Tuesday 25 May 2010


I had coffee in Bar Soho
and imagined you were joining me later.
I had my usual espresso
and ordered you a capuccino so they'd come with different spoons
which I took home because I couldn't take you.

Friday 21 May 2010


I lost my soul in the quarter mile from Foyles to Jerry's
or maybe it was Jerry's to Foyle's
and what I lost was my mind.
His name was Adam
or maybe I only call him that
because he was my first man
and he told me let's take some of this and we'll get caned.
It was the way his T-shirt stayed angel-white in the citygrub
and the way his tattoo moved but his teeth stayed still when he smiled
that pulled me across the street.
I'd never seen confidence or clarity like it
or maybe I had
and it was some wet-sheeted memory
he drew to him that sticky six o'clock
like a cloud of backflowed blood swilling round before the shot.
I would have studied at Cambridge
or maybe I wouldn't
and that was the lie I told myself
because I knew I needed guilt
and neither the junk nor the ejaculations gave me any.

I lost my life somewhere by Bar Italia
or maybe someone found it
and put it to good use
or maybe they wasted it
and now I haunt the shelves of Foyles, perpetually browsing
or maybe I'm outside Jerry's
and this absinthe in my blood is just too strong
or maybe it's not strong enough
because I can't stop thinking of Adam
or maybe I only call him that because he fell.

Empty, Spent, Beat & Blank

If this is the last time we speak I'd like there to be tears
If this is the last time we kiss I'd like there to be smears
If this is the last time we drink coffee I'd like to have four sugars
If this is the last time we share a needle I'd like it to be blunt
If this is the last time we pass out on some stranger's floor I'd like there to be cheers

If this is the last time I see you I won't blink
If this is the last time we argue I won't think
If this is the last time we read together I won't talk
If this is the last time we walk together I won't wear shoes that pinch
If this is the last time we play chicken I won't sink

If this is the last time I should turn
If this is the last time I should learn
If this is the last time I should cry
If this is the last time I should die
If this is the last time I should burn.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Lilith Burning tonight

Lilith Burning: Perceptions, Reflections and Deceptions of the Eternal Infernal Feminine
Lilith Burning is a multi-arts pop-up collaboration between Year Zero and Knickerbocker Circus from New York, in the shape of Katelan V Foisy, who is with us for a set at the Literature Lounge, one of London’s top literary nights at The Covent Garden Poetry Cafe, tomorrow.

Lilith Burning sets out to look at the way the Lilith archetype is viewed in today’s society, and the focal point will be a set of readings on the subject of strange and transgressive women at The Albion Beatnik Bookstore, from 6.30, accompanied by some incredibly cool live music. We’ll be doing more than that, though. During the day we’ll be taking to the streets with a voice recorder and a camera to capture the thoughts of the people of Oxford, out of which some kind of installation will take shape, with studio space coming courtesy of courtesy of OVADA and The Project Room. The result will be a physical piece created on the day, that will be available for sale at OVADA’s next auction (TBA), and a digital piece to be created during the rest of May.
I’ll also be podacsting a discussion with Katelan on the use of female archetypes in our writing.
Lilith Burning readings
Blood and Pudding – Katelan V Foisy
Leviathan – Daisy Anne Gree
Young Henriette and the Scarecrow – Daisy Anne Gree
SKIN BOOK – Dan Holloway
The Last Fluffer in La La Land - Dan Holloway

On the surface this is a selection about the violence, brutality and blankness of modern life, using metaphor ad archetype to show that in 2 million years of human history, precise;y nothing has changed. But scratch the surface and these remarkable stories reveal a heartbreaking tenderness, empathy, and warmth. And hope. They are stories told from outside the margins of acceptable human history – from the point of view of and about the shunned and discarded figures of Western discourse – Lilith, Leviathan, the women propping up the porn industry whose jobs literally – as well as metaphorically – gag them. They are stories that stick two fingers to our foundation myths and declare that life us elsewhere, in the back lots and the forests, in the deserts and dark alleys, and at the bottom of the sea. They are stories that show not Lilith burning in hell, but Lilith burning down the city walls and basking in the glow of the destruction of all inside.

Monday 17 May 2010

Mario's Cafe

Many of you will know Roland Denning as the hugely talented author of The Beach Beneath The Pavement, and many will also know him as the director of the wonderful animation series On meeting An Agent.

