The Bandwagon: Closed for annual leave

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Hello dear readers!

Thank you so much for continuing to follow The Bandwagon, and engaging with us here. It’s always a blast.

I’m off on my hols as of tomorrow, so any queries sent through the blog or via email will have to wait until I return on the 3rd of July.

You can read all about our upcoming trip to Cornwall here. I’ll still be active on Instagram, so follow me and be jealous of our holiday (and our cats!).

Guest Blog: Cornish author Jill Turner describes how Fowey inspires her writing

Jill Turner is a Fleet Street journalist and novelist and single mum, now based much of the time around Fowey. Like Daphne du Maurier, she visited it as a child and vowed to return there to become a writer. She has taken part in the Fowey Festival and, like Daphne, is inspired by her coastal walk around the Fowey estuary.

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As a child been driven back to Cornwall, the gateway was never the ‘Welcome to ..” sign, or even the crossing of the Tamar Bridge, but the journey across the bleak no-man’s-land of Bodmin Moor.

It was there my imagination was sparked by my mother telling me of Dozmary Pool and its part in Arthurian legend as the home of the Lady of the Lake, and the final resting place of King Arthur’s magical sword. For me, the barrier between fairy tale and reality was broken. Dozmary Pool, Tintagel, Slaughterhouse, Camelford, all have made claims to England’s greatest legend and made me believe that somewhere, behind some invisible curtain, in that magical, mysterious county at the end of the country, King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table still lay sleeping.

So years later, it was to those legends that I returned when I wrote my first novel. On the surface, a tale of feral children described as an ‘urban Lord of the Flies’ and ‘Trainspotting for teens’ seems a long way from the wild landscapes of Cornwall. But a story needs a structure, and the Tales of King Arthur came into my thoughts. Getting young people reading is also one of my passions, so I wanted to try and encourage an interest in some of the classic literature, poetry, and art inspired by the Arthurian legend.

The Children of Albion tells the story of England’s lost children – some physically, some emotionally, but all living on the edges of life. Set in a present day sink estate, which becomes a microcosmic world where the struggles of life are intensified, the children try to create their own community of lost girls and boys inspired by the Arthurian ideal, while battling parental neglect, exploitation, and interference from the authorities. Led by the charismatic Albie and his ‘Artful Dodger’ sidekick Robbie (the 11-year-old narrator), the children of Albion aim for a hopeful, better future. But can the boys’ friendship see them all through?

“They say he is only sleeping,’’ Albie went on. ”Arthur and his knights are still around, in a cave somewhere deep in the country and when England needs him, Arthur will bring his knights back to save us.”

I thought for a bit. “He’d better hurry up, ain’t he?’’ Then I sat back and said,”Cool”. It was kind of what I’d been thinking about before. That’s kind of nice, innit? That there’s someone out there going to look after you. Take over. Sort it out. It’s kind of nice to think it, even if you know it’s all a load of crap.”   

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Amazon UK | Literature Works | @jilltwriter

 

Jill Turner is reading from The Children of Albion at the Great Estates Festival in Scorrier on June 3rd and 4th.

Although Jill was too late for this year’s Cornish Reading Challenge, I’m pleased to announce that she will be joining us for next year! Keep your eyes peeled for information in 2018.

Cornish Reading Challenge: Thank You!

As the third annual Cornish Reading Challenge comes to a close, I want to thank everyone who’s joined in and made it a success.

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To the authors, for their hard work and participation. This wouldn’t work if it wasn’t for you.

To the readers, who get involved and create a buzz. I hope you enjoy reading Cornish books as much as I do.

To the bloggers, who help us promote this challenge.

To everyone else, the businesses and bookshops and artists, who offered prizes and gave their time to this challenge.

I absolutely adore the Cornish Reading Challenge. As a Cornish maid at heart, I love revisiting the place I call home, through the books I choose to read. For three years now, this challenge has been a success, and I hope to keep hosting it every year.

If you have any thoughts on the challenge, or would like to send your suggestions for next year, email thebandwagonreviews@gmail.com

Cornish Reading Challenge: Visiting God’s own country

This June, we’ll be paying a visit to our favourite place in the world: Cornwall. Going back as an emmet will be strange, but we’re excited to spend six days in God’s own country.

We’ve decided to stay in Fowey, in a lovely little cottage called Ebb Tide. It sleeps 4 people, and is perfectly located for access to local shops and pubs, and, of course, the river. Fowey is, of course, where Daphne du Maurier lived and wrote for some time.

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Fowey

Those of you who follow my Not A Diet feature will know that I’ve been trying to build up my strength and get fitter, following a diagnosis of fibromyalgia last year. I’ve been attending a weekly Pilates class (and can now touch my toes – something I’ve never been able to do!), and working with personal trainer Colette a couple of times a month. I’m also working on increasing my steps, and we’ve been going for weekly walks around our corner of Hertfordshire.

One place we’re eager to see is Botallack mine. Keen Poldark lovers will know that Botallack became Wheal Leisure for the BBC series. Botallack is almost 2 hours away from Fowey, so this will be a day trip! Sticking with the mining theme, but a bit closer to home, we’ll also be visiting Wheal Coates in St Agnes.

