Nicola Monaghan's news, events and general thoughts about life and writing.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Authors' Club First Novel Award Event

The Authors' Club First Novel Award lastest shortlisted writers will be talking about their work at Waterstone's in Piccadilli later this month. I won this prize a couple of years ago and I have to say it's one of the nicest things that has happened to me since I got published in 2006. The event should be a good un so do get in touch with Waterstone's direct to book your tickets.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

I'd like to see David Attenborough cover this one...

I came across something quite bizarre in my most recent spate of research for the novel I am writing. I needed to find out more about poisonous mushrooms, and so I did a few searches on google to see what I could find.

Well, one of the searches on 'deadly poisonous' came up with Fly Agaric, which surprised me somewhat as I knew this mushroom was taken as an hallucinogenic and, as far as I was aware, people didn't tend to die from taking it. A little further investigation revealed the the poisons lost their potency, although none of their hallucinogenic properties, upon drying and treating in various ways.

I couldn't help but wonder how people found this out, and how they ever knew it might be safe to eat Fly Agaric, so I dug a little deeper. What I discovered was the most fascinating symbiosis of man and animal, both in search of the ultimate high.

It all started with reindeer junkies. Yep, it's official, reindeer love a bit of fly agaric. They will hunt it out and can sniff it from several kilometres away. In fact, the easiest way, apparently, to attract deer to an area is to put down some cut up Fly Agaric and they will come running. And jumping. Because one of the effects of these mushrooms on the deer is that they get very energetic, and jump around, much higher than they usually would.

Where do the people come in? Well, apparently, indigenous laplanders would watch the reindeer as they ate the mushrooms and pranced and danced, and they wanted some of it. They knew the mushrooms eaten raw could be poisonous so instead of eating them themselves, they fed them to the deer and drunk the deer's urine.

I'm still trying to picture the first time this happened. How could it possibly have gone? Well, mate, I think if we drink their wee we might get quite high. Okay, yes, let's give it a go. Hmmm... Not sure. But apparently that was what happened and the Lapps got high too.

The next bit is priceless. You know how Santa has a sleigh, right, and how it's pulled by flying reindeer? Well... It's thought that this entire picture came from hallucinating Laps, watching hallucinating reindeer jump really high and seeing them fly off into the night. I love that in and of itself but there's still more. The crafty deer didn't leave it at that, with the laps drinking their wee and having all the fun. Oh no. When their partners in crime urinated on the snow, the deer ate that, thus completing a very neat, trippy circle of high and making the most of the harvested mushrooms.

Sometimes you really couldn't make it up.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Long time no blog

Well, it has been a while since I last blogged. In my defence, I have been ridiculously busy since Christmas. New job, two novels to write, readings to prepare. I did promise to keep you updated on the double book chase so here goes. Familiar Friend is lagging well behind at just 8850 words for the moment. This is mostly because I want to take my time with this book, make it as good as I can. I'm waiting until I have more time for it.

Departure Dan, though, has taken on a life of his own. I've been quite surprised how the story, planned chapter by chapter from day one, has decided it knows better than me where it should go. I always find there is a moment in writing a novel when everything begins to slot together, and make lots more sense than you thought it ever could, and I've found this moment feels closer on this first draft than it ever has at this stage with my previous books. I'm writing at a rate of knots right now, and have got about 15000 words down in the last few days. Altogether now, I have just under 40 000 words, about half way there.

My next event is at Beeston Library next Monday, 22nd February, where I will be reading from one of my favourite books of all time Sillitoe's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. See the flyer below for more details.

Right, back to Desperate Dan. I mean Departure Dan... That book I'm writing anyway.