Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Majestically Musical Harriet Cunningham

The annual orgy of debauchery and dodgy folk music, that is 'Holbrookfest', had been raging below for nearly two days now.

Every year I would open the grounds of the castle up to bearded starchildren and crusty jugglers, all of whom seemed intent on exploring the most experimental of music styles whilst testing their own bodies pharmaceutical capabilities.  

It was a good way for me to keep an ear to the rumblings of the tragically hip, whilst also producing inordinate amounts of spare cash which their grubby, patchouli stinking paws would hand over to me gratefully.

This does not mean I mixed with these sorts, that invaded my precious property so willingly,  oh no!  I would confine myself to the tallest tower of the castle for the three day event, observing them from a tall window in between counting all of their probably not very hard earned but well wasted money.

It was late on the second evening, whilst I sat at the window breathing in the smell of hastily built campfires, tofu burgers, and portaloos that I was disturbed by a sound on the stairway outside my door.  I pressed the call button on the tannoy and called to the butler.

"Manson!  It sounds like another hippy has found their way into the castle.  Set the hounds loose will you?  They haven't been fed for two days now and they do like the taste of a woodsmoked festival goer."

Content that I had dealt with the interloper, I laid back on my Chesterfield, and helped myself to another handful of jelly beans.  One more day, I told myself.  One more day and I would rid myself of money laden hipsters for another year.

I heard the snarls and snaps of the dogs as they obviously fed well on the stairs.  The sound pleased me somewhat and I smiled comfortably at the good deed which I was doing for the world.  As the sound of the hounds abated though, my smile became short lived as a gentle tapping sounded on the door.

"What is it now, Manson?!"  I yelled, jumping to my feet and throwing open the door.  It was not the butler that I saw stood before me however.  For there, framed by a scene of complete devastation that involved the dogs tearing my useless butler to pieces, stood a woman holding a book in her hands.

'Ah, delightful' I thought.  It's this week's author come to distract me from my festival misery.  I bade her come into my chambers and take a seat.

And, as happens every week, our conversation is recorded as follows;

Who are you? What brings you to my dusty and crumbling castle at this time of night?  Have you brought me a book?

I am harryfiddler, a storyhunter from down the road, round the corner and across the ocean. I write fiction and non-fiction and classical music reviews and brochures and... Anything with words, really. Excuse my calling in so late.  My flight from Australia, where I live, was delayed in Dubai and then the 37 bus didn’t come.

Have I brought you a book? Jeez. I’ve come 10,000 miles, and you want a book as well? Sorry. It was a long trip, and I confess I haven’t finished the non-fiction book I’m crowdfunding with Unbound. I have finished two novels, but more of that later...

      I am old and confused most of the time.  Explain your book to me in no more than 27 words.

Sanctuary is a scrapbook of memories and photos and made-up stories inspired by the archive of a festival in darkest Devon that has nurtured generations of musos.

     You are stuck in a traffic jam in central London.  Outsider your car tempers are fraying, road rage is imminent.  What piece of music or song do you play to soothe your mind and remove you from the madness?

Oo er. You do ask all the hard ones, don’t you? I’m remarkably susceptible to ear worms so I probably have multiple tunes going at any given time. Rather than add something else in, I might just concentrate on listening to all those sounds that are around but you never quite hear. Your heartbeat, for instance. Your breath. The lesser-spotted leaf-blower. Failing that, Bach.

     What's  your favourite instrument in the orchestra? I'm very fond of a kettle drum myself.

I’d be in trouble if I said anything other than violin. So violin.

      If you could start your own theme park for adults, what would be the theme?

I’m just emerging from that part of life where you are constantly at the beck and call of children, so my concept is a fantasyland for parents. The rides include “Uninterrupted Reading Time” and “Dinner I didn’t cook myself.”

What's your biggest claim to fame, and, more importantly what would you like your biggest claim to fame to be?

My biggest claim to fame, to date, is making international news when I was banned from Sydney Opera House by the artistic director of Australia’s national opera company. I particularly liked getting digital highfives from music critics from around the world.
That said, I’m still hoping to be famous for writing a best selling novel one day. Working on it...

How much of your own personality do you put into your characters and do you ever find yourself displaying the characteristics of the people you are created?

Not sure about the second. Definitely the first. Nothing is safe from me when I’m on a story hunt. I use my own personality, but I also shamelessly filch personality traits from others. My friends are now wise to this. They’re still my friends, but they’re scared. Very scared.

     What would be your ideal superpower? And could you describe your superhero costume to me? Would there be a cape?

My superpower is writing. My costume is pajamas. The cape is only for best.

     My mind is addled, I am in need of grounding.  Could you calm my troubled spirit through the form of poetry? Either a Haiku or a rhyming couplets which reflect your secret to inner happiness.

Would it be showing off to give you a sonnet? It’s just that I have one up my sleeve at the moment. I’m doing a PhD and it’s driving me nuts and so instead of writing my thesis I write poetry.

All I want to do is write some stories,
Ripping dogs or shaggy yarns will do.
For ever has a man or woman stopped
And looked and thought “How cool
Is that? I want to share it with my mates.
I want to tweetit; bloggit; instagrammit;
Paint it on the cave walls; sing a song;
Whisper bitter somethings round a fire;
Fashion my experience and in so doing
Make sense of what I see." A modest aim,
But how? It’s no more possible to drink
An ocean, and then piss a cup of gold.
History, mystery, my story, memory
I’ll be doing this PhD until I’m old.

     Where else may I find either you or your work?  If I wanted to buy your most intriguing novel where would I find it? Do you tweet? Blog? Insta? YouTube?
I write music reviews and features for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper and various other old media things. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll take a look at my pitch for Sanctuary, crowdfunding with Unbound: I blog about music and other stuff at and I tweet under the name @harryfiddler. My most intriguing novel is yet to be published but as soon as it is I’ll be yelling about it. 

Our discussion was halted however, by the sound of screaming from the grounds below. I walked to the window to see what all the commotion was.

There below was a scene of abjest horror.Some fool had decided to take a drug induced swim in the moat, not realising that it was full of crocodiles.  A gathering of fools had tried to pull him out, tempting my aquatic reptilian pets onto the shore, where they were now parading through the festival, ripping a path through the white faced mimes, tattooed fire breathers, and drunken hair braiders, that ran screaming from them.

"Oh bugger."  I said. "This happens every year.  You'll have to excuse me.  I'll need to get this mess cleared up before some rainbow child snapchats it and I have the police come knocking again."

And with that I escorted my guest downstairs and through the relative safety of the tradesmans entrance at the rear of the castle.  I wished her well with he book, and with her journey back to Australia and watched disappear into the gloom of the evening.

I would encourage you to invest in her book, it sounds a most wonderful thing.  Everyone that supports it, gets their name listed within.  If your name doesn't appear I shall know about it and you may receive an unexpected gift through the post of two tickets for 'Holbrookfest' next year.  It is a weekend that you will never forget, as it will be your last.

If you have enjoyed this blog interview, and the others which I am publishing on a weekly basis, then please visit my own Unbound page where my own book Domini Mortum, A Victorian Mystery novel is in much need of love, attention, and most importantly pledges.

If you wish to be a guest yourself at the 'Castle of Despair' for your very own author interview, then please email me at whereupon I will devise a visit of the most exquisite torture especially for you.

Thank you.


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