The Standing Ground — Jan Fortune
In a near-future world without privacy or freedom, life is unravelling for Luke, a teenager whose questions and individuality have no place in surveilled society. When a virtual encounter with a girl who claims to live beyond the all-controlling grip of E-Government, sets him on a quest not only for answers, but for escape. But is Alys real? Why are there echoes of her world in his father, Nazir Malik’s home, especially since Nazir is a celebrity artist trusted by E-Government? And what role can characters from Celtic Arthurian legend possibly play in saving the future? Most urgently, can Luke overcome the threats that surround him and find the Standing Ground?
A wonderful novel… a fresh rendition of the future that draws on technologies that are currently emerging… and on Arthurian legend… akin to Philip Pullman’s street-smart, other-worldly creations, complete with convincing, humorous and likeable characters… a gripping read.
Jan Fortune was born in Middlesbrough and grew up in Redcar. She read theology at Cambridge and completed a doctorate in feminist theology at Exeter University. Jan has worked as a teacher, priest (ordained at the first ordination of women to the CofE) and charity director. She is the founding editor of Cinnamon Press and has edited around 400 books and led numerous creative writing courses in the Wales, the UK (including courses for Arvon and Ty Newydd), Spain, France, and online. She mentors writers from beginners to highly experienced, across genres and hosts a writing community, Kith, that includes weekly prompts, courses and inspiriation for the writing life via her site Becoming a Different Story.
Her previous publications include non-fiction titles in alternative education and parenting and the major book book for writers: Writing Down Deep: an alchemy of the writing life (available as both hardback and paperback editions) ; the novels Dear Ceridwen and Coming Home. Her previous poetry collections include Particles of Life (BlueChrome), Slate Voices (a collaborative collection with Mavis Gulliver), Stale Bread & Miracles, Edge (a companion to Adam Craig’s Year W), and Turn/Return, a pamphlet inspired by Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards. Her most recent work is the Casilda Trilogy of novels, which includes This is the End of the Story, A Remedy for All Things as well as For Hope Is Always Born, and the spin-off, stand-alone novel Saoirse’s Crossing.
Her cross-over novels re-envisaging the Arthurian legends in a near-future authoritarian UK are The Standing Ground (originally published in 2008 and being relaunched here in a new edition in autumn 2021) and The Roots of the Ground, written during the first UK lockdown as a live project with a group of writers as daily audience for first draft readings, and also due out in autumn 2021.
She is currently working on a haiku and lyric sequence tracking the seasons of a forest.
Jan is in the last stages of qualifiying as an aromatherapist, about to begin her second intensive apprenticeship in herbalism and is currently training as a yoga nidrā teacher. She lives in a surviving area of ancient forest in Finistère, Brittany.