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We Survived 3 Days Without Wi-Fi

2015-08-26 15.45.02I just got back from ten days in the Scottish highlands with the last three spent on the Isle of Skye with on Wi-Fi no cell
phone and the nearest neighbor a mile up a very rough gravel track.

I don’t mind telling you that it was rough, that moment when we discovered we were cut off from civilization!!! The first thing we did after we got unpacked was make the trek by foot to the top of the hill, cell phones held high in a desperate attempt to get at least a tiny whiff of a signal – just enough to check and send email … oh pleeeze dear Techno-god!!! But alas it was not to be …

We made our way back down the hill, twitching in withdrawal and growling unpleasantries beneath our breath while cursing the first born of the booking site we’d used that had promised the place had Wi-Fi. But we quickly forgot to be disgruntled when we saw the first intimations of the sunset above the sea. It was the beginning of the domino effect. As we descended the hill, for 2015-08-26 18.50.09 HDRthe first time we paid real attention to the tumble down ruin of a building next to our cottage, the ageing phone box next to it, the thistle in bloom, the hulking shapes of mountains under blankets of clouds. All the while the sunset just kept getting more glorious. Finally, a use for our iPhones! At least a hundred pics later and a nice glass of red wine in hand, we let the midges take over the great outdoors while we sat in the huge window seat in the front room and cheered on a pair of pipistrelle bats in their hunt of said midges in the court yard. By that time we’d nearly forgotten the lack of Wi-Fi.

We slept in total silence that night, something town folk rarely experience. There was no traffic noise, no people noise, not even any settling of the cottage, which I reckon was probably old enough to have been well-settled by now. Even the sea was just far enough away that we could see it well, but not hear it.

IMG_2875Long toward morning I awoke to find another view, something I couldn’t capture with my iPhone no matter how many photos I took — the clear night sky with no light pollution! None! I had no idea there were so many, many stars! The whole Milky Way was splashed across the heaven and, from the dormer window, I craned my neck to take as much in as I could for as long as I could. I stood shivering beneath the view certain I’d just experienced some seriously powerful magic. Everyone else slept and that moment, that glorious view was beautifully and intimately mine. That moment, one I could neither tweet nor capture on iPhone, was for me the highlight of a trip jam-packed full of jaw-dropping experiences. That moment, dark-night private and achingly beautiful, was mine to treasure.

In the morning we made breakfast together laughing and joking, planning and scheming with only the aid of maps and books. From the window we watched the swallows flit about and a charm of gold finches picking at the wild flowers and grasses gone to seed.

2015-08-26 15.29.45In the slow but magical disconnect from the internet umbilical cord, we saw things differently, shared things differently, spoke to each other more reverently, and everything felt more focused, more brightly colored, more three dimensional.

On our way back to the cottage at the end of day two, we punctured a tire. Up on a high cliff above the sea just as the rain was setting in and the wind was picking up, Raymond got out to change the tire, and my sister and I got out to cheer him on and offer what help we could. We had no way of calling for road service to take care of it for us, no way of doing anything but getting on with it. He had just barely got the spare and the jack out of the boot when a car pulled up behind us, and a young man hopped out to help. The older woman with him stood and talked to my sister and me.

We discovered they owned one of the farms in the valley below, and she had seen our hazard lights go on from there. Her nephew had been bailing silage in the field so she told him we were in trouble and they came to our aide. They had us all sorted and back on our way in just a few minutes. This was a very powerful reminder of how people live in community without Internet. They watch out for each 2015-08-26 15.43.57other. I’m not so young that I don’t remember a time when that was the case, and yet I’d forgotten what it felt like in practice.

When our third day in Skye dawned wet and rainy, we drove into Portree and, while Raymond dealt with the punctured tire, we connected briefly to the slow, overworked Wi-Fi in the Cafe Arriba, ensconced with our coffee amid a gaggle of other wet tourists doing exactly the same thing. The connection wasn’t great, and we honestly didn’t mind. Once the tire was sorted, we were off exploring the Trotternish Peninsula in the rain. That night back in our cottage, as the sky cleared to display a resplendent waxing moon, we cooked dinner together, we talked and laughed and schemed and relived our memories of a damn near perfect holiday. We all agreed that we weren’t even a little sorry for our time without Wi-Fi.

