Three years ago I shared a Christmas mix, made up of an hour and a half of absolutely outstanding Christmas music, but the thing is there are just so many excellent Christmas songs out there! So I'm back again with volume 2! Please enjoy another hour and a half of some of the absolute best Christmas songs, new and old. My gift to you this festive season. Merry December!
Saturday 8 September 2018
Last year I wrote a short story. It was called 'The Haunting of Bodmin Jail', it was about a fake medium and some real ghosts, and it was chosen to be part of the book Cornish Short Stories: A Collection of Contemporary Cornish Writing. This year, Cornish Short Stories was published by The History Press, and because of that short story I wrote last year I got to do some really cool stuff.
In May we launched the book at the Falmouth Bookseller. I got to celebrate my first piece of creative writing in print with my parents and my closest friends, and I got to meet my fellow writers for the first time! The bookshop was packed with people and they sold every copy they had. I wore shoes with a little ghost on them, that were too big for my feet, and afterwards my parents took me and my friends for dinner at Whetherspoons because even when professional writer stuff is happening, you have to keep it real, you know?
The book was featured in the May edition of Cornwall Today, with a lovely write up by one of our editors.
And it was featured in the window of Waterstones in Truro! My mum made me pose for a picture next to it but you'll have to check out the Cornish Shorts highlight on my Instagram page if you really want to see that. It was just a little bit embarrassing. Actually, last time I checked there were still copies in the window, so if you're in Truro feel free to have a look and don't tell me if they've moved them because I'll be heartbroken. Thanks.
In June I did my first ever public reading from 'The Haunting of Bodmin Jail' at The Great Estate Festival. We didn't, strictly speaking, have much of an audience but I think that just means I'm a real published writer now, right? Reading in front of less than ten people, half of whom are also reading from the same book, is a rite of passage for a writer, and honestly, I love a good story, and this was a fun one to tell my friends afterwards.
In July, not only did I get to attend The Port Eliot Festival, a festival I have wanted to attend for years, but I got to be part of it. I got to walk around all weekend with the word 'artist' wrapped around my wrist. I got my name in the program on the same page as Billy Bragg. I got to read an extract of my story in front of a real audience, who laughed at my jokes and asked engaged questions about my writing, and then I got to spend the whole weekend watching other legit writers do that and remembering that, oh yeah, technically I was one of them! It was pretty cool.
To top off all these cool things, we've had reviews! Two of them so far, but they're both particularly special to me because they both mention my little story specifically! From Literature Works:
Anastasia Gammon's 'The Haunting of Bodmin Jail' provides a darkly comic and witty portrait of one of 'the most haunted places in Britain' and demonstrates a canny awareness of craft from a refreshing new voice.
And from Created to Read:
My favourite story in the collection was 'The Haunting of Bodmin Jail' by Anastasia Gammon - a ghost story with a hilarious twist, as a real ghost appears on a ghost tour, and Jane (the protagonist) must persuade a whole host of ghosts to go back and leave her in peace. I won't forget that one in a hurry!This little story has brought me so much joy this year and I am so grateful to our two editors, Emma and Felicity, who chose to include my story, and to everyone else involved in the book for making it a reality. It's been a blast.
Cornish Short Stories is available to buy from all book retailers, online and in store, and it's on Good Reads, so, you know, feel free to leave a review if you want... I promise I won't even mind if you don't mention my story specifically.
Wednesday 20 June 2018
Something a little bit different to my last set of photos today, a little bit darker, a little bit moodier, certainly not so many bluebells. We had a few days of snow earlier this year and on the first day when it was quite heavy, my parents and I went for an evening walk up to the old cemetery near where we live. I don't know why. It was Mum's idea. I've tried not to make the pictures too creepy but, well, we were in a cemetery close to sunset so there was only so much I could do. Please enjoy this very small collection of uncharacteristically gothic pictures. Right up until the last one that I took on the walk back home. That one is slightly less gothic.
Monday 11 June 2018
It's been a while, hasn't it? Four months since my last post and over a year since my last photography post. I don't even have an excuse. What I have is a year's worth of unedited photos on my laptop and a desire to fix that. So, let's start with some snaps from a bluebell walk party I went to last month.
Every year my friend Kate's family throw this party, inviting people to come and walk among the bluebells, eat, drink, and generally be merry. This is the first year I've been and we had perfect sunny weather for it. We saw the bluebells, ate homemade pizza, toured the orchard, hung out with the dogs, and got a little too much smoke in our faces trying to toast marshmallows on the bonfire. And I hope I got a few okay pictures.
Tuesday 13 February 2018
A snap of Bodmin Jail that I took four years ago.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I have a short story coming out in an anthology this year, and that you would hear more about that soon. So here I am to tell you more. Are you excited? I'm excited.
After a couple of false starts and far too much procrastinating, I wrote The Haunting of Bodmin Jail, a ghost story set in a building that isn't haunted. I got the idea from an advert I heard on local radio (and I'm not kidding when I say I never listen to local radio) for nighttime ghost tours of Bodmin Jail with their 'resident medium'. I cracked a joke to my parents about pretending to talk to ghosts for a living, and then basically ended up stretching that joke out to an almost 5,000 word short story.
