Books

27 December 2012

 A couple of weeks back, I took up the idea that we really only exist as creations (that is to say 'collections of impressions, images and memories') in other people's minds. As a result what we are (or who we are) is limitless, depending on the number of people with whom we relate - on whatever level. The situation becomes even more complicated given the fact that each person relating to us (on whatever level) also has his/her own set of perceptions and impressions, not only regards us but also in relation to him/herself. Surrounded by such an intricate web of possibilities, pictures, memories, beliefs and misconceptions, I do not believe that there can be just one single answer to the question: Who are we? Consequently, in literature, there cannot exist one single, correct interpretation of any particular character, but, instead, there must be as many interpretations (all correct from different perspectives) as there may be books written about the person in question.

18 December 2012

Facebook

For those of you who may be interested, The Space in Between is now on Facebook. This is the first time I have ventured on to Facebook, and I must admit that it was with some hesitation; however, I have now been convinced that it has certain advantages when it comes to spreading information. The page is purely related to The Space in Between - no private photos and the like. It will not be replacing my blog, so keep visiting.

I have been a little tardy with posts these last couple of weeks, but, as we come closer to Christmas, there is a lot going on, and certain things tend to be shelved. In my next post, I want to continue with an idea I touched upon a few posts back. In the meantime, remember the next Book Draw will be coming up at the end of January, and, to be part of the draw, you must register, even if you registered for Draws One and Two. 

07 December 2012

Book Specials

For those of you who may not know, The Space in Between can now be purchased by actually going into a proper shop (that is if you live on the Central Coast of NSW Australia). For the rest of you, there are a number of specials online: AoE Publishing is giving a 10% discount on the book during the month of December, and The Book Depository does not charge for delivery (no matter where in the world you may happen to live). Check out my website for information regarding the different purchase options and other possible specials.

04 December 2012

We are, after all, not much more than other people's collections of impressions and images and memories - collections that vary from person to person.  Who we really are is often unclear (possibly not even of much importance), not only as regards those around us, but sometimes even as regards our own understanding of ourselves.

23 November 2012

All Good Bookstore

The Space in Between is now available at the All Good Bookstore in the Imperial Shopping Centre on 171 Mann Street, Gosford. Phone: 02–4342 2482. This gives people on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia yet another possibility to purchase the book off-line. Hopefully, there will be more 'bricks and mortar' shops stocking the book in the very near future.

Don't forget to look in on my website occasionally. There you will find information about where to purchase the book (online and off-line). You can also read what some people have written about the book.

15 November 2012

Book Draw

The Book Draw has now taken place, and I would like to thank all the people who participated. Unfortunately, only one person could win, and that lucky person is:

Vicki Spain

CONGRATULATIONS Vicki. Your free copy will be on its way to you within the next few days. For those of you who missed out this time, there will be a new draw early in the new year, so keep an eye on this blog for information.

13 November 2012

The Book Bazaar

For those of you living on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia, and who would prefer to be able to buy your books from a 'proper' bookshop, you will be happy to know that The Space in Between is now available at The Book Bazaar  in Umina. The address is: 327 West Street, Umina, and the phone number is 02-4342 2482.

10 November 2012

For all who have registered for the book draw, Thursday is the day; for those of you who have not yet registered, there is still time. Refer to the information on the right-hand side of this blog.

Returning for a moment to the subject of fabricated and altered pasts, I believe that, to some degree, this tendency to edit and add to that which has already happened is part of being human. In many cases, it is done subconsciously; in others, it is carefully orchestrated to achieve fame, (even notoriety), sympathy or merely acceptance. Most alterations to the past are completely innocent, tied as they are to photos and the verbalized opinions of those around us. Within a short space of time, the opinions become ours and the images, conjured up by borrowed photos, are part of our visual, and often even emotional, memory.


06 November 2012

It is interesting how, at times, just one event or one experience can create so much of what we call the past. The experience might be a 'one-off' experience, completely surrounded by other experiences, but it is the one that stands out and is remembered. Take, for example, the man who, as a boy, on just one isolated occasion, went fishing with his father. The experience summed up everything he wanted in his relationship with his father, and, as a man, he is fully convinced that he and his father often went fishing together; in fact, the idea of fishing has become an important part of who he is. Whether this is a negative or a positive experience is difficult to say. However, when it comes to the girl who subconsciously borrows the trauma of the woman accosted in a dark street by a couple of men - so eloquently described in the newspaper - and later firmly believes that she herself was similarly accosted on several occasions, it is not difficult to discern between positive and negative experiences - real or not. In both cases, the interpretation of the past, false as it may be, has shaped not only the past but also how these two people relate to the present.

