Wednesday, March 19, 2014

In Conversation with Valerie Sirr

I’ve admired Geraldine Mill’s work for a long time now. I first came across her writing when her story ‘Lick of the Lizard’ won the millennium Hennessy New Irish writer award. Her winning story became the title story for her debut collection of short fiction published by Arlen House in 2005. I reviewed that collection here.
Hellkite, Geraldine’s third short fiction collection published recently by Arlen House, is a powerful and original work that explores the goodness of men, and the cruelty, sometimes indifferent, sometimes hellish, of women to men. There’s a lively, imaginative playfulness in these stories and the abandoning wife in the opening story is further developed in the final story, which allows an exploration of the humanity of the hellkite and frames the collection beautifully. Below, in this review/interview, we explore the many strengths of Geraldine’s collection. 
Valerie Sirr: The idea of a collection of hellkites for a book of short fiction is wonderfully inventive. How did the idea come to you? Did you come across the word somewhere, an image? Was it an emerging theme in your work?
Geraldine Mills: The collection didn’t start out like that at all. There was never a moment when I said I was going to write a book about cruel people or about men who have been cruelly treated by women. Like most writers, it is not the way I work. I go with the gut instinct of what is chipping away at my imagination; what will not give me peace until I start to give it some attention; until the image begins to hold. 
Thank you Valerie for the time you put into preparing the questions for our interview. I loved getting stuck into those questions that make me consider the craft and why I write.  Check out Valerie Sirr's Blog for the the full interview. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Update on Hellkite

It is always very heartening when people take time to write to you to tell  you how much they are enjoying your book. Letters and emails have been coming in from the most unlikely places around the world  to say they ordered Hellkite from Kenny's and have been reading stories to one another or discussing the different themes in their writing circles.

 It is also rewarding when the reader gets it; knows what you are trying to do in the stories and see the patterns and nuances within the different ones. The limited-edition hardback is almost sold out but the paperback is still available in  good bookshops. Here is another extract from:

The Devil’s Dye
First Eliza must chase Marisolle from the barn. That girl with her pangolin eyes and slouching walk carries bad spirits in her pocket and every time she is within bleeding distance things start to unhappen. She is best sent off to the fields at the end of the farm where she can sit in the blistering heat and hex no one, float around the corn shucks; let the duende of her mind dance like a mad thing – if that’s what a goblin does – but not here. Not here in the barn where Eliza knows everything depends on it, the plantation’s livelihood, their house, their mother’s nervous disposition.
            Eliza gathers as many bundles of the plant into her arms as she can manage and piles them into the big expanse of vat that squats on the dusty floor.  She orders the servants to carry buckets of water from the cistern to the big zinc bath, pour. The colour a  dirty yellow, the odour so offensive it chokes the whole space around them and they have to  pull their aprons over their mouths, their noses as they continue to bring more buckets to its rim.
‘Go now. Leave me.’ she says. ‘Go about your other chores and leave me, for this is my task only.’
She waits until Nathanial and Amos pull the big door closed and apart from the light that comes through the slats of the windows and the motes that scatter out around her, there is just herself and the putrid container of mud liquid before her.