How Pale The Winter Has Made Us (Influx Press, 2020)

I’m very happy to say that my next novel, How Pale The Winter Has Made Us, is to be published in February 2020 by Influx Press. We’ve been working together on it for a long time now, and are still working out little details of formatting and planning so I won’t be saying too much here. But, suffice to say, the project has been a real labour of love, sprouting from a chance encounter and leading to an in-depth examination of the city of Strasbourg. I won’t give much detail for now other than provide its public synopsis below and share that its three real pillars of influence were Georges Perec’s Life: A User’s Manuel, Elfriede Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher and Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession.

The book, which twins on some level with Mothlight, was originally heavily littered with photographs picked up around Strasbourg’s flea markets, and, though still containing some photos and heavily referencing many seen by the book’s narrator, many were cut in the end. However, an Instagram account has been set up here to share all of the photos, whether featured or simply mentioned, and will be posted semi-regularly in the run-up to the book’s launch next year. I’ve wanted to move on with the use of photographs, with Mothlight containing a narrative curated from one single life, now with this one using a more fragmentary approach to photos (which I think I’ve picked up from Michael Haneke’s 71 Fragments Of A Chronology Of Chance more than anything else); building a wider whole as an act of avoidance for the character. For reference, the follow-up to How Pale The Winter Has Made Us (due in 2022…) has a narrator actually taking the photos featured, so a healthy trilogy of novels using different techniques of photographic contexts will hopefully be the end point here.

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Though it can be pre-ordered from the usual places currently, we’re keen for people to use the subscribe service set-up by Influx Press for the coming months, with deals including any of their upcoming releases. The full pre-order from them for individual books, including How Pale, will be available in November. For now, the synopsis is below. I hope it intrigues and puzzles.

How Pale The Winter Has Made Us

Isabelle is alone in Strasbourg. The day after her partner leaves to travel abroad, she receives news of her father’s suicide, his body found hanging in a park back home in Crystal Palace. Isabelle misses her flight back to London and a new university job, opting to stay in her partner’s empty flat over the winter.

Obsessed with the many strange coincidences in Strasbourg’s turbulent history, Isabelle seeks to slowly dissolve into the past, succumbing to visions and dreams as she develops her meticulous research about the city. Stalked by the unnerving spirit of the Erl-King  she fears something else has died along with her father; the spectres of Europe communicating a hidden truth beneath the sorrow.

How Pale the Winter Has Made Us rummages through the crumbling ruins of a life, building cartographies of place and death under a darkening sky.

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