Hello and welcome back to my blog. I’m painfully aware how long ago I last wrote. It was on 28 November 2019 to be precise, and few people’s worlds now look the same as they did back then.
By way of an update on my own activities, I reproduce below part of an article that recently appeared in our local Village News. I was one of a handful of people interviewed by its editor on ‘Work-Life During the Pandemic’.
“For author Haydn Middleton the pandemic brought some problems but also a great opportunity. Haydn writes history books for children under the pen name Haydn Kaye and fiction for adults under his own name. He also teaches creative writing to Stanford University students. He had two children’s books in the pipeline this year, both written before lock-down. The Girl Who Said No to The Nazis, an inspirational story about Sophie Scholl and the plot against Hitler, was published in August as part of Pushkin’s “True Adventures” series, but publication of Albert, a children’s book about Einstein in Oxford publisher David Fickling’s “First Names” series, has been delayed until next spring. His teaching commitments were cancelled. This may well have hit the monthly bank balance but it did give Haydn what all creatives need – space and time to develop his ideas.
“Way back in 1998 Haydn had an idea for a life-affirming novel set in a world recovering from an unspecified cataclysm. He wrote the first 9 pages and then set it aside. Seven years later he did produce a full first draft but his literary agent found it “bewildering” and so it was never submitted to a publisher. In 2019 he started on a different version which the break in other activities this year enabled him to complete in July. He considers himself incredibly fortunate to have been able to “plough his own furrow” during the pandemic, but he also became more aware of his own mortality! So the pandemic not only gave Haydn the space in his diary to work on the novel, it also sharpened his motivation. He told me, “As a 65-year-old in these dire global circumstances I decided now was the time I had to get this book, 22 years in the making, finally written”. His publisher said on reading it, “As it stands, I can think of nothing like it, in any discipline”. It will be published next spring under the intriguing title The Actual Whole of Music. Keep a look-out for it!”
Over the next few months I plan to say a lot more here about TAWOM, which is a dream come true in more ways than one. I’m thrilled that Henry Layte and his team at Propolis Books, who made such a brilliant job of The Ballad of Syd & Morgan, are going to be publishing this one too, and have slated 1 May 2021 as its release date.
Meanwhile, as mentioned above, The Girl Who Said No To The Nazis is now on the market. Here’s the Amazon link which allows you to look at some of the text as well as the excellent illustrations: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Who-Said-Nazis-Adventures/dp/1782692754/ref=sr_1_1?crid=F0RYH1LE1RI7&dchild=1&keywords=the+girl+who+said+no+to+the+nazis&qid=1602775739&sprefix=the+girl+who+said+no+%2Caps%2C149&sr=8-1 And here is a video clip of Frank Cottrell-Boyce endorsing the book as part of the “True Adventures” series: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CEWmgAZnk3X/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet (He takes a while to get on to the new books but do bear with it!)
And finally here I’d like to draw attention to some fine work by an artist friend, Iwan Bala. The heading of this blog post, From Confinement, is a little doff of the cap to Iwan, since that’s the title of his latest collection of paintings, which can all be found here: https://www.iwanbala.com/node/594
They make a powerful statement in their own right, of course, but they also intrigue me as the prolific response of a fellow-artist to the lockdown conditions he found himself in, just across the village green from me. He has subsequently returned to his native Wales, but during the period while he was producing these paintings, and I was writing the better part of TAWOM, we saw almost nothing of each other, yet I believe some of his images strike resonant chords with elements in my novel, and vice-versa. Reassuringly spooky.