How Do You Read?

May 23, 2020
There are different ways of reading. I don't mean whether you do it on the bus or curled up in bed, or whether you start on the last page before flicking to the first, or reading a whole novel in one big chunk. I mean having a different mindset.
I recently discovered that I can have a split personality when I read. The book involved was The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell. It was chosen (pre-lockdown) as a book for discussion with several friends to keep our brains active. Knowing that we were going to talk about it, and wanting to have more to say than 'I liked/didn't like it' encouraged me to give more thought to it. I ended up approaching it not only as a reader wanting to plunge into a different world for a while, but as a writer keen to understand the author's techniques and how she achieved her effects, and as an academic attempting to analyse its literary themes, influences and place in the literary canon.
All are enjoyable in their own way, but they don't go particularly well together. I would have done better, I think, to read the novel initially for fun, a second time for style, and a third for the literary analysis. Perhaps the fact that I didn't, shows that it didn't engage me enough to enjoy it fully as a reader.
Thinking as an academic, I don't believe the reader is supposed to lose themselves in this story, and the linguistic techniques that O'Farrell employs work like those of anti-illusion theatre, to remind you that you are reading a fiction. I haven't decided why, beyond showing that while we try to understand lives as narratives with one thing leading to another, that's only something we can impose in retrospect, and isn't how events are actually experienced. My theory requires more thought, and might turn out to be pretentious nonsense.
The part I enjoyed most was looking at the writing/linguistic techniques and whether they might enhance my own writing, not by copying them, but by seeing other possibilities. It's given me evidence, if I needed it, of why writers are told to read as much as they can.
Whether you want to analyse a book, or simply lose yourself in a good read, don't forget the Authors Give Back Sale runs at Smashwords until 31st May at http://www.smashwords.com with hundreds of FREE or heavily discounted titles .
 

Have a Clear Out

April 22, 2020
Spring-cleaning isn't everyone's idea of fun, but with most of us being confined to our homes for the foreseeable future, they could soon be the cleanest and tidiest they've ever been (providing you aren't home-schooling, of course). Once everything in the house and garden has been titivated to the 'nth' degree, what are you going to do?
Inspiration might be in short supply, and it can be difficult to focus your imagination if you're worrying about the current situation. If you're struggling ...
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More to Listen To

April 14, 2020
It seems particularly cruel that the Easter weather was fantastic. For so many people this was bitter-sweet as they were unable to get out in it, or to share it with family and friends. There's virtually nothing that can compensate for that, but maybe some free entertainment can go a little way.
I had the great pleasure and surprise of discovering my stage play, Antarctica, which was recorded by The Playhouse Theatre in Northampton last year, has been uploaded to Facebook, so if you go to my ...
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Trying Times

March 25, 2020
There's no denying that these are trying times. No doubt over the coming weeks we'll learn what's truly important in our lives, what we need to change, and what we can happily do without. For many people, being at home will mean money worries, health scares, illness, loneliness, or at the very least, disruption to cherished plans.
There aren't many positives to this situation, but as a writer, at least I can carry on working. I am used to being on my own, and there are likely to be fewer inte...
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Good Listening

March 13, 2020
Having stupidly missed the broadcast of my play, Wingbeats, on http://www.wcbe.org, I couldn't wait for it to be uploaded to Midnight Audio Theatre's website (http://www.midnightaudiotheatre.com). I finally got to listen to it a couple of days ago, and I'm thrilled.
The play is about a girl who emigrates and arrives on the doorstep of her aunt hoping to enlist her help to find work so she can send the money home. Everyone involved in bringing the play to life has done an excellent job. The po...
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Worth the Wait

March 1, 2020
The long wait for Wingbeats to be broadcast is over. At 11pm CST it went out on http://www.wcbe.org as one of Midnight Audio Theatre's three winning plays of 2019. If you missed it, it will be available at http://www.midnightaudiotheatre.com in a few days. 
The first of the trio, The Wild Hunt by Jim McDoniel is on the website now. I recommend listening to it. The play concerns a soldier's search for a man, thought to be the victim of a supernatural hunt. It's a chilling way to spend 20 minut...
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Blown Away

February 9, 2020
At the moment Storm Ciara is bringing havoc to the gardens and rooftops in the neighbourhood, which reminded me of my favourite piece of 'windy' writing. Many writers include storms or hurricanes in their novels, which may or may not have a symbolic function–the chaos of the weather matching the turmoil experienced by one or more characters, or they might simply be a vehicle for fun. They feature in everything from James Clavell's Tai Pan to A. A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner, but the o...
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Doggy Diary

January 27, 2020
Does anyone remember 'Urban Dog'? It was a column in The Telegraph about the real life 'adventures' of a Scottie dog, Parker, and its owner, Will Cohu. I used to love it, and when my husband and I brought home two Bichon Frisé puppies, it prompted me to start a puppy diary.
Our previous canine companion had died two years earlier, and while I had many wonderful memories of what she used to get up to, I was sure there was much that I'd forgotten. I didn't want that to happen with Harry and So...
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Map-reading

January 8, 2020
It's strange how things can be under your nose for months without you noticing them. It wasn't until I logged-on to my dashboard at Smashwords last week that I noticed it has a facility for checking which country your sales have come from. I've never noticed it before, but now I've looked at it, I think I'm hooked.
It turns out that most of the people who downloaded my books in the end of year sale came from the US. No surprises there, although I'm based in the UK. The sales in Canada and Aus...
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Presents Galore!

December 28, 2019
For a writer, one of the best Christmas presents of all is hearing their work read by a professional voice-over artist. I was thrilled on Christmas Day to open my emails and find that the podcast of my prizewinning story in the Remastered Words contest is now available at http://www.remasteredwords.com. For a limited time, you can listen to it FREE. There's also an interview with me about the story and my writing. I have to say that Sam Burns @Wysiwyg88 has really done the story proud
If poet...
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About Me


My writing career began as a freelance feature writer for the local press, businesses and organisations. Now a prize-winning playwright and short story writer, my work has appeared in numerous publications on both sides of the Atlantic. I write as K. S. Dearsley because it saves having to keep repeating my forename, and specialise in fantasy and other speculative genres.

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