Showing posts with label rosie garland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rosie garland. Show all posts

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Win two amazing SIGNED books! (International entry allowed)

Another great competition from Hic Dragones... entry via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Enter now to win two SIGNED books:

The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland 

 A luminous and bewitching debut novel that is perfect for fans of Angela Carter. Set in Victorian London, it follows the fortunes of Eve, the Lion-Faced Girl and Abel, the Flayed Man. A magical realism delight.

Before Eve is born, her mother goes to the circus. She buys a penny twist of coloured sugar and settles down to watch the heart-stopping main attraction: a lion, billed as a monster from the savage heart of Africa. Mama swears she hears the lion sigh, just before it leaps... and nine months later when Eve is born, the story goes, she doesn’t cry – she meows and licks her paws.

When Abel is pulled from the stinking Thames, the mudlarks are sure he is long dead. As they search his pockets to divvy up the treasure, his eyes crack open and he coughs up a stream of black water. But how has he survived a week in that thick stew of human waste?

Cast out by Victorian society, Eve and Abel find succour from an unlikely source. They soar to fame as The Lion Faced Girl and The Flayed Man, star performers in Professor Josiah Arroner’s Palace of Curiosities. And there begins a journey that will entwine their fates forever.

Rosie Garland is an eclectic writer and performer, ranging from singing in Goth band The March Violets through touring with the Subversive Stitch exhibition in the 90s, to her current incarnation as Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen, cabaret chanteuse, incomparable compere and electrifying poet. The Palace of Curiosities is her debut novel. Rosie's short story, 'Cut and Paste' is published in the Hic Dragones Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny anthology. 

Take a Bite by Nancy Schumann

Take a Bite is a non-fictional text discussing female vampires in folklore and Anglo-American Literature and how their characteristics changed through the ages.

Readers will find a concise introduction to female vampires in folklore of various regions; with specific focus on the Lilith and Lamia figures that later on feature prominently in art and literature and including an overview on the numerous superstitions and phenomena that gave rise to vampire belief around the world.

Further chapters deal with the representation of vampiresses in literature and how this changed through the eras; starting with early romantic works such as Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Keat’s Lamia where the vampires is a strong, independent woman who does not fit into the patriarchal society.

Dracula puts female vampires in an inferior position, as the count takes centre stage. The discussion of Dracula focuses on the character of Lucy Westenra as a woman misunderstood by many critics.

The works of Tanith Lee and Anne Rice also include very interesting female characters. Anne Rice’s male vampires have been discussed excessively but her vampiresses deserve much more attention than they have received so far.

The Vampire Diaries are conquering TV screens and with True Blood and Twilight vampires are all around us, but is there a vampire queen among them or are we all just lusting after Edward?

Nancy Schumann completed a master’s degree in English Literature at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Particular research interests were Gothic novels, detective stories and women’s studies. Her MA thesis was on female vampires through the ages. The topic combines feminism and Gothic novels with her personal interest in fanged fiends. This formed the basis to Take A Bite, now available in vamped up form for public consumption. Nancy's short story 'The Hostel' was published in the Hic Dragones Impossible Spaces anthology.

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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Interview with Rosie Garland

Today's post is an interview with novelist, poet, singer and performer, Rosie Garland. Rosie has enjoyed an eclectic career, ranging from singing in post-punk gothic band The March Violets, through touring with the Subversive Stitch exhibition in the 90s to her alter-ego Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen, cabaret chanteuse and mistress of ceremonies. She has published five solo collections of poetry and her award-winning short stories, poems and essays have appeared in a number of anthologies and collections. She is winner of the DaDa Award for Performance Artist of the Year and a Poetry Award from the People's Café, New York. She also won the Mslexia Novel competition in 2012 and her debut novel The Palace of Curiosities was released in March 2013 by HarperCollins.

I first met Rosie when we were both involved with Commonword, in Manchester, and our work was included in the
Transparency poetry anthology. We also worked together on the Hic Dragones Wolf-Girls anthology, which included Rosie's short story 'Cut and Paste'. Recently, Rosie wrote a guest post for a short blog series on women and body hair that I hosted on this site.

Today though, I want to find out more about Rosie's award-winning debut novel,
The Palace of Curiosities.

