Friday, August 31, 2007

Eco-Libris | Our vision

I just came across this and found it a very interesting idea:

Eco-Libris is for everyone. It enables people to do something reasonable, affordable yet with an impact: plant one tree for every book they read. We believe that taking responsibility for the environmental costs of the books we read is only natural.We strive for a world where reading books doesn’t have adverse effects on the environment, and therefore our mission is to make reading much more sustainable than it is today.

We are committed to doing our best for this to happen as quickly as possible. This is why we decided to aim high and to set a challenging goal for ourselves: we want to balance out half a million books by the end of 2008.Eventually (and hopefully sooner then later), books will be made from recycled paper or other eco-friendly materials. But till then, we can still do something to make the world greener. We hope not only to see more trees being planted, but that the Eco-Libris sticker you get to put on the books you balance out will inspire you to keep looking for more ways to make a difference.
Then I clicked on Our Team and discover to my great suprise that it is all Israelis. Why am I suprised? Well, living here, you don't get the feeling that environmental awareness is high on the list of priorities. We do what we can, we recycle plastic, glass and paper, but there are, obviously, slightly more pressing concerns, like survival. I applaud the founders of Eco-Libris for wanting to make the world we are trying to survive in not the same world we are depleting and destroying. Good luck to you!

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Flying Saucers Go Into Production

How long have I waited for this:

US company Moller International has begun to manufacture parts for its Jetsons-like personal flying pod, the M200G Volantor.The M200G is the size of a small car and is designed to take off and land vertically.
Flying Saucers Go Into Production |Sky News|

And it only costs £45,000. A bargain. Watch out for me hovering 3 metres off the ground near you soon.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I had an interesting experience this week. I was Googling myself, as you do (you do, don't you?) and I discovered a web page called Representations of Antarctica: Short Stories. And there, lo and behold, was this:

Hershman, Tania. "The White Road." Wonderwall. Route 16. Ed. Anthony Cropper and Ian Daley. Pontefract, West Yorkshire: Route, 2005. 29-37.

This is a story I wrote a few years ago, the first story I had broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and then published in Route's Wonderwall anthology. It is set in Antarctica, a place I have never been, nor did I do any research about it before I wrote the story (I don't believe in research for my fiction, it reminds me too much of journalism).

I was extremely delighted to appear on this website, and I wrote to them to find out how they'd found me. Turns out, the web page I stumbled across is the bibliography for a book called 'Fictions of the Far South' being written by Dr Elizabeth Leane, a Lecturer at the School of English, Journalism and European Languages at the University of Tasmania.

When I got in touch, Dr Leane asked me, naturally,
"why you decided to set your story in the Antarctic - did you have a pre-existing interest in the place?"

Hmm. I started feeling a little like a fraud. I replied:

The White Road was inspired by this article:

The White Road
"What's long, white, and very, very cold? The road to the South Pole is nearing completion… Almost a century after the explorers Amundsen and Scott battled their way from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, a US team is heading the same way but constructing a road as they go. Due for completion by March 2005, this road will stretch for more than 1600 kilometres across some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world.
- 07 February 2004

and then tried to divert attention from my lack of knowledge back onto her book. She hasn't written back to me yet!

This is quite a strange feeling, to have my short story, set in a place I have never been to, referenced in a bibliography for a book about that place. Should I have researched more? The story isn't really about Antarctica, it's about one woman's personal tragedy and how she deals with it (if you'd like to hear the Radio 4 broadcast click here). Should I have set it somewhere nameless? What is my responsibility as a writer of fiction? How much can we really make up?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sending books to prime ministers

Apparently, in an attempt to stimulate more interest in the arts, Booker-prize-winner and tiger-on-raft writer Yann Martel sends a book a fortnight to his Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, the Canadian PM. So far, Martel has sent Tolstoy; Hindu scriptures; and Strindberg's Miss Julie. Interesting. The article mentions that Harper is, of course, a very busy man, but Martel hopes he might fit in a page or two at bedtime or even on the loo. This inspires me to suggest that perhaps Martel should send something rather easier to read in tiny snatches of time - why short stories, of course! Some of his own (The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios) or some from Canada's many and wonderful lit mags, such as Front&Centre, Grain, Maisonneuve. or The Walrus.

