An Interview with John Dickinson: Dream Weaver

Interview with John Dickinson
by Jane Turley

Some dreams fade in the morning light, some dreams return to haunt and some dreams wake you abruptly leaving lasting, vivid impressions.

Author John Dickinson is a man who dreams. And he uses them to weave wondrous tales.

John is an author of both adult and teenage fiction. His latest novel WE, a science fiction novel, is aimed primarily at young adults but its fascinating premise of an isolated community struggling to balance humanity and progress on the fringes of the solar system, will be of interest to anyone who wants to contemplate the larger issues in life. Whilst it is a story of only average length it is also a tale of epic proportions encompassing huge, almost mind boggling concepts. These are ideas which when awake may seem incomprehensible but in our dreams seem all too tangible.

WE is a conceptual and sometimes melancholic book. So as I travelled down to the heart of the Cotswolds to meet John, I wondered just how serious his disposition might be. It crossed my mind that with a first in History from Oxford and seventeen years working for the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office and NATO John might actually be mad or, at the very least, a little stuffy. Not so. Instead of a stuffed shirt I found a warm, affable and modest man who clearly finds inspiration in his picturesque surroundings.

As a child John was surrounded by creativity. His father is the award winning Peter Dickinson, also an author of adult and children’s fiction, and it is through his father that the foundations of John’s writing were laid. In a household where writing was an everyday occurrence John learnt the techniques of telling a story. From the hard graft of daily writing to understanding the rhythm of words, from learning to observe the world to appreciating the complexities of mixing fantasy with realism, John both consciously and unconsciously absorbed his father’s knowledge.

Perhaps it could be said that a writer cannot be truly free to imagine or to express, without revealing what lies beneath his skin. And for the novice it is not always easy to find the time to write, let alone to reveal one’s inner world with the pressures and intrusions of everyday life. So despite John’s ever present desire to create, it was not until he had landed his first job that he first put pen to paper with serious intentions. It was only then, on a secure footing, that John was ready to face what he calls the “emotional risk” of writing.

Yet despite this progress it was another seventeen years before John finally threw down the ultimate gauntlet to his ambitions. The decision made, he cleared his office desk, said goodbye to his colleagues and headed home to write The Cup of the World, the first instalment of a medieval fantasy trilogy for young adults.

The Cup of the World is a wonderful tale and one which perfectly demonstrates probably the greatest gift John received from his father; the art of weaving dreams. In this, his first novel, the dream is visibly present at the beginning when the heroine, Phaedra, is drawn into the arms of a man she has visualized in her dreams. In John’s other novels the dreams are less visible but nevertheless he readily acknowledges that throughout all his writing, he uses dreams as inspiration for his stories;

“Dreams do matter. Especially the kind of dream that wakes you up. A dream is coming from the back of your mind, just over the horizon of the subconscious and you don’t have any control over it, so you take that control over it by weaving it into a story… so you know how the story ends.”

No doubt many writers use dreams or day dreams as the foundations or inspiration for their writing but John’s method of working through his dreams to find a satisfactory resolution is a fascinating concept. Perhaps it is also indicative of John’s analytical mind. His degree in history and his civil service career demonstrate his ability to understand complex issues and ideas. He utilizes this ability in his novels where he is able to mix fact and fiction, to temper fantasy with reality and create a story not just in the terms of the protagonist(s) but in terms of the wider world. In The Lightstep, an historical novel for adults, the premise of the book is a simple love story yet the story also encompasses a huge tale of revolutionary Europe. As in his latest book WE, you can take as much or as little as you want from John’s writing; you can take the simple individual stories or you can view the wider picture and look, as John does, for an understanding of societies and how they change and develop – as do the people within them.

John’s latest projects are another fantasy novel and a tale for young children. Clearly, John has many dreams and not all of them so reflective. Indeed, his laughter lines betray someone who knows how to enjoy life as much as he knows how to contemplate it. His children’s tale has a humorous element to it too; an aspect of his writing he is keen to explore. Above all, it is John’s natural enthusiasm for life and quest for answers which leads him to experiment and progress with his writing. Unlike many established authors, he is happy to go wherever his imagination takes him. He is not afraid to cross genres or to write what he enjoys. Labels, he believes, are dangerous and I’m inclined to agree.

