Nick Wood – September/October 2006

I have heard my YA book The Stone Chameleon has been selected as part of a Virtual Book exhibition themed Books for Africa, from Africa. This was set up by IBBY, the International Board on Books for Young People. The 84 selected African books were taken to be displayed as part of the World IBBY Congress in Macau, China, at the end of September (2006). The reference to The Stone Chameleon is available here.

At the end of August, I attended a writing course The Arvon Foundation, with tutors Adam Roberts and Justina Robson. It was set in a wonderful old house in Heptonstall in Yorkshire, previously owned by Ted Hughes (the poet). Sylvia Plath's grave is in a Churchyard nearby I believe - I couldn't find it, apparently it's hard to find, being situated on 'overflowing' Church ground. (A colleague at the workshop found it and took the pictures below posted for anyone with an interest or a graveyard fetish.)

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Adam Roberts: and Justina Robson: complemented each other beautifully as tutors and I hope to put together an article on The Arvon Experience – certainly not as gruelling or intense an experience as the renowned Clarion writing courses are reputed to be: but extremely useful nevertheless. (Of course, the acid test is how much writing and actual publications ensue after the course for all attendees!)

I've recently been reading a book on Research Methodology in Psychology and the two authors list the music that inspired them during their writing process. This was an interesting and diverse set of lists, with little overlap between the two, and I was somewhat befuddled at how few items on the list I actually recognised. This made me think about the huge volumes of music that comes out, especially with the Internet now available as a potential medium - the same applies for words and writing too, no doubt!

I also wondered how much of the music I listen to when I write might others recognise or identify with? And what do you enjoy listening to when you write or relax? As for me, it's Philip Tabane of Malombo – whom I first saw live at the Rainbow Jazz Club in Pinetown, Natal, one of the very few non-racial music venues open during the State of Emergency in South Africa in the late 1980's - and a host of mainly West African musicians, including Baaba Maal, Orchestra Baobab, Mansour Seck, Oumou Sangare and, a tragic loss to music this year, Ali Farka Toure.

This is occasionally interspersed with bouts of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, REM, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin - and, somewhat embarrassingly to add as I age and mellow (and rot?), early Neil Diamond! "If music be the food of love"- to many, it seems to be the food of words and communication too. Further betraying my age no doubt, the words of John Miles (Rebel: 1976) comes to mind: "Music was my first love and it will be…"

Nick Wood - September/October 2006