Extracts: Gustave Flaubert by Giuseppe Cafiero

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A quick note from the author:

I thought that it would be very stimulating to write a story which would also involve the characters in Flaubert’s books, to allow them to experience a fascinating and different adventure. An intimate and specular journey characterised by two primary elements: his life and the characters in his books.


1. The Muse, Louise Colet, has never been a tranquil woman, respectful of the feelings and lives of others. She is invasive, possessive, indiscreet to the point of tedium. She has consumed, with her blond grace and languishing simpering, an entire generation of intellectuals, she has engulfed some of the most brilliant minds of our epoch. Still not content, and now mature in age, she has taken to investigating and inquiring into the past to provoke new troubles, to be tediously importunate, to make herself definitively hated.

Our Muse, mon cher Max, has never known or wanted to accept the shadow of anonymity, to which she seemed inevitably condemned, in which it was permissible and legitimate to foresee that she would have finished up after having stirred up so much dust, after having long played the role of the beautiful statuette. Worse as a writer, worse as a woman. She tried to become a George Sand and has ended up a caryatid who has put into print poisonous little books and verses.

2. The almée, the courtesan of Esneh, the petite princesse, Koutchouk-Hanem, marked me deeply. I remember every moment of our night of love. I remember the sky filled with stars, the tremulous lights of the oil lamps, the scent of resin, her majestic body, her look, her lips, her warm and welcoming sex, the silence of love-making. In twenty years the recollections and the sensations I experienced have never weakened, vanished or changed. I relive even today the sensual rapture of her flexible movements, of the warm colours of her clothes. Why should one renounce one’s own joy?

Cher ami, cher Max Du Camp, I don’t know if the years have marked us. The detritus of memory appears today as signs of small indecipherable scars. Confidences like secrets, rarefied curiosities of time. The events of long ago seem now like stains, violated by successions of days, hours, minutes. What happened and what is happening. It is inevitable. The Muse is part of the detritus of time, of the dystonias of an open weave frayed by the precariousness of feelings.

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Image: Authoright UK PR
3. Gustave was fundamentally a fabricator of books with the rhythm of one word every hour, as Edmond de Goncourt goes around saying. Gustave’s desire to make me a real character was based instead on very ambiguous considerations.

Everything began for me on 29 March 1862 when Monsieur Gustave Flaubert began to manifest his dreams, his plans for a novel. He had a great desire, which he was unable to renounce, to write a book on the Orient … a book he had just sketched out, a book he would have entitled Harel Bey. This then is how I was imagined and, in truth, created from a diligent and scrupulous reflection by a writer usually seduced by eccentric fables, even though they were always original.

Here I am then, forged in a manner similar to how you Christians will mould a man, making use of a prodigious but tried and true formula. This in synthesis is my creation. Now, and diligently, let us go over once again our meeting, our finding each other, albeit for very fortuitous reasons, as characters imagined by that writer called Gustave Flaubert.

About Giuseppe Cafiero

Giuseppe Cafiero is a prolific writer of plays and fiction who has produced numerous programs for the Italian-Swiss Radio, Radio Della Svizzera Italiana, and Slovenia’s Radio Capodistria. The author of ten published works focusing on cultural giants from Vincent Van Gogh to Edgar Allan Poe, Cafiero lives in Italy, in the Tuscan countryside.

For more information about Giuseppe and his work, visit his website or find him on Facebook. Gustave Flaubert is available to buy now.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Guest Post: Exploring the Celtic Way of Life by Tony Halker

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I have imagined and written about a time, hundreds or a thousand years before the Romans threatened the Celts of Britain, about their civilisation, values, order, myths and relationships; about emerging hidden art and sounds we may call music.

It is impossible not to be in awe of peoples who thousands of years ago mixed metals in exact proportions to refine the properties they needed to harness, to make agricultural implements and weapons, then being able to repeat the formula time and time again. They did these things without the benefits of chemical analysis. Perhaps an ingot would ring or sing when hit in a certain way with stone, telling them whether they had achieved the right mix for their purpose.