The next night, down in Carlisle on our way home, we were once again in our own little Internet worlds trying to catch up while we waited for the waitress to bring our meals. It was jarring and a bit sad 2015-08-27 13.23.46to feel that freeing experience slipping away. But here I am, writing this on my iPhone on the last leg it the trip home. I’ll email it to myself then put together my blog post once I’m home, and by Sunday noon, you’ll be reading it complete with pictures I’ve downloaded. I will have tweeted it and share it on Face Book and will be well and truly back to being my techno- dependent self. We all will. The truth is we’re the slave of our technological connectedness as much as it’s our servant. I’ll take me the better part of a week to catch up, but I’ll treasure those few days of intimate disconnection, and maybe I’ll be brave enough to disconnect on purpose from time to time now that I know that I can, now that I know that I won’t die from the lack of Wi-Fi, and especially now that I know the rewards are so worth the disconnect.

 

A Very Crowded Room

writing image 2It’s crowded room time again, and my room that is 2013 is unusually crowded, surprisingly crowded, in fact. I’m sure I’m not alone in my fascination with the last week of the year. It’s completely different from the rest of the year. It feels more like there are actually just fifty-one weeks in the year, then there is a week that’s really the crowded room at the end, a place not unlike my grandmother’s living room was, jam-packed with the bits and pieces and memorabilia of eighty-three years of living.

The last week of the year is a mental version of that living room, a room that we all have in our head. No matter how expansive the previous fifty-one weeks have been, this final week is the tiny space into which we crowd everything that has happened in the year. Then we mentally pour ourselves a glass of our favourite, settle in to the one comfy chair that’s not avalanching with memories and emotions, and we reflect.

Every item in my grandmother’s living room had a story — a gift from someone, a souvenir from some marked event in her life, something someone had made for her or she had made for herself. My grandmother’s living room was a book full of stories I only ever experienced through her eyes, stories that were lost in the mist to anyone but her.

This time of year, in this last week, we all sit in our mental story book living rooms and tell ourselves one last time the stories that have been our life for the past fifty-one weeks. We laugh at our joys, we mourn our losses and we nod our heads in satisfaction at our successes, promising they’ll be even bigger next year.

There was a finality about her over-crowded living room. It spoke of endings, of past events, of P1000885treasured moments. That last week of the year room we all occupy right now has its own finality. After midnight tonight, we can crowd no more into that room. We leave it as it is, papers strewn, boxes open, bed unmade, cup of tea half finished. Mind you, some of us spend our last hours in that room frantically trying to crowd just a little more into it. That’s me, sitting in the recliner madly tapping away at the computer trying to get another chapter written, another short story out before I have to leave this room and lock the door behind me.

It doesn’t matter though, if we’re sitting reflecting on all that fills this room, or if we’re frantically trying to fill it fuller, at midnight tonight, we’ll all take a deep breath, open the door and walk out into the empty room waiting for us that is 2014. All we’ll take with us is our memories of the room we left and our hopes for how we’ll fill this bright new room that stretches promisingly before us. Some of us make New Years resolutions, some of us just plow in without a plan of action, but one thing is for certain, this time next year, if we live that long, we’ll be sitting in the full room again reflecting on how the experiences of 2014 have shaped us, anticipating how we will take the experiences into the next empty room. With that in mind, here is a very brief tour of my 2013 Room.

Empty Room New Year postMore Books in My Crowded Room:

This has been the year I had three novels published, finishing two trilogies in the process, along with a collection of my short stories.

Elemental Fire, the final novel of the Lakeland Witches paranormal trilogy came out early in the year.

Identity Crisis, book two of Grace Marshall’s Executive Decisions came out about the same time.

The Exhibition, the final book in the Executive Decisions trilogy came out in November.

Gracefully Aroused: The Best of K D Grace  a collection of my short stories, came out in the middle of the year.

First Drafts and Works in Progress:

medusa_bernini2013 was the year I collaborated with the fabulous Moorita Encantada on a burlesque play, Eye of the Beholder, a kinky, quirky twisting and retelling of the Greek myth of Medusa and Perseus. There’s more work to be done on that, and I’m looking forward to the rewrite and the next steps with Moorita in 2014.

With two days left in 2013, I finished the final read-through of the proofs for Fulfilling the Contract, the sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly, which will be out in February 2014.

I’ve written two short stories I’m very excited about, that will be coming out in 2014. I’ll be crowing about those when they happen, and I’ve written numerous blog posts. I’m not even going to mention the pages of new ideas for future novels!