She-Wolf: Hi Rosie - welcome back to the She-Wolf blog. Shall we start with a brief introduction? Why don't you tell us a bit about yourself?

Rosie Garland: I'll try to keep this brief! As it says on my book blurb, I have always been a cuckoo in the nest. I've been writing and performing for as long as I can remember – I've recently found a stash of miniature books I wrote for my dolls, and an early performance memory is playing an Elf Queen in school at the age of five. I sing as well – whether that's in post-punk gothic band The March Violets or alternative cabaret character Rosie Lugosi. I've published five solo collections of poetry and my award-winning short stories, poems and essays have been widely anthologized.

SW: Life sounds pretty exciting, then!

RG: Life has been particularly exciting since I won the inaugural Mslexia Novel Competition in 2012. As a result, my debut novel The Palace of Curiosities was published in March 2013 by HarperCollins. And in 2010 I was given the all-clear from throat cancer. So all in all I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

SW: Let's talk about The Palace of Curiosities, what's the book about?

RG: The Palace of Curiosities is set in early Victorian London. It is about what it’s like to live on the boundaries of what is perceived as human, the struggle to remember and hang onto who and what we are, and just how important that is. It is told through the eyes of Eve, the Lion-Faced Girl and is interwoven with the story of Abel, who is also an outsider – just not in such an obvious way. But both of them are freaks of nature, and both are searching for escape. The novel explores life on the fringes of society, what it means to be different, and traces their struggle for self-discovery on the boundaries of what is perceived as human.

SW: Where did the idea come from? Were there any particular sources of inspiration?

RG: I was inspired by the life and struggles of Julia Pastrana, a nineteenth century Mexican woman completely covered with thick hair. However, The Palace of Curiosities isn't a re-telling of her story. I wanted to create new characters, and the result was Eve, the Lion-Faced Girl and Abel, the mysterious Flayed Man. It's set in an early Victorian sideshow, but unlike a number of other circus novels (like Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus and Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus) I wanted the 'freaks' to speak for themselves. They tell their own story – it felt very important that they spoke in first person rather than having someone else speak for them.

SW: Did you do much historical research?

RG: The question of research is one that could be discussed for hours, and each writer would have a different approach! It's true that I am fascinated by history, and read a lot of non-fiction for pleasure. However, I am very careful not to fall into the trap of letting research dominate. That way I'd not get any writing done...

SW: Between The Palace of Curiosities, your story in Wolf-Girls and your guest post on this blog, I'm noticing a bit of a theme... what is it that fascinates you about hairy girls?

RG: Women's relationship with their hair is particularly fraught – we mustn't have too much, and we sure as hell shouldn't have too little. I discovered this when I was diagnosed with throat cancer whilst working on the first draft of the novel. I lost all of my hair, and lived the reality of female baldness, which I discovered was just as laden with judgments about what is acceptable and what is 'freakish'.

SW: Did that have an impact on the creation of your protagonist, Eve?

RG: This informed and influenced the creation of Eve. I took the concept of female hairiness to its logical extreme. Eve has hypertrichosis, a condition where the entire body is covered in a thick mat of hair. Her 'difference' is overwhelmingly visible, yet she is determined to get by on her own terms. She does not shave herself to pass for human. She fends off exploitation, discovers fulfilment, self-expression and self-reliance. I've been told that Eve's hairiness can be seen as an interesting analogy for being queer in a heteronormative world. I'm happy if she makes one person think about what it means to be female and have body hair.

SW: The Palace of Curiosities is certainly making its mark - top of the Waterstone's hardback fiction chart and nominated for the 2013 Desmond Elliott prize in its first couple of months - but could you tell me a bit about the book's 'birth'? How did it get from idea to the top of Waterstone’s charts? Was it an easy journey?

RG: How long have you got? I'll give the short version of what has been a very long journey. I'd been with an agency for twelve years, and had given them four novels. But however hard I tried (and did I try), however hard I worked on editorial suggestions, nothing seemed good enough. Twelve years of can-you-make-it-more? can-you-make-it-less? No one could accuse me of not trying.

SW: That sounds pretty dispiriting - you must've felt like giving up at times.