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Image: Tony Halker / Authoright UK PR
We talk of the Celtic nations today, but before the Romans came much of Britain and Europe were peopled by the Celts and their Druid Priests' class. We have romanticised who and what they were, the legacies they gifted us. We can walk the places they did and see remnants and beauty they created as gifts to the Goddess Nature.

In folklore, the Druids seem to imbue who and what we were before the Roman invasion and therefore what we are now. Their society did not use writing, so we have very few hard facts about what they valued and revered or from where they came. Most of what we think we know is either Roman propaganda or what we glean from wonderful artefacts often found hidden in the UK landscape and indeed all over Europe. Celtic Druid cultural remnants, values and genes are in many of us, yet we often rely on the words of their enemies to define them.

Celts were in their own time originally seen as outsiders, people on the fringes of what considered itself the “civilised” world: Greek and Roman civilisations. The colonial marketing machines of those civilisations wanted to define the Celts as savages at their fringes to be brought under Roman “guidance”.

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Image: Tony Halker / Authoright UK PR
My fiction is set long before the coming of the Roman Empire. At a later date, it is clear that the Celts were a threat to Roman expansion in terms of culture, military prowess, organisation and the extent of their own linked civilisation through Europe. In later times the powerful Celtic remnants were on the fringes in England, Wales and Ireland.

No civilisation and culture suddenly appears or disappears, even when it seems that way in the archaeological record. Foundations are laid, tribes develop, technologies become important, power structures organise peoples who prosper and spread. I envisage Druids as a learned warrior and craft priest caste, providing balance to tribal clan power. The Druids exercised influence through, knowledge, learning, connections with the Deities of nature and monopolies of valuable trade.

I like to imagine their lives in our landscape because we know so few facts and can use folklore and landscape to invent these peoples from the nano information we really do have; the canvas on which to reinvent them is almost blank, but a few items of beauty and enigma are there to look at and enrich the imagination. Folklore passed down the ages and festivals still sung, danced and celebrated also inform our view.

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Image: Tony Halker / Authoright UK PR
Much of the landscape they inhabited has hard stone remnants built or “created by the gods” before Celtic times, during the stone age. The circles, standing stones, dolmen and mounds we see today existed in and on the landscape when the Celts and Druids first emerged, were there before them. Therefore these great structures helped form the ancient Celts' views of ancestors and gods, perhaps especially the Mother Goddess.

I am motivated by the craggy hard stark and powerful landscapes in which so many of these remnant artefacts nestle. I can imagine Druids in these places and while I know they came from more mellow lands across England and Europe, I prefer to think of them on today's Celtic coast, in the mountains and gulleys of North Wales and Ireland.

These peoples were much more important than the Romans would admit; they were more than an irritant and had a culture that survived Roman domination and brutality. Twice the Romans attacked Anglesey and its sacred Druid groves. When Boudica rose up and attacked Colchester the Roman military governor was away beating up the Welsh Druids on Anglesey. Seventeen years later they had to go back to finish the job since this persistent, organised rich culture was threatening again.

An efficient thriving society needs, organisation, structure, technology, culture and values. I have taken, places, landscape, beautiful artefacts and Roman propaganda and imagined the way these people were and lived. They needed trade; their pots and jewellery are found all over Europe as are common designs for swords, spearheads and shields. Rich trade would have been controlled. Perhaps it was Druid networks through Europe that prospered with trade and undermined Roman merchants, perhaps it was a society where women held sway and shared power that threatened Roman patriarchy.

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Image: Tony Halker / Authoright UK PR
The Learn is available to buy now.

About Tony Halker

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Image: Tony Halker / Authoright UK PR
Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tech business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places.

For more information about Tony Halker, visit his website or blog.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Spotlight: The Eden Tree by Peter Worthington

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An ancient relic opens a family up to new beginnings, and dangerous forces, in this captivating new fiction inspired by the author’s own experiences with losing a child to cancer.

Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

John James Morgan knew the day he was born. Two days before his sixty-first birthday he found out why.

John is a happily married businessman, father and grandfather, living in Cheshire, in the heart of England. Happy, that is until his family face a crisis. His grandson Wesley, son of his daughter Becky, is terminally ill. Darkness has come to Kirmingsham Hall. At the local market, a flower-seller tells John a story of a mysterious box that will change his life and those around him. Assured his destiny is in his own hands, John crosses the globe in pursuit of a religious artefact which has remained hidden for two thousand years. Finally, in Tel Aviv, he is presented with an antique box containing maps, parchments and a bag of leaves. 