Did I Do Anything other than Write in 2013?

Yes! I did! I made two major trips abroad for research as well as for fun. I spent five days in Las Vegas in March, along with ten days in Oregon. Both Vegas and Oregon figure strongly into novels I’ve written and ones still to come.

I just got back from a fantastic week in Rome, where book three of The Mount series, To Rome with Lust, will be set. I came home truly inspired.

This was the year of the allotment. I spent many long hours spent digging and planting and harvesting some of the most delicious veg ever grown. My back still aches and my mouth still waters at the thought.

This was the year I temporarily gave up long walks for time spent at the gym with a personal trainer. What started out as rehab for a gimpy knee ended up to be a different kind of challenge for me and one that I’ve truly enjoyed. As for the knee – it’s very much improved and I look forward to taking on some long crow-country walks in 2014.

555019_495828133815487_910474558_nThere were lots of readings this year, several at Sh! Women’s Store, including two Reading and Poetry Slams. Sh! is always a delight.

This was the first year of Smut by the Sea, a fabulous gathering of writers and readers organized by two of my heroes, Victoria and Kev Blisse. I’m elated to say that we’ll all be returning to Scarborough for year two of Smut by the Sea in 2014! If you get a chance to attend, please do. I’d love to meet you there!

This was year two for Eroticon – held in London in 2013, and expanded to two full days this year! Once again, Ruby Kiddell organized a totally stunning event. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to lead a workshop for the event – my first ever. Thought my knees were knocking and my hands were shaking, it was a wonderful experience. I can’t recommend Eroticon enough, and in 2014 it’ll bet returning to Bristol. I hope to see you there!

The Birth of the Brit Babes:britbabes_sidebar

One of the most exciting things that happened at Eroticon this year was the birth of the Brit Babes. In 2012 at Eroticon, we put our heads together and schemed the fab Seven Deadly Sins anthology. In 2013 all that creativity became the creative force behind the Brit Babes, a group of eight British erotica authors dedicated to promoting quality and varied erotica and helping readers find just exactly the erotica that works for them. To learn more about The Brit Babes and their plans for world domination which very well could include you, please check out the Brit Babes Site

After a year’s hiatus, this was the year Erotica came back to London and Smutters organized a wonderful table selling books and promoting authors. I was very proud to be a part of the event, even for one day, and I’m still in awe of Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse who organized the Smutter table and readings. You two rock!

This was the year I got nominated, along with the fabulous Kay Jaybee, for ETO’s Best Erotic Author of 2013. Kay and I went and celebrated at the event in Birmingham. We lost out to some chick named E.L. James. Can you believe it? But we still had a fantastic time catching up with old friends and making new ones. We came away winners anyway.

Writers spend so much time living in our heads, in the worlds we create and, at least for me, that forces me to live in the moment most of the time when I’m not writing. I never think much ahead of the next scene to be written, the next chapter to be finished, the next blog post to be put up. As a result, the room that is 2013 has, like the ones before it, filled up without me paying too much attention to what’s around me. And then I reach this day, this last day of the year and I look around me. I’m stunned at all P1000814that’s happened. As I think back, reflecting on the stories, the experiences, the laughter, the sharing and camaraderie, the joy of seeing my stories in print, it seems hard to imagine that I could possibly fit so much into only 365 days. And all the neurotic struggles and self-doubts and fears, well they take up such a tiny space in the room of 2013 that I wonder now why I let them take up so much of my energy.

Once again I come to the end of the year, pick up the key, and stand with heart racing, head full of ideas and plans, with hand resting on the door knob to enter that new room, the one that is bright and shiny and labeled in spangles and glitter, 2014. I am moved by all that has been, by all that is crowded into the space of one single year and by how it has changed me. And I anticipate newness, challenges, more neurotic episodes, adventures, times with friends, and writing – LOTS of writing. That’s the part I anticipate the most. How could it be otherwise?

My wish for you is that your reflections in your full room of 2013 be good ones, satisfying ones, and encouraging ones. And at the stroke of midnight, may you enter that bright empty room of 2014 with hope and joy and anticipation of how wonderfully you’ll fill it up.

