My next three books will be published on the 8th October.
Finding your Place
A Small Song.
We will be celebrating at Blue Ginger Gallery, Cradley
Saturday 8th October 2016 5-8.30pm
There are things for you to do so scroll to the bottom if you don't want to read it all.
The three books are about kindness and making things as before but there are again undercurrents of stories and themes I try to hide in my books as conversation starters and a way of identifying oneself and perhaps an answer or a hint that you are not alone but only found by those that it speaks to, otherwise it is just a story about kindness and fun. And King Norty features in these ones too so there is a bit more humour in places too.
One theme is finding your place; your home, your place of belonging. And another hidden theme for me is about dying and not being there and what happens when "I'll always be there for you" doesn't happen. Subtle themes behind a simple story that may not be noticed, but ones that I hope will be found by those that need to see them and not found by those that don't need to find them. Good eh?
I don't know where I come from. I lived in 3 different towns and 4 different houses before my first birthday. My mum was Swedish, born in Kashgar in the Himalayas, grew up in India and then Sweden, my dad from Merseyside, my grandparents Swedish, English, Indian, Scottish, Portugese, German and goodness knows what else in there... I grew up in England and Scotland, and now I live in Wales and parents long since dead, nowhere to really call home or where I come from except my aunt and uncle's house in Sweden. They feel like my parents now and sometimes I call them that. Their house is the one constant place always there since childhood where I feel safe and loved. Baby photos in the albums, my towel hook in the bathroom, napkin ring in the drawer, height chart on the wall, (always smaller than my brother). I've spent my summers in this house all my life. So this is the closest I feel to going home.
My home. That magical place where you feel safe and loved.
Some people live in the same house all thier lives, others don't have somewhere they call home to go back to, others make it where they can. It is something I have thought about over the years, where do you come from? I don't know. But there are places I feel at home and things that make me feel at home. My shed is painted red and white like a little Swedish house. I have a few things to remind me of my roots... Celestine my great grandmother watches over me. A jar from Kashgar where my mum was born, a ship's bell, that my aunt used to ring to call us in for dinner, my yellow bowl from the family farm in Sweden. I have eaten my breakfast out of it all my life. My mum's bracelet and then paintings and trinkets by friends who are my new roots, my tribe...
Some people have to leave their homes in a hurry, in fear, never to return. They only have a memory of what was once.. and now isn't and maybe a few things, maybe nothing at all, a smell, a song, a feeling....
What must that feel like? Small hears a song in the book that sparks a memory from his homeland. His grandpa. Small is a refugee. He has some memories, that is all, but he is welcomed in by the Tribe and they love him. His family. His home. His Tribe.
And in Catching Dreams, Baby Weasus asks the question 'but what if you aren't there one day, Daddy?' And she gets an honest answer. Not the brush off of I'll always be there. Because I learned that sometimes we aren't. And how do you tell someone that but still make them feel safe and loved and home?
Maybe my books can spark a conversation that is needed, maybe they will help chase away a nightmare like mine as a child. Maybe someone knows they won't always be there. I remember having that conversation with my son when I wasn't sure if I would be or not. Hiding from death and nightmares and sweeping them under the carpet doesn't work... if they become spoken about, just what happens some times then we can deal with them I think, so a tiny bit of me hopes the hidden undercurrents of my books are not hidden for those that might need a way in to a difficult conversation. "Who might close your circle? Who would love you more fiercely? Who is your tribe and your place you call home? What song reminds you of your grandpa and home? Shall we learn to play it?
Dream catchers can't always work, they didn't chase my nightmares away so one needs to say what happens in case a dream sneaks through.. knowing my mum was making me hot milk did help to chase them away...a reminder you are not alone. We all need that in life.
Or for those blessed with happy settled lives, hopefully they they will become a favourite bedtime story, stories of kindness and family and love and a gentleness of life we often don't experience these days... and something lovely to do, maybe even for someone else... maybe a friend who needs a dream catcher or a book mark to remind them they are loved.... or just fun, because fun is never a 'just'
So, anyway... my book launch. I am asking you to join me in some tasks. To celebrate, we can perhaps help someone else too...
At 5pm-7pm on the 8th October I will be at Blue Ginger Gallery to sign and dedicate books, chat and we can make crafts from the books, and you can meet the Tribe. This part is suitable for all ages.
