I've finished teaching at Manchester Met (for now?) after a couple of great terms - my first time working at MMU and my first job purely teaching film (rather than literature and film). I'm still working at the University of Manchester, in Art History and Visual Studies, on a digitization project involving the Early Printed Medical Collection at the John Rylands Library. This has turned out to be a really fascinating project, and I'm looking forward to sharing the final product when it's done in the next few months. I'm also still an Honorary Research Associate at Swansea Uni, so the life of an itinerant academic continues. And, of course, it's that time of year when I do a bit of work for one of the GCSE exam boards. But I can't say much about that because of strict confidentiality - but I'm sure you can guess what's been keeping me busy for the last few weeks.
The big thing for me this year has been the publication of my edited collection She-Wolf: A Cultural History of Female Werewolves (Manchester University Press). Way back in 2010, I started this blog as a conference website for the She-Wolf conference (held at the University of Manchester), which I organized with Carys Crossen. The book was a few years in development, but this allowed me to include a lot of really interesting female werewolves that I wouldn't have been able to in 2010 (would you believe, Nina hadn't even been scratched when I first pitched the book to MUP). Since the conference, all the postgrad contributors have received their doctorates, including my co-organizer Carys Crossen (whose PhD was on the post-1800 literary werewolf) and the very talented Jazmina Cininas (an Australian artist whose practice-based doctorate was entitled The Girlie Werewolf Hall of Fame and is definitely worth checking out). Following the publication of She-Wolf, I was asked to contribute a short article to History Today (published earlier this month), which was great because I got to write about a 1591 broadsheet ('The She-Wolves of Jülich') that I wasn't able to include in the book.
On the creative side, it's also been quite a lycanthropic year. Despite saying that I wasn't going to write another werewolf story for a while, I was lured back to the hairy side by the editors of European Monsters (Margrét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas) last year. My story 'Nimby' was included in the book, and it's a humorous (but, according to one reviewer, venomous) story set in
My plans for the rest of this year include another book chapter (about werewolves) and another short creative piece (about werewolves), working on 3 edited collections (only a little bit about werewolves) and finally making some progress with 2 monographs (sort of about werewolves). If I ever earn enough money to pay the bills and stop working 15-hour days, I'm also planning to actually do something about my novel (100% not about werewolves).
Rob and I are still working away at Hic Dragones - our most recent publication was Psychic Spiders!, Toby Stone's awesome follow-up to Aimee and the Bear. We were so happy to be able to publish Toby's second novel, and we love working with him. Although we've been concentrating on a couple of other projects for the past few months, once I'm back from Glastonbury we'll be announcing two new open-call anthologies and two conferences, as well as a couple of cool competitions. If you don't already, follow Hic Dragones on Twitter or like us on Facebook for updates. And, in case you haven't already seen it, all our paperbacks are now available with free UK shipping.
You probably already know this, but Digital Periodicals is the Victorian wing of Hic Dragones. Since last June, we've been publishing Victorian penny bloods and penny dreadfuls as serialized eBooks. All our editions are re-transcribed, edited and formatted - I estimate I've transcribed around 1.5m words of early Victorian terror since we started - and the eBook conversions we do mean that, for the first time, these texts are fully searchable. So if you want to know how many times the word 'ejaculated' appears in Varney the Vampyre, we can help. We've now published complete runs of Varney the Vampyre, The String of Pearls (Sweeney Todd), Vileroy; or, the Horrors of Zindorf Castle, Wagner the Wehr-Wolf, Clement Lorimer; or, the Book with the Iron Clasps (which is BRILLIANT), Angelina; or, the Mysteries of St Mark's Abbey and (my personal favourite) The Life and Adventures of Valentine Vox, the Ventriloquist. George Reynolds' Mysteries of London will be coming to a close at the end of this month, and at some point when I get back, we'll be launching The Life of Richard Palmer (Dick Turpin), George Reynolds' Faust and The Mysteries of the Madhouse; or, the Annals of Bedlam. At the moment, all our full collections (every issue plus a couple of bonus stories) are just £3.99, or you can enjoy the Victorian experience and read them in serial form for £1 per 10 chapters.
Not going to say too much about it now, but one of the conferences we'll be announcing will be connected to the penny bloods/dreadfuls, and it's going to be part of an exciting new collaboration for us. Follow Digital Periodicals on Twitter or like us on Facebook for updates.
