Litopia

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Dealing with criticism

Pamela Jo

Full Member
LV
2
 
Awards
1
The reviews are very varied. We do take pot luck. I read inside whenever poss, and the first page sells it, or doesn't. The voice and calibre of the observation.

I once remarked to @AgentPete that the title of 'Dark Matter' made me think of an observatory, and he said, how strange, because the novel was originally set in an observatory. This bespeaks a long hard slog, and lengthy gestation. I read somewhere that Michelle said she was almost embarrassed to admit how long she worked on this book one way and another. But, there, for me, is the gravitas. You can tell with 'Dark Matter', that this story was brewing a long, long time.
Did it frighten me? Well, the landscape certainly frightened me, and one knows that something truly hideous has happened somewhere along the line. There is an unpleasant mix of claustrophobia and agoraphobia. What TC Lethbridge might have called a ghoul...a nasty residue held in a place,
I had a taste of that once myself...in a beautiful place in Suffolk. But wild horses wouldn't drag me to Michelle's Gruhuken.

Katie-Ellen Hazeldine's review of Dark Matter


Interesting. Have you written about your Suffolk experience? It is a beautiful place to meet something dark. I like the contrast. The places I've visited that hold a well of grief, despair, and horror are to do with the Indian wars in the US. There is a sandstone fort near where I grew up that was built mostly as a protection for the Santa Fe Trail. Custer was stationed there for years before the Little Big Horn. Cheyenne women and children were brought back there after the Washita massacre as hostages for peace. The ruins of the fort was a Boy Scout camp when my father was growing up. He went to Jamborees there. He'd wake in the night hearing voices whispering until he'd burrow into his sleeping bag and cover his ears. I don't do Kindle so a book is an investment. Especially when you live in a non English speaking country, like Switzerland where I was living at the time. You don't see television interviews or read reviews so what other readers write on Amazon will make or break a decision. For me it seemed dubious that a good writer would repeat herself with a 2nd novel so much the same. The reader review on Amazon just confirmed that for me. Such are the pitfalls for even an excellent writer. I can rectify it now.
 
Last edited:

Katie-Ellen

Full Member
LV
2
 
Awards
1
I can well imagine, given the pressures of the market, and the demands of writing, even the most excellent authors might feel if they have created a winning formula, it is a shame not to try and use it again in some way rather than do something completely different. Emily Bronte needed only the one novel. But the market was smaller, less hungry. Having written such a thing as that though, would she have had the fuel for another one such? Or had she said all, she really wanted or needed to say? The Muse had spoken.

I have not written about what happened in Suffolk, not in full or publicly anyway, but have touched on it here before, I think. It was in a beautiful old farmhouse, on a farm and mill that had been on that site since the Normans. We were there on holiday and having a lovely time, but I woke one night, and felt something very terrible and was very, very frightened. People often don't say anything. We think we won't be believed, It was years before I said anything, when my mother said she had felt it too and not said anything, not wanting the frighten the children.

Many years later, I went back, not the house, but to the locality, and I found out a true story, that I feel explains what happened, what that presence was. I went to a nearby church where I discovered a locally produced history booklet, and learned is a story attaching to its history that is known locally...it goes back to a farmer in the Napoleonic wars who lost everything on the stock exchange. I read this and had a eureka moment. Horror and despair still haunts the room where he opened the letter that told him he, his wife and 6 children were now paupers. The farm, all those hundreds of years, had come to him via an uncle. Lost on his watch. This, in the days of the Speenhamland system. I won't name him or the house. A family live in it full time now, and rent out holiday lets in the grounds. I don't know if the house is known for being haunted. But the shock of that man's tragedy still abides there, disincarnate.

The wretched Custer. That fort must be a battery cell storing the most terrible rage, grief and terror, and your father was receptive.
 

Pamela Jo

Full Member
LV
2
 
Awards
1
I can well imagine, given the pressures of the market, and the demands of writing, even the most excellent authors might feel if they have created a winning formula, it is a shame not to try and use it again in some way rather than do something completely different. Emily Bronte needed only the one novel. But the market was smaller, less hungry. Having written such a thing as that though, would she have had the fuel for another one such? Or had she said all, she really wanted or needed to say? The Muse had spoken.

I have not written about what happened in Suffolk, not in full or publicly anyway, but have touched on it here before, I think. It was in a beautiful old farmhouse, on a farm and mill that had been on that site since the Normans. We were there on holiday and having a lovely time, but I woke one night, and felt something very terrible and was very, very frightened. People often don't say anything. We think we won't be believed, It was years before I said anything, when my mother said she had felt it too and not said anything, not wanting the frighten the children.

