch up for coffee with you and hear some gruesome tales - how did Kezia and the doll's house become zombie-esque? I'm intrigued!

Matt said...

Congratulations on finishing your children's book! And thank you for the kind words about Mansfield with Monsters.

The meta-fiction element of the book has been great fun - especially making the interview video. We've played it pretty deadpan (including our editor thanking Dr Marcus Walker in his speech at the book launch and making a website for Dr Walker's work) :-)

Mary McCallum said...

Thanks everyone - and Matt, I saw your video - great stuff - and love the playfulness of your book. Reviewed it on Nine to Noon today. Will post the review here.