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Botallack

There’s nothing quite like walking around a beautiful place, and, for the most part, walking is free! St Ives is a must-see – I used to holiday there as a kid, and we took the train out from Plymouth a couple of times too. We’re thinking of parking at Par station and hopping on the train to St Ives, which is arguably the best way to drink in all the sights.

If you haven’t glimpsed Bodmin Moor (which you should have done, from the A30 at least!), you’re missing out. Although the moor may prove too difficult a hike for me, on our list is the famous Jamaica Inn, where we’ll grab a bite to eat. Then we’ll wander down to Dozmary Pool, where some people believe Excalibur, King Arthur’s sword, still lies. I went to Siblyback Lake with my college class and loved it, so we might pop by for a while next month.

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Dozmary Pool

It seems rather remiss of me, but, in all my time living down there, I never visited Tintagel, so it’s on our list of places this year! We’re also interested in seeing the Lanhydrock house and gardens, and Cotehele Mill over Saltash way.

In amongst this tripping around, we’ll also be catching up with friends, who are dotted around the county – St Austell, Dobwalls, Polperro. Visiting Route 38 for some food is a must – but there are plenty of places to eat, wherever you go.

Where do you love to visit in Cornwall? Do you have any recommendations for us?

Cornish Reading Challenge: Writing in secret places with Jane Johnson

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for over 30 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer. She was responsible for publishing the works of J. R. R. Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and worked on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, spending many months in New Zealand with cast and crew. You can read about her Cornish roots here.

If you’re a budding writer – or even an established one – I have some revolutionary advice for you: ditch the laptop, escape the internet, grab a notebook and get outside!

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These days we spend so much time inhabiting virtual space, plugged into smartphones, forever connected, always online. Emails are coming at us left, right and centre; Facebook and Twitter notifications, breaking news flashes. Every writer I know finds themselves getting distracted when they go online – you mean to check a bit of research, remind yourself of the date of a battle, or the name of a fifteenth century fabric, and before you know it you’ve got sucked into a political debate, commiserated with a ‘friend’ you’ve never met about their relationship problems, and bought a dress on eBay you’ll never wear. (And probably forgotten the reason you went online in the first place. There’s even a new scientific name for our inability to fully concentrate on the task at hand: “continuous partial attention”.) Worse: you’ve wasted an hour and a half of precious writing time. Of course, you can impose some self-discipline, stay in and go offline: but there’s more to writing outside than simply the avoidance of distractions.

I am lucky to live in places where getting outside and finding quiet spots in which to write is easy. In Morocco, there’s the roof terrace, or the granite plateau ten minutes’ walk from the house. Great chunks of THE TENTH GIFT, THE SALT ROAD, and THE SULTAN’S WIFE were written in a collection of notebooks under the North African sun.

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In Cornwall, I have a number of secret, and not-so-secret, writing spots in the great outdoors. You’ll often find me in summer sheltering under a big hat on one of the many benches around Mousehole’s harbour, moving from one to another as the sun heads west, always ending up on the South Quay. I get some funny looks from tourists, and the occasional question – which I don’t mind at all – but the locals have got used to seeing me out there: sometimes in jumpers and windproof coats when the weather is not so clement.

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When I’m in the throes of a novel I can write pretty much anywhere – I’ve written on trains, at airports, in parks and libraries, in wildlife reserves and friends’ gardens. But sometimes you need to wrestle with your work, to be energised and inspired. And that’s where going into the great outdoors can help.

First of all there’s the exercise – however minimal – that gets you out there to your chosen writing spot: that gets the blood pumping and oxygen flowing around your system and into your brain. You feel more alert outdoors, more alive. You’re out in the weather, under the sun and the sky, much as your characters will be unless your novel takes place exclusively in drawing rooms and parlours.

And then there’s the sense of space, which enables the imagination to flow, to break the bonds of your skull and your study. I like to write in wide open places – on plains, on cliffs, beside the sea, and I’m sure that’s because it feels, to me, less oppressive than in places crammed with people and the things they have constructed – cars, buildings, roads. It’s liberating, and it’s a big empty canvas on which to paint the pictures in your head. But if a park or garden is big enough it can be equally conducive: I wrote great chunks of COURT OF LIONS in the gardens of the Alhambra. Writing in the place where much of the novel is set felt very good: both authentic and inspiring.

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I will sometimes walk for half an hour or more to get to a good writing spot: the further away the better – sometimes it’s the only exercise I can fit in to a busy life in which writing is squeezed between a demanding job (I work 4 days a week , remotely, as publishing director for a big London publisher, 4 days that often spill over into 5 or 6 if I have a big edit on my hands), and the usual chores of running a house. Walking is a useful tool for writers, too: it’s a lovely empty space in which there are no other demands on you: you’re just getting from A to B (I think the other reason I find writing in transit – on trains and planes and in station cafes, and airports – so amenable). And there are a lot of writers who will attest to the fact that you can tease out plot problems as you walk, so by the time you get where you’re going, there are a ton of words waiting to spill out.