Many years later, I went back, not the house, but to the locality, and I found out a true story, that I feel explains what happened, what that presence was. I went to a nearby church where I discovered a locally produced history booklet, and learned is a story attaching to its history that is known locally...it goes back to a farmer in the Napoleonic wars who lost everything on the stock exchange. I read this and had a eureka moment. Horror and despair still haunts the room where he opened the letter that told him he, his wife and 6 children were now paupers. The farm, all those hundreds of years, had come to him via an uncle. Lost on his watch. This, in the days of the Speenhamland system. I won't name him or the house. A family live in it full time now, and rent out holiday lets in the grounds. I don't know if the house is known for being haunted. But the shock of that man's tragedy still abides there, disincarnate.

The wretched Custer. That fort must be a battery cell storing the most terrible rage, grief and terror, and your father was receptive.
I found out even more about Custer and that time that, yes, makes your metaphor very apt. I outlined this novel about 6 years ago now. Life intervened, but also I'd never written anything so long and complex as a novel. Especially not one that has about 12 characters including a white wolf mated pair. It was too much for me. I gave up until a writer friend told me a radio play I'd written should be a novel. She didn't listen to my whining about not being able to do that. So in this last year I've written two novels. I've broken through my mental barriers. By Imboch, the quickening, my plan is to start the E Company Dead.
OHHH, great research. We were in England during the Hoof and Mouth disease when farmers lost everything, often due purely to dubious government policies. My Kansas veterinarian and local farmers reached out to take in anyone in the UK who could manage to get to the US, away from the dead quiet after their livestock had been killed. US farmers knew the danger they and their families were in. So many blew their brains out in England anyway. That would be quite a story set against the outbreak in 2001. Despair reaching across the ages to new despair. Your story brings to mind Thackeray or Balzac.
 

Katie-Ellen

Full Member
LV
2
 
Awards
1
I had a message the other day, from a perfect stranger re foot and mouth. the Mad Cow thing and the Jakob sheep horror. Telling me it haunts him still. He was young, doing slaughtering. Of ostensibly still perfectly healthy animals coming down the lane by the lorryload. He was young, told himself it was the right thing, and for the best. But was it, he wonders, and this was triggered by the slaughter of the alpaca, Geronimo. Funny this. Only yesterday a man from DEFRA knocked on my mother's day re bird flu. She lives in the countryside. Tell us what was in that cattle feed, or what is still in it, and in that sheep food, if you want to tell the public what to do, she said. I'm just doing my job, he said and they had a chat and a laugh...but...ghosts linger...and sometimes they are happy and sometimes they stink rotten to high heaven and the horror was real, and still is. Circles join strangely, touch, overlap...across continents, centuries...

(Sorry folk, just doing my bit for Seasonal festive cheer!)

Congrats on finishing 2 novels, Pamela-Jo. That's big.
 

Pamela Jo

Full Member
LV
2
 
Awards
1
I had a message the other day, from a perfect stranger re foot and mouth. the Mad Cow thing and the Jakob sheep horror. Telling me it haunts him still. He was young, doing slaughtering. Of ostensibly still perfectly healthy animals coming down the lane by the lorryload. He was young, told himself it was the right thing, and for the best. But was it, he wonders, and this was triggered by the slaughter of the alpaca, Geronimo. Funny this. Only yesterday a man from DEFRA knocked on my mother's day re bird flu. She lives in the countryside. Tell us what was in that cattle feed, or what is still in it, and in that sheep food, if you want to tell the public what to do, she said. I'm just doing my job, he said and they had a chat and a laugh...but...ghosts linger...and sometimes they are happy and sometimes they stink rotten to high heaven and the horror was real, and still is. Circles join strangely, touch, overlap...across continents, centuries...

(Sorry folk, just doing my bit for Seasonal festive cheer!)

Congrats on finishing 2 novels, Pamela-Jo. That's big.
Defra they changed their name under Blair didn't they? The pictures of Geronimo the alpaca were horrific. What happened to the real Geronimo might have suggested not a portentous name.

The medicine man/ warrior chief held off the US army for 40 years, thanks mostly to the tribe's Indian ponies that could find water in the worst deserts. Survivers credited the horses with being able to sneak past military guards like ghosts. Geronimo surrendered because his people were becoming old and tired. He was promised that they would be able to return to their own lands, instead they were shipped off to prisons. Even when his people were released he was not. He died far from the desert he loved. His body was brought back to be buried, only to be dug up by Prescott Bush for Yales Skull and Bones society. Yes the future senator and father , and grandfather of those two presidents took the skull of one of the greatest leaders the US has ever known for the secret society that selects many of the US's political elite. Geronimo’s Heirs Sue Secret Yale Society Over His Skull (Published 2009)

I remember one story of that time that I've often wondered about. An old woman barricaded herself in her house with her pedigree ewe and ram , a line her family had cultivated for generations. She held off police and Defra for some time with her shotgun. I remember reading that those who could muster legal council and injunction actions usually won their cases. I 've always hoped that she did.

The most gut wrenching thing is that farmers had dealt with the previous outbreak much better. Farmers knew it was the government agents that were spreading the spores to their farm and could do nothing. The solution Defra used to "sterilise" their boots would have taken a 15 minute soaking to actually kill spores.
 
Top