You might have seen something about this already, as I have tweeted a bit about it. Hannah's Bookshelf is my new(ish) radio show on North Manchester FM. It's a literature show, on every Saturday 4-6pm, where I talk books, writing and related stuff with my guest for the week. I've been really lucky with guests so far, who've included Toby Stone, Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, Andy Hickmott (from the Ancoats Dispensary Trust), Daisy Black, Nancy Schumann, Chris Monk, Bernadette Hyland, Tony Walsh, Cate Gardner, Emma Marigliano (from the Portico Library) and Mike Whalley (from Manchester's Monday Night Group). I've also done shows with my lovely husband Rob (where we talked about small press publishing), my mum (where we talked Burns Night and Scottish literature) and my brother (where we discussed RPGs and how to be a good gamesmaster). When I don't have a guest on the show, you get two hours of me musing on whatever weird and wonderful topic has caught my interest that week - so far, this has included my favourite literary dystopias and my favourite experimental fiction. Future guests lined up include Rosie Garland and Simon Bestwick, but I'm always on the lookout for others so if you're in the Manchester area and would like to come on the show, please do drop me a line. I tweet and blog about the show from my Hannah Kate accounts, so that's where you'll find up-to-date info about the show.
My favourite bit of the show so far has definitely been Apocalypse Books. This is the section of the show where I ask my guests: in the event of an apocalypse, which 3 books would you save, and why? The responses to this question have been serious, surreal, personal and pragmatic. Books have been selected for their content or their worth as an artefact, but also for their practical use in a post-apocalyptic dystopia. (One of my guests, Daisy Black, made the very sensible point that selections would actually depend on what sort of apocalypse we were facing, as I guess you'd want different reading material in the zombie apocalypse than during the Rapture.) You can see all the selections that have been made so far in The Library at the End of Days.
Recently, Rob and I decided we should bring all our freelance work under one umbrella so it's easier for us to market our services. We've called that umbrella The Creative Cats, and we have a shiny new website that lists all the freelance work that we do. Rob's side of things is web design (bespoke Wordpress themes, CSS editing, eBook conversion and corrections). We also have a free Wordpress theme available - a minimalist Bootstrap theme called Bertie, which was designed with academic and creative bloggers in mind. My side is editing and research services. I've been doing more and more freelance editing recently (fiction and academic), and am also available for indexing, research assistance and fiction fact-checking. Our prices are very competitive and we're trying to avoid charging people extra for things that we think should be standard (SEO, responsive web design, 2-pass editing), because we can't be arsed trying to sell snake oil. Check out our website for more info, or follow us on Twitter - if you're interested, of course.
I've massively cut down the amount of private tuition I'm doing. I put myself through the PhD by tutoring 20-25 students a week, but I've now only got two pupils (one Maths/English Yr 9 and one Maths/English/Science GCSE). One of them is actually my first ever pupil; she was just 6 when I started tutoring her, and she's now nearly 16 and about to go into her final year at school - and I promised her a long time ago (like a sort of slightly Gothy Mary Poppins) that I wouldn't leave until
I'm still an independent Avon rep, ably assisted by Avon Boy (or Rob, as he prefers to be known). I know a lot of people find it hard to reconcile this bit of my life with the others, but I really enjoy being my neighbourhood's Avon Lady. There's something nice and traditional about the role and I've got to know all my neighbours and their cats. Plus I get a good discount on the insane amount of black eyeliner I get through. If you're in Manchester and you want to buy stuff from me, feel free to have a look at my Personal Online Brochure.
Cat in a Spitfire
Ha ha! I just put this in to intrigue you. This is a new project that I'll be unveiling later in the year. I had hoped to make some progress with this over the last couple of months, but it's still a work-in-progress. Coming soon...
Anyway, that's all the self-promotion/waffling I can bring myself to do tonight. I'm off to Glastonbury on Monday, so will be covered in mud and incommunicado for a week. It's quite an exciting year for me, as it's my 20th year of volunteering for Oxfam and 18 years since I first signed up to work with Oxfam Stewards. Which means, of course, that I have now been stewarding as long as the new stewards have been alive. I fully intend to spend most of Glastonbury talking like an old woman. "I remember when all this was fields..."
PS Albert is doing fine.