Issue 53 of LeftLion kicked off with a great mag launch at The Corner. Rod Madocks came down, who was my featured literature interview. I’d interviewed Rod previously on a WriteLion 5 podcast and so knew he was an intellectual not scared to share his opinions, making him perfect material for an interview. Sure enough he served up around 3,000 words. Plenty of choice when editing it down to the mag format of 1,100 words. I usually offer up three possible headline choices and originally preferred ‘Far from the Madocks Crowd’ but in the end we plumped for the Iron Maiden reference ‘Can I play with Madness’. This was more appropriate as his book fictionalises experiences from his time working in asylums and psychiatry and so it was a relevant reference to questions asked in the interview.
I had originally intended to interview Graham Joyce as the issue also coincides with the East Midlands Book Award but unfortunately Graham is ill at the moment. He has shared this on Facebook but I don’t think it’s my place to discuss it further. I’ve read most of Graham’s books and he’s a writer and man that I really admire. He’s a truly charismatic and inspiring individual whose keynote speech at the Writing Industries Conference in 2010 has become a bit of a mantra and has certainly swayed me towards digital projects.
The book reviews focussed on the EMBA and included reviews of Will Buckingham – The Descent of the Lyre, John Gallas – Fresh Air, and The Story of Molecule, Alison Moore – The Lighthouse and Neil Roberts – A Lucid Dreamer, The Life of Peter Redgrove. We didn’t include the other shortlisted authors Graham Joyce – Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Jon McGregor – This Isn’t the Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like you, and Jonathan Taylor – Entertaining Strangers, as these had appeared in previous issues. I made a terrible slip in not mentioning Jonathan in my blurb but I’ve got a very valid excuse which I’ll save for another blog.
I commissioned Adam Poole to do an illustration of our Nottingham-based writers Alison Moore and Jon McGregor having a fight. For the drawing of Alison I asked Adam to give us a slight flash of her pink knickers as this was a direct reference to a significant element in her book. Fortunately Adam followed my brief well and made sure that it wasn’t graphic or pervy (you never know what you’re going to get at LeftLion – stray pubes, etc) and I think both will be happy with what’s been done. Jon was surrounded in cash to celebrate his 2012 IMPAC win although he’s going to have to go out and win another award now as this has just been handed over to Kevin Barry. He’s my prediction for the EMBA.
I couldn’t let the death of Thatcher slip by and so the obituary was left to Katie Half-Price in a made-up book called The Lady’s not for Burning. This was quite fun to do so I decided to tinker with Dan Brown’s latest novel and call it Disco Fever, and hand the standard conspiracy over to a 70s DJ in Flares who sends out secret messages via Barry White tracks. Originally I didn’t have time to do a six degrees of Strelley(ation) but Alan Gilby rightly pointed out that a new feature needs to build momentum and so I got googling to find the relevant connections to make the feature possible.
Robin Lewis had his first mag interview published with the lovely Phillipa Rice (My Cardboard Life). Originally Phillipa was going to design the cover but we’ve asked her to do a future issue as Jon Burgerman was available and had the time. Illustrators are busy folk and covers need proper planning. Robin has been doing book reviews for us for a few years now and is one of the most concise reviewers I have. I think he’s a top class writer and very professional so it was great to give him further coverage in the magazine. Hopefully we’ll be running with his Luke Pearson interview in our next issue.