Sally Heathcote’s Read Regional tour

small Read Regional logoWSPU BADGEWe’re doing nine illustrated talks altogether on Sally Heathcote Suffragette, as part of the Read Regional 2015 campaign throughout Yorkshire and the North East. Six of them are open to the public and here they are:


7th March 3pm
Part of an International Women’s Day event at Hull Central Library

23rd April 7pm
Part of a World Book Night event at Teesside University

29th April 7.30pm
Skipton Library

10th June 6pm
Part of the Crossing the Tees Book Festival
Stockton Central Library

16th June 6.30pm
Newcastle City Library

23rd June 2pm
Consett Library

If you’re in the North of England at all, do come along to one of them.

Details are going into my Events page here, which I’ll be updating regularly. You can read my introduction to the book for the promotional campaign here. It’s going to be a busy spring!
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Sally Heathcote Suffragette picked for Read Regional 2015

PrintAs one of ten books selected for this year’s Read Regional campaign, Sally Heathcote Suffragette will be appearing from March to June at libraries and literary festivals in Yorkshire and the North East. That is to say, Bryan and I will be on tour across the region presenting illustrated talks about the book. It’s the first time a graphic novel has been included in the campaign, so we’re delighted to be taking part.

Read Regional is a promotional campaign connecting writers living in Yorkshire and the North East with local readers. It’s run by New Writing North teamed up with the region’s library authorities. Some of the talks for the campaign will be to reading groups and young people invited to libraries from local schools.

Most will be open to the general public, however, including our first, which is part of an International Women’s Day event taking place at Hull Central Library. Other events will be part of World Book Night at Teesside University, Middlesbrough, and the Crossing the Tees Book Festival, Stockton. Details to follow…

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Chinese edition of Dotter of her Father Eyes

Chinese page65 pan3An edition of Dotter of her Father’s Eyes in Simplified Chinese was published last October by Guangxi Normal University Press. I received copies of it this morning. It has a very different look and I’m charmed by it. I don’t read Chinese but, from what I can make out, they haven’t even tried to translate the title, which is probably just as well!

Here it is both with and without its paper band.

Chinese coverChinese cover with band

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Dotter at Huddersfield lit fest in Storytelling & Adaptation event

There’s an exciting event coming up on 15th March, concluding the Huddersfield Literature Festival. We’ll be taking a break from promoting Sally Heathcote Suffragette (more on that next week…) in order to revisit Dotter of her Father’s Eyes in what promises to be an amazing collaboration:

‘Storytelling & Adaptation: graphic novels, music and dance’ with graphic novelists Mary and Bryan Talbot, choreographer Bettina Carpi and composer Gary Lloyd.
HLF Storytelling & Adaptation
Tickets are available through the festival website.

Sally Heathcote Suffragette in Spanish

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Spanish-speaking friends may be interested to know that the Spanish edition of Sally Heathcote Suffragette is scheduled for publication by Ediciones La Cúpola, Barcelona, on the 27th February 2015.

The international interest is very encouraging. Sally recently appeared in a Best-of-Year list on a Singaporean blog The Daily Seni.




Below is what the Spanish publisher’s newsletter has to say about it (in Spanish, obviously):

Bryan y Mary Talbot y Kate Charlesworth - Sally Heathcote, sufra

Púrpura, blanco y verde. Tres colores representan a la National Women’s Social and Political Union, una liga de mujeres extraordinarias que lucharon por conquistar derechos humanos que en el contexto rígido y clasista de la Inglaterra eduardiana brillaban por su ausencia.

Sally Heathcote es una trabajadora doméstica al servicio de Emmeline Pankhurst, una de las fundadoras del movimiento. La proximidad de ese entorno comprometido y militante irá concienciando a la joven en la causa sufragista, que reclama el derecho al voto para las mujeres. La desobediencia civil, la estrategia política, el aprendizaje de la acción directa y la reivindicación a pie de calle van a dictar la trayectoria feminista de Sally, que no dudará en enfocar su vida como una carrera de obstáculos pero también de grandes logros para las generaciones futuras.

