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Rufus Wainwright, packs of batteries, and YA: A Study in

On Wednesday the 18th July, I went to see Rufus Wainwright in the Iveagh Gardens. I regret nothing.

It was due to a spur of the moment decision several months ago. I was talking to a friend online who had seen him perform in London–sitting in a Starbucks, supposed to be revising but taking a break instead–and Googled to see if he was performing in Dublin this year. I’d missed him every time he’d been in Ireland, so I wasn’t holding out much hope.

But he was playing in July! I checked the date and decided I’d twist someone’s arm into going with me. (Housemate and Ex-Housemate, thank you very much for agreeing to the arm-twisting!)

Whenever Rufus Wainwright is mentioned, the first thing that pops into my head is carrying a battered CD player around college (with the necessary spare batteries) and playing Want Two on loop as a I churned through my many English and History essays. (At one point I was able to time how far I should have been in my essay wordcount by how far I was into Want Two.) It sounds silly, trite, but Rufus Wainwright got me through the final year of my undergrad.

Most of the acclaim and gushing is usually given to Wainwright’s quietly reflective Want One, but I’ve always preferred the louder, brassier Want Two, the pink album that declares it’s doing life its way, no matter what others think. Perfect for a girl who knew she was gay, knew her life wasn’t going in the direction she’d expected, but was painfully aware her style and demeanor wasn’t quite adapting to this change. The girl who wanted her life to be different but didn’t know how.

(I ended up bolting to Dublin for a Masters once the undergrad was complete, so to a certain extent I did something, at least.)

I still have the CDs–this was before I joined the iPod and iTunes revolution–and I honestly can’t tell you how many times I listened on loop, though I can tell you I went through many, many packs of batteries. Listening to Rufus Wainwright felt a bit like loving Plath–cliche, expected of a teenager–but I didn’t care. I listened to him on and off once arriving in Dublin, discovering new music and attempting to figure out my twenties, but I’d often come back to one of his albums and linger over the songs for a few days. I didn’t realise how deeply ingrained his music was in me unti Wednesday night, when I’d remember a song based on only a few opening notes and the words would come flooding back. (I mouthed along, probably deeply uncool, but what about this blog post made you think I was cool?)

One of the things that really pleased me when we reached the concert venue was the eclectic crowd: not just older teenagers and twenty- and thirty-somethings, but people my parents’ age and older. In Ireland, at least, he seems to appeal to many different age groups. And he’s flamboyantly, unashamedly gay: not just in how he speaks or dresses, but there are many references to this in his music. If you’ve read interviews with him, he’s pretty frank about wanting mainstream success but also not at the expense of being someone he’s not.

It hit me, in the middle of a song I was kind of dancing along to, as I have no rhythm and not enough bravery to dance like so in public, that this was similar to the kind of writing I wanted to do. Unashamedly gay (because YA ficiton needs more lesbians on its shelves) and involving things that I’m excited to write about, even if they won’t all appeal to the mainstream. (And in regards to trends: well, I’ve loved werewolves since I was twelve, an unfortunate YA subject to write about in the last few years.)

So that’s what I decided when I got home from the concert: to be brave about writing, and to keep on with the lesbians. And to start getting up early before work to get more done, like I used to do with alarming regularity but then gradually started slipping on. I even tapped it on the back of my bedroom door, so I’d see it every time I left: BE BRAVE.

He was amazing live, just so you know.

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Yanking off the dust covers.

Hello!

It’s been… er, quite a while. One could say. Yes, let’s be honest, it’s been months. It wasn’t intentional. 2012 started off hectic and a tad alarmingly, and I kept wanting to update. Then everything slipped out of control, and I kept staring into the void of weeks gone unnoticed on the blog and wondered where to start.

But I need to get back into a regular blogging habit, so I finally decided to go for it and hope for the best.

2012 has been hectic, but not without its good points. I’ve read books and revised a lot of words (almost ready to start submitting again). During March, I met Corinne in Amsterdam, who is wonderful and fed me a lot. Then I went on a writing retreat to Galway in May with the equally wonderful Eleanor and Alex. We wrote a lot and walked a lot. I’m hoping to have posts about those two trips up soon, and attempt to sort out some coherent words about some of the fantastic books I’ve read so far this year.

(And hopefully the next post won’t show up seven months from now.)

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And the winner is…

Thanks to all who entered my giveaway for The Demon’s Surrender. And thanks to the random number generator, I can announce that the winner is…

Joy Kenney!

Please email me at hcorcoran (at) gmail (dot) com with your address, so I can send  your book to you! And thanks again to all who entered. 🙂

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Post-NYC placeholder

I was going to make this post this time last week, but thanks to a volcano, I wasn’t sure I’d be travelling.

I’m just back from six days in New York City, where I attended the Backspace Conference, met a lot of awesome writers, and bought many, many books. (Many.)