RG: I had pretty much given up on the idea of writing fiction. My agent had stopped replying to my emails and my confidence was shot. I realized that if I was going to get anywhere it would be under my own steam. So I entered the Mslexia Novel Competition. And won it. That was the turning point. It boosted my confidence as a writer more than I can describe. It's taken twelve years to get to this point – a bumpy and at times demoralizing ride, with a lot of rejections.

SW: But an amazing result, after all that?

RG: This news is, quite simply, breathtaking. I'm still pinching myself to check it isn't a dream.

SW: You're known for many things (music, poetry, performance, short stories, essays... the list really does go on...), what made you decide to make the move to novelist?

RG: It wasn't something I consciously sat down and decided to do. When I'm asked 'how long have you been writing?' the answer is 'always'. I wrote my first novel when I was aged nine. It was a thrilling adventure involving super-heroines battling sharks and other dangers. With pictures.

SW: Do you find novel-writing different to other forms of writing?

RG: It's very different to writing poetry. An easy answer would be to compare a novel to a marathon and a poem to a 100 metre sprint – but that's not quite it. Sure, a novel takes far longer to write (unless you are a very slow poem writer indeed). The only way I can describe it is that it feels like I use different parts of my brain when writing poetry and fiction.

SW: I'm interested to know what sort of things you like to read. You mentioned reading non-fiction for pleasure, but do you have any favourite fiction writers?

RG: I'm an avid reader of non-fiction, especially the history of medicine. But I have very eclectic tastes – maybe it's easiest if I say what is currently on my bedside table: Tove Jansson's Tales from Moominvalley, a History of Ossuaries, Sarah Hymas's poetry collection Host, Ivor Brown's Chosen Words, Aesop’s Fables, and The Friday Gospels by Jenn Ashworth.

SW: Quite the eclectic collection! So... what's next from Rosie Garland? Can we look forward to another novel?

RG: Most definitely! I don't just have any old novel deal with HarperCollins, it's a two-book deal. I am currently very busy on the second. Don't want to say too much about its themes yet, but it will involve people who don't fit. As I've said elsewhere, I'm interested in characters who won't (or can't) squeeze into the one-size-fits-all templates they have been provided, and the friction that occurs when they try.

SW: Cool - I'll look forward to finding out more in due course. Thanks for talking to me today, Rosie. Before you go, I'd be mad not to ask one final question (even if it is a bit of cliché... do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

RG: Don’t give up. If you are determined to be a novelist – do it. Practise your craft. Find ways to nourish and support yourself. Don’t just accept feedback - seek it out and use it. In addition – when faced with a decision, I have this question I ask myself. How long will I be dead? It helps get me off my arse. Cancer sure put things in startlingly clear perspective. There's nothing like getting a glimpse of your sell-by date to provide a boot up the backside. Don't put it off. Write that poem, that novel, that opera, that play. Do it now.

The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland is published by HarperCollins and available now from all good bookshops.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Hic Dragones presents... A Night of Strange and Dark Fictions

as part of Prestwich Book Festival

Monday 27th May, 7.30pm
Prestwich British Legion (near Heaton Park tram station)
225 Bury Old Road
Prestwich M25 1JE

Tickets £6 (+ booking fee) in advance from the festival’s Eventbrite shop

Come and listen to some of the finest and strangest authors writing in the UK today. What do they have in common? They’ve all been published – at one stage or another – by North Manchester’s strangest publishing house, Hic Dragones. And they’re together in Prestwich for one night only.

Rosie Garland:
Manchester-based Rosie Garland has published five solo collections of poetry and her award-winning short stories, poems and essays have been widely anthologized. She is an eclectic writer and performer, ranging from singing in Goth band The March Violets to her well-loved stage persona Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen. The Palace of Curiosities (HarperCollins) is her debut novel.

Toby Stone:
Toby Stone is a Whitefield-based novelist who also teaches in North Manchester. Toby went to the same school as Batman (Christian Bale) and Benny Hill. As an adult, Toby has been a toy-seller, an Avon lady, double-glazing Salesman of the Week, a mortgage broker, a suspicious barman, a school governor and a bingo caller. Aimee and the Bear (Hic Dragones) is his first novel.