John Dickinson: Dream Weaver

John would probably be the first to say that he is still a developing writer and he would go back and change parts of his work if he could. Perhaps so. However, I found it refreshing to meet a writer as enthusiastic and dedicated as John. It takes so much more than having a father who is a writer to become a writer oneself. I’m sure one can learn many things about writing but I’m not so sure one can learn to imagine or to dream. These are gifts. They are the realms of the best authors and where ultimately their fantasies, desires, beliefs and even failings are open for criticism. It’s not a place to go unless the voice within speaks very loudly.

It’s obvious that for John that voice did speak forcefully but, nevertheless, there was no easy road to publication despite his childhood apprenticeship. His success has come on the back of a lifetime of learning his craft and weaving his own dreams. And whilst it’s true that the majority of us writers are doomed to have our manuscripts shut away in a drawer just occasionally, when talent, determination and good fortune come together, as they did for John, it’s good to know that sometimes dreams really can come true.

To read a full review of WE click here

To read how our artist put together the the illustration accompanying the WE review click here

Behind the Scenes at The View From Here

Fossfor takes us behind the scenes to show us how the artwork was constructed for our review of WE by John Dickinson ...

I had the basic idea for the composition in my head and then made some thumbnails in Photoshop to see what it could look like and chose the image on the left as it has better balance.

then I drew a large detailed sketch on paper with a blue col erase pencil and scanned it. It also got flipped along the way. I put the line art on the top layer set to Multiply, this allows you to preserve your line art and paint on a white layer underneath.

I often start off painting with the gradient tool set to Radial and use it to paint. This is a really fast way to get some colour down. For this piece I made selections of the cosmonaut, mountains, planet and sky and then made alphas or masks of each one on other layers for easier selecting and painting later on

Then I lay down the basics with a large round brush set at 75% opacity, when I'm more or less sure of my values I take the brush opacity down to 50% . I used to paint a lot with watercolors and use the same sort of technique here. I gradually use a smaller and smaller brush to do details

As a rule I'm not keen on using special brushes, here I just used a stippled brush shape for the stars and the airbrush for some texture on the planet. I also used various layers set to Screen and Overlay modes to get the halo around the planet.

For the visor on the helmet I made an alpha layer to use as a texture with the 'Lighting effects' filter to make the relection look more spherical as it was too flat. Then I flattened all the layers and noodled around a bit to get a more unified look.

To explore Fossfor's laboratory further click here

Book Review: WE by John Dickinson

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by Grace
painting by Fossfor

by John Dickinson
Publisher: David Fickling Books

WE grapples with the complex dynamic between an individual and a collective society. John Dickinson describes a dystopia where technology controls human interaction. Scarily, the potential for technology to take control over every element of our lives seems incredibly real, particularly when I think of how much I rely on my access to Google, my mobile phone, sat nav and social networking websites. In WE, Dickinson's futuristic vision is of a society that has created a network of communication and information sharing that spans the globe, and can be accessed in the blink of an eye through an implanted device behind an individual's ear. This network, the World Ear, allows multiple conversations/interactions to take place simultaneously. It removes the need for verbal communication (and the need for language), and removes the need to think for yourself. It seems to remove the humanity from the human race, replacing it with pure functionality and roboticism, where humans 'are no longer rational beings who think for themselves...They have become a part of a single, gigantic consciousness. That is the World Ear.'

The reader follows the plight of Paul Munro as he is disconnected from this collective World Ear and embarks on a lifelong mission to the furthest reaches of the Solar System to join a team of 3 people studying a gas planet. Munro has broken free from the controlled masses on Earth and ventures to a place that the World Ear cannot control. He is an outsider in 2 worlds; he loses his existence on his beloved and familiar Earth, and enters the unfamiliar, desolate, space station, where 3 individuals have lived closely together for a number of years. John Dickinson's use of a total outsider as a protagonist means that the reader has direct experience of 2 cultures; one controlled by technology, and the other infused with humanity.