Now Roland has made a wonderful live action film, Mario's Cafe, which is premiering this Thursday. Yes, I know that's the same night as a certain other event, but it would be rather peevish of me not to offer people the choice. I only wish I could go along, but I know taht it will be a wonderful night, at The Oxford Arms, 256 Kentish Town Road, with doors opening at 6.30 for screenings at 7 and 9.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Lilith Burning

Lilith Burning: Perceptions, Reflections and Deceptions of the Eternal Infernal Feminine
Katelan V Foisy from New York’s Knickerbocker Circus is coming to the UK, and will be joining forces with Year Zero Writers for a set at the Literature Lounge, one of London’s top literary nights at The Covent Garden Poetry Cafe, on May 20. The day before she’s coming to Oxford for a pop-up show on society’s malleable and porous perceptions of the feminine, taking to the streets with me, a voice recorder and a camera to capture the thoughts of the people of Oxford, out of which some kind of installation will take shape, to be shown that night at The Albion Beatnik Bookstore, where we will be reading our own wokr on the subject, along with that of Daisy Anne Gree.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Dear Dylan

STOP PRESS: May 12th - Dear Dylan is on the long list (of 12) of the Young Minds Book Awards! I hope this will inspire other self publishing authors. You can get more info about the comp at www.youngminds.org.uk

Many of you will know Siobhan Curham as the author of the fantastic self-publishing column in The Writers' Forum. Others of you may know her through the super Literature Lounge, one of London's coolest literary nights. But she is also a great author, and recently turned down a deal with a mainstream publisher to self-publish her new book Dear Dylan, which explores what happens when a fourteen year old girl turns to the internet for solace and strikes up a correspondence with a stranger. I had the chance to ask her all about it. Oh, and to get your hands on Dear Dylan, just go here.

I'm intrigued by the self-publishing angle. I have three mini questions about it. I wonder if you'd be prepared to say a bit about the deal you turned down; could you explain why you chose self-publishing for this book; and will you be seeking a mainstream publisher in the future?

After my three novels with Hodder I had been left feeling a little disillusioned with the traditional publishing world. Although I will always be hugely grateful to them for publishing my books I was left feeling very confused and upset by the lack of support they gave me when it came to the marketing of my books. I have subsequently discovered that this is quite a common occurrence with the large publishing houses and they only seem to put a substantial marketing budget behind an author once they have established a decent sized readership. Anyway, this experience and the rise of self-publishing led to me choosing to self-publish my fourth novel, Finding the Plot back in 2007. My reasoning was that if I was expected to do all of my own marketing anyway would I be that much worse off going it alone? Shortly after I finished Dear Dylan a friend told me that a traditional publisher was looking for new writers for its young adult list, so on a whim I emailed the opening pages and synopsis to the commissioning editor. She got back to me straight away asking to see the whole book and within a week I had been offered a book deal. I was over the moon to get such a quick and positive response from the first person I had sent it to. In the end I was offered a deal for two books. I felt I had built up a very good rapport with the editor and that she really understood me as a writer. However, I was hugely disappointed when I finally received a contract and saw that my advance and royalties were substantially lower than I had been promised. It was the first time I had represented myself rather than going through my agent and it was a real eye-opener. Thankfully I had my contracts from Random House and Hodder to compare it with so, using them as a guide, I sent back an amended version more in line with what I felt I deserved. The publishers upped their offer but it was still nowhere near what I felt it ought to be. A friend of mine who works at United Agents said that publishers will always try and take advantage of authors acting on their own; it was standard practise. This made me really angry. It seemed to be yet another example of authors being shoddily treated in order for publishers to make a quick buck. I know I could have continued to haggle or even taken the book elsewhere but I really didn’t have the stomach for it. Back when I started out as a writer I had very little self confidence and was so grateful just to be published I put up with being poorly treated but not any more. So I withdrew Dear Dylan and took stock for a while, trying to decide what to do next. Then it hit me - I had written Dear Dylan to try and help people going through difficult times in their lives, it had never been about making money or a name for myself, so why not give it away for free? As self-publishing editor for Writers’ Forum magazine I had been really inspired by a writer called David Moody who had given away his first novel as a free download and ended up getting half a million readers. What if I could do the same with Dear Dylan? As soon as the idea took hold I knew it was the right way to go – giving the book away seemed totally in keeping with the ethos behind it and it felt liberating to stick two fingers up at the publishers who had quite frankly been happy to shaft me financially. I would never say never when it comes to traditional publishers in the future, but for now I am happy to self publish as it feels like a far more positive and proactive option.