 

 

Ancient Ruins and Christmas Lights

P1000814Monday night we returned in the middle of the storm from a week of sunshine and exploring and reminiscing in Rome. It was a fabulous week of pasta and tiramisu, espresso and wine and Roman ruins mixed liberally with the wild hubbub of Christmas preparation. There were leisurely hours of reading simply for pleasure in quiet café’s – something I’ve not had much time for recently, there were long walks beneath the rainbow wave of Christmas lights along the Via Del Corso. There were quick stops into bars in the middle of the afternoon for espresso. There were walks in the Palatine and outings to Tivoli and to Ostia Antica. And there were wonderful memories.

Raymond and I are quite familiar with Rome in the winter. We married in mid-December and spent P1000885part of our honeymoon in Rome and Italy. The place is full of good memories for us. It’s always magical and romantic and irresistibly sexy. It will also be the setting for the third Holly novel, so this was a chance to soak up atmosphere and do a little research.

It’s been eight years since the last time we were in the Eternal City, and we both agree that’s way too long in between trips. Even though there have been plenty of changes over eight years, it still felt like coming home. There were more excavations in the Forum and the Palatine area. Above the Forum there was a different band dressed in Santa Clause suites playing Jingle Bells endlessly in that uncommon alto sax and accordion combo. The pasta and pizza at every little trattoria  was delish, there were too many pastries to sample in three lifetimes, let alone one week, and the rule about not making eye-contact with the drivers during that heart-stopping moment when you P1000918step into the traffic at the crosswalk still applies.

In the Forum, we spent quality time in the ruins of the House of the Vestal Virgin, with its climbing pink roses and with its thin skin of ice on top of the reflecting pools. We were early enough to miss the worst of the crowds.

In the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, we walked among the fountains and plotted wonderfully sexy stories about love run amok in a Renaissance garden. The place was, in no small part, an inspiration for my novella, Surrogates.

We arrived early in the ruins of Ostia Antica and stayed until the whistle blew at the end of the day and we were chased out. I could have lingered for hours in the ruins of the temples from the Roman Republic, the temple of Hercules, and the Domus of Psyche and Eros.

It’s not difficult to understand why Rome is called The Eternal City. It’s not difficult to get caught up in the layer cake of modern and ancient and the manic honk of car horns and the shove and push of Christmas shoppers.

Our flight home was delayed by the heavy wind storms that have plagued the UK the past couple of days. We sat in the lounge at Fiumicino Airport drinking coffee, then wine and reading for pleasure, not really worrying too much. When the window of opportunity presented itself, we left the sunshine for the windy wet British shores. Ours was one of the last planes to land as the storm closed in again, leaving us sitting on the tarmac for an hour and a half waiting for a stand. But we made it home, with little prep made for Christmas – though we never have stood on tradition where Christmas is concerned. Ours will be the hodge-podge of our own non-traditional Christmas treats along with the memories of our first Christmas together when we were only just married, living in a cold flat in Croatia, decorating our tiny tree with chocolate ornaments and watching the cornbread for our turkey dressing bake in the oven. True, we had no television, but even more important, the kitchen, in front of the oven, was the warmest place in the house.

Ah, but I digress! The thing is, we celebrated then and we celebrate now. We celebrate not Christmas per se, but all things that are good in our life, and all things that this year’s brought, all things that our life together has brought. We celebrated in Rome, we celebrated in Croatia and we celebrate now in soggy, windy England while we catch up on our laundry and prepare to cook our Christmas favourites.  And we wish all of you many, MANY wonderful reasons to celebrate during this holiday season and many more in the year to come.

 

The Story Behind Amy Kernahan’s Amazing Travelogue — Orion is Upside Down

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It was my pleasure to be a part of the wonderful Guildford Writer’s Group for several years and getting to know the very talented writer, Amy Kernahan, was one of the highlights of that experience. At the time, Amy was writing her wonderful travelogue, Orion is Upside Down, so once a fortnight the whole group got to experience Amy’s amazing pilgrimage, with her father, to Antarctica. I couldn’t be more pleased to introduce you to Amy and the story behind Orion is Upside Down. Welcome, Amy!

Amy Kernahan Orion is Upside DownAntarctica was once the very essence of inaccessibility.  One of its poles (the Pole of Inaccessibility) is named so.  Did you know that Antarctica is home to more than one pole?  It’s home to more than one Pole as well, assuming Arctowski Base s occupied.  Several years have passed now since I visited, but the Polish research station on King George Island is still going.

