Titles in the Creative Writing Studies series benefit from the advice of our editorial board. Catching up with the edboard is a brief series of posts where members of the editorial board tell us about their recent work.
Niyousha writes: Professor Graham Mort teaches Creative Writing at Lancaster University. He has won the Edgehill and Bridport and Short Fiction short story prizes.
An earlier collection, Touch, written over a twenty-year period, was essentially a garnering of published work. Terroir was written over a concentrated period of about four years and, although a number of the stories have been published, was a very different experience in terms of authorship and collation.
The title story works as the key to the whole. Terroir is set in the wine-growing region of Burgundy and makes subterranean reference to Dionysian excess and sacrifice. I’d become fascinated by the French concept of terroir – the idea that each wine has its unique territory.
But terroir is much more than the sum of geology, climate and aspect. It reaches beyond to culture and history.
As my character says, ‘It was the land and everything that had happened to it.’ It’s a short step from thinking about terroir in terms of vintage to thinking in terms of character: each one of us emerges from a unique configuration of place, time, culture and nurture.
Like many titles, this one was retrofitted, but it gave a sense of connection to stories that are widely separated in time (from the Middle Ages to the modern) and location (from Europe to Africa). Other connections are less visible to me as an author, but the violence, frustration, sexual temptation and menace of the title story extend to many others.
The exploration of consciousness has been a preoccupation in this new work: the play of awareness and memory over place and time, the insight that characters have or repudiate in relation to their own actions.
I don’t think it’s an easy read, but redemption lies in the sensual texture of experience – ‘life bursting in his mouth’ – that, again, relates a fateful sense of ripening.
For more information about Terroir, please see: http://www.serenbooks.com/productdisplay/terroir