Dickinson takes Munro, and the reader, on a painful journey through intense isolation, extreme paranoia and betrayal as he learns to live as an independent human being; he learns to speak, to cry, to read facial expressions, to discover his identity and his reason for living. This exploration of adjustment to a totally new way of living is followed by a chilling hunt for truth, which involves 'cold, concealed rage', and 'deep, bitter resentment, barely suppressed'. Dickinson is able to present powerful emotions and make acute observations of people; their motivations, actions and reactions. This, combined with the fiercely detailed and well imagined science and technology that would make space travel and life in zero atmosphere possible, makes WE an enjoyable and accessible novel.

Dickinson masterfully ends each chapter on a gripping note, propelling the narrative into the next development. The narrative touches upon big issues through a number of plot twists. It touches upon clashes of ideology, extraterrestrial 'life' and the reality of death, among other mind-bending concepts. However, I am not convinced that lumping all these 'big issues' together is conducive to a satisfying reading experience. They were flitted-between too quickly for my liking and this 'flitting' left me trying to deal with too many half-finished statements (about society, humanity, God, technology, the future, alien existence etc) at the same time. After finishing the novel, I was unable to summarise its conclusion. There were too many introductions of exciting possibilities, and not enough clear exploration of them. I felt Dickinson could have stuck to one or two primary themes, and developed them, rather than tackling a plethora of concepts and leaving them all only partially resolved.

In spite of this, WE is well worth reading for its insight and imagination. I loved the description of the effect zero gravity has on the human body; an effect which makes humans look quite alien. And I loved the futuristic gadgets that feature, especially the vehicle which you don't have to maneuver to turn around, you just have to switch the 'windscreen' display to show the rear view. Genius! If you like sci-fi and space travel with a sensitivity to human emotion and interaction, then this book is for you.

Read WE here

Lemon Barley and Lavender - Rebecca Stonehill

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by Rebecca Stonehill

When we sit next to one another in the arbour, I always sit on the right. The climbing roses have taken and they wind themselves in and out of the lattice. We must look a pair, sitting there for hours on end, nattering about this and that with our glasses of lemon barley water and drop scones. Sometimes we talk about plans for the garden and what’s going on in the village; more often our children and grandchildren come up.

It was our children that gave us this arbour for our diamond wedding anniversary. The best present we’ve ever had. It came with a honeysuckle plant, because they know how much we love it. We weaved it in amongst the roses and when it flowers, the scent quite overpowers me.

Honeysuckle. I remember when we first came to this house, looking for somewhere to bring up our children we hoped one day to be blessed with. It was the garden that did it for us, the garden that this arbour now sits in. We had just walked round the pond, filled with minnows and bottle blue dragonflies skimming the surface when she stopped in her tracks on the path. I remember her turning, her lovely pale, freckled arm reaching out towards me and her lips curling into a smile.

Little Hands Clapping by Dan Rhodes

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Little Hands Clapping
by Dan Rhodes
Publisher: Canongate

I was maybe seven pages in when I muttered ‘Rhodes, you’re a crazy man... but I like you’. OK so I didn’t mutter, I only thought, but I felt I should have muttered. In the weird world of Rhodes’ imagination I’m sure people mutter a lot. By the end of the book though I had laughed out loud in the office lunchroom and had to explain why (it involved genitals), twice wondered if there was something wrong with me for finding that bit funny, smiled repeatedly, had my heart strings plucked and experienced considerable anxiety when I left my copy in the room where we see clients. You see this is either exactly the right or exactly the wrong book you’d want your mental health worker to be reading if you were a patient. Why? Well Little Hands Clapping is a very funny, very dark and delightfully twisted book about love, suicide and the disposal of corpses. Oh and a museum curator who eats spiders. This seems to make perfect sense after a while.

Let me give you what I can without spoiling. We open in a small town in Germany where we find a museum devoted to suicide, managed by the arachnophile curator. Said museum established by a woman with a passion for Pavarotti and a desire to turn the desperate away from death and towards life. Well it works for some. For others it becomes a place to commit their final act and so leave behind their troublesome bodies. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view I guess) the local doctor – a man with a tragic past – has both reason and facilities to ensure, for a while at least, an unremarked disposal.

Meanwhile, in another part of the country a love triangle is taking shape. The handsomest boy and the prettiest girl in the village were destined to fall in love. The baker’s son was destined to suffer unrequited love for the prettiest girl and so play melancholy tunes on the euphonium. And so it might have remained had not our beautiful, charming couple moved to the big city, setting in motion a chain of events that will bring their story to the museum.

