Cover Story – Stalkbook Setting

“I don’t see why it was necessary to disguise what is obviously Manchester as “Mancaster” – quote from an otherwise glowing review of my new novel(la), ‘Stalkbook.’

Fair point.

My reason for doing that was to allow me some creative licence with the geography and the architecture. After all, I don’t want some indignant native pointing out that you absolutely can’t see or even hear the bars on Canal St. (another recognisable Manchester landmark) from Castlefield – renamed Castlegate in the story. Or a review on TripAdvisor posted by a weary fan from other parts (lovely thought though), complaining that they had wandered around for over an hour and still not located the tunnel where the body was found in the novel.

Images of Castlefield ManchesterManchester canal towpath

 

It also meant that when choosing a location for the photography shoot for the cover images  we were not restricted to Castlefield Canal Basin. Portland Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne shares many similar characteristics, was closer to travel to, and less busy than Castlefield in the centre of Manchester. Both were constructed in the late 1700’s at the time of the Industrial Revolution. I’ll write more about the features and how they relate to two of the main characters in the novel in my next post.

Image of canal junction, Portland Basin

portland basin

My 87 year Uncle Ed told me an amusing anecdote about Portland Basin, when I explained that my novel, Stalkbook  revolves around a body found in a canal, and the cover images were taken there. He said that in the old days, because the three joining canals, Ashton, Huddersfield and Peak Forest, came under the jurisdiction of three different police forces, if a body was found the first officers on the scene would attempt to push it in the direction of another of the canals!

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Now For Something Completely Different

Da-da! Announcing the arrival of my new novel Stalkbook (novella actually.) Bit of a digression from my previous novels.

Stalkbook Kindle

After treading a tightrope between sinister and salacious with my previous novel Blue Is The Object I decided to write a Mystery/Romance for younger adults, although it will appeal to anyone who ‘gets’ the Facebook and Social Media themes too.

Read more about it and get your copy here

 

Weinstein Et Al and Why I Wrote ‘Blue Is The Object’

A clue to one of the main themes of my fourth and most recent novel (published May this year) lies in the title: Objectification.

blue is the object cover

I’d say the seeds of this novel were sown in the ‘Noughties’ when my Inner Prude grew increasingly discomforted by the apparent creeping of porn culture into mainstream media. A little open-mouthed at the Music channels on TV which attracted a young audience, she sighed at the idolisation of a Page Three alumna turned role-model of young girls, felt let down when Dr Who’s ex-assistant played a call girl, based on  a real-life postgraduate student spinning yarns and money, who justified selling sex as an ‘economic necessity’ (setting a precedent?) All above the watershed? Then came the Disney Girl Next Door wearing her genitalia on her sleeve so to speak, to name another of many influences, which include documentaries such as the one which featured a septuagenarian grandmother getting in on The Game, selfies and the rise of sexting. I could go on and on.

In 2014 when I began to work seriously on the novel, my goal, and greatest challenge, was to find out as much as I could about the nature of, influences on, and attitudes towards our ‘hyper-sexualised, so-called ‘Porn Culture’, and its normalisation and sanitisation, without resorting to porn itself. There was plenty out there to get my teeth into. Articles, videos, documentaries, recorded interviews, fiction, non-fiction, autobiographies, academic and journalistic research; anti-porn, sex-positive, feminist, conservative, informative, educational. I wanted context, and it was a long time before I felt ready to tackle it.

Why? It was hard-going. It was not an area I could approach coyly. My Primcess Inner Prude (Pip for short) was rattled. I had to bat her down a lot. But how was I going to deal with my material in a balanced and candid way without slipping into salacious or censorious tones? How would I bring in beauty, fun, humanity and humour? In the end I persevered and I’m glad I did. I overcame my fear of disapproval, the idea that dealing with this kind of dirt wasn’t nice; best swept under a glamorous rug. It isn’t nice, and whilst I believe that every generation has its own challenges to work through, and that most young people do find a healthy balance in popular culture, I believe we help protect them and progress by shedding light on and questioning darker influences. When is it wise to ignore bad behaviour or call it out?

Which brings me to the phenomena of  Weinstein (once described as “wonderful” by Michelle Obama, a “God” by Meryl Streep) and others with a similar predatory mindset; rich and powerful men who have found they can no longer prey on women with impunity. Their behaviour cannot be separated from the culture they operate in. It was the responses of the Hollywood and wider community which brought to my mind the process of my novel. We move forward when we take responsibility for the ills of society with courage, compassion and honesty. That is why I am optimistic that the whistle-blowing on Weinstein and men of his ilk (without witch-hunting) heralds a change for the better.

 

 

 

 

It’s Autumn Already

As usual I still have that ‘waiting for summer to happen’ feeling, then the first sweet smells of damp decay hit me, and I can’t deny it anymore. Here’s a poem I wrote a long time ago:

 

Game Bird in Autumn

 

Watch the rocking-fool gait

Of cock-pheasant; his heart is proud.

Feathers of permanent burnish,

Stained by the essence of Autumn,

Aeons ago, with the sunset.

 

They are shooting again,

Out there, in the skeleton woods.

 

I do not want to bite the bullet.

 

At night I hear owls call out to darkness

Over bones creaking in hollows.

 

©2011 Pamela Turton