This Thursday is the UK publication day for A Heart Bent Out of Shape, and I wanted to do something on my blog to mark the occasion. Last year, for The Book of Summers, my dad - the talented artist Alwyn Hall - painted a beautiful picture of Lake Balaton, one of the settings in the book. Throughout the summer I then ran recipes for some of the Hungarian food that appears in the story, from Marika's Raspberry Cake to Cucumber Salad and good old Goulash. So what to do for A Heart Bent Out of Shape? The answer, as it often does for me, lay in 'place'.
The Swiss Sketchbook is a series of ten pictures that I've commissioned from Alwyn Hall (yep, My Dad again). Each image in the series is based on a line from the novel, and all revolve around location, location, location. Throughout the pages of The Swiss Sketchbook we’ll go from Hadley’s first giddying view of the city, to the Lausanne lakeside, to a snow-dipped mountain dreamscape, to a flower-bright spring. The mediums and styles will always be different too, from pen and ink, to watercolour, to thickly daubed poster paint. I’ll post a new picture every couple of days, through until the end of September, so do check back and see the landscape of the novel unfold.
When I’m writing, I almost always begin with place. Conjuring the spirit of somewhere, capturing its essence, painting a picture with words… these are a few of my favourite things. If reading A Heart Bent Out of Shape succeeds in bringing Lausanne and its environs to life for my readers, and I truly hope it does, then perhaps these sketches will go one step further. For me, they’re the perfect meeting of description on the page, and one reader’s imagination. A reader who just happens to be handy with a paintbrush…
I hope you enjoy this drawing tour of Lausanne and La Suisse. Without further ado, here’s the first page in our Swiss Sketchbook...
‘It is about a city; a place at once fairy-tale and reality-bitten, glorious and imperfect, sun-soaked and winter-whipped.’
From A Heart Bent Out of Shape, page 3
About the artist:
Alwyn Hall studied Illustration at Northampton followed by an Art Education degree in Manchester. He taught Art for several years and worked on the North West Region Curriculum Development Project. This led to a year of educational research in Cardiff. On returning to Manchester he exhibited paintings at the Northern Academy and other public and private galleries including a successful one-man show at the University. He and his wife then moved to Devon where he took up a Head of Department post in a large Comprehensive School. Much of his work, inspired by the rural area surrounding their home, consists of detailed representational drawings, paintings and linocut prints. The most exciting project of the last decade, now nearing completion, is a lavishly illustrated collection of his own poems and songs.