The Banker's Niece

Read exclusive extracts from my new novel The Banker's Niece. Click here for Chapter 1.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

What I'm reading/watching

In my teens and early twenties I was consumed with travel fever. After a year spent working my way round Australia, however, the fever abated. I realised that it wasn’t so much travel fever that had afflicted me as the need to get away from my family and establish myself as independent. Australia obviously did that (up to a point). One place I would still love to go though is Iceland.
    According to Frog’s book about flags, Iceland is almost half the size of the UK but has a population of only 280 thousand (whereas the UK has a population of nearly 60 million). According to Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason the lakes in Iceland ice over in the autumn and if you fall into one you die within minutes. In the countryside, a blizzard can arise from nowhere and take a child out seeing to the animals with his father. The men have names that sound as if they belong to Tolkien heroes, sheeps' heads pickled in sour milk are a traditional delicacy, and the prospect of winter casts a blight over everyone’s souls. What more could a girl want?
    Indridason’s most famous book is Jar City (I love that title), also published as Tainted Black, but I haven’t managed to find it in the library yet. Hypothermia is a later title in the same series, which is about a police detective called Erlendur. It is beautifully translated and as near as I’ve managed to get so far to that country.

Last night, while Frog was doing archery, I watched a film called Julie and Julia, recommended by a niece. It was about blogging, the love of good food, a tall woman and wanting to be a writer. I wonder why she thought of me.
    It was nothing ground-breaking but a pleasant way to spend an evening, with Meryl Streep in fine form, and was apparently adapted from a book of the same name.

A book which kept me awake most of Monday night and which is also to be made into a film is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Set in Mississippi in the early 1960s, it tells the story of that stultifying, not to say atrocious, place and time through the eyes of two black maids and a young rich white woman. Riveting, heartbreaking, funny. I only hope the film does it justice.

Yesterday I drew up a list of strategies to help my writing. One of them was to stop reading for a while. I am a compulsive reader, and I know that filling my head with other people’s words is not conducive to producing my own. (Stopping reading is also recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, a book I mentioned earlier, in March (‘Artists’ dates’).)
    This afternoon, when I got back from rushing around Exeter doing errands, I just had to lie down and rest. (It’s probably an age thing.) I put the new regime into practice immediately and didn’t pick up a book as I usually would. This post was the result. Let’s hope I can extend the effects to novel-writing.

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