Bringing the Camino Home

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Walking my first Camino was a liberating and a creative experience. The physical activity, the spiritual dimension, the beauty of the place and the encounters with other pilgrims’ daily, if not hourly, kindnesses all played a part. For me, as it does for many, it led to writing.
Since then I have written consistently, publishing short stories and blogging.
My first book, Murielle’s Angel, a novel based on my own experiences of walking the Camino Frances, was published four years ago.
Now a second novel, ‘Honeymoon’ is about to be published.

Ostensibly, ‘Honeymoon’has nothing at all to do with the Camino or Spain, but the creativity and learning to trust myself and the universe certainly is thanks to the Camino.

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A Taste of Cinnamon

 

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Published by Cinnamon Press. Hazel Manuel and Mary Howell with their novels in Palas Print independent bookshop.

Cinnamon Press,  small, independent and  based in North Wales  is a champion and prolific publisher for new writers.

Being published does not of itself bring status, more  the pleasure of reading aloud to an audience and the quiet knowledge that someone has confidence in your work.

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Hazel Manuel outside the book shop in Bangor after the launch of Kanyakumari.

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Tarta Santiago versus Sachertorte or Poetry with Cake

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The first literary evening at the Viennese cake shop, Aber House in Barmouth, has come and gone. The cake turned out quite well using a combination of recipes from the web.

One Spanish recipe added cinnamon and alcohol  but, a bit of a purest, these were left out. However, the recommendation to grind the almonds leaving some texture and then to roast them in the oven to dry out, wholeheartedly adopted.

Another recipe, American I suspect, offered  a stencil for the cross of St James – or is it a sword?  He was a warrior saint after all and claimed by crusading Spaniards wanting to drive out the infidel.  (Plus ca change) Only the icing sugar disappointed as it sank into the cake almost without trace before we got to eat it.

The sachertorte was chocolately and unctuous, but then I did not make that.

And the readings?

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Bernard Young is a performance poet with  a light touch, a delight of whimsy and wistfulness. He mostly writes poems for children these days who, one suspects, would  love his gentle delivery and humour too.

As for Murielle’s Angel? one can only hope and keep putting it out there.

There is to be a second evening, with different cake and different readings, but the welcome will be the same.

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Sacher Torte versus Tarta Santiago

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A new cafe in a small seaside town creates a frisson of excitement.  Austrian, no less and from Vienna. Immediately there are thrilling undertones of The Third Man,  to say nothing of sachertorte and pastries.

It gets better! There will be yoga on the beach (couldn’t be a better summer for it) and  occasional literary evenings with local authors -including yours truly and readings from Murielle’s Angel!

We have suggested a bake off,  sachertorte and tarta Santiago –  eggs and chocolate or eggs and ground almonds – the one so Viennese the other so typical of Santiago de Compostela the end of the Camino.

Sadly we have missed St James’ Day on the 25th July but any day with cake can be cause for celebration.

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One Year On

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It seems hard to believe that it t was only a year ago that Murielle’s Angel was published  by Cinnamon Press.  A year in which everything and nothing has changed.

It was so momentous at the time, a huge milestone, and such a fillip that someone should show their belief in me as a writer by actually publishing my book,  like betting on an outsider to win.  But then Jan of Cinnamon Press, herself a poet and novelist and a wise and brave woman, is willing to take those risks on your behalf.

I still think of the double rainbow seen from the car window on the way home from the launch.

I have had some lovely reviews too from those kind enough to post them.

‘Beautifully written .Gentle yet perceptive prose weaves a spell creating a real sense of place. An interesting and varied cast of fellow travellers on journeys of self discovery walk the Camino. Their paths and stories criss cross . Their relationships are brief and transitory, yet they will not be forgotten as they are remarkable in their own way. Similarly they will make a lasting impression on the reader .
A delightful book, most enjoyable. Interest never flagged and it was a real pleasure to pick up the story at the end of the day and escape into an oasis of calm.’

There has been much to learn and there still is.  There is still much to write.  My current book whose characters are still putting me through my paces  will I hope be delivered in due course, after the long slow editing.

And the next? Already the need for background reading is pressing.