The working research station may or may not be on the itinerary, but Antarctica is now firmly on the tourist trail and sojourns there are as common in print as they are becoming in actuality.  So why is my journey, made only shortly after the first so-called ‘cruises’ to the White Continent, and my journaling of it any different? What qualifies me?  To my knowledge, no Antarctic chronicler in print has ever seen their own island home reflected in the islands of the sub-Antarctic.  But for the Gulf Stream, the Outer Hebrides, where I was born and raised, would, like South Georgia, be permanently robed in glaciers.  As it is, they are a twin to the Falklands.  Thus I have an affinity with the land itself.

Antarctica is more than the penguins.

Antarctica is more than history.

The Nordnorge

The Nordnorge

Been and gone is what is called is called the Golden Age.  (But who’s to say the best is not to come?)  Sir Ernest Shackleton, in whose Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition’s wake the bark of my journey sails is an archetypal giant of polar exploration.  But alongside my awe of Shackleton, I have the simple affection of a shared heritage with Thomas MacLeod, Able Seaman on board Endurance, Shackleton’s ship.  Shackleton, known for bestowing nicknames upon his crew called him ‘Stornoway’ after his wee… my wee… our wee home town.

So there are my credentials: Antarctica herself and one of her lesser-sung heroes are a part of what I call ‘home.’

Out of whose womb

Out of whose womb

The Peregrinatio is the ancient Celtic search for one’s true home.  Orion is Upside Down chronicles mine.

Blurb:

This sea story from the bottom of the earth takes the reader on a philosophical voyage through many realms, religious and secular, mathematical and poetic, natural and mechanical. Something akin to a Scottish Bill Bryson, Amy Kernahan, who was born and grew up on the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the chain of islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, sets out with her travelling companion, her father, to journey in the Antarctic and follow her dreams of seeing, and even standing in, the places where Sir Ernest Shackleton had been.

Casting Shackleton in the role of Virgil to her Dante, she follows his trail through the ice fields around the Antarctic Peninsula, a vision here on earth as hellish as the frozen  Lake Cocytus at the centre of Dante’s Inferno. Along the way, the might of the sea, and the glories of the Antarctic set Amy pondering themes of Judeo-Christianity, seeing Antarctica as a remnant of Eden, unpopulated by both mankind and sin. The mathematics of nature reveals itself to her, and she is awed by the prophetic soul of Coleridge and his Ancient Mariner.

Paradise Bay

Paradise Bay

Amy has set out on her journey believing it to be a pilgrimage to Shackleton’s grave, but as she sojourns beneath striking southern skies where even the familiar is alien, she realises that she is on another more spiritual pilgrimage, called by the ancient Christians of her homeland peregrinatio, the search for what they called ‘the place of one’s resurrection’ or true home. The outcome, although perhaps not surprising, is not quite as clear cut as it might have been.

Polarising Filters Kick Butt

Polarising Filters Kick Butt

Excerpt:

We were surrounded by giants.  Nootaikok, the Inuit god of icebergs, and his court.  Tradition describes him as ‘large and very friendly.’  I wondered which space-time continuum that was in.  Certainly not this one.  I had mourned the results of his handiwork since I was six years old.  Nordnorge lay motionless, like one prepared for martyrdom, unarmed before the executioner, yet daring to bring her petition to a god not renowned for mercy, whatever tradition might say.

Shackleton's Grave

Shackleton’s Grave

Of course, the couple of hours of outward inactivity were taken up with the crew’s preparations for landing, out of sight down in the car deck, but standing out on deck beneath the lifeboat that had offered so little shelter as we rounded Cape Horn, in the stillness that seemed to be as much a part of the place as the mountains and the water were, it was easy to imagine that the ship was holding parley with the god of the ice, bargaining for the safety of her passengers.  Nootaikok acquiesced and the landing began, but the little boats, that the previous evening had gambolled around like puppies, seemed subdued.  They waited patiently for their charges under the lee of Nordnorge’s hull, huddling in to the mother-ship for protection.

Be careful, she warned them.  If your propellers hit the ice

Ice littered the bay.  As well as the bergs, many of them level with the ship’s superstructure, the water teemed with brash ice, up to three feet exposed, and the comically named ‘bergy bits’ that filled the taxonomic gap between brash and true bergs, anything over fifteen feet.  And then there were the infamous growlers, barely visible submerged ice that lurked just beneath the surface, like the submarines of some hostile alien power.

