Raw Meat .. Nicola Batty's Newsletter.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Nicola's October Editorial...


This issue of RAW MEAT is the first one written for the internet… the first of many. Hopefully! So I suppose I should really be plagued with an attack of stage fright – all those thousands of people zooming in to read my Newsletter, or so Andy describes the situation. Though I’m afraid I can’t really get that excited about the potential of using the internet. Perhaps I’m just a hopeless cynic but writing RAW MEAT doesn’t seem to be a real thing to me unless I can see, or perhaps - more accurately - touch it. For such a long time the Newsletter’s been available in paper form – in fact we’re still sending it out to subscribers in this format for the next few months, by the way. Just to make the leap from paper to screen is like jumping into a black hole – pretty scary!! So perhaps this is my case of stage fright!
Keeping on the subject of the internet, can I just remind you that my website is up and running at www.nicolabatty.co.uk My sister Lesley is responsible for putting it all together… so I’d like to say many thanks to her. The site’s had many visitors already, so I suppose that I’m sort of tasting fame!? Or as close as I can get at this stage. I hope that I’m getting people interested in my novels, which is the idea really. I want to add a new section to the website on progress with The Space Between – which is causing me much frustration at the moment with all the Victorian research involved! I don’t know, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea setting it in the 1890s!
I’m getting really fed up with spending so much time on the internet asking Victorian questions; one reply I got from one of these question/answer websites advised me to “stick to what you know when writing your first novel”… which I wasn’t impressed with. What a completely drab world this would be if nobody was allowed to indulge their imagination a bit… there would be no fiction, in either books, films, on stage. The whole idea with The Space Between is to combine history with fiction so there is a perfect interweaving between the two. It’s still difficult to get the balance right – I want to put Wilde’s ideas about using history as a starting point into practice which has been done several times but not to such a degree! I rather suspect that the space between is turning out to be something of an epic. For more on this, see RAW MATERIALS in this issue.
To totally change the subject from fiction to fact, I’ll just mention a piece of real life which has been plaguing me… I intended to write about this in the last issue but I must have decided against it for some reason. About a month ago a really shocking incident occurred in the local park – a teenage boy was walking through with his bike in the early hours when he was shot and killed. The police say it was a case of mistaken identity, but still… it was really scary, particularly because the boy was at Jack’s school. Jack told me that they had a special announcement at school. For a while I was scared whenever Jack went out, because the same thing could happen again… but I suppose you have to live with these sort of things happening, you can’t avoid them totally.
Andy’s just gone out to a carers’ meeting… I hope that you’ll remember my objections to the horrible word Carer! Whether you agree with me or not doesn’t really matter as long as you understand my feelings. Anyway, back to the carers’ meeting: “What does it involve, Andy?” I asked this morning but received only a shrug in reply. It makes no sense at all to me why people should choose to use a different word where someone in Ziggy is involved… doesn’t the person in Ziggy need help, just the way other people do? Both Ruth and Jessica are my helpers…there’s no “caring” involved, I don’t think. What is caring anyway?? Can anyone tell me?
I’ll quickly change the subject back to more fun things. This week Jessica has gone down to London with her famous boyfriend, whose Birmingham based band is getting quite famous… they’re in the middle of making their third album Funny Times, and Jessica was pretty excited because she was going to meet the producer. I asked her if she was nervous, and she replied “No – I never get nervous. Why should I? I really like meeting people. This summarises Jessica completely… I’ve never known anyone so sociable. I remember her telling me how the band got its name in the first place… it was something to do with a cat called Misty! Apparently the cat went missing for sometime… I suppose it’s big adventure is like The Space Between, that mysterious gap that is waiting to be filled.
This morning Ruth was telling me about Jessica’s forthcoming birthday party which is going to be a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Everyone will have to dress up as a character, either human or animal! I hope that somebody goes as the Dormouse… I’ve always felt really sorry for it, getting tea poured on its nose! My suggestion was that I should go as the March Hare; I don’t know if anyone remembers Jan Svankmajer’s surreal animated film version Alice, but the March Hare is a little scrawny cloth toy who wheels round very fast in an old fashioned Ziggy. I’ve always had a passion for anything to do with Alice, particularly Through The Looking Glass. I love Tenniel’s black and white illustrations which I’ve raved about already I’m sure. I’m glad that my Dad shares my passion for Tenniel’s illustrations, and meticulously imitates his style for some of my book covers.
Ruth and I are just winding up our reading of The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman. Although I’ve really enjoyed this second volume of the trilogy I would say that Northern Lights has the edge so to speak. This may be my personal obsession with the frozen north which is where the fist book is mainly set. The Subtle Knife is slightly more confusing in places because it involves different worlds and it’s quite difficult to get your head round, but also the different characters existing in each one. Some characters seem to step over the borders between the worlds effortlessly, which makes the whole thing even more difficult to keep a grip on. Having said this, I think it’s an amazing, epic voyage through the imagination. I really admire Mr Pullman and would recommend it to anyone who has the chance to read the Dark Materials trilogy.
Turning from what’s already been published to our own future plans… I think it’s high time that we decided to embark on another Project! Seeing as my attention will be totally taken up by The Space Between for some time, I don’t intend to publish another novel in the near future, so it looks like our next project will be the long awaited Bites which I’ve talked about before. Bites will actually be a collection of the first 50 RAW MEAT editorials, which Andy has already begun compiling. It will be very strange to read the very first editorials again from 1999… I should think they’ll be completely different from how they are nowadays – what did I used to write about in those days? I can’t remember at all! I think that now though, the time is ripe for Bites… so look out for it!
Back to the computer once again. I know that I said I wasn’t that impressed with the magical power of the internet… but it obviously is working so far as spreading the word about me and RAW MEAT further afield. Already nearly 400 people have visited my website, which is good news! And yet I don’t like the idea of internet publishing… whatever happened to old fashioned books with cover designs?? Will all the artists eventually go out of business? Anyway, the idea of reading a book on a computer is one I can’t get to grips with I’m afraid. Perhaps I’m just old fashioned.
Enough of the computer! I have a picture in my head which is a beautiful Pre-Raphaelite one by John Everett Millais called Autumn Leaves. At one point in my past I must have had the poster on my wall, where I could stare at it for hours… for I can remember every detail of it now. It shows a pile of autumn leaves with three young girls standing around it, looking a bit wistful and Pre-Raphelite-ish. It’s so beautiful because of the amazing atmosphere of autumn it evokes so strongly that you can feel the chill air. It’s also pretty sad and nostalgic… the girls are (supposedly) yearning after their lost childhood. I don’t know why I’m suddenly obsessed with this picture – maybe it’s just the time of year or something! I think it may also be a reaction to all this talk of new technology – there will always be a place for Art.
It’s also something that has recently come home to me… although my eye sight continues to fade, I’m amazed by how vividly I remember details of pictures and whole sequences of films as well as real things around me. I would never think of myself as being blind because my head is always full of colours and images. I’m beginning to rely more on other senses automatically now, particularly the senses of smell and touch. There’s still always confusion of course, and perhaps there always will be… but I feel that losing one sense is certainly not the end of the road by any means!


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