Mary M. Talbot, Kate Charlesworth y Bryan Talbot construyen una historia apasionante sobre la lealtad, el coraje y la dignidad de un grupo de mujeres que lograron abrir, en el ámbito laboral, social y educativo, una serie de puertas que habían estado siempre cerradas.


La Cupola logo

A return ticket to Grandville, please!

IRue Cortott’s a hard life. We went on a fact- and image-finding mission last week. It began with an early train to King’s Cross in order to catch Eurostar to Paris. About eight and a half hours in total, from our front doorstep to the hotel in Montmartre, with a leisurely lunch in London between trains. Amazing. That even included a half-hour delay because of partial tunnel-closure.

toulouseLautrec'sChat NoirWe stayed at a little hotel on rue Aristide Bruant, just off rue Lepic. It was really handy for the Museum of Montmartre, where there’s currently an exhibition of “The Spirit of Montmartre, 1875-1910″. Lots of old magazine illustrations and some very familiar-looking posters. I’d like to go back when there’s more to see in the surrounding gardens. They still have a productive vineyard there. It being January, the vines didn’t appear to be producing much, however.



The streets of Montmartre look pretty much the way they did a hundred years ago or more. Compare the old postcard below with the photo Bryan took last week at roughly the same spot. There are a lot of cars now, of course, more street furniture and presumably better street lighting. But it’s recognisably the same place. I love that.

Moulin de la Galette








Montmartre postcard







cobblesBryan was, naturally, taking location shots throughout. These are fine-looking cobbles, aren’t they? Look out for them in the next Grandville! It’s highly likely they’ll turn up there.



We looked around the Carnavalet Museum too, in the 3rd arrondissement. It’s well worth a visit, with a wide range of stuff to pore over, including this lush shop interior designed by Alphonse Mucha for one Georges Fouquet, jeweller. It’s extraordinary. It’s odd to think that it dated very rapidly; it was only in place for a few years. To me it looks timeless.

Georges Fouquet jeweller's

One last photo to finish. Passing the Hôtel de Ville we noticed this Charlie Hebdo tribute.

Christmas in Paradise: Part 4

So, where was I?

We’re on our way home from Australia, breaking the journey by stopping over again in Singapore. A hotel in Bugis this time, further downtown and easy walking distance for the marina area. Close to this little place, actually: Raffles Hotel. We stop off here for an overpriced glass of so-so wine. Check out that traveller’s palm behind Bryan, though! Amazing.
Raffles Hotel
Singapore3Most of the city’s architecture is concrete and glass barbarity, to my taste, but striking with it. We do have a very specific destination, however, on the recommendation of a friend (Singapore University prof Michelle Lazar). Getting there involves passing through the strangest shopping mall I’ve ever seen.

I’m starting to feel as though I’m on board one of Iain M Banks’ Culture ships; or maybe an Orbital (note for non-SF readers: these are imagined constructions in a post-scarcity utopia). This is a sensation that increases as the day goes on.

Singapore gardens1
We’re on our way to Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, an enormous park complex accessed by a footbridge high up over the city traffic.
Singapore gardens3
Gardens lake
And we’re in.
Gardens by the Bay is open to the public free of charge, but its two enormous conservatories are ticketed. Both are worth a visit, but the Cloud Forest conservatory is breathtaking.
Cloud Forest2
Cloud Forest14
The contrast between this manicured environment and Fraser Island couldn’t be greater. It certainly has its charms though. Here’s one of the manicurist-gardeners at work.
Cloud Forest5
I’ve enjoyed putting these posts together; I hope they’ve been an equal pleasure to look at! Here’s two more glam shots of plants to finish! Cor.
Cloud Forest8
Cloud Forest9

Christmas in Paradise: Part 3

Hervey Bay cafe viewMoving on from New Caledonia, we head off via Brisbane to Hervey Bay in Queensland. While waiting for the ferry out to Fraser Island, we have lunch and hang around admiring the white eucalypts. I’ve heard so much about Fraser Island from Bryan I feel as though I know the place already. We’re spending Christmas on the world’s largest sand island, at Kingfisher Bay Resort.
Jetty Hut sunset
sunset at Jetty HutSo, it’s Christmas Eve. As a lovely start to this leg of the holiday, we go to the Jetty Hut for a drink while watching the sunset. And I finally get to dip my toes in the Pacific.