What do I love about this book? Apart from the cast of always eccentric, often downright weird, sometimes creepy, yet recognisably human characters and the sharply drawn and blackly comic scenes and plotlines is Rhodes’ ability to go beyond slapstick and find pathos with perfect pacing and brevity. This is a relatively short book and that is just fine because comedy, even well drawn emotionally intelligent comedy like this, should be short and to the point. Consider the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth (what do you mean you haven’t seen it – go find the series on your favourite online retailer, buy it, love it). Never a word or scene wasted, always something to say and with the ending the story deserves. And that is Little Hands Clapping. Gormenghast without the turgid bits. The League Of Gentlemen with a heart.

Proofing the above, I note my review is shorter (thank God you cry) than usual. No mention of subtext, no attempt to discern the secret heart of the writer, no comment on his prose style (OK one – Following Strunk and White he knows exactly how to ‘omit unnecessary words’ – good man!). You want to find out more, go buy the book. I think Rhodes would like that and although he may appear to be a nice guy, you have to wonder about a man who... well it’s the genitals again... anyhow best to keep him happy I think. So get it today. The cover is purple, which is a welcome bonus.

As I have space, let me throw in a bonus review. You see the publisher also sent me Rhodes’ Anthropology. A series of one page shorts on the theme of love. Here we find Rhodes pared to the bone – each tale punchy, some hilarious, some twistedly tragic, all insightful and all readable in under a minute. This is the book every bathroom needs; and I mean that in the best possible sense. It now sits alongside my copies of The Bunny Suicides and The Pocket Book For Boys. And somehow that seems right...

Visit the site dedicated to all things Rhodes here.

And read our interview with Dan in our printed edition here.

Interview with Megan Taylor

 Interview with Megan Taylor
by Shanta

Megan Taylor's brilliantly accomplished second novel, The Dawning, was published by Weathervane Press last month. The story unfolds over one New Year's Eve and alternates between five characters' viewpoints, exploring a family on the edge of crisis.

I caught up with Megan to talk about the book and her writing in general.

Hello, Megan and welcome to The View From Here.  For me, the most powerful aspect of The Dawning is your extraordinary complex characterisation and your ability to evoke reader empathy throughout. As bully boy Callum insists, We're all the same inside, all capable of hurting and healing ourselves and others. Did you set out with this central concept in mind or did themes emerge as you wrote?

I wish I could say I had a central concept from the beginning, but although I definitely wanted to write a fast paced, character-driven novel from the start, I had no idea exactly how it would evolve. During the writing, the characters did quickly become very real and vivid to me – I genuinely felt for them and I’m enormously pleased if that has translated successfully to readers. And to be honest, the characters kind of led me though the whole story themselves (I hope that doesn’t sound too crazy).

“A beautifully written, tightly controlled and intricately constructed novel – extremely rich and evocative.” Nicholas Royle (author of Antwerp)

You use alternating third person limited omniscient narration to allow us to see events from different points of view. It can be a difficult technique to pull off, but you totally nailed it. Which character did you find the easiest to write and which the hardest?

That’s very kind! I found father Philip the most difficult to grasp. In writing from the perspective of a professional, middle-aged man, who is also struggling with particularly male health anxieties (Philip is worried about testicular cancer), I’d set myself quite a challenge. Luckily I had some brilliant male readers who provided enormously helpful feedback, especially early on, when I was still trying to figure Philip out. I always enjoy writing teenage girls (probably because secretly I’ve never really felt like a proper grown-up), so for me, Nicola was probably the easiest character to inhabit.

“Compelling, enthralling, ensnaring ... This writing is fearless, full of heart, is very very good.” Carline Smailes (author of In Search of Adam and Black Boxes)

I'm left wondering about your amazing empathy and how you developed it in real life. Tell me about your background and what influences your writing.

Much of my writing is concerned with secrets – with family secrets, but also with the fears and truths we keep inside, sometimes half hidden from ourselves. I’m generally fascinated by our private inner-worlds, and the different and interesting ways we hold ourselves together (or sometimes don’t manage to). I wonder about other people a lot, about what’s going on inside them. I don’t really know where this comes from - I think I’m probably just very nosy.

