Book signing in Trieste: Cafe San Marco

Book signing in Trieste: Cafe San Marco

This week I was lucky enough to be invitedIMG_1270 by the International Welcome Club of Trieste Region (IWCTR) to come and give a talk on my book, ‘The Disobedient Wife’.

The venue chosen, Cafe San Marco, is popular with Trieste readers and writers alike, with several literary events (as well as others, such as wine tasting), held every week. It is located in via Battisti 18. Founded in 1914, it became famous as a rendezvous for intellectuals and writers including Italo Svevo, James Joyce and Umberto Saba, a tradition that continues to date with Claudio Magris. A meeting point for Trieste’s irredentists, the café was destroyed by Austro-Hungarian troops during the first World War but was reopened when hostilities ended.  Brass-coloured leaf motifs cover the ceiling and circular pictures of thespians and jesters adorn the walls like portholes looking into a different era.

One side of the cafe is for coffee drinkers, the other for books.  Towards the back of the cafe there is a delightful space for presentations, and this is where our group met.IMG_1266

Around eighteen people came, some of whom struggled with the English, but who valiantly stayed to listen to the end. Others were British like myself, or long term expatriates from other countries living in Trieste, interested in hearing a talk about a little-known part of Central Asia.  As usual, I showed my film, and explained the socio-political and economic situation in Tajikistan in the present day.

‘The Disobedient Wife’ is literary fiction rather than biography or travelogue, but it inspires discussion about traditional culture, religion and the fall of the USSR wherever I take it.

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It was interesting to hear parallels drawn between the onset of fascism in Italy (and therefore, education for women frowned upon), and the situation in Tajikistan today with tradition overtaking the ‘Soviet’ ideal of egalitarianism between the sexes. As usual, I took away as many observations and knowledge for myself as I gave to others.

All in all, a great book talk. Thanks to IWCTR.

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Interview with the Dorset Writer’s Network: Dorset Lives

Interview with the Dorset Writer’s Network: Dorset Lives
durdledoor
Durdle Door, a Dorset landmark of the Jurassic Coast

Last week I wrote an interesting interview for the Dorset Writers Network, an Arts Council England and Dorset Community funded organisation that supports writers in Dorset county in the U.K.

Unlike other interviews, the DWN asked me questions about how I write (the process) and wanted to know whether I would write novels set in Dorset in future.

In ‘The Disobedient Wife’ I have actually made Dorset a refuge for one of the main characters, her childhood home.  It made sense that this woman would run to Dorset in times of emotional difficulty.  I am lucky to come from such a beautiful part of the U.K, a place where so many creative people live, inspired by the natural landscape.

The interview published on their website can be found here.

Further information on the Dorset Writers Network can be found here.

dorset map

Book Launch Events in the UK and Italy this AUTUMN

Tajik landscape

Hi Readers!

Are you feeling disobedient today? Then do NOT come to any of my events this autumn.

I have three booked for this autumn:

London and Dorset County in the United Kingdom:

10 Nov, 2015 7pm: A Book Launch and Readings at the Made in Greenwich Gallery, hosted by Cinnamon Press, 324 Creek Road, Greenwich. I will read from my novel and another author Kay Syrad will launch her new novel, ‘Send’.  Free with refreshments http://www.madeingreenwich.co.uk/gallery

11th Nov, 2015 7pm: A Book Launch at Gullivers Bookshop at 47 High Street, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 1HS. Free book signing with wine and nibbles http://www.gulliversbookshop.co.uk

13th Nov, 2015 4pm:  A Presentation, Interview and Signing at Beatons Tearoom and Bookshop, 2 Market Place, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 7EB (£6.99 per ticket with £2 off copy of book in aid of The Corn Exchange Challenge) http://www.beatonstearooms.co.uk/events1.php

Rome, Italy:

20 Nov, 2015, 7pm: Open Door Bookshop, 23 Via della Lungatevere, Trastevere, Rome  https://www.facebook.com/events/476711712500206/ Book signing. Free wine

4th Dec, 2015 7-9pm: Ango-American Bookstore, Via Della Vite, Piazza Spagna, Rome: https://www.facebook.com/events/147776065576449/ book signing. free

10th Dec, 2015 10:30am (by invitation only):  A reading at the Residence of the Ambassador to Chile, Rome (email me annikastanley at hotmail dot com).  Book signing. Free refreshments

Everyone Welcome.Tajik woman

The Book Is Born

The Book Is Born

books arrive to rome

So today I had an experience not unlike giving birth.  My book was born.  I have done it three times, and this came close.  Ripping open brown paper-wrapped boxes to find clean, fresh books inside with my words, MY words inside them.  I picked a book up.  If it were a baby, it would have cried, shocked to be in the open air.  I held it close to my body, I cradled it in my hands, feeling the smooth, soft cover with my fingertips.  I made this, I thought.  Happiness warmed me in yellow light.  I could hardly believe it was real, only it was, I held a tangible, solid block of printed paper in my hands.  It was heavy and smelled of the library, a dry, saw-dusty smell I adore.  If only I could bottle the smell of a new book and wear it behind my ears or add it to my fabric conditioner, I thought.

Then I opened the first page. Legalese, a blurb of copyright and British library storage, my name and the name of my publisher.  A list of acknowledgments, names in chronological order, a memory-keeper of the time I spent writing, rewriting, editing, writing again and editing again, each reader offering me constructive comments, or helping me with research.  Four years interspersed with moving houses, painting pictures and bringing up children alone with the Man away.

My dedication:  To the Women of Tajikistan and to another unsung heroine, my Mother.  She cried for the longest time when she read it, she told me later.  She has been ill, fighting cancer in her typical, stubborn, spirited way, rising from her bedchamber to play tennis not five weeks after her last major operation.  She worked for many years with vulnerable children in care and gave them her protection to the best of her ability.  They still call her as adults, checking in.  They still love her, they still trust her.  She really is a true, unsung heroine.

My children stood in a huddle around the boxes with wide eyes, staring at the pages in my hands with a look of wonder.  My eldest, a plucky, lovable rogue (his teacher’s words) came forward to hug me violently, holding my waist with wiry arms.  Then he tried to read the first chapter.  He struggled, stammering his way through several sentences.

‘Perhaps I will wait until I am a bit older to read this Mum.’

‘Yes, I think so,’ I said, thinking of the raw content of my novel, a tale that charts a woman’s escape from an abusive man who would rape her in broad daylight if he could, just to settle old scores.  A book that does not flinch from describing the backward trajectory into dogma and tradition that encapsulates ‘modern-day’ Tajikistan for a poor woman of low reputation.  ‘It’s definitely a book for grown-ups,’ I said and I ruffled his hair.  ‘Wait until you are eighteen, or perhaps sixteen.  Probably better that way.’