I sent the story in (on the deadline day, of course) and a month later I got a reply. It was a yes. I've been unnecessarily secretive about it ever since because I am forever worried about jinxing good things, but since I have seen the proofs for the book now and my story is definitely still in there, I think I'm safe to finally tell you about this book I'm part of, Cornish Short Stories: A Collection of Contemporary Cornish Writing.
Cornish Short Stories features a wide array of writing from both emerging writers (like me!) and more established writers, covering a range of different subjects. It even has woodcut illustrations, which I'm very excited about. The one thing every piece has in common is that they are all set in Cornwall, a place that is full of great places to set stories in.
And it has a beautiful front cover.
Cornish Short Stories: A Collection of Contemporary Cornish Writing edited by Emma Timpany and Felicity Notley
This bold and striking new anthology showcases Cornwall’s finest contemporary writers, combining established and new voices.
Ghosts walk in the open and infidelities are conducted in plain sight. Two teenagers walk along a perfect beach in the anticipation of a first kiss. Time stops for nothing – not even for death. Sometimes time cracks, disrupting a fragile equilibrium. The stories are peopled with locals and incomers, sailors and land dwellers; a diver searches the deep for what she has lost, and forbidden lovers meet in secret places. Throughout, the writers’ words reveal a love of the incomparable Cornish landscape.
My story, The Haunting of Bodmin Jail, is a ghost story, but with ghosts who are more annoying than they are scary, and that's all I'm telling you! If you want to know more you'll just have to buy the book, which is due out on the 2nd of April 2018. You can pre-order it already, if you want to, and I've included a few links below to help you find it. I'm incredibly proud of The Haunting of Bodmin Jail and beyond excited that it has been included in this collection. I hope you'll like it as much as I do!
Pre-order Cornish Short Stories:
Wednesday 7 February 2018
You’ve felt the hum of the earth in your toes from the day you were born. Seawater floods your veins, the crackling of fire is barely contained beneath your skin, and the rush of wind settles in your every breath. There is dirt and magic under your fingernails. The world is yours to command. The very things that make life and death are under your power.
But you are not.The above is an extract from a short story I wrote for deardamsels.com, called 'Witch', which was published on the site this weekend. 'Witch' is a story about magic, secrets, and you.
The magic obeys you, it is the one thing that does, even when that means holding it down where it can not breathe, where it struggles against your ribcage and fights to be free. For the sake of your brother, you kept it where it could not see the sun.
I'm incredibly grateful to Dear Damsels for how kind they've been about this strange, dark little story and I sincerely hope this won't be the last time I write for them.
If you've never heard of Dear Damsels, this, from their website, explains it best: 'Dear Damsels is an online platform championing young female voices – a place where women can come together online, to read and write about the things that matter to them.'
I guess the thing that matters to me is witches?
You can read 'Witch' right here. I hope you like it!
Wednesday 31 January 2018
I read a total of 63 books in 2017, surpassing my GoodReads Challenge goal by 11 books. I discovered some new favourite books, some new favourite authors, some new favourite worlds. I joined my local library and Netgalley. I read some books that have been on my TBR for years and some that were brand new. I started listening to audiobooks again. I read 7 books in one week for the BookTubeAThon. I reviewed 11 books for Blogger's Bookshelf.
In short, it's tough to single out just 10 of the many great books I read last year but for you, dear readers, I've done my best, which in typical Stasia style means I haven't quite managed it. I got close though and I make the rules around here anyway so who cares?
These are my top 10(ish) books of 2017 in order of when I read them because putting them in order of how much I liked them really would be a step too far.
Wigs on the Green by Nancy Mitford
Wigs on the Green is not for everyone. It's an extremely satirical look at the rise of fascism in the UK in the early 1930s, something Mitford was familiar with as two of her sisters were supporters of Mosley's Blackshirts and indeed Hitler himself. She later came to regret the release of the book and wouldn't allow it to be reprinted in her lifetime because of the rift it caused between herself and her sisters, who took themselves very seriously and did not appreciate their sister making fun of them in this novel. Personally, I think making fun of fascists is a great idea and Nancy Mitford did it splendidly.
Rebel of the Sands and Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
I picked up Rebel of the Sands early last year when I had injured my back so badly that I could barely move. I was in a lot of pain and needed something magical that would take me away to another world for a day or two and Rebel of the Sands proved to be the perfect thing. I devoured the story of Amani the gunslinging girl on the run the way I used to devour books when I was young, as though I couldn't read the story quick enough, needing to know everything at once. I was completely immersed in the magical desert setting and, as you can see, immediately bought the sequel, which I thought was even better. I can't wait to get my hands on the third and final book in the series soon.
Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I hadn't read any of Leigh Bardugo's other novels before picking up Six of Crows but the story line, about an impossible heist carried out by a gang of plucky convicts and misfits, had me straight away so I bought the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, before I even read the first page of Six of Crows. I'm incredibly glad I did because much as I loved Six of Crows (and I did) I loved Crooked Kingdom even more and Six of Crows ended in such a way that I would have been furious had I not had the next book immediately to hand. The rich world and complex story line are impressive but for me the characters are the real gold in this duology, and they will stay with me for a long time.
