Steven Hobbs

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I am the author of Stone Ties, a passionate tale of history, mystery and romance, where the past reaches out to claim its own; The Lanese Print, a murderous tale of retribution and faith, cruelty and compassion, stretched out across Europe's tarnished Golden Age; and The Moon Key, a short story of the tragedy of loss and enduring love. Presently I am researching and plotting my next novel, and writing a collection of short stories. I also blog at http://stevenhobbsauthor.com/blog/ I grew up in Yorkshire, studied in Birmingham, and have lived in Oxford and Worcestershire most of my adult life. It’s been a life fuelled largely by a passion for the countryside, for history and music, and for the arts and crafts in all their wonderful manifestations. These early passions set me on the road to collecting, to researching, and subsequently to writing. My earlier writing includes a number of Art History articles for journals, including The Book Collector and The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies.

Stone Ties - An Extract

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Simeon had lived in Norwich since completing his PhD and for the last three years in this old house in Tombland. Norwich was a touchstone for him, to say it was his muse would have embarrassed him, but it suited and inspired him, anchored him to his spiritual and aesthetic roots. A city of duality, sky anchor; stone anchor.

Norwich languished beneath the expansive East Anglian skies that he missed more than any other thing when away from home. Skies that shrank the earth to a mote; that overpowered his senses, that made him reel under their immensity, their protean beauty. Walking on any East Anglian beach transported him to a place of infinite horizons. Land became an incidental, a mere vantage point, something to be resented in its feeble attempt to anchor and restrain. Once walking from Southwold to Walberswick he’d reached a particular point on the shore, back to the sea, a point that overlooked the expanse of the common and beyond it the gentle leafy undulations of the Suffolk countryside running down to Blythburgh. The sky had overwhelmed him wholly, left him standing in dumb incredulity. No words, no words, just……sky. At once subjugation and belonging, the place claimed him.

That day he’d picked up a small heart-shaped flint, pierced with a tiny hole, and put it in his pocket. A thumb-stone, both soothing and catalytic. A talismanic hag-stone to conjure up this place. Stone figured significantly in Simeon’s world. Its beauties and contradictions had held him, steered him for much of his life. Wonderment at the case-hardened sheen of razor-sharp flint fragments strewn on the Suffolk beaches of his childhood had not diminished, but had nurtured a consuming passion for stone in all its manifestations. Its vocabulary delighted him; knapping, flushwork, coffering, quoin; evocative words of resonance and beauty. Stone spoke to him; it formed a geological synapse between him and the earth, pulsing and vital. It provided the bedrock and the foundation in its raw state, it succumbed to the chisel and mallet to fashion the city. And Norwich rose in walls of stone.

The Bridewell, with its northern aspect forbiddingly faced in black knapped flint had confronted the city’s citizens and elements alike since the late 14th century. He often caressed its walls with his fingertips, glassy and uncompromising, with the sheen of oil on pitch.  Churches, cobbled sets, city walls, cloisters peopled with animate carved roof bosses; Norwich’s rich vocabulary was one of stone, and Simeon was fluent. He knew its colloquialisms, understood its nuances, and sensed its timeless foundations. Tombland, the place where he lived, even the name was redolent of stone’s ability to enclose and confine. Stone anchor.


 

This extract is taken from Stone Ties by Steven Hobbs. If you'd like to read more, or purchase a copy on Kindle, please click on the following link - Stone Ties

To read reviews of Steven's work, please click - Steven Hobbs Reviews

© Steven Hobbs 2014. All rights reserved.

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© Steven Hobbs 2014

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Belonging, the Waistcoat and the Working Man

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Great Grandpa Butler was a farming man. Here he is in his working clothes with my Great Grandma. The little girl in the foreground is my Grandma.

When I was around seventeen I shunned the loons and starry T-shirts (yes, I’m of a certain age) for a more eclectic style. My sister’s Levis were suitably faded and worn and, bless her, she let me borrow them. Topped-off with an old denim shirt, or a collarless cotton pull-on shirt, the whole ensemble was completed by a dark-grey waistcoat of impeccable vintage. It had come from my Grandfather (the little girl’s future husband), a coal miner and member of the colliery rescue team. I wore that waistcoat with a certain pride. I thought I looked the part (cool in that sense had yet to enter the vernacular), and treasured it, even sporting his old watch-chain from time to time. In time his old brogues came my way too.