Our past, therefore, becomes a mixture of reality and fantasy, of wrongly remembered experiences and even other people's experiences. Eventually any line between truth and fantasy, between reality and imagination, becomes difficult to discern. One can then wonder if it is important to draw such a line, or whether it is even possible.

28 October 2012

Just a reminder in case you have not yet registered for the book draw.

'Journey' is a word that is often used to describe life, but it can also describe many things within that which we call life. Apart from the obvious, 'journey' is that time span between what was and what is; it measures change and it sets out signposts. It can wrap around our conversations and even our reading, pointing out the then and the now, taking us to new places and showing us different perspectives. We move along, and through, a maze of concentric and parallel comprehensions and misunderstandings, always arriving elsewhere in relation to our many starting points, always attempting to grasp hold of possible new beginnings and new understandings. 


13 October 2012

I know that I have said this before, but every person's life is a story, and every life could fit between the covers of a book. There is always a beginning and an end; there is also everything in between: the thoughts, the feelings, the decisions, the regrets, the people, the places...

But we are not only part of our own story, we are surrounded by so many other stories, many of which cut across our own story, pulling it in different directions, adding to it, changing it. Eventually, all the stories become tangled together, and  the book spreads out over countless volumes until it becomes difficult to discern just one beginning, one middle and one end.

05 October 2012

There are quite a number of names already on my list for the free book draw. If you want to be included, don't wait until November to add your name. It is so easy for October to become November to become December without anything happening, and then, of course, it is too late.

On a slightly different note, the French film "Monsieur Lazhar" is definitely worth seeing. It takes up a number of very important and topical issues, and like a thin thread, woven through all these issues, is the situation of the refugee. Unlike the immigrant, who, for whatever reason, has chosen to move from one country to another, the refugee remains clinging to what might have been while attempting to come to terms with what is. For the refugee, life becomes infused - on so many levels - with the need to survive.

The connection between things:- ideas, concepts, images... can be hair-thin; it can also be like a six-lane motorway. No matter the breadth of the connection, it is, I feel, always present - everything is connected in some way for someone - and it is all these small connections that make life what it is. Whether the focus is on a present-day French Algerian fleeing atrocious acts of violence or on refugees from other parts of the world and even from other times, the connections remain. For people forced to seek refuge, survival becomes the only necessity - a necessity that no one can any longer take for granted.

30 September 2012

There is to be a new draw for a free copy of The Space in Between. The draw will take place on the 15th November, and, if you want to be part of the draw, you can register by CLICKING HERE  Don't miss out. As they say: you have to be in it to win it.  

25 September 2012

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me privately regarding The Space in Between; your comments have been very encouraging. If any of you would like to leave a short comment on any of the online book sites (for example: Amazon, The Nile, AdLibris), your effort would be greatly appreciated. Many prospective readers/buyers base their choice of book on such comments or reviews.

Someone contacted me recently, wondering about the point of delving into the tragedies of past history. Although he liked the book, he felt that mankind, as a whole, would be in a better place if it could discard negative memories and concentrate only on positive realities. An interesting thought; however, I fear that this could very quickly lead to a repetition of the negative and a minimization of the positive. We need to focus on the positive; however (as any Jew would tell you) to forget atrocities connected with our past is a sure way of seeing them repeated - not necessarily in the same form but repeated nonetheless. Relatively speaking, few books have been written about Latvia during the two world wars. People need to know what happened there and why, not only to encourage understanding of present-day Latvia but also, hopefully, to ensure that such things do not happen again, not anywhere. This is, of course, a fairly feeble hope, given the state of the world at the moment; however, unless people are aware of the depths to which they can fall, there is very little chance of them avoiding the edge of the drop.

