This moment is not forever

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Photo: Julie Travis

And the scales balance again…I’ve swapped stories (mine: A Fairy Ring, due to be published in Andy Martin’s Fast-Clean-Cheap anthology this year, I hope) with writer and friend, Maj Ikle, who I deeply respect for her work and everything else she does. We used to meet in East London for wired conversations about writing and I’ve had many, many constructive and inspired comments from her on my work.

The Spoiler continues in a slightly, possibly a massively different way: I had an idea to change an aspect of the story, and the story has ‘forked’ several thousand words in, so has an alternative idea currently running parallel to the original. Whether this will turn out to be a matter of choosing which path makes the final cut, or if it’s possible to keep both ideas in the final copy, is yet to make itself clear. If the latter doesn’t work in this story, then it’s something I intend to make happen in the future.

I’m very happy to announce that The Morales, a band from Devon/Dartmoor, will be using a photograph of Bodmin Gaol (seen on this website), on the cover of their forthcoming album. I checked the band out and liked what I saw, so gave them my blessing. Best wishes to them!

The backdrop to all this is Kate Bush’s live album Before The Dawn, a cd that confirms the gigs she played in London in 2014 were incredible and the descriptions of them being a ‘spiritual experience’ were not an exaggeration.

All text and images copyright Julie Travis

 

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In the midst of death

Photo: Julie Travis

Photo: Julie Travis

Strange fiction and stranger dreams.

We Are All Falling Towards The Centre Of The Earth is nearly 7500 words long and heading towards its finale. Finding the sadness I need to convey in the story is easy – channelling it is difficult and emotionally draining. Once I’ve finished the first draft – which may well be done during my week in Lydford, with its powerful energies (as mentioned in my last post) – I can let it rest awhile and re-draft Parasomnia. I also found the beginnings of another story, The Spoiler, possibly ten years old, which was far better than I remembered it being, so that’s next on the list for when Parasomnia is finished. Story relays are working well for me.

The title of this piece is the title of the photograph I hope will form the the front cover of the second Storylandia collection, a version of the dead deer on the banner of this website, in tribute to Ian Johnstone.

Strange dreams abound, of course, the best of my most recent ones involving a city of gigantic buildings and huge bronze sculptures dedicated to a composer (his name was spoken but had slipped my mind by morning), of me flying along the avenues, heading West, out of the city and all the way to a super-real North Somerset coast and along to a small town located there – Weston-super-Mare. Weston has a lot of Occult/magickal connections – Aleister Crowley, Dion and Coil/Jhonn Balance are names that spring to mind.

UPDATE: NOTES FROM LYDFORD – the energy in this area is as powerful as I’d hoped it would be. We Are All Falling… was finished on my first day here and is now 8700 words long. I found myself unable to stop writing and was in tears when I’d finished. The story’s let me go for a while, and it’s a relief. A more thorough investigation of Lydford village found the church was haunted – or at least held a presence…Something was in there, anyway! Next to the castle we found a Viking stone covered in Runic lettering and in the Castle Inn the witch glasses that I’d seen before were sadly gone, although the strange hexagonal glass was still there and the Green Man appeared to peer out from a place behind the stained glass window of the pub’s door.

 

All images and text: copyright Julie Travis

 

Whishtful thinking

Sancreed Branches

A page for Ian Johnstone has now been added to the site. It is probably the most difficult piece I’ve ever had to write. I just hope it does him justice. Tomorrow morning I’m heading to Dartmoor for a week of peace, hopefully, before making a start on some new fiction. Again, hopefully!

All the things we’ve lost

Bellevor Cist Sunshine 2

I spent a week of November on Dartmoor, a place I cannot stop returning to. Each time I visit, I make tiny inroads to the vast wildness – this time I visited Bellever Forest/Lakehead Hill. I’d been to the outskirts of the place before but had been defeated by the quagmire of the forest. This time, I found the stony forest road and walked up through the middle of the trees. Like other parts of Dartmoor, it’s a conifer plantation that’s slowly being restored to native species. Unlike the other forest I’d explored (Fernworthy, near Chagford), Bellever has a benevolent atmosphere. We turned off the forest track, onto the Lych route, where the dead were transported years ago, and then up onto Lakehead Hill. Over the top of the rise, past the charcoal bog that threatened to suck one of my boots from my foot, lay a cist and a stone row. I saw a few walkers in the distance, making their way to Bellever Tor, but no one came near us and we sat by the cist in soulful peace for some time.

Cist Stone Row 6

Our pilgrimage earlier in the year (Jhonn Balance’s memorial/Horsley village/Lindisfarne), to places of great personal and spiritual importance, were everything both myself and T had hoped they’d be, but our visits to various parts of Hadrian’s Wall failed to connect with either of us. On reflection, and after being on Dartmoor and at various local sacred sites in west Cornwall, it occurred to me that the energy at Hadrian’s Wall was essentially very male, whereas the prehistoric sites I usually go to have a female energy. Ironically, the only part of the Wall I did connect with was the Temple of Mithras, set amongst the moors and the curlews, apparently a place exclusively for men to worship at.

Show of Hands gig review/Kzine published

Diddly-dee

Kzine is now available from Amazon, price £2.40 or US$3.79.

I went to see Show of Hands recently at the Guildhall in St Ives and the local rag (The Cornishman) has published my review. It’s corny in places, but it’s the style that the paper likes. It’s not available online, so I’ve reproduced it here:

“They may be from across the Tamar, but Cornwall loves Show of Hands as much as the rest of Britain. Tonight’s gig, with a band who’ve played the Royal Albert Hall many times, was always going to be a sell out – it was just a matter of whether the band could live up to expectation. As it happened, they were simply magnificent. One reason might be that music as social protest and commentary is as needed now in these harsh times as it ever was and the intimacy of the venue enhanced communication between band and audience. The band was certainly as passionate as any of the punk bands I saw in my youth. A unique folk duo – in that Steve Knightly and Phil Beer usually appear with double-bassist Miranda Sykes – tonight, with the audience singing along loud enough to raise the roof, it was more like a band of five hundred.

The night had begun well, with Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin in the support slot, providing some very contemporary folk music. Their recent album ‘Singing The Bones’, a mix of original and traditional songs arranged in their own inimitable way, is justifiably causing a stir and I wonder how long it will be before they’re headlining at the September Festival. Definitely worth seeing if you can.

From the moment Show of Hands took to the stage, however, the night was theirs. They seemed fresh, relaxed and very happy to be there. I usually scribble notes and a set list at gigs but I was too busy clapping and stamping along to the songs to write anything. I do know that they played plenty of favourites such as Santiago, The Napoli, Country Life, The Galway Farmer, Youngs Town, The Falmouth Packet, Boys of Summer and a very emotional Blue Cockade, as well as a couple of new songs and their still very topical comment on the banking crisis and the mess it’s left us all in – Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed. This wasn’t a lecture, though – the seriousness of the recession, the recent riots and the terrible mining tragedy in south Wales was all there, but the night was about having a good time and the songs were interspersed with stories from the band’s many years on the road and even a joke about Camborne. Just in case there was anyone left to win over. When they returned, to play their West Country ballad Now You Know and finish, appropriately enough, with Cousin Jack, the story of Cornish miners emigrating to find work, the crowd was quite euphoric and many were on their feet at the end.

Someone said that hard times can bring out the best in song-writers and the so-called revival in folk music includes plenty of people capable of reflecting life, injustice and current events. Show of Hands are right there with the best of them. They write beautiful, moving songs. And seeing them live is like sitting down with old friends.”