Thursday, November 20, 2014

Islanded one


Day one of the Graphic Novelist Exchange Residency began with Ant Sang, Tim Gibson and me being introduced to Chuang Yung-shin, 61Chi and Ahn Zhe by Catriona Ferguson, Director of the NZ Book Council, with the help of translation from Dala Publishing's Aho Huang, at Vaughan Park Retreat Centre (you can read my introduction to the residency here).

Left to right: Dala Publishing's Aho Huang (our translator), 61Chi, Ahn Zhe, me, Chuang Yung-shin, Tim Gibson and Ant Sang.

Once the welcoming was over, we had the first of what was to become a daily ritual: the meeting.

The meeting gave us all a chance to air our initial ideas and thoughts about what form our collaboration could yield. 

Since finding out I had been selected for the residency, I had put a lot of thought into form and took along some graphic novels and stories and sketches to illustrate my ideas. cover-with-Costa

Click on images for links. 

I chose The Octonauts and the Only Lonely Monster to show how pages could be printed in different directions, upside down, for eg, to engage readers to participate physically with book and how this technique could be employed to make a reader from one culture shift their perspective, literally, to see a work from another culture's point-of-view (start video at 5:05 for demonstration of how the book has to be turned to be read).

I talked about Mary and Bryan Talbot's graphic collaboration, Dotter of her Father's Eyes, which demonstrated beautifully not only the relationship of its subjects but also is endearingly revealing about its author's marriage. 

New Zealand cartoonist Grant Buist had told me about another collaboration that involved translation of sorts: The Red Re[a]d Diary, by Teddy Kristiansen with Steven T. Seagle, where one artist, unable to read the language of the original manuscript, had made up his own interpretation for what the story was by looking at the images and text and guessing. 

And I talked about the graphic conversation Dylan Horrocks had with Emily Perkins, that resulted in All Hail Ellie Destroyer of Worlds.

I wanted to visually represent the surface image we present to strangers and the inner that we only reveal once we become friends, and how this applies to our cultures. 

I demonstrated how cut-outs could be used to hide then reveal parts of a narrative.


This idea was popular as it fit well with the overall theme of the exchange: Island to Island

The meeting gave us lots to think about. We decided a walk was in order to let the thoughts settle in. 

Vaughan Park is siutated at the edge of Long Bay Regional Park and the weather was kind to us as we took in the beautiful views....
...recorded ourselves recording and...

...recorded graphic fiction in the sand....

...encountered a little history about an earlier cross cultural exchange...

...and found our own ways to bridge our cultures.



Left to right: 61CHi, Ahn Zhe, me, Chaung Yung-shin, Tim Gibson, Ant Sang, Catriona Ferguson (Director of NZ Book Council), [taking the photograph, and translating] Dala Publishing's Aho Huang. 

October was such a successful month for me, I didn't get a chance to write much about the Graphic Novelist Exchange Residency I'm participating in as I had to scoot off to Scotland to attend the Dundee International Book Prize (though, if you click on the link, you can read brief reports from Ant, Tim and me about the first week of the residency, on Booknotes Unbound, as well as introductions to the work of 61Chi, Chuang Yung-shin and Ahn Zhe). But since I landed back in NZ, I've had time to think over the past month and realise how lucky I am. I have really landed on my feet.

Thanks to the New Zealand Book Council and the Publisher's Association of New Zealand in association with the Taipei Book Fair Foundation, I got selected to spend a week at Vaughan Park with Ant Sang, Tim Gibson, and Taiwanese graphic artists 61Chi, Ahn Zhe and Chuang Yung-shin (Sean), to work on a collaborative graphic fiction publication.

Art work from the book-in-progress will be exhibited at the Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) in February 2015, when the second part of the residency will take place in Taiwan.

 View Illustrations exhibit.jpg in slide show      View Illustrations Hall3.jpg in slide showView Illustrations TIBE2014.jpg in slide show

When I found out I had been selected for the residency, I started a visual journal. But I thought it might be interesting to blog the experience, island to island, starting with day one of the residency.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lovetot in the way

Sheffield's iconic Castle Market is to be demolished to make way for a park. It shouldn't bother me, I live in New Zealand now, not South Yorkshire, England, and yet I feel a pang of nostalgia for the old familiar things. I bought my satchel there, on a shopping trip with my great aunt May.

I've always felt my satchel to be something of a lucky charm, despite the frequency with which the stitching has come undone, and last year I was proved right when a story it featured in won Short Fiction's Seventh Annual Competition, having been illustrated beautifully by Jo Davies.