South Georgia Rainbow

South Georgia Rainbow

The ice here is glacial, ancient.  I have heard people say of Titanic, ‘How could crashing into ice sink a ship?’ No one would doubt that crashing into a rock could sink a ship.  Glacial ice, the stuff icebergs are made of, is harder than rock.  It is not frozen water, it is compressed snow, the ice at and below the surface the oldest, the hardest, compressed over aeons by the mass of hundreds of feet of snow-becoming-ice above it as it makes its slow, unrelenting journey to the sea, gouging its path out of the rock, tearing away the surface as though it were topsoil.  Anyone who doubts its destructive power need only look at the fjords of Norway, their sheer cliffs dropping to the sea – ice did that.  Destruction that creates.

Stromness Warning

Stromness Warning

Tomas helped us ashore again, but he didn’t need to hold the Polar Cirkle boat’s nose quite as firmly as he had at Deception Island; she was making no attempt to bolt.

‘Welcome to Neko Harbour,’ he called out.  ‘Our first landing on the Antarctic mainland.’

Close to our landing point stood a little wooden hut, painted bright red to make it stand out against the natural white, a white so bright it seemed almost unnatural.  The hut was a refuge erected by the Argentineans in 1949.  And what a refuge it must have been to anyone who had run the gauntlet of ice that guarded the Harbour.  But now, like the crumbling remains of the station at Whalers’ Bay, it was home only to penguins and seals.

Thou rash intruder

Thou rash intruder

The Harbour is named after a Norwegian factory ship which operated there between 1911 and 1924.  Looking out into the bay I tried to picture her (tried because I didn’t really know what a factory ship looked like) lying there surrounded by the ice, which tolerated her with disinterest as it did now another Norwegian vessel.  Nordnorge looked suddenly small, disappearing behind one of the aquatic white mountains that patrolled the bay.

Thou rash intruder on our realm below.[i]

They stood at the gates of Dis, the threshold to the nether-hell, Dante and his guide.  No way to go but onward, for no-one can retreat out of Hell.  You can’t go back the way you’ve come.  If you do, you may leave Hell, but Hell will not leave you.

And as the demons at the gate appraised them with scorn, ‘Thou with us shalt stay,’ they say to Virgil.

No.

But did Shackleton, man of words and eloquence and frustrated poet himself, Virgil now to a reluctant Dante, ever think that perhaps he would?

The guide turns to his charge.

‘Have no fear, no matter what they do to me.  I’ve been here before.’

Top of hill Paradise

Top of hill Paradise

Is that why we journey through Hell?  So that once we’ve been there and know the way, we can guide another through?

The paradox of Antarctica began to manifest itself.  A place that could be Eden, unsullied, un-fallen, could just as easily be Hell.

Or vice versa.

This terrifying place, with its monstrous inhabitants, was equally the last haven of peace and innocence.  But we were banished from Eden.

This is the ice’s world, and we really have no business being here.

About Amy Kernahan

Amy was born and brought up on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, but she’s now an ‘economic migrant’ to the South East of England, where she work as an assembly, integration and test engineer for a company building small satellites in Guildford, Surrey.  That’s the ones up in space, not the dishes on the sides of buildings.

A fascination with technology led her to choose a career path that she believed would bring her to its cutting edge, gaining along the way a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Glasgow and studying for a time at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Supérieur de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace in Toulouse. But the reality is somewhat different and whoever said the space industry is glamorous has never worked in it!

When she’s not writing or hidden away in a big white scrupulously clean laboratory wearing a silly hat and static-deflecting overalls, Amy does milage.  She is now saying ‘never again’ to another marathon, but her year wouldn’t be complete without her trips to Cardiff and Liverpool to run in those cities’ half-marathons.  And she likes to trek the long-distance paths of around a hundred miles, five to six days walking.  In a world where we can hop on a plane and be almost anywhere within twenty-four hours, Amy likes to travel in the most primal, human way she can.  Ironic, perhaps, for someone who spent four years of her life learning to design aeroplanes.

But Amy’s first love has always been the sea.  You don’t get much more primal than that.