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Wing Jones knocked me over sideways. I mostly bought it, I'll be honest, because it has super beautiful ombre sprayed edges, but then I started reading it and wow. The inside of this book is every bit as beautiful as the outside. The writing, the story, Wing Jones herself, are all so amazing. Every word is laced with a particular kind of magic, not like the fantasy of Rebel of the Sands or Six of Crows but something ethereal and down to earth all at once, as though it's of our world but just out of reach. It's beautiful, through and through, and immediately joined the ranks of my all time favourite novels.
The Revelation by Saruuh Kelsey
The Revelation is the third in The Lux Guardians series, written by my friend Saruuh Kelsey, and yes I photoshopped that cover onto a picture of the first two books because I don't actually have a paperback copy of this one yet. I'm so proud of everything Saruuh writes but this series in particular is extremely close to my heart. The dystopian world she's created is gripping and horrific and the characters who populate it are full of life and colour. Even if Saruuh wasn't my friend I would love these books and I thoroughly look forward to joining these characters again in the next one.
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
I don't read a lot of short story collections and I think it's mostly because 99% of the time I will choose a YA book over anything else so I was thrilled to discover Kelly Link's Pretty Monsters last year, a collection of short stories specifically for YA readers. This is a deliciously weird collection of tales in which everything is always just a little bit off. Each story is a glimpse into a fascinating, unique, and, at times, pretty creepy world. This is definitely a collection I'll come to again, probably around Halloween time.
The Graces by Laure Eve
From deliciously weird to deliciously dark, The Graces was another book that knocked me sideways this year. This is an extremely intense read and another one that I couldn't put down. The entire story of River and her obsession with The Graces, a family of beautiful siblings who may or may not be witches, is told with prose that feels charged with potential for things to go wrong and a burning necessity for them not to. Even the most innocent of scenes made my stomach twist and the real twists made my heart stop. This book so thoroughly absorbed me that I'm surprised I managed to read anything else in the weeks afterwards. I need the sequel asap.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
I'm a big fan of John Green but it's been a while since his last book, which might be why I wasn't quite prepared for just how much I would love this one. It's difficult to pin down why exactly Turtles All the Way Down immediately became my favourite of John Green's novels but it probably has a lot to do with Aza, the main character, and her best friend, Daisy, whose friendship felt so honest and close that I think I would have loved this book even if it had just been about the two of them hanging out together at Applebee's. It isn't just that though, it's so much more. I can't even talk about it. I love it.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Another book I can't even talk about is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. This book has been hanging out on my TBR for a long time. I don't know what finally made me pick it up but I am so glad that I did. This is such a beautiful story, so beautifully told, of two boys figuring out how to be themselves, how to be men, whatever that means. It's a story of love, told in a way I can't even describe, a way that feels as though it is being told directly to your soul, or your heart, or whatever part of you it is that aches when you read something so touching. It's a triumph of a book and well deserves all those awards that are so annoyingly covering up the design on the cover.
Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Please ignore The Upside of Unrequited in this picture. I'm sure I'll love that book too but I haven't actually read it yet, I just don't have any pictures of Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda on its own. Sorry. After just one book though, Becky Albertalli is already a new favourite author for me. Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda was perfect. I loved Simon and I loved the way his story was told. When he was flirting with Blue over email, when he was being blackmailed because of those emails, and when things got even worse than that, I felt along with Simon, everything that he felt. I desperately wanted things to just go well for him! It was like I was reading about my own kid brother. This book is funny, and touching, and kind. Perfect.
And those are my top 10(ish) books of 2017! Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Obviously, I highly recommend them all.
Wednesday 17 January 2018
Pin from Literary Emporium
Things are looking a little bit different around here. Just a little. New domain, new header, new photo of my pasty face. I've even updated my 'about' page, although I'm sure I'm the only person who has ever read it. If I've done everything properly these changes shouldn't have been too disruptive. Old links should still work. If you were following me on Bloglovin' before, you should be still.
I'm a little sad to see stasialikescakes go but it feels like time (and it's sticking around on my Instagram because, well, I just don't want to change it there, brand consistency be damned). I have a short story coming out in an anthology this year (more about this soon!) and it feels like time to make things a little more professional around here. Just a little bit. I'm easily freaked out by formality to be honest, so we'll try to keep that at a minimum.
Last year I said I wanted to be fearless in 2017. I don't know if I quite managed that all the time but I did submit a lot of stories last year, some of them good, some of them less so, and I am going to be published because of that. Every time I thought about giving up, chickening out, closing the Pages document and forgetting a deadline ever existed because the story wasn't perfect, I remembered that I had vowed to be fearless and I sent it anyway. So I'm not going to pick a new word of the year for 2018. I'm going to stick with 'fearless'. It's not just some big change I made in 2017 and don't need to worry about anymore, it's a small change I make every time I agree to something I might have been too frightened to before, every time I send an email that terrifies me. And small changes are sometimes the ones that make the biggest differences.