Also featuring readings from Hic Dragones anthology writers:

Simon Bestwick: acclaimed author of ‘modern masterpiece of horror’ The Faceless (Solaris)
Richard Freeman: writer and cryptozoologist
Jeanette Greaves: contributor to Wolf-Girls and Impossible Spaces
Nancy Schumann: author of Take a Bite, a history of female vampires in folklore and literature
Beth Daley: graduate of the Creative Writing PhD programme at the University of Manchester
Daisy Black: writer, medievalist and heavy metal morris dancer

Your host for the evening will be Hannah Kate, ringmaster at the strange little circus that is Hic Dragones.

Plus… prizes to be won, a bookstall and a stall from Rock and Goth Plus

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Thursday, 13 September 2012

GUEST POST: Damned if you do and damned if you don't by Rosie Garland

This is the second in my short series of guest posts exploring the somewhat controversial subject of women and body hair. Links to the other posts in the series can be found at the end of this post.

I am very pleased to welcome today's guest writer, Rosie Garland.

Born in London to a runaway teenager, Rosie Garland has always been a cuckoo in the nest. She has an eclectic writing and performance history, from singing in Goth band The March Violets, to twisted cabaret and electrifying poetry as Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen, to conference presentations in the UK and overseas. As well as four solo collections of poems, her short stories and articles have been widely anthologised. She has won the DaDa Award for Performance Artist of the Year, the Diva Award for Solo Performer, and a Poetry Award from the People’s Café, New York. She is also the winner of the 2011 inaugural Mslexia Novel Competition with The Palace of Curiosities, a picaresque literary novel inspired by the life of Victorian Hairy Woman Julia Pastrana.

I’ve had an interest in the fraught female relationship with body hair since I started growing it anywhere but on my head. Years before I discovered feminism or any broader questioning of why women should present hairlessness to be acceptable.

I was the class geek. There was always one, sitting at the edge of school photos sporting a done-at-home haircut and a bewildered expression at just how unpopular a girl could be. Surrounded by pretty classmates wearing the right length skirt, the right size knot in the school tie (small one term, huge the next). Along with my mother, they gave out messages about hair. Basically, if it wasn’t on my head, it was gross and should be removed. Especially leg and underarm sproutings.

I resisted the pronouncements. I didn’t want to do it. It was just one item on the long list of things that made me an outsider, part of the same mindset that made my classmates obsessed with perfume, body spray and ‘feminine’ deodorant (you know, the stuff that brings on toxic shock). From where I stood, it seemed to be about spending a fortune on products that promised to hide the fact you were female.

No, I didn’t see myself as a rebel, but it struck me as overwhelmingly illogical (yes, I identified with Mr. Spock in Star Trek). For a start, it was such a mess: applying smelly cream, waiting for it to melt the hair away (never as successful as the adverts with their hysterically cheerful actors). If you didn’t use cream, there were cuts from shaving. Ouch. It was also a waste of time – the damn stuff grew back immediately, stubbly and far more noticeable than the soft fronds that covered my legs if I left them alone.

Being of an enquiring mind, I asked my mum why I needed to get rid of something that was occurring quite naturally, like my second set of teeth or the beginnings of breasts (I wasn’t being asked to get rid of them). She replied that body hair wasn’t ‘ladylike’. This confused me further. I was a ‘lady’, or at least one in miniature. Therefore if I was growing hair, then it was of or pertaining to the state of being a lady. I asked if I needed to shave the new growth on my vulva and was told to stop being rude. I didn’t get why it was supposed to be such a no-no.

Sure, hair or no hair can be personal taste. If you live in a culture where there is a modicum of choice then yes, you can choose to wax yourself to a standstill and ‘still be a feminist’ (whatever ‘still’ means). I don’t have a direct association of feminist = unshaved woman, which is the stereotype. If I choose to be unshaved, which I do, it goes back far earlier. I’m not of the Reductio ad absurdum opinion that intelligence evaporates with the removal of hair, in a female version of Samson being stripped of his strength when Delilah shaved him.

However. What does that ‘choice’ really mean when faced with a familial / societal / media barrage of ‘eeew’? Day in, day out, from the onset of the first spindly hair till we die – the message that it (and by extension we) = unhygienic / unladylike / unfeminine / dirty / messy / taboo and god damn it, ugly.