Find Amy Here:  www.amykernahan.co.uk

Get your Copy of Orion is Upside Down Here:

Links to Amazon:

Paperback:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan/dp/1906791759/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386766072&sr=8-1&keywords=orion+is+upside+down

http://www.amazon.com/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan/dp/1906791759/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1387056219&sr=1-1

Kindle:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan-ebook/dp/B0063I5P2Q/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1386766072&sr=8-1&keywords=orion+is+upside+down

http://www.amazon.com/Orion-Upside-Down-Amy-Kernahan-ebook/dp/B0063I5P2Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1387056219&sr=1-1&keywords=Orion+Upside+Down+Amy+Kernahan

Waterstones:

http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/amy+kernahan/orion+is+upside+down/8613945/

 


[i] Dante, Inferno VIII, 90 tr Dorothy L. Sayers

 

Inspiration and Hero-Worship in Bath

It’s been ages since I was last in Bath, and upon our return Wednesday afternoon I very quickly remembered why I love the place so much. For this visit to Bath, we had Raymond’s sister, brother-in-law and niece with us. It was their first time.

We had a plan. Raymond would play tour guide while I wrote. I was feeling a bit panicked for having had a week with very little writing — lots of fun with the rels, but very little writing — so I promised I’d write at least part of the time then reward myself with a bit of Bath on the side.

So, being the well- behaved writer that I am, Wednesday afternoon, I bade everyone a fond farewell as they all headed  off to take the open-bus tour. Then I hung out in the hotel gardens and lounge drinking tea and writing like a crazy woman. I joined the happy gathering in the evening for fisherman’s pie and a pint of Abby Ale at Sam Weller’s Pub. I figured I’d earned it after finishing off 3K on the WIP for my day’s efforts. In fact I was pleased enough that I went on the tour of the Roman Baths with the rest of the gang the next morning. I love the Roman Baths. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen them, and every time I do they excite me and inspire me.  How amazing is it that something as simple as water can so powerfully draw for so many people to one tiny place for so many centuries?  It’s taken the water that now fills those ancient Roman baths ten thousand years from the time it fell as rainwater in the Mendip Hills and percolated down through the layers of rock to make its way back up to the hot springs below the baths. That’s some seriously vintage water!

After a picnic lunch near the River Avon, complete with fresh cherries and French school children having a water fight, I said good-bye to my compadres and headed back to the Lansdown Grove Hotel for another close encounter with Stacie and Harris and another two thousand words written on The Exhibition. That evening I joined the crew in front of the Pump Room to listen to a little opera from the street buskers, which got us all in the mood for a nice Italian dinner later.

Friday, before we took the train home, we visited the Jane Austen Centre a little bit of a pilgrimage, for me, to honour one of the literary goddesses of all time and definitely one of my heroines.

The Jane Austen Centre is a quiet little place off Queen’s Square, not far from where Jane stayed when she was in Bath. What I remember most about the visit was hearing that Jane delighted in Bath when she went there as a young woman, and out of that delight came Northanger Abby. But later when she returned in her late twenties she found the place shallow and depressing, as evidenced in Persuasion.

Though much of Bath looks like it might have looked in Jane’s day, things have changed considerably since then. Now it’s easy for me to find inspiration walking the streets between the honeyed sandstone buildings of Georgean Bath. It’s easy to be inspired painlessly and happily in the far-less stratified hodge-podge of tourists and locals scurrying about in the bright June sunlight. And, for me,  it’s impossible to walk where Jane Austen walked and not be awed by the stunning creative force that came from one small, seemingly powerless woman, whose novels didn’t even bare the name of their author until after her death.

KD Grace proudly puts her claim to authorship front and centre on everything she’s ever written, as does Grace Marshall. My name, my creativity, my essence. I wrote it! I claim it! I can’t imagine what it would be like to have been such a creative person as Jane Austen was in a time in which women had very little control over their own destinies.  I’m only saying that it’s good to be reminded that nothing comes without a price, and that price is no less dear because I wasn’t the one who had to pay it. Having said that, I’m pretty sure every writer suffers for her art. I believe that whole-heartedly. Most of us suffer in ways that mean nothing to anyone but us, in ways that are quite often neurotic and unnecessary (at least I do).

I hope at this point, you’ll pardon my groupie-ism and hero-worship, but really, how could I go to Bath and not be at least a little bit star struck.

Thank you, Miss Jane Austen for writing the human heart in such a moving way in a time when it wasn’t cool to do so, and especially in a time when it wasn’t cool for a woman to do so. My efforts to write the human heart often feel bumbling and less then eloquent, but they’re sincere and full of hope, hope your words helped inspire.

On a less serious note. Near the end of our tour at the Jane Austen Centre there was a place with regency costumes for visitors to try on and take piccies in. I have to say, Raymond makes a far more striking Darcy than I do Elizabeth.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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