I don't know if I killed someone, or not...
On Facebook I have about 300 likes for becoming the editor of Ambit. Amazing, thank you. Life’s a trip.
But in my heart, I’d rather people read my book, dear dear reader - when I say it’s my life’s work, I mean it. I’ve not had children, I’ve had a book, and now I could fade out like the Dead At 27 Club characters who underpin the story as the religious deities. It’s been a long realisation. And yes, you do get two books in one.
I know we can all write, because we write emails, and status updates, and poetry’s the fashion because it’s a free space, and that’s fine, join the tide, and the Waterstones and WHSmiths are brimming with books of words - but the underlying truth I’ve learnt from journalism is always WHY? Why write a book?
Most authors can answer they’re book-lovers, and wanted to be authors since they knew people wrote books, but whilst spinning in the Bechdel test-drive car most of my life, any writer I respect does it because they’ve got something to say, and share.
Beyond the physical beauty of PSYCHOMACHIA - which is a masterclass in production, deliciously designed by Stephen Barrett who I work with on Ambit, featuring artwork by the brilliant Siena Barnes (Hysteric Glamour), and a portrait by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott (which, as I explained to none other than Courtney Love the other day, was taken a LOOOOOONG time ago) - the best part of this ride is getting messages from people I know and people I don’t, saying that it’s traumatising, and brutal, and funny, and rock n roll. Close friends who know me, and my WHY, the inciting incident, are left questioning where the reality of fiction flickers through the pages, because it’s so hard to think it could all be made up. But they kind of know most of it is.
My experience of writing this fiction is that the characters become their own, and dance across the pages, doing their own things - and of course, like a dream, that twists with sparks of experiences, sampling your subconsciousness, re-writing like a cut and paste of imagination. In tandem, my own quest for fiction, living to have stories to tell has been extreme compared to most people I know. So that comes across. Black and white is to juxtapose, to sculpt as is poetry, to collage towards emotional connections.
I’ve worked aside exceedingly impressive writers, training in the press, where I also wrote to share truth. I’ve worked with the best people in the world - and I’m not saying that rubs off, but on the dancefloor, DJing with Irvine Welsh and Howard Marks amid the myth of personality, it’s been a lot to live up to, and I’ve worked HARD to create BRUTAL TRUTHS as a quick and entertaining read. Like, can’t put it down fast. So it’s amazing to hear people are zipping through the book on the beach, and in our various Covid realities.
Although I’ve written millions of words professionally, it’s only now I can truly carry a sense of accomplishment. And it’s in the handkerchief on the stick with a first rejection letter (from Jonny Geller) in 2005 like a war scar, when I was in a ramble of life-writing trying to sort through the pieces, before understanding more and more what fiction is, through each draft and further rejection, but, as I said to David Erdos in Mu magazine, where I’ve been writing book reviews, I do think it would have been published faster had I not been female, as it’s rare for a woman to write like this. I had to grow from girl to woman, to give it the insight and breadth whilst keeping it all in the strand of the ingenue.
So my WHY is because it’s a story that HAD TO BE SHARED - Shane Rhodes at Wrecking Ball Press is doing it because he loves it - he publishes 8 books a year - and to be one of them means far more than being a sausage in a factory of pulp for boardrooms - “We’ve been accused of being misogynistic” he explained, in the publication week, a wild night after a reading and signing in Hull, where the police haven’t quite yet got in contact, “but it’s because we don’t get fiction sent in like this from women.”
I’m sending the first edition hardbacks of Psychomachia (the ‘ch’ is pronounced like the Q in Maquillage - I had to google it) to paying subscribers here - apologies for the delay, Ambit has been absorbing. I miss writing on Substack, and I can only plan to be more ordered through the winter, but amid the new Covid life, I had an impromptu party at Morocco Bound in Bermondsey, and read at Pete Astor’s gig at the Betsey Trotwood, and did a signing at Wrecking Ball in Hull, and launched Ambit 244 at London Fields Brewery, and read at The Libertine’s Wasteland Bar in Margate, and rehearsed down in Dorset for some Vagrant Lovers shows coming up next week in Sheffield Sidney and Matilda on Wednesday, Newcastle 3 Tanners Yard on Saturday and Edinburgh on Friday, PLEASE COME SAY HI - and let me know if I may add you to my personal guestlist. Plus the usual hustle, of now running a magazine, and Cold Lips, and having to do the odd lecture, which I thought was online, but at the last minute realised it was an in-person, so had to change my pyjama bottoms and dive away from the prison of this desk which is not being used enough for my own work.
Thank you to Bad Seed and inspiration Jim Sclavunos for making this show where I talk about Psychomachia, and read from it - and he also plays some Vagrant Lovers tracks.
The book is available EVERYWHERE. If you order direct from Wrecking Ball, they get more money. There’s a 10% on Book Depository, Amazon - please leave reviews - support your local bookshop - or order direct from me, send me a message and I can send you my Paypal, and I’ll sign it, or subscribe fully to my Substack here (thank you hugely to those that do), and I’ll kiss it too. x
Further links of where to buy on my new website:
Here’s me when I’d seen the book for the first time, crying!
The next day with Shane Rhodes, at Wrecking Ball Press.
Every flyer tells a story - thank you to Pure Evil, Neal Fox, Luke McLean, Justin Taylor, Jeff Barrett, Gil De Ray et al for allowing me to use their work for the secret holographic insignia.
Lovely Scott Temple reading…
And there are more preservations of the growing trend for people styling one of the best looking books ever created over on Instagram. Please be my guest. I wrote this book for you.
and maybe see you on tour soon. x
Hull’s postponed due to a rise in Covid. YIKES - see ya soon as we can. London’s Powerhaus is like Ronnie Scott’s with table service, and civilised. Used to be Dingwell’s. If you haven’t heard preview recordings, they’re on our Bandcamp, and I’m delighted our first physical release in on a double gatefold compilation with stellar talent, with Berlin-based label, Das Wasteland - pre-order now. x