11 September 2012

Everyone has a story. Even lives that appear to be completely mundane, and without any kind of drama, are stories. Thoughts, expectations and dreams weave themselves around all the things that appear ordinary and without any particular interest, and the story is born. We are told that the man was born, lived and died - it is a small story in itself. We are told that he was born on the top of a mountain and that he died on an island in the middle of a lake. Immediately, our interest is caught: how did he get from the mountain to the lake? And why did he descend the mountain? Perhaps the questions help create the story, or perhaps they merely help it unfold. Different questions will unravel different stories - all part of the one story.

26 August 2012

I'm afraid that I will not be around for the next few weeks. If possible, I will try to post a short comment at some stage; however, that is unlikely. In the meantime, I hope that those of you who have purchased the book are enjoying/have enjoyed it. If you enjoyed it, do let me know, either via this blog or via the online site from where you purchased the book.

21 August 2012

Buying the Book

The Space in Between is now available not only via the publisher but also via eight different online websites, including Amazon. Those of who live in Sweden may be pleased to know that the book can also be bought from adlibris,com.

Please note that orders placed with the publisher are printed in Australia, UK or the USA, depending on the whereabouts of the person lodging the order. This is to minimize postage. 

18 August 2012

It feels strange that the book is no longer just mine; now it belongs to everyone and anyone. Others will read it and will possibly give it new, different interpretations. It is like any work of art; once it is 'out there', it is for everyone to interpret in the manner that feels right for him or her. This is quite as it should be; I just hope that those of you who eventually read the book will discover something in it that resonates with some reality or idea or belief-system within yourself, making the experience of the book just that little bit more special and memorable.

15 August 2012

It has been a few days since I last posted anything, but things have been fairly hectic. Anyway, with the book now released, I am pleased to be able to give you all the information about purchasing The Space in Between. Click here.


08 August 2012

I suppose that anything following an audio/visual post is going to have to fight for attention, so I was at a bit of a loss as to what to write, then I thought of a comment someone made in relation to the video. It was a comment made by a woman who knew Nina in the latter part of her life, and she remarked on the fact that she had never seen photos of Nina when she was younger. For this woman, Nina was always a certain age - she had a present, but no past. What this woman said is indicative of how many of us relate to the people around us, and, if they are old, then, for us, they have always been old. We forget that they have had a past; we can even forget that, inside that old person, there is the essential person who has always been there and always will be there. Appearances may well change, but the 'essential' person does not change. Everyone has a past as well as a present, and an understanding of a person's past can often change our perception of that particular person's present.

04 August 2012

Book Trailer for The Space in Between

Annette (my absolutely wonderful designer) and I have managed to put together a book trailer, which gives a small introduction to the book. Hope you like it:



01 August 2012

That's probably enough history for the moment; however, even a vague understanding of the history behind certain events can help put those particular events into a better focus. Regarding the book: Because of circumstances beyond the control of the printer, the publisher notified me several days ago that the book will be released on the 11th August (and not on the 30th July as first thought). With this in mind, the draw for the free copy has been moved to the 12th August, which allows more time for any of you who may want to become involved but have not, as yet, had time to do so. 

29 July 2012

Returning to some of the history behind the book: Nina's great-great-grandparents (and her great-grandparents as well for that matter) were serfs, serfdom in Latvia having been introduced by the so-called Baltic Germans, who owned and ran the large estates and had a symbiotic understanding with the ruling Russians. In the seventeenth century, power in the Baltic area moved from Russia to Sweden - as the result of a series of battles - and Sweden, having no history of feudalism, immediately abolished the practice and introduced the peasants to education and a much better way of life. A century later, the tables turned and, with Russia once more in charge, the Baltic Germans resumed what they must have felt was a cheap and easy way of running their estates. Fortunately, by the mid-nineteenth century, with people becoming more aware of rights and liberties, serfdom was finally put to rest, but, even after the obligation was removed, Nina's great-grandparents and grandparents and even parents continued to work on the estates. While the industrial revolution gained in strength, attracting many estate workers into very different areas of work, there were still people - Nina's relatives included - who preferred to remain with what they already knew.

25 July 2012

If you want a chance to win a copy of The Space in Between, there is still time to sign up as a follower or an email follower. The draw is expected to take place on the 8th August and the winner will be announced thereafter.