This was part of the conversation between the taxi driver and me at Dublin Airport:

TAXI DRIVER: *while lifting my suitcase into the car* If this is full of money, you are the richest person I know.

ME: It’s… books. *sheepish look*

(upon learning I work in a bookshop)

TAXI DRIVER: Wait, you work in a bookshop, and you went to NYC and brought back a suitcase of books?

ME: Let me explain US and UK book rights to you…

 

I have a proper post about the conference coming up, but for now I wanted to say: I went to NYC, yay! I met some great people, yay! I bought so many books, yay!

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Pennies for Japan

I had already planned to do this, but it has unsettling timing with Japan suffering a 7.1 earthquake on Thursday, in the same region as last month’s devastating one. Japan still needs help.

My friend Clovia is donating money to Japan through Pennies for Japan, which is designs (Hamsa, Tree of Life, and Lady Uzume) pressed onto pre-1982 elongated pennies. I received mine earlier this week, and the pictures seriously don’t do the real thing justice. They are beautiful. Clovia is also able to drill and cord them, so they can be worn as well, if you like. I’m wearing my Tree of Life penny to work today. They also come with little notecards which explain the designs. If you don’t want to open an Etsy account and have a PayPal account, Clovia will do a direct purchase through Paypal. Payment is sent to clovis at coppercamel dot com.

(I attempted to take pictures of mine, but the camera on my phone didn’t like that.)

Her website is The Copper Camel, with a link to her Etsy store on the main page (I’ve included a sample link to one of them).  Clovia also does custom work, some of which I’m already eyeing some stuff for next Christmas. They’re definitely worth checking out.

To use Clovia’s own words (a little paraphrased): She’ll trade you some shiny for a good deed.

(And believe me, they are shiny. Wonderfully shiny.)

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Is it Autumn yet?

A sheepish confession: I’m not the biggest fan of summer. My not-so-secret theory is that there are redheads in my family, so I’m unlikely to be best friends with combined sun and high temperatures. Heat is totally not my thing, and I live in a temperate climate. (Places that have really hot summers scare me.) Autumn unofficially begins in a few hours, and I can’t wait.

Autumn (to me, anyway) means new sweaters, writing in dark evenings, and the return of the Starbucks Red Cups (frantic writing with Eggnog Lattes, mmm. Always a good combination); scarfs and crisp mornings. It also means the approach of Christmas (not so good when you work in book retail, until it’s 6:01pm on Christmas Eve and you’re freeeeee. Ahem). Sometimes it even means snow–though I can do without the chronic craziness we had last year, which involved my clinging to lamp posts and unintentionally breaking out some Saturday Night Fever moves, thanks.

My autumn plans involve rewriting the steampunk Alice book (temporarily on hold while I finish rewriting the werewolves) and writing the first draft of a YA contemporary idea that’s been slyly beckoning to me for a few months. (Why is is that Shiny New Ideas always strut up when you’re knee-high in revising and contemplating the distance between your laptop and the window?) As always, there is a teetering to-read pile(s) to work through, and I have some review posts in the pipe line.

What are you looking forward to this autumn? Any plans, small or not-so-small?

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Irish Publishing News (playing catch up)

(Apologies to anyone who clicked into the post I made a few days ago and then found nothing. I felt weird posting small excerpts of writing in this blog, so I deleted it soon after hitting ‘post’. It won’t be happening again, sorry!)

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, which is mostly because I’ve been buried away writing, and I’ve been trying to make as much progress as I can. I have some book recommendation posts in the pipe line, in particular a post about the best YA LGBT books I’ve read as June is Pride Month.

(I was thinking about writing a post about why the werewolves wasn’t specifically written with lesbian characters in mind–it was more a case of reaching Chapter Three and realising my MC liked her best friend–but it also feels weird to talk about a book I’m querying. Hmm. Thoughts?)

But for this post, I’m going to talk about some Irish publishing and children’s books related things. In mid-May, I was lucky enough to attend the first half of the annual CBI conference (Children’s Books Ireland).  It was great to be there, surrounded by people so passionate about children’s books, and I got to chat with some lovely people.

Highlights included Marcus Sedgwick, before whom I embarrassed myself terribly while he was signing books, and Elena Odriozola, a Spanish illustrator whose talk was fascinating. There was also a very inspiring speech from Siobhán Parkinson, the inaugural Irish Children’s Laureate, about the importance of libraries for children and reading. I was unable to make the second half the following day, but I already can’t wait for next year.

Another piece of news is that Derek Landy, author of the stupendous Skulduggery Pleasant (known as Scepter of the Ancients in the US) won the Irish Book of the Decade award, beating stiff competition from the likes of John Banville and Sebastian Barry. Yup, a children’s book won from a shortlist of primarily adult books (there were a few other children’s writers like John Boyne and Eoin Colfer). The award was done through public vote, and it was wonderful to see such an amazing–and popular– book win.

And now I go back to writing. Book recommendation posts coming soon!