This beach, when the tide’s in, is the starting point for canoe trips round the mangroves. If I’d known beforehand that they started on open sea, I’d have chickened out for sure! It may look tranquil in the photos, but it certainly isn’t when we go out. Miraculously, we aren’t upturned, though we have a few mishaps, including close encounters with bushes in the mangroves.

It’s a beautiful island, not only to see but to listen to. We’re used to cicadas day and night by now. Here amphibians join in the nighttime chorus. We didn’t manage to record any successfully. This short video sounds a little like it, though not as rich and varied.

tour bus cropped
So what happens on Christmas Day on Fraser Island? Well, in our case, we climb into a tour bus built to drive on sand and go on a day-long tour of the island.

This includes bathing in Lake MacKenzie, a freshwater lake with silver sand, before lunch. Swimwear and santa hats seem to be de rigeur.
Christmas lake
Christmas lake 2

Then walking through the rainforest afterwards.
forest trail
forest 2
Up until the 1980s, logging was the major industry on the island, especially for the giant satinay, or turpentine tree (Syncarpia hillii), which was highly prized in shipbuilding. The rainforest is slowly recovering, but how long does it take a satinay to grow a trunk four metres across, I wonder. Twelve hundred years? There’s a short video about it here:

The rusting hulk of the SS Maheno is a striking sight on the east coast of the island.
Maheno & Bryan
Maheno & me
Maheno and me
Hmm. Interesting texture…
photographing rust
Finally the day arrives when we take a last look at the swamp below our balcony, with its waterlilies and wonderful singing frogs and toads, and say goodbye to K’gari (the Butchulla place name for Fraser Island).
balcony view
ferry returnIt’s time to catch the return ferry for the start of our long journey home.

One more place of interest yet to come, though!

Christmas in Paradise: Part 2

map1Magenta Bay flame tree 3Nouvelle Calédonie: le Pacifique au Coeur (as it says on the tourism websites). Two basic requirements for Paradise, for me at least, are lush tropical vegetation and vibrant colours. There’s plenty of both here.
Magenta Bay flame tree 2
We’ve chosen to stay in the centre of the capital, Noumea, rather than down by the tourist beaches. It’s just a short walk to the marina on Magenta Bay anyway. That’s where I photographed these flamboyant flame trees (Delonix regia). They’re native to Madgascar apparently, though now grown throughout the tropics.

fish faceThere’s a market every morning near the marina. I reckon Fishface here is going to end up in the next Grandville.

Another lovely spot is the Place des Cocotiers. Plenty of shade to shelter in, but I must admit I’m now experiencing severe fan palm envy. The eponymous coconut trees are splendid too, though standing under them in high winds must be hazardous!
Place des Cocotiers
fan palm
And here’s our Bryan sitting under a banyan tree.

Bryan & banyan
These amazing trees are everywhere. Some of them are massive. Ficus prolixia, I think.
banyan 2
museum interiorOf the three museums in Noumea the Museum of New Caledonia was the most different, hence interesting, for me (the other two are city and maritime museums). It’s full of Oceanic and Melanesian artefacts and reconstructions, such as these intriguing carved roof trees and door posts:




and this traditional building:

museum hut
We’re avoiding the main tourist beach area, but we do go to a secluded bit of coastline. A short taxi ride out of town, the Kuendu Beach Hotel is a beautiful spot for lunch, as you can see.

I love trees! The amazing columnar pine, or Cook’s pine, is New Caledonia’s signature tree. It’s Araucaria columnaris, a relation of the monkey puzzle.
Kuendu Beach Hotel
Kuendu trees
I decide on the caesar salad with crevettes, then sit back and enjoy the view.
Kuendu restaurant
Kuendu restaurant view 3
Kuendu Beach
water liles Kuendu Beach Hotel 2
hibiscus lutea
more Kuendu trees
Tree porn, eh?

I intended to dip my toes in the ocean after lunch, but we take up the offer of a lift back into town instead. An overnight thunderstorm has wiped out the restaurant’s credit card machine, so that the lunch bill does the same to our small supply of local currency. Thanks to the local teacher for driving us back to Noumea – the kindness of a stranger in a faraway place.
Kuendu Beach flame tree