Could you explain why you chose to self-publish with Authorhouse, and what the package they provided you with involves?

I chose AuthorHouse because they were the self-publishing company I had used for Finding the Plot and I had found them to be extremely professional and reliable. I went for their standard package, which costs around £800. This price includes turning your manuscript into a book, cover design (although I paid for my own cover design privately) an ISBN and distribution through Gardners (the UK’s largest book distributor) thereby ensuring your book is available to order through any UK bookstore and on Amazon.

I love the subject matter of Dear Dylan, however online networking and young people can be a very emotive subject. What led you to focus on an email correspondence between a teenager and a much older adult stranger in the book?

As the mother of a teenage son I am all too aware of the dangers the internet can pose to young people. However, I also feel very strongly that we can over protect our kids and that the internet can actually be an extremely positive forum for them. One of my favourite books of all time is Goodnight Mister Tom which focuses on the friendship between a young evacuee and a much older man. As a writer I wanted to explore a similar relationship as it develops and show how both parties benefit. I think teens can get a really bad press and I wanted to redress the balance by showing how the energy and enthusiasm they possess can have a really positive effect on older people. There is also a certain irony in the book in that the only real danger to Georgie actually comes from her home life and not in the friendship that she forms online. I didn’t set out to make this point deliberately, but with hindsight I’m kind of glad that Dear Dylan does make it. Despite all of the negative press the internet can get, the fact remains that most kids are far more at risk of being damaged in some way by their families and home lives than so-called ‘stranger danger’.

How difficult was it to write Dear Dylan in a way that engages rather than preaches to the audience, and how successful do you think you've been?

Maybe that’s a question for the readers! But as a writer I loved the freedom the email format gave me. Once I had the characters fully fleshed out in my head it was really enjoyable to write. Emails are often written in a relaxed, almost stream of consciousness style and I loved the way that enabled me to get into the flow of the character’s voices, particularly as they start to open up to one another. I was very aware that I didn’t want the older character to come across as preachy or completely sorted, as I think it would have been quite patronising to younger readers. The main objective for me was that both characters really learn and benefit from each other. And certainly from the initial feedback I’ve been getting from readers this seems to have come across.

I love the cover. How important do you think covers are for self-published authors, and could you tell me about the process of producing yours?

Thank-you, I can’t tell you how relieved it makes me to get positive feedback regarding the cover! I think getting the cover right is an absolutely essential part of the process, whether you are self-publishing or not. I received some awful feedback from readers and bookstores regarding the cover of my second novel with Hodder and it was absolutely soul-destroying. People say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but of course we all do. When it comes to self-publishing writers are already at a disadvantage as there is still a lot of snobbery in the book world, especially in the UK. I think it is therefore vital that, if you want your book to be taken seriously, you put maximum effort into the presentation. I did a lot of research into book covers prior to Dear Dylan and I paid a professional book designer called Michael Hill to do the artwork. I wanted something striking that would appeal to both teenagers and adults and that summed up the themes and mood of the book. I was extremely happy with the end result and another really great thing about self-publishing is that you have complete creative control over the cover. It was a fantastic experience working with Michael on his ideas.

I gather you're planning to give this book away in eformat. Could you tell me how you're going about ensuring as wide a distribution as possible, and what you're personally doing in the way of promotion?

I’m giving the book away as an electronic download via my website http://www.siobhancurham.co.uk/ and I am planning to do the bulk of my marketing online; I have set up a Facebook group called Dear Dylan and I will be publicising the book on blogs, forums, websites etc. I will also be doing Dear Dylan workshops in schools and I have entered the book into a competition. The book ‘1001 Ways to Market your Books’ by John Kremer is also proving really useful when it comes to publicity ideas!

What next?

I am about to start work on my next novel for young adults called Finding Cherokee Brown as well as working flat out on publicity for Dear Dylan.