Looking back I now recognise the true value of that grand old weskit. It wasn’t the simple cut of the cloth, or the somewhat bohemian air it lent me. No, it was the honesty of the thing, the blood connection to a proud line of working men, an unrecognised badge of belonging. Wearing it forged the link, that final link in the chain that binds me to these men. It eventually went the way of much from that time; I dearly wish I had it still.

Such belonging stays with you though; it seeps into your consciousness as sure as your awakening awareness of mortality. The need to re-connect assumes a more urgent necessity, subconsciously though inevitably. And as I trudge the highway from young to old fogey I retain a fond weakness for the honest clothes of the working man.

I placed an order this week, an order for a charcoal-grey waistcoat and a navy drill shirt from Old Town in Holt. Though my ancestors may dispute the fact, I reckon a writer’s some sort of working man.

Deep Harmony was my Grandfather’s favourite tune. I shall hum it when I slip the weskit on.

(First published on 17 January 2014 at Steven Hobbs Blog

Copyright

© Steven Hobbs 2014

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
The thing about genealogy is the light it sheds upon our own characters, why we (can) do what we do, what draws us. In the process... Read More
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 18:07
Steven Hobbs
Fascinating Rosy - and I love the "body warmer" anecdote! Oh how times change Best regards, Steve.... Read More
Thursday, 02 October 2014 10:25
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One Leaf Falling

One leaf falls, black mote upon the breath of time. In melancholy’s dark dance it drifts and shifts. I lift my eyes and trace the eddies through its sinuous descent. From below all colour’s charred upon the dull furnace of the cloud-racked sky; beneath my feet autumn’s vibrant counterpane awaits.

I hold out a hand, adjust, step forward; hope consummated in the aerial flight.

Behind I sense the tower. Firmly rooted it soars, looming in scraperboard monochrome, jackdaw-crowned and cloud swaying, tipping me off kilter, reducing me to this. I place a hand upon the stone, trace a finger along the mortar line, and invite the infusion of time and place and wonder. What hands? I think, What rough caress shaped and set?

Above, bough and leaf speak the sea’s tongue, squalls counterpoint the sighing rush. Autumn’s siren song turns me again, as one leaf returns to earth. Emblazoned in ochre-red and glistening it rests, evading, un-captured.  

The loss of a wish draws down like an anchor, and roots me in loam and turf. Boot toes darkened by yesterday’s rain. Spirits dulled in exquisite suffering. Self-pity a welcome mantle of the season, wrapped sensuously, enveloping.

Torn between living wood and dead stone I stand. One, testament to perpetual re-birth; one, raised in monumental death. And so I choose my path, and take death’s hand. Dark stone on skin. Dressed block upon soft palm. Soaring aspiration dwarfing searing doubt.

Then, with cries darker than the oak’s ancient heart they fly. Jackdaw black. Swirling amidst the new-stirred leaves. The tower draws my gaze upwards towards the rough-hewn blade that ploughs the clouds, and delivers its selfless gift.

I reach out my hand and catch her; sister to the one leaf falling. Dream’s fulfilment.

Make a wish.

Copyright

© Steven Hobbs 2014

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
This is such a rich, original and picturesque configuration of fact and feeling, atmosphere and dreaming. The juxtaposing of image... Read More
Wednesday, 24 September 2014 18:19
Steven Hobbs
Thank you Rosy. I love the beguiling melancholy of Autumn, and couldn't resist writing this yesterday.
Thursday, 25 September 2014 13:37
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Creativity In A Flash

Last year I was delighted to win the Non-Fiction category of the Indie Book of the Day (IBD) Flash Writing competition. It was very much a new departure for me, and a curiously demanding exercise in condensing down my thoughts and feelings.

Here's my winning 50 word entry on the process of creativity:

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Sublimation

Empower your receptive mind; feed it through open eyes and ears. Enable the sublimation from spirit to substance. Capture the essence in your chosen form. Spin it, invert it; never reject it. What if? How? Why? And when it. Rest it, mature it, subliminally consider it.

Ready? Write it.

Copyright

© Steven Hobbs 2014

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Latest Comments

Monika Schott A rickety bridge
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Thanks, Di.
Diane Rampertshammer A rickety bridge
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Pure poetry - very evocative - you are a painter with words..Di
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Thanks for the comments. Rosy -- I look at this sort of social conversation as a healthful thing for...
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This is almost like a memory of birth, reviving those sensations, but translated in imagistic terms....
Rosy Cole Lamenting the Lost Art of Conversation
12 November 2017
Oh Ken, how rare that is! A gift. What a lovely sojourn in the byways and an unexpected exchange of ...

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