It also got me thinking about who I might like to send books too, and why. Living in Israel, I'd like to send Gaza Blues, a collection of short stories by dark and funny Israeli writer Etgar Keret and dark and funny Palestinian writer Samir el-Youssef, to our dear Prime Minister, Mr Olmert and to Palestinian PM Mr Abbas, to show them what co-operation looks and feels like. Maybe they could start a book group to discuss? If anyone in high places is reading this, I am happy to lend you my copy and then come up with a few more suggestions.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

New project

I'm feeling better today. The last few days were pretty rough, not-wanting-to-get-up-in-the-morning kind of days, not something I've really experienced. But then last night this idea that has been buzzing around in my head for a while landed with a thud and insisted on being addressed. I am not going to go into detail, but I will say that it's related to short stories but doesn't involve me writing any. It's something for all short story writers and readers, I hope. No, it's not a literary magazine!

It's going to take a little while to set up, but it feels really good to have a focus, to take the pressure off me in terms of what I am going to write next, but still to be involved with short stories.

More details soon, I promise! In the meantime, visit my friend's wonderful new site JewButt and get yourself some new underwear! Congrats, Bev, we're all really proud!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

a bit lost

I'm feeling a little lost today. Well, not just today, it's been about two months. I didn't believe that the offer of publication of my collection would throw me like this. I thought I'd just keep on going, writing stories. But I feel very stuck. I feel as though I should have a big project to work on - a new collection, a screenplay - something. But I feel completely at a loss to even think about what that could be. I wake up in the morning and I'm not fired up, not driven to jumping out of bed and creating. I wander around, waking up slowly, doing little things here and there, aimless, highly irritating to J, I imagine. Everything feels a little foggy.

I also feel guilty at my aimlessness and annoyed at my guilt. Layers upon layers. How dare I, who has the luxury of all this time, not use it to the full? Yes, but use it how? I have both the sensation that I can do whatever I like, and a heavy weight pressing down that is stopping me from doing anything.

I joined a wonderful forum called Bloggers With Book Deals, whose public face is Bookarazzi. BWBD has 50 or so members, all of whom blog and all of whom have book deals, some of them related to their blogs, and others not. I blog, I have a book deal, I can join in, I thought. Everyone seems lovely, but they are chatting about film rights, about their readings, appearances on major UK talk show Richard&Judy and interviews in the national newspapers, and I am lurking in a corner, totally overwhelmed. I can barely talk about "my book", I feel raw.

This is not how I thought it would be.

I thought I would move to the next rung up the ladder, to actual publication of a collection, with delight, with a boost to my confidence, smoothly moving on to the next thing you do. Instead, I feel as though I am half hanging off the ladder, I don't want to look down, the next rung is so far out of reach.

And I look back over what I have just read and am furious for even feeling like this. I'm so lucky, right? Why I am whining? I think I might take up pottery, maybe try and join a singing group. I should tidy up my workspace, which is utterly chaotic. Or maybe I'll have another cup of tea. Maybe I should just ride this out, notice my un-ease, my discomfort, as my meditation teacher would say. Don't judge it, it's not good or bad, just notice it, and breathe. Breathe. There's an idea.

Friday, August 10, 2007

post-publication neurosis

Thanks so much to Cally Taylor for this link to an article about the antics of a newly-published debut author trying to get people to buy his novel. Although written in a humorous tone, I really felt for Antony Moore (here, Antony, hope this shows up on your Google search!) as he keeps going back to Waterstone's to count how many copies of his book are still there, buying copies himself and writing his own Amazon reviews. He says:

I realise that’s what it means to publish a book: there’s a part of me over there on the shelves, and in Blackwell’s earlier today when a man took a copy down, rifled through it, and then, dismissively, returned it, I wanted to walk over and ask what the hell he was up to. Could he not see that he was touching a part of someone’s soul? Walk softly, I wanted to say, for you walk on my profits.

Beautifully put. But it makes me a bit stressed about how I am going to be when my book comes out. I'm pretty anxious about the whole thing already - I've rounded up a couple of glorious blurbs, which is what the industry charmingly calls those quotes on the bookjacket, from two extremely generous authors whose writing I love, Sunshine O'Donnell and Melvin Bukiet.

But will anyone actually read it, anyone who I am not related to or knows anyone I am related to or knows me or knows anyone who knows me or who has been paid to read it? I'm not in England so can't go into Waterstone's and try and sneak my book onto one of their tables... So what will happen to it?

Yes, ok, maybe I am worrying so as not to get on with something else. Does everyone feel like this?