As a creative writing tutor, I am always banging on about 'showing' rather than 'telling', leaving space for the reader to make meaning, and 'arriving at the scene late and leaving early'. The Dawning is a masterclass in these techniques. I wondered how much redrafting and editing you did to get this finely crafted result, and how you approached this.

Thank you so much! In a way, setting myself quite strict boundaries in terms of structure helped, not just in terms of the characters different viewpoints, but because I was working within a very restricted timescale too (The Dawning is set over the course of a single night). My characters’ responses and even their memories had to be triggered only by immediate events. Anything extra had to be rigorously cut during the rewriting. There was quite a lot of rewriting!
While figuring out my characters at the very beginning, I also spent quite a lot of time imagining and free-writing different elements of their back-stories. Most of these exercises and sketches never made it anywhere near the actual novel. Nonetheless they were incredibly helpful in shaping the narrative.

You wrote the book for your MA Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, for which you were awarded a Distinction. Congratulations! How did studying for the MA help you develop your writing? Would you recommend it to others?

I really enjoyed my MA with MMU. The feedback I received from tutors and classmates was enormously valuable - likewise, I learnt a lot from reading others’ work. It was also just great - wonderfully inspiring - to be surrounded by other people who love writing. I’d definitely recommend it.

You recently did your first radio interview to promote the book. Tell me about that.

I was very lucky. My publisher happened to meet our local BBC Nottingham radio host, John Holmes, and gave him a copy of The Dawning. He liked it and invited me on to his Afternoon Show! It was live and I was terrified, but John was very kind, and I think it went well.

When did you first know you wanted to be 'a writer'?

I’m not sure – it was definitely a childhood daydream before it became an adult one. I loved reading. I loved books. By the time I was in junior school, I was relishing writing stories (including the secret life of my cat, the adventures of a superhero rabbit and far too many luridly illustrated horror tales).

How did you get your first 'break' as a writer?

I’d been fortunate to have the odd story short-listed in various competitions when I was younger, but I suppose a real turning point came when my first novel ‘How We Were Lost’ was placed second in the 2006 Yeovil Prize. Not long afterwards, ‘How We Were Lost’ was accepted for publication by Flame Books. I was over the moon – actually, I still am.

What are your future writing plans?

I’ve completed a draft of a third novel, ‘The Lives of Ghosts’, a dark suspense story about memories that refuse to be suppressed. It needs some more editing, but it’s (hopefully) not too far off. There’s further information about this, as well as about my published books on my website
I’ve also just started a fourth novel, but right now, that one’s still a secret.

Thank you, Megan, and the very best of luck with all your books.

Visit Megan's site here.

Fiction Burns - Steven Harris

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by Steven Harris

“…The virus is airborne and believed to be highly infectious. The government is advising everyone to stay in their homes, with the windows closed and doors sealed if possible…”

I scowled at the radio, and then turned it off. Today of all days. I was supposed to be meeting Reg; our first date after four years of being “just friends.” Ten minutes ago I’d slopped out of the bath and jammed the radio on, hoping for some funky music to help me decide what to wear. All I got was a repeating message, delivered in a clipped English accent from an “official spokesperson.”

Are Male Readers an Endangered Species?

The latest book from The Book Thief author Markus Zusak, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, appeared in the bookshops last week.

But in a joint project with The View From Here and Random House it had already hit the shops a week before the official release date.

Well a shop. Fifty numbered books were released to Clarks shoe shop in Luton (UK) in what the press called an, "Alice in Wonderland-style stunt."

The idea?

A social experiment to find out if the male reader is an endangered species. Each book has a sticker in it saying

Hello sir, you have found me, please read me, take me home or leave me here for someone else.

The project was dreamt up on a cold day in January and when we approached Random House they gladly donated the 50 books by Markus worth £300.00. And Clarks? Well we wanted to place the books somewhere where men might be standing around bored whilst their wives or children shopped. Somewhere where men would chew of their arms to help pass the time. Asking them to read a book in those circumstances would show how hardened the species is against the novel.