On his return to the UK John witnesses a miracle. With the box in his possession, John and his family find new friends and enemies; lives are threatened and people die, although some will be healed. With the help of many different people, from all walks of life -from a Mossad Colonel, a group of cyber buffs, and his son James– John’s journey will finally lead him to the discovery of an extraordinary and mysterious tree. But what will this Eden tree mean to John, his family, their faith and their future?

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Image: Peter Worthington / Authoright UK PR
The Eden Tree is author Peter Worthington's first novel and is inspired by his own experiences with his son, John Wesley, who underwent treatment for cancer but sadly passed away shortly after his seventh birthday. Although a difficult time, Peter has never lost his faith or exuberance for life, and The Eden Tree is his way of giving his much-loved son a happier ending. He hopes it will give comfort, and escapism, to others who have gone or are going through similar difficult situations in their own lives.

Peter commented, "I knew the story of the Garden of Eden and was aware that the leaves from the Tree of Life were said to bring healing. Using my biblical knowledge about Jesus and His followers I began to imagine what could happen if the Saviour was in possession of leaves from the Tree and maps to Eden. I developed a scenario of how Jesus passed on the leaves and parchments and the instructions. I grew the story to include the mystery box, its lid and my protagonist’s tattoo.

Soon I had surrounded the Wesley in my story with the main character, his grandfather, and his wife, family and friends. The story had a life of its own as characters had their own story lines portraying their development. Other people also joined the plotlines, many having their own adventures within the central story of The Eden Tree.

My debut novel, The Eden Tree, has believable characters in a story which is also plausible. Readers looking for some mystery, action, romance and a message of hope, should find the book entertaining. What sets it apart is cancer, the framework of a caring family circle, the IT and survivalist skills within the extended family, and my knowledge of the Bible and its core themes. Using detailed research about the location of the mystical garden my characters are able to solve the mystery of the garden of Eden. It is unique in that it both asks questions and yields some answers as an apologetic.

Enlightening and adventurous with touches of comedy and a World of Warcraft tournament, The Eden Tree is an engrossing and heart-warming story that can, and will, be enjoyed again and again.

The Eden Tree is available to buy now.

About Peter Worthington

Today Peter Worthington lives in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire with his wife Margaret. Peter has enjoyed a bright and varied career as a church minister, financial adviser and internet consultant. Now retired he is busier than ever thanks to his three grandchildren, studying for an Open University Degree in Creative Writing, public speaking voluntary work, playing World of Warcraft, serving on the board of a housing association and writing. He has previously published short stories in a number of Christian magazines.

To find out more about Peter and his work, you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Interview: Azrael James

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Azrael James' debut novel, Mark of Destiny. To celebrate, I managed to catch up with Azrael for a quick chat ahead of the book's release.

Firstly, tell me a little about your childhood.

Well, here goes. I was raised in a very gypsy-like family. Before I was seventeen, we had lived in twenty-seven different places across the western half of the United States. My dad travelled a lot for his work.

I developed an interest in the guitar and fantasy fiction when I was twelve years old, and haven’t set either of them aside for long. Currently, I am teaching guitar and working on developing my writing career.

How did you first become interested in writing?

I would have to say that my love for reading has really been the catalyst for the desire to write fiction. This desire really came to a head when I owned a used bookstore, but between running the store and working two other day jobs to keep it afloat, there was very little time to even consider writing. Sadly the store closed, but when one door smacks you in the ass, you tend to look for a better situation.

What draws you to writing fantasy?

I love fantasy. This genre has always been my doorway into other worlds, an escape from the known. Honestly, when I read, I read to leave this world behind. After reading Tolkien, I was hooked.

Tell me about Mark of Destiny.

