Of Writing, Gardening and Hope

After years of work, of living the story rather than merely writing it, my family saga Where ‘People Still Dance’ is closer to being read by others. Originally, ‘Where People Still Dance’ had the working title of ‘Where People Once Danced’ but the long and sometimes turbulent story of the Craighall’s turned out to have a happier ending than I thought it would, and so ‘Where People Still Dance’ became the title. Whether the saga that involves four generations of the Craighall family, and moves from late Victorian England to present-day Zululand, South Africa is as fully realised as it needs to be is a matter of which I am not entirely sure, but I am confident that the Craighall’s, those living and those no longer with us, will let me know if I have left out anything that still needs to be told. I am sure they will communicate if needs be. My journey with them has been a fascinating and, often, an exhausting one.

At the same time, Craig Carden’s intimate love story ‘What the Sun Saw’ which unravels in Oman, India and England, looks as if it is nearly done. It has its brilliant, happy moments under the sun (and the moon too) but also its deeply sad ones. Has all that needs to be told been told. Craig Carden is not entirely sure and merely says, “We shall see.” In between writing, the garden gets attention. As four of the photos show, winter in KwaZulu-Natal can still be colourful. This large orchid (seen here during the day and at night), the poinsettia, the crassula, and the azalea are all flowering now. The Indian Hawthorne and the amaryllis tend to flower in early summer. In time, may ‘Where People Still Dance’ and ‘What the Sun Saw’ come to bloom just as brightly.  I live and work in hope.

To those of you who write and, indeed, all who create – Happy creating.

Andrew Pender-Smith and Craig Carden

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Happy New Year

This is by way of saying ‘Happy New Year’ to everyone, and most especially to all those who visit or follow Green Monkey Publications. May it truly be a creation-filled 2022. From Andrew Pender-Smith, Craig Carden, and Sebastian de Vervet of Green Monkey Publications.

At least two new works, one from Andrew Pender-Smith, and the other from Craig Carden, are due out this year. We will let you know about them later in 2022.

Image credit: Igor Kasalovic on Unsplash Free Images

Eyes, Fish, Writing and Painting

Several paintings, a book cover, and a swirl of tropical fish.

Dear Reader,

Over the years I have had many people ask me why fish appear so often in my poems, short stories, novellas and novels. These include those written under my own name and the two books written under the pseudonym of Craig Carden. A lot of my paintings and drawings include, or wholly involve, fish. Why? The answer lies in my early childhood and involves something my mother did during a time when I was experiencing severe eye problems. Here is the story:

My fascination with fish, often bordering on the fanatic, began as a young child. Between the ages of three and a half and nine, I had to undergo several operations to my eyes. At the conclusion of each operation, my eyes were heavily bandaged. I could not see for about a week after my first operation and for two weeks after the second. Whenever the time came to remove the bandages, I was always filled with a great deal of expectation. Finally, I would be able to see again. It was strange to be looked after in hospital by people who I learned to recognise by voice only. As I lay in the dark, I spent a lot of time imagining what they looked like.

Following my second operation, as was done after the first, the bandages were removed in an almost-dark room so that my eyes, unused to the light for some time, would not hurt. The hospital room had blinds and they were slowly, slowly opened to allow more and more light to filter in. Even though this was all gently done, my eyes felt as if they were being stabbed. The first thing I saw after the bandages were carefully removed, and the blinds were close to half open, was a bowl of colourful fish. They were being held by my mother who had bought and then carried them into the hospital for me. As I got used to looking into the light again and the pain began to subside, I concentrated on the moving colours right in front of me: red, black, orange, blue, silver gently moving in and around brilliant green water weed.

The bowl with the little fish stayed beside my bed until I was ready to be discharged about two days later. They were two guppies and two red wagtail platies, and they made the journey back with me from seaside Durban to rural Zululand, a place of rolling green hills, citrus trees and sugar cane. The car was a station wagon and I lay in the back all the way home. Every hour we needed to pull over so that ointment could be administered to my eyes. We also used this opportunity to check that the fish, placed in a plastic bag for the journey, were okay.

To this day I have never been without fish. My mother had unknowingly begun a lifelong hobby. Today, many, many years later, I have several tanks in my bedroom and the fish are the last things I see when I go to sleep and the first when I wake up.

To those of you who write and paint: happy creating.

Andrew Pender-Smith

You Will Follow Us

sunrise-morgenrot-skies-bird-59967

You Will Follow Us

We are birds in a tree.
Shooting, trapping, pollution
and building have destroyed
most of our kind.

For the moment, those left
sing happily,
but one by one we are going,
going, going…

One day you will not hear us sing
and another sound will be heard –
it will be of the world caving in,
not bit by almost invisible bit,
but with a tired roar,
and you will have followed us into
oblivion.

Andrew Pender-Smith

One of my greatest concerns is of the need to conserve the environment. Those of you who read Green Monkey Publications posts may have read ‘Popping Off’. If you have not yet done so and you would like to read it, you will find the poem by scrolling down. 

 

 

Miss Whoop Whoop! and the Jumping Pumpkin

Miss WW A+ (3)

‘Miss Whoop Whoop! and the Jumping Pumpkin’ by Craig Carden. Set in two of the most buzzworthy nightclubs ever invented, ‘Miss Whoop Whoop! and the Jumping Pumpkin’ is a wild romp of unusual characters, fun and games, and catch-me-if-you-can theft and deception. As the partying goes on, including dancing, gaming, talent contests and much more, a brilliant mind is at work. Someone extremely clever is outwitting the owners of the Jumping Pumpkin and the Ice Castle. Crime after crime takes place and the identity of the thief becomes an increasingly frustrating mystery. Just who is this most bizarre of thieves and how are they managing to crack the club’s security codes?

In reading ‘Miss Whoop Whoop! and the Jumping Pumpkin’ you will find yourself on a mind ride like no other.  See where it takes you. It has also been made available through Draft2Digital to ten other publishing platforms. I hope you can join me and Craig Carden in wishing the story of Miss Whoop Whoop! good fortune.

 

 

 

Finding and Using Your Own Voice

turquise voice

Finding and Using Your Own Voice

The best writers put themselves into their writing. They may learn from other writers, and use what they have learnt, but their best writing comes from within them. This is because they have found and used their own voice. Discovering and using your voice can be difficult but, ultimately, the truer the voice, the better the writing. To those of you who write: the best of writing times to you.

An additional note:

Why this particular image? The photo of the sea and sky taken from high above symbolises freedom and openness. In this instance, it is the freedom to create and to be. This applies to people in the other arts, too.  In finding and using your own voice, you will be at your creative best. You might find it difficult and, at times you may think it impossible, but if you work at it, the reward could well be yours and that of any one who engages with your work.

Happy creating,

Andrew Pender-Smith, Craig Carden and Sebastian de Vervet.

Green Monkey Publications