“Where do I start when it comes to Mike and the team at The View From Here? They have so many innovative ideas, and I have to say what a brilliant thought it is to put books in the hands of reluctant shoppers. How many times have I been the bloke on the couch in the back of the store wishing I was somewhere else? Now those people have somewhere to go, and they don’t have to move an inch...A book is the perfect way to distract us from the waiting-around-while-others-shop frustration.”
Markus Zusak

Clarks were happy to take part in the experiment and placed a few copies at a time around the shop. Each book invites feedback via email and so far the experiment is still going with on average one book a day leaving the shop.

Once the project is finished and the information collected we'll let you know how it all went and give you our thoughts on the state of reading for that reclusive animal - the male reader.

In the meantime you will have to be satisfied with reading our review of the book here.

Or if you want to chat to Markus himself then make a date in your diary for his live webchat on the 24th February at

Two Worlds Collide

by Helen Miles

I dropped from the alien world of I.T. into publishing about ten years ago. It was rather like visiting a favourite old uncle who was friendly, familiar and blithely unaware of the world I had recently left. Publishing, I discovered very quickly, wanted no truck with new-fangled technology. Most book shops had no computer at all, and those that did exist had clearly been given out free from a museum that had an embarrassment of Amstrads recently donated.

I had a great deal to learn about the world of books – I still do. But I persist in the notion that technology will be the saviour, and not the nemesis of publishing. And in the last couple of years I have detected that I am not entirely alone.

Books are different. I grew up with a reverence for books, instilled in me by my father. He left 14,000 of them when he died, and most showered you with a confetti comprising small hand-written notes slipped into their pages. I am still congenitally unable to write a note in a book, or to turn down a corner. But I was quite unprepared for the bizarre practices that persist in the selling of a book. Apparently, I must set a price for our books (that must end with 99p, obviously) and then offer a whacking discount to the trade. They then order a couple of hundred copies, hide them at the back of the shop for six months, sell two and send the rest back to me. This is regarded as so commonplace that no-one bats an eyelid, and the returned books are pulped and form the hardcore of motorways. Tell this to an ordinary reader in a Waterstone’s Costa outlet, and they will be utterly amazed. I was too, and also entirely out of pocket.

Enter the wonderful world of Print on Demand. Customer orders book. Printer prints book. Printer sends book to customer. It does not return. Solidus has made a profit, and the author has made a profit. The price for this ecological, economic and reasonable approach to selling books is a pained air of sniffiness that I detect from fellow publishers (although they use it themselves for backlist, and jolly useful they find it too).

And now, to shake the book industry to its core, the e-book. The Japanese buy millions of them and read them on their mobile phones. Americans have also taken to the idea, and you can visit American e-book stores on the Internet and browse through thousands of titles you would like to read. But you can’t download them here in the UK – licensing, copyright... fear. There are a few outlets in the UK who offer e-books. One site offers 18,000 titles – alphabetically! No, you cannot search for a title or an author. If you did, you would be disappointed, because most well-known authors’ books are simply not available yet as e-books. My e-book Reader meanwhile has become indispensible. All submissions that I receive come as e-mail attachments which I can copy to my Reader, and they are always there, on the train or in bed or the dentist’s waiting room. But I should love to be able to read for pleasure like this too – to carry my reading list with me everywhere. I am making sure that Solidus books are available in all formats, but of course, I have already read them all.

An e-mail full of alarm came from an author recently: she had discovered that her book was available at Google Books for people to browse through. They could read pages at a time, she said, and was there anything we could do? Yes, was my reply, be very grateful. After all, you can walk into any bookshop, take a book off the shelf, hide yourself away in a corner and read the whole thing if you want to. But it’s likely that if you are enjoying it so much, you will probably wander over to the cash till by page 34. Or you may make a mental note to buy it for a friend’s birthday. I can see these things as they happen, on little charts that show me which books people are flicking through, and which ones they go on to buy.

So do I embrace all this and open-handedly give out all the creativity that authors have entrusted to me as their publisher? Well, yes and no. Authors are clearly the life and soul of the book industry. No-one is more important than the author, unless you want to make a living selling blank notebooks. And yet being an author can be soul-destroying – their work is rejected frequently as a routine, and when it is accepted, the book may simply sink without trace under the morass of more popular ‘celebrity’ tomes. A few hundred copies sold is quite good going, and the profit to the author in the traditional world of publishing may be a few pence per copy. But they share a common goal, which is to be read. I see my job as being to bring their work to as many readers as possible, but clearly those readers should pay the author for their work and their creativity. The meanness of the reading public can be breath-taking. I have several times been asked by reading groups to provide them with ten copies of a book for free. As though the honour they are doing us by selecting the book that month is glory enough.