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Image: Bewitching Book Tours
Mark of Destiny is my debut novel, and it is truly the birth of a new world. While retaining many fantasy norms, the novel is also quite unique. Tizrah, the main character, represents the maxim, ‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’. Sometimes this road called life takes unexpected twists and turns, and we find ourselves a long way off from where we originally intended to go. I think this is kind of the theme of the novel. Yes, there are wizards, gods, magic, and even a dragon, but over all the theme of the novel is really about chance, or destiny.

How do you get inspiration?

Inspiration comes to me through reading awesome books by authors like Sanderson, Rothfuss, and others. When I am brainstorming a plot, I tend to get very enthusiastic. The muse comes in so many forms. It could be the way the sunlight reflects off of a water droplet. We just have to open ourselves to the amazing flow of life surrounding us at every instant.

What’s your writing process?

Plotting, loosely constructing the outline, procrastination, and then crunch time. I write with an outline, but many of the twists and turns happen all on their own. Sometimes my characters decide to do things differently. I try to be open to where the story will take me.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Work hard at perfecting your craft. Always approach every situation with a mind open and ready to learn. Learn as much as you can about marketing and promotion, what works, and what is a waste of time and resources.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I am working hard to realise my dream of being a full-time writer. My plan is to accomplish this in under two years.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

Music, meditation, family, and living with peace in my heart.

What are you currently working on?

Fate of Belstrom, the sequel to Mark of Destiny is my current project, but I am also working on a YA steampunk novel.

What are you reading at the moment?

Age of Myth by Michael Sullivan, and so far I am really impressed with it.

To find out more about Azrael, you can follow him on Goodreads or find him on Facebook.

Mark of Destiny is available to buy now.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

Gig Review: Amy Macdonald at Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham

First published here by Kettle Mag:

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Image: Amy Macdonald / Wikimedia Commons
Scottish songstress Amy Macdonald is currently in the middle of her latest tour, heading out across the UK to promote her recently-released album, Under Stars. As this is the singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album, she now has a healthy back catalogue to draw on and is able to alternate between rousing fan favourites and showcasing her new material.

Under Stars builds on the classic Amy Macdonald sound, now virtually perfected after four albums and ten years in the limelight. It may seem as though Amy has come a long way since the release of her debut album, This is the Life, in 2007, but the Scot is one of those precious few stars who hasn’t lost sight of her beginnings since she started off along the long road to fame.

Confessing her nerves to the audience and begging them to “be kind” to her at points during the set, Amy still seems to be living one of those ‘pinch me’ moments. Admitting that she was incredibly nervous about performing without the safety net of her band behind her, it is this kind of realness and air of vulnerability that lends a particularly endearing quality to both the performance and Amy as a person.

Performing a good mix of new tracks and old favourites, the set lasted almost 2 hours – 2 hours of non-stop entertainment on a Saturday night in the city. Her band were talented and enthusiastic, but it was Amy’s incredible voice that really stole the show. Performing a stripped-back ballad version of hit single ‘4th of July’, the power and emotion in her voice were clear to see. It wasn’t hard to understand why the audience went silent whenever Amy opened her mouth; everyone was utterly captivated by the palpable atmosphere in the room.

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Supported by singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner, the show was a massive success from start to finish. Newton’s unique blend of folk-inspired pop-rock was the perfect opening act for the evening to come – and with a set lasting approximately 45 minutes, there was plenty of time to get the crowd warmed up ready for the main event. Newton played a strong combination of tracks, comprising of well-known singles like ‘Dream Catch Me’ right through to unfinished half songs from his upcoming sixth album.

Performing entirely solo, with only the accompaniment of a trusty guitar, a kick-drum and a loop pedal, it’s clear to see his influence in other acts like Ben Howard and fellow redhead Ed Sheeran. Ending the set with a truly remarkable one-man rendition of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Newton very nearly managed to steal the show.

The crowd present at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall on Saturday night were treated to a memorable night of music, thanks to two extremely talented artists. It’s rare to find musicians who refuse to let their rise to stardom change who they are, but both Newton Faulkner and Amy Macdonald have managed to do just that, sticking to their roots regardless of the trappings of fame.

In a cut-throat industry like the music business, it’s more Amy Macdonald’s and Newton Faulkner’s that we need.

Are you a fan of Amy Macdonald? Let me know in the comments below!
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