24 July 2012

Returning to my last post and the question of when a manuscript can be said to be ready, I think I would have to say that it is never really ready. It is the same as with a painting. Should I have another line, another blob of colour?  Right up until submission, I was still adding words, removing sentences, changing paragraphs. Once it was submitted, it was out of my hands - just like the painting on its way to an exhibition - now it was on its own.

21 July 2012

There is possibly an author, somewhere out there, who does not need to revise or edit, and his/her first attempt is what will eventually appear between the covers of his/her book. I'm afraid that I am not such a person. The manuscript was written and then rewritten; large swathes were removed or moved; words were added and deleted; the manuscript was rewritten yet again; more sections were deleted; more sections were added; another rewrite and then editing and editing and editing; punctuation was added and removed; paragraphs were combined, created and split; then more editing and editing and editing... At times, hours were spent deliberating over one page, one paragraph, one sentence or even over one single word. By the time the manuscript was finished (at what point can a manuscript actually be called finished?) I would have gone through it - word by word - anything up to one hundred times (which is a lot, considering that there are now about 114,000 words - down from around 124,000 words). At this point in time, I feel that I could most probably recite the entire book, cover to cover - a realization that brings to mind the book Fahrenheit 451.

18 July 2012

As I may have noted in an earlier post, the book covers most of last century and stretches itself across four countries. It begins just after the first Russian revolution and continues on though World War I, the Russian Revolution and World War II. Latvia is not a very big country, only 64,589 km², and the fact that all the above-mentioned conflicts spread themselves on to Latvian soil is a sobering thought. Of course, Latvia was not alone in this respect, but this story is about a Latvian woman and, therefore, focusses mainly on Latvia's situation.

     

15 July 2012

Mothers-in-law, like stepmothers, often have a bad reputation, but I was very fortunate. Right from when we first met, I always felt that Nina accepted me completely, and, if she ever had to take anyone's part, she would always take mine, even if it meant disagreeing with her son. Perhaps, given this relationship, it was only natural that I eventually decided to collect together her story, knowing that, if I did not, it would disappear for ever. Already, most of those connected with her story have passed on; soon there will be none left, and in another generation, even the memories will have faded or will have mutated beyond recognition. Everyone leaves a story behind, and some stories are more dramatic than others; Nina's story is one of these.  

11 July 2012

We are all acquainted with change in some form or another. People who, for whatever reason, move from one country to another must juggle many changes while attempting, as far as is possible, to retain some small vestige of their former selves and their place of birth. Change, in this respect, should not be a process of complete assimilation but a process of addition. Some people - those on the outside looking in - do not always understand this idea of retaining what has gone before. I think that this lack of understanding is often caused by a fear of having to confront ideas and realities outside what they know and are prepared to accept. In other words, change, in this instance, affects not only those forced to uproot themselves but also those who then must receive them, willingly or otherwise.  

07 July 2012

Don't panic! You are on the right blog. It is just that I like moving things around. The previous background was based on a painting of mine from a series entitled 'Seeking Asylum'. Although that particular painting is no longer on my website, there are still other paintings there. But I was not intending to talk about the painting, I was thinking more of the need for change. Change (in everything) is important if we are to retain - or should I say develop - some flexibility of perception. Change, on many levels, was an important part of Nina's life.

04 July 2012

As I possibly wrote somewhere earlier in this blog, Nina was born in Rīga, which is the capital of Latvia. For those of you who may want to/need to know more about either Rīga or Latvia, you may be interested in the following link: Latvia

01 July 2012

My intention with this blog is not to give away too much of the actual story but to touch on a few anecdotes that might fill in some of the spaces and, also, to answer any questions anyone may have. The historical background, as you may be able to imagine, was something of a minefield; however I launched myself into it, keeping in mind Nina's own observation that it is never particular countries or nationalities that are at fault, it is always a handful of individuals from within those countries or nationalities. In other words, there is really no difference between countries - most people are decent - but there are always individuals who stand to gain something by creating apparent or virtual differences.    

28 June 2012

Some of the people in The Space in Between were simply names mentioned in a letter, or scribbled on the back of an old photograph or mentioned in passing by someone who knew someone who knew the person behind the name; others, especially Nina herself, were much more than just names. However, during the years of research and writing, I got to know all these people extremely well. They have filled both my waking and sleeping hours, and they have become an important part of my life. I got to know them, not only from the letters and the memories, but also from the perspective I gave them through my writing. Perhaps that is all that matters, and perhaps, at certain points, all the different perspectives - known and unknown - come together to accurately describe a person who is now only a name.