Authors are in some ways the key to change. They have a chance now to be known by their readers; to talk to them on sites like ‘Meet the Author’, to run blogs of their own, to interact with their readers. People admire an author, but they know nothing of the process of publishing. Why should they? ‘Who’s it by?’ readers ask, not ‘who published it?’ I hope the new technologies will bring authors closer to their readers.

Helen Miles is the proprietor of Solidus, which publishes literary and high-quality fiction and works directly with authors. She decided to start her own publishing company after working with a lively group of writers known as RABs who all found it extraordinarily difficult to sell their second novels, unless they were almost identical to their first. Solidus offers authors a chance to be published even if their work cannot be tied to a ‘genre’ and is entirely different from their usual work. She lives and works in the Cotswolds. 

Photo top: Jon Nicholls

Violeta - William Falo

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by William Falo

Tomi clenched the wheel with both hands when he drove over the railroad tracks into the Roma settlement on the outskirts of Ozd. The truck splashed through a puddle of brown putrid water that splashed onto him through the open door.

“Damn those Gypsies,” he said. The nearest house looked about to fall down, and a shredded shade fluttered in a glassless window. A lady ran out of the door toward him; he tried to drive away, but she grabbed his arm.

“What are you doing?” He asked, and tried to push her away.

“Violeta is missing.”

“Who is Violeta? He asked, and noticed that the dark eyes of the lady glistened with tears.

“My daughter. She was playing out front. Right here,” the lady pointed at the front of the house. She still clung to his arm. He shook his arm free, and unconsciously wiped it away. The lady stepped back repulsed by his action.

“I have to deliver this mail, but I’ll look out for her.”

“She has long black hair, and is only six years old.”

“Did you call the police?”

“They say that I’m crazy. It’s because I’m Roma, they don’t like to come out here.”

The silence lingered. Tomi understood crazy. The counselors called him many names when he retreated from society. They diagnosed him with bi-polar mania, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and as suicidal after his father lost his job and left for the Ukraine never to return. No one understood the pain he felt, except for his friend’s family took him under their wing.

From the Editor's Desk: Images and Fiction

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by Michael J. Kannengieser

If one draws a circle, it stands alone with an impenetrable border. There’s a defensive posture inherent in a sphere’s silhouette on canvass. Nothing influences its form or size. Draw an overlapping ring, and one notices three shapes: two circles with an intruding gap which neither adds, nor subtracts, from the original figures, but creates a unique entity from two existing objects.

That is my vision of how photography and artwork enhances fiction. This website combines those elements to construct a venue where readers experience more than just the joy of the prose, but the convergence of media into a single result. When united both online and in print, words, images, and drawings create a multiplicity of perception. The diverse, artistic output generated by the crew and contributors to “The View from Here” are crafted together to heighten the literary theme of the magazine. The resulting valleys between the “shapes” of photographs, articles, and stories, form an alternative suggestion in the reader’s mind.

Given a piece of creative writing, I’ll direct a photo shoot which interprets the plot within the context of how I perceive the subject matter and characters. However, in explaining my idea, I may detach from the author. The photographer then drifts from my suggestions, and the models involved convey their own emotional inferences in their poses and expressions. The disparity between the words on the page and the final, accompanying shot may be great, but it fills in that atypical gulf which appears when two discrete outlines overlap one another. In this example, they are words and images.

Regarding our literary pursuits here at the magazine, success or failure in our goals to produce a compelling periodical depends on budget, talent, available resources, and more. Still, there’s one consistent factor which originates at the fundamental level, and that is the written word. All else may be considered superfluous. Then again, what is a circle if it stands alone?

This magazine celebrates literature and its creators by using many forms of media to produce an enjoyable and long-lasting journal. In that sense, outside that two dimensional orbit, “The View from Here” is endless and imaginative.