 Jo Davies' illustration of my satchel for Short Fiction #7. 

Jo had not seen a picture of my satchel but drew her interpretation from the description in my story, "While Women Rage in Winter", and generously gave me the resulting art work, for which I'm more grateful than she could possibly know.

The Satchel of Castle Lovetot                     

What made you outlast all others, baby?
The tapestry and canvas were just fad.

But you I used and often pushed aside
because you had a broken buckle,

you snagged a hole in my cardigan,
and you had a habit,

when I ran, of flapping like a cancan,
losing things, yet still I clung to you.

Five pounds you cost in ’86.
The stall in Castle Market was hung

like a camel in a caravan
with dozens like you, but my heart

was set on you because I loved
the way your skin felt against my knuckles.

Old enough to appreciate you now,
I caress you. Daily, let you ride my hips.

There's a great history of Sheffield, including the lovely named origins of Castle Market, in Carl Lee's Home; A Personal Geography

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fun thing: part two

Having found our bearings, Fox and I ventured inland to explore the beautiful city that is Dundee.

 Who's the man leading the kids through the centre of town? Could it be the Bash Street Flasher?

It's only Desperate Dan marching past Caird Hall. Still, best to remain at the rear, just in case.

Then it was time for morning tea and lemon drizzle muffin at the Folk Cafe, thanks to Fox, followed by a snout through the second hand stores - oh, the delightful smell of fusty books! - before lunch, also courtesy of Fox, who also brought me shortbread and generally kept me well fed and in fine company until I went to hear Kevin Barry read.

Barry is a consummate performer and he read with great flair as I nervously sketched him because I was too shy to take a photograph and risk my camera making inappropriate noises. Imagine being the cause of Kevin Barry's embarrassment. Actually, you needn't imagine; let me describe it for you.

Here is Barry, dutifully and effectionately signing copies of his books - yes, plural, the man has multiples of proofs of his talents.

You wait in line only to realise you haven't your copy of his short story collection on you then dash to buy one and return, queueing long enough to appreciate the logo on the tablecloth. He seems affable, gregarious, though a tad more shy than when he was reading to a packed room. Strange, you think, there's only you left in the queue. Then what do you do? 

Do you ask him about depictions of patriarchy in his fictions and if he consciously and deliberately champions flawed women via the narrative voices of men who at first seem bent on scorning them? No. 

You rip a sketch from your day book and stuff it at his face, muttering something like:

"This is you."

And you don't win the Dundee International Book Prize, but you've got the biggest smile on your face at the gala dinner....

Perhaps I was smiling because Amy Mason was lovely, or because Stuart Kelly and Cargo Publishing said wonderful things about my novel and my reading, perhaps it was because one of my readings was broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland, or perhaps I was smiling because I had the honour of Jenny Brown's company at the dinner table.

....which is probably a good point to shut your trap.

But just before I do shut up, I'd like to thank Literary Dundee and the NZ Book Council once more for making my trip to the Dundee Literary Festival possible. I'd also like to thank everyone I met at teh gala dinner for your hospitality and warmth, and for al the encouraging and lovely things you each said about my novel. Thank you.

Fun thing: part one

My sincere thanks to the New Zealand Book Council for awarding me an International Travel grant and funding my flights to and from the UK to attend the Dundee International Book Prize gala dinner and Dundee Literary Festival. Thanks, too, to Literary Dundee for funding my accommodation at the Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa. I am grateful for your generosity, my trip would not have been possible without your assistance. 

And what a trip!

The Courier headline on the morning of the Dundee International Book Prize gala dinner:

I promptly took my person to the Street of the alleged incident.

Perhaps the alleged flasher misread the To Let sign for ToiLet.

It was in this state of naivety and openness to learning that I experienced Dundee.

On one's first visit to Dundee, one must have a room with a view, and this was mine:

from the Apex City Quay Hotel and Spa. And look right, a lighthouse on a boat. It would be easier to see if its light were on. The sun hadn't quite got its act togeether by 9.30 am, jet lagged, obviously.

But by mid norning it was a glorious day in Dundee, and how better to see the city's sights than in the company of local writer and blogger Rachel Fox, affectionately known online by moi since 2009 as T'other Rachel.

 Fancy, travelling betwixt antipodes to discover the Discovery had done it first. 

The Discovery expedition to the Antarctic was led by Robert Falcon Scott, of course, whose name I filched for my nom de plume the year I was shortlisted for the Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize.

The Discovery appeared to have brought back a few unregistered passengers:

I don't know how long the penguin's been staring at that compass, but I think someone ought to say it isn't working.
Are we nearly there yet?