24 June 2012

Looking at the perspectives of the past while creating new perspectives - surely this must be basic to any kind of biographical/historical novel? I do not think that it is possible to avoid the addition of new perspectives. As soon as a writer decides to mention one particular event or one particular character instead of another event or character, his/her perspective is already colouring the perspectives that are already embedded in the actual historical narrative. The different types of perspective and the pull between them is something peculiar to this type of writing; fiction writing is not necessarily beholden to any kind of embedded perspectives as it relies almost completely on the perspective of the author.

21 June 2012

Although I do jot down notes on scraps of paper and in notebooks with interesting covers and beautiful paper, most of my writing is done on the computer. Although not at all romantic, the advantages are enormous. In 1983, I read an American article about personal computers, which were just beginning to hit the market. The writer of the article had not made up his mind as to whether or not they were merely a passing fad... So many years on, we all know that they were not a passing fad. It is, however, interesting to revisit perspectives from years back - perhaps it helps us put the present into a more balanced perspective.

18 June 2012

Someone asked me once how I wrote - did I write everything in longhand and then type it into the computer; did I have a special place to write; did I keep to a special routine... The question about where recalled something I once read about the author Roald Dahl. According to this particular biographer, Roald Dahl wrote in a garden shed at the bottom of his garden, a blanket around his shoulders and a board on his knees to act as a kind of a table. It probably follows that he wrote everything in longhand. I do not have a garden shed, at least, not a garden shed that lends itself to writing much less sitting. I have a computer in the back of what actually is the garage. The blanket sounds very romantic, but I have opted for a small heater instead and, in the summer, a fan. My cat - call her my co-writer if you like - sits on a cushion on a chair next to my elbow. She has been part of the book right from the start; I doubt that it would ever been completed without her unwavering consistency.

16 June 2012

If you are one of the people who have been unable to post a comment (for whatever reason), feel free to email me instead. It is a mystery as to why this has been causing problems, but now there is a solution. Have a great day. Diane

15 June 2012

Nina, or Nikolina or Nika, was my mother-in-law, and I first met her only a few days after I met her son, Andris, and only a couple weeks after I had arrived in Sweden. Standing in the hallway of Nina's flat as Andris introduced me to his mother, I was somewhat overwhelmed by new sounds that I knew were not Swedish. I do not believe that I had ever heard Latvian spoken before that day. We had no common language, but Nina smiled and handed me a quartered green apple on a white plate. Somehow that apple on that particular plate must have been extremely significant as I have never forgotten it. Over the following months, she talked to me about books she had read; she told me about her brothers; she shared her memories of Latvia and her childhood - Andris translating all the while. Then I left Sweden and spent several months working in Germany. When I returned to Sweden, my very basic German made communication a little easier. Then Andris and I married; I eventually learnt Swedish and Nina and I were finally able to communicate without a translator.

13 June 2012

So, where was I? That's right - I was ready to write the book. Not without some trepidation, given the fact that a number of people connected with the story were still living. I was also wondering whether or not I would be able to successfully navigate around the many different perspectives of history. However, I decided that this was to be my story about Nina, and, on the strength of that decision, it was just a matter of turning on the computer. Admittedly, not quite as romantic as picking up a pen and dipping it in the inkwell but nevertheless...

09 June 2012

There were some gaps in the information about Nina. The  information I had managed to collect - discussions with those who were close to her, my own memories, notebooks - told only part of the story, and it was becoming obvious that, although the book was a biography, there would have to be some elements of fiction. However, that said, the actual structure of the book is based on fact, and, for events occurring after 1944, I was able to rely heavily on letters written to and by Nina - thankfully, she kept drafts of most letters she wrote.

07 June 2012

Although I first thought of writing this book some twenty years ago, it took about fourteen years before I began to do something about it, and another three years before I actually began to write the book. There was SO much research: I knew very little about Latvia's position regarding either of the two world wars, and my understanding of the two Russian revolutions was  incomplete. I also needed to gather together the facts about Nina's life... Given all the preparation, it was not until 2010 that I was anywhere near ready to start writing.