At 7pm there will a slightly more grown up affair (as in there will be alcohol and me talking) We will sit together to eat a delicious simple supper rice pot type thing cooked by Sue at the gallery. There will be a bowl for donations for the food and drink. and then I"ll read the books and talk a bit about them and my thoughts behind them after Supper.
All are most welcome though the second part I wouldn't recommend for young children because they should be in bed and tired children find it hard to sit quietly and listen.
Please let me know if you would like to stay for food so we know how much to cook.
As per last time, there will be a raffle, but instead of buying a raffle ticket, you will have to make it. This time the theme for your ticket will be bookmarks as they are one of the crafts in the books.
1. To be part of the book launch even if far away and to enter the raffle and also help someone too ha!
I want you to make a bookmark as your raffle ticket. But not any old bookmark. I want you to make one that will be given to a refugee after the launch. I want you to put something on it, anything, a picture, a leaf, decorate it how you wish. It doesn't have to be artistic, but just make with love. On the back, (or front or attached if it doesn't have a front or back), I'd like you to write something as a message to them or maybe another picture. By coincidence singer songwriter Reg Meuross is doing a project called #wordsofwelcome He is hoping to collect 1000 words of welcome to refuges to replace the ugly racist language of late with language of beauty. He asked me if I'd do one with my creatures and I said yes of course but then I thought well these bookmarks could double up for that too, so on the back, I'd like you to write something. Some words of welcome. He would like a verse or poem or song or beautiful language, I'm thinking that we can be welcoming without words too but if you can link in to his project too, that would be wonderful. For me, anything at all, a little message to someone who might get that bookmark, maybe a child, maybe an adult. They may have nothing. You can photograph yourself with the bookmark or just the bookmark with the hashtag #wordsofwelcome and post it on social media for Reg to collect. (details on his website) Or I will if you can't and we'll add them to his project.
And then after the book launch I want to send them off to Calais or somewhere similar. To be given to refugees, hopefully with a pile of books too, because books can give you an escape and hope and love too. I am hoping to collect donations of children's books but I"ve not worked out the logistics of that yet. Maybe if you know of some, or someone doing such things you can let me know, or bring a book with you to the launch to give...
2. Blue Ginger are doing an art auction for the Acorns Children's hospice.
The other theme I have in my head. I would like those of you so inclined, to donate a book mark or any small piece of art no bigger than a postcard size to their auction. The theme is Imagine. The artist boats I was given for the last launch will be auctioned off too as part of this as we didn't have time to arrange anything for those that offered before. You don't have to be an artist, anyone can join in with this but any artists who are reading this, I would be most grateful if you could donate something too because we can raise more money the more beauty we have. The auction will be online on Facebook and then live on 23rd October. Here is the link for those who are not local to bid online. Anyone can do a book mark, children, adults, artists those of you who think you aren't... just be brave and do it because you will be helping someone when you do.
Send your bookmarks to Blue Ginger gallery and they'll collect them up. Please mark if it is for the auction or for the raffle to be sent on after to a refugee or do two. One for each. And make sure your name and contact details are attached to the bookmark for the raffle please (paperclip maybe?)
The address to send them to is:
Celestine Book Launch,
c/o Blue Ginger Gallery
Home End Farm Stiffords Bridge Cradley, Malvern WR13 5NW
Your book mark can be made of anything. Beads or paper, felt, ceramics, glass or wool... whatever your medium. Have fun and play a bit.
Here's a beautiful one made by my son Max Low for the auction (A Small Song is dedicated to him)
Here's my bookmark I use. A doodle by my friend Jackie Morris. Beauty as you turn the pages (and in case you are wondering it is The Muse by Jessie Burton I'm reading. Great book!)
So, get making! Don't worry about being an artist or not, it isn't a competiton, but an act of kindness and a raffle ticket in one. So, don't be shy, just send one in or bring it with you to the launch. and do come along.
Let me know if you are coming to the launch by commenting on this blog or on the facebook event or message me or comment on here or email or weasel post (though that isn't very reliable).
Preorders for the books from my website can be obtained here to be collected at the launch or posted out after the 8th October if you can't come. They can be dedicated to anyone, just write in the box. (If you are coming to the launch, and want to collect from there add the code nopost to your order and you won't have to pay shipping)
And thank you. So much. And do share this post with your own tribe too.