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I often walk out of our house and up along the coast path between Mousehole and Lamorna, and find congenial places as close to the sea as I can possibly get. Scramble down animal tracks that part the bracken and brambles, through tangles of summer wildflowers – mallow and thrift, kidney vetch and columbines – and down onto the granite wave-cut platform, above the barnacle line. Find a comfortable niche and sit back, face tilted to the sun, eyes closed. There’s something about the shooshing of the waves that calms me, sends me into almost a meditative state, perfect for wakeful-dreaming, or writing. There’s a theory that you can gentle your brain into producing theta waves – the state in which your brain produces the vivid dreams you get during REM sleep. Whether that’s at work when I’m writing beside the sea, I don’t know, but I do find I do some of my best work in such places.

On top of all this it would be remiss of me not to mention that my typing is really, really terrible. Even after 20+ books and many million words, I can still type only with two fingers: and even then I make loads of errors. So writing longhand is a welcome liberation from the keyboard and my own ineptitude, and I find that typing up the handwritten version is a perfect way to clean up the draft, sharpen the writing, check facts.

An added bonus to working outdoors like this is that not only will you have some tangible evidence of all your hard work (as opposed to only digital files): you will also, with luck, have spent time in wild and beautiful places, and will feel fitter, more connected to the natural world; more alive.

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Cornish Reading Challenge: Tina Hartas from TripFiction shares her Cornish book recommendations

 

TripFiction is so pleased to take part in the Cornish Reading Challenge 2017! We know that there are several authors who have agreed to take part on an individual basis, so we thought we would bring together some new and some old favourites, so that people taking part in the challenge have as broad a selection of books to read as possible. Our chosen titles, all set in Cornwall, will transport you to this wonderful part of the world, just for the price of a paperback. Enjoy!

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In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but her life.Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

Flight by Isabel Ashdown

When Wren Irving’s numbers come up in the first ever national lottery draw, she doesn’t tell her husband, Rob. Instead she quietly packs her bags, kisses her six-month-old daughter Phoebe goodbye, and leaves. Two decades later, Rob has moved on and found happiness with their oldest friend, Laura. Phoebe, now a young woman, has never known any other life. But when Rob receives a mysterious letter, the past comes back to haunt them all. With their cosy world thrown into turmoil, Laura sets out to track Wren down and discover the truth about why she left all those years ago.

A Seaside Affair by Fern Britton

When the residents of the Cornish seaside town of Trevay discover that their much-loved theatre is about to be taken over by coffee chain, Café au Lait, they are up in arms. It is up to Penny Leighton, hotshot producer and now happily married Cornish resident, to come up with a rescue plan. Armed with only her mobile phone and her contacts book, she starts to pull in some serious favours. The town is soon deluged by actors, all keen to show their support and take part in a charity season at the theatre. Ficitonal Trevay (inspired by Padstow and Port Isaac) is about to put on the show of its life …

The Unforgotten by Laura Powell

Summer, 1956. Fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent has never left the Cornish fishing village of St Steele or ventured far beyond the walls of the boarding house run by her erratic mother. But when the London press pack descends on her village to report on a series of gruesome murders, Betty’s world changes. In particular, she is transfixed by mysterious and aloof reporter, Mr Gallagher.

As the death toll rises, an unlikely friendship blossoms between Betty and Gallagher. But as their bond deepens, they find themselves entangled with the murders and each is forced to make a devastating choice, one that will shape their own lives and the life of an innocent man forever.

Half a Pound of Tuppenny Rice by David Coubrough

Each summer a group of families holiday together in St. Ives, Cornwall, but in 1972 their lives are shattered and they never meet up again. In a lane in the village of Zennor a hotel porter is found fatally poisoned. Later that week the body of another man is washed ashore. Grant Morrison, then aged seventeen, has long been troubled by the two deaths and their aftermath and, decades later, decides that the time has come to uncover the truth.

TripFiction | tina@tripfiction.com  | @tripfiction

Cornish Reading Challenge: Win a copy of The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland

Fellow blogger Rosie Amber is hosting the giveaway for a copy of The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland!

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Click here to visit Rosie’s blog, and find out how to win a copy of The Plague Charmer! Competition closes 27/05.

The Plague Charmer, by Karen Maitland, Queen of the Dark Ages and bestselling author of Company of Liars, will chill and delight fans of C.J. Sansom and Kate Mosse’s Citadel in equal measure. ‘A compelling blend of historical grit and supernatural twists’ – Daily Mail

Riddle me this: I have a price, but it cannot be paid in gold or silver.

1361. Porlock Weir, Exmoor. Thirteen years after the Great Pestilence, plague strikes England for the second time. Sara, a packhorse man’s wife, remembers the horror all too well and fears for safety of her children. 
Only a dark-haired stranger offers help, but at a price that no one will pay.

Fear gives way to hysteria in the village and, when the sickness spreads to her family, Sara finds herself locked away by neighbours she has trusted for years. And, as her husband – and then others – begin to die, the cost no longer seems so unthinkable.

The price that I ask, from one willing to pay… A human life.