-Original Image by M.J. Kannengieser

Issue 20 of The View From Here on Sale Now

Gorgeous, Eye Catching, Coffee Table Worthy! The View From Here - The Best of the Best in the new and emerging literary scene!

Issue 20 on sale a day early to coincide with the launch of Dan Rhodes new book. Read our  interview with Dan only available in the printed edition. 

Order here  for $5.49 plus P&P for USA & Canada.

and £4.99 inc P&P for UK delivery directly on site here ...

Delivery address:

Interviews with ...
Dan Rhodes

Original Fiction by:
Sophie Duffy
Guy Mankowski
Bryan Murphy

Original Poetry by:
Jaime Robles
Franz K. Baskett
Carlos Hiraldo
Paul Handley
Christopher Woods

Guest Writer:
Laura Solomon

The Mother of All Jobs by Shanta Everington
A Modern Day Dickens by Jane Turley

Rabbit Writer monthly cartoon from Naomi Gill.

Book Reviews of
A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks
Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak.

We also have exclusive to the printed edition, a 2 page extract from Siobhan Dowd's Solace of the Road due for release in March.

Original art by Fossfor
ISSN 1758-2903

Buy an annual or 6 month subscription today for yourself and save money off the cover price. Just click here!

Rabbit Writer -- A rabbit's mark.

What rabbits do all day.

There is a pretty good reason, after all, why pets aren't allowed in most stores.

I've also noticed that the human character's appearance has been changing from one strip to the next. It seems to have to do with what else I've been drawing lately. I really should take one picture of him, post it above my computer, and have that as a reference when I draw these strips.

Reader Logo
by Naomi 'Brigid' Gill

No More Net

Reader Logo
by Kathleen

After my junior year at Chicago’s Burnham Day school, I moved out of my parent’s manor on Astor Place. My backpack accommodated my MacBook; a geode; chillum and dime bag; a change of clothes; and as counsel, “The I Ching,” with yarrow sticks (more accurate than coins, I had found.) That summer afternoon, I became a man. Better yet, I became my own man.

Before I hit the sidewalk, my father, who had promoted the plan, called my name, “Kent!”

“Dad” was an old-money entrepreneur and patent lawyer who rarely spoke to me, my distracted mother, or it seemed anyone else. As a free man, I deliberated before turning around in case he wished to end our sorry relationship with what he deemed “civility.” It clawed my heart to submit, but since my manhood had already become official, I chose to bow. A wanderer on the threshold, I magnanimously offered him this gesture of gratitude.

“Kent!” He was carrying a big brown paper bag. “Take this and good luck.” Breathing heavily, he thrust the bag at me and left, I hoped, forever.

Around the corner, I peeked inside. I was sixteen years old and worked at Pizza Hut. My friend Gus, an older, former school-mate, had found us a squat above a restaurant. And what had my angry,  perpetually absent progenitor bequeathed me? A six-pack of Heinkens.

My man Gus, whose parents made mine seem like coddlers, had dropped out of school and worked in a warehouse. He sold recreational drugs as a sideline. That night we hung with his associates, all in their twenties and glad, when asked, to acknowledge my adulthood. The next morning I woke alone on the vacant floor, wadded clothing under my head. The stand-alone sink didn’t work so I’d wash later.

I had a girlfriend, Ashley, whose parents tolerated me spending a very occasional night as long as we were unobtrusive. Her reaction insulted me. “Your own man, Kent? How stupid can you get?”

Within days, we were through.

Gus branched out into cocaine. His new dealer friends brandished weaponry. Uneasy, I cast the yarrow sticks. My Fêng hexagram promised abundance: “Be like the sun at midday.” So I relaxed. Ten weeks of summer stretch out like ten carefree years when you’re sixteen.

Come Labor Day, however, a new Pizza Hut manager fired me. “The I Ching” addressed this via the “Holding Together” hexagram. Its Judgment advised me to consult the oracle again but declared “no blame.”

In September I didn’t anticipate how snow blowing through the empty windows would derange me far beyond mere discomfort. Or how frozen pipes, hunger, and drop-by strangers that long, sub-zero winter would induce constant panic.

And yet, even that first afternoon, back from Ashley’s I had climbed onto the roof’s edge and experienced a realization requiring no oracular confirmation. Being my own man essentially meant: from here on out—no more net.