And don’t get me started on patriarchal / male reaction to women’s body hair. I’d need a dozen blogs for that. Feminism or not, I can still not get past this simple bottom line: the only females who are naturally free of hair under their arms, on their legs and on their pubis are children. The only acceptable females in porn are hairless. I do not need to say a word about how fundamentally this creeps me out. Let alone how mentally and socially infantilising it is. Sexual fixation on hairlessness in adult females is creepy. Go bloody figure.

Deep breath. I watched with interest as I grew into a world where nice girls depilate. Except the stuff on our heads which is our ‘crowning glory’. Just how integral these tresses are to being seen / read as female came home to me with a body blow when I got throat cancer, underwent intensive chemotherapy and my hair fell out.

I assumed that it would loosen its moorings overnight, in one go. But it left my body in a slow, piecemeal moulting which I found sufficiently distressing that I got a set of clippers and shaved my head. I chose to ‘go bald’ rather than wear the prescription wig. The wig felt all wrong, like I was trying to pass for human and ‘well’ when that was the last thing I felt like. I was not ashamed of having cancer. My hairlessness was part of the reality. Sod this, I thought. I shall not pretend, nor hide my cancer from the world, just to spare the healthy world’s collective delusion that no-one gets ill and no-one dies. As a signifier of our shared mortality, baldness is terrifying. People crossed the road so that I wouldn’t talk to them about ‘it’.

At this point I want to stress that this was my individual response to cancer. I am not suggesting it as a template. Others choose to engage with the illness differently, and each person’s response is as valid as the next.

To bolster a sense of self, I searched for positive images of bald women with shaved or bald heads. I repeat, positive. I was not interested in images of punishment, dehumanisation, imprisonment or torture. It was bloody hard work finding anything. I scraped together a meagre handful, and the first hits were from science fiction. Alice Krige as the Borg Queen in Star Trek First Contact, Persis Khambatta as Lieutenant Ilia in Star Trek The Motion Picture, Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien 3. All of them created as attractive, intelligent, ass-kicking or all three.

All of the above informed the creation of Eve, the central character in my upcoming debut novel The Palace of Curiosities (HarperCollins, forthcoming March 2013). I took the concept of female hairiness to its logical (that word again) extreme. Eve has hypertrichosis, a condition where the entire body is covered in a thick mat of hair. The novel is set in 1850s London, and in it I explore how Eve makes her way in a world where she is the only one of her kind. Her ‘difference’ is overwhelmingly visible, yet she is determined to get by on her own terms. She does not shave herself to pass for human. She fends off exploitation, discovers fulfilment, self-expression and self-reliance.

I’ve been told that Eve’s hairiness can be seen as an interesting analogy for being queer in a heteronormative world. I’m happy if she makes one person think about what it means to be female and have body hair.

If you would like to whet your appetite for The Palace of Curiosities in anticipation of its release next year, you can find Rosie's story, 'Cut and Paste', in the Hic Dragones Wolf-Girls anthology.

Read the other posts in the Body Hair blog series:

On Making and Publishing The Last Taboo: Women and Body Hair, by Karín Lesnik-Oberstein

On Body Hair, by LJ Maher

Female Werewolves, Fur and Body Hair, by Carys Crossen

Friday, 13 August 2010

Books We Like...

Rosie Garland, Things I Did While I Was Dead (Flapjack Press, 2010)

A powerful new collection of poetry by Rosie Garland (known to many as Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen). Garland moves between childhood, gender, sexuality, religious iconography, relationships, with characteristic flair and exuberance. The poems in this collection reveal a love of, and dexterity with, language that amuses and moves.

"I braid my hair in snakes with fingers sugar sticky.
Hang necklaces of breasts beneath my chin.
Turn women to butter, men to stone.
When I dance, the sky drops water, the earth moans."
(from 'Lilith')

"I take your hand, wait
for the magic: some old god's
shoulder turning over in the dirt;
a raven come to omen the stones;
a black dog flicker at the corner
of eyeshot."
(from 'The Promise of Ghosts')

A highly recommended collection. Rosie will also be taking part in the She-Wolf discussion panel on Wednesday 8th September 2010 - more details on this to follow.

See Flapjack Press for more details.