Dark Angels Note 70

Dearest Friends,

Welcome back to our weekly Dark Angels Note.

This week we turn our gaze westwards to hear from our very own superstar, Richard Pelletier.


1. Tell us about something you’re working on right now. 

This won’t come as much of a surprise to some, but I’m working on the fourth draft of my novel. One of the truly great experiences of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. ‘Will he pull it off?’ Stay tuned! In my day job, I’m doing some writing for the wildlife veterinarian who led the project that brought the wolf back to Yellowstone National Park.


2. Can you recommend something for us to read?

Two books.

The Loser is a short novel by the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. It’s absolutely bonkers. He’s a true original. Not for everyone, but if you wade in and read everything you can about it, you’ll learn a ton about writing.

What About the Baby: Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction. A brand new book by the novelist Alice McDermott. Supremely intelligent, learned, and, as they say, ‘actionable.’ One of the great treats of books like this is becoming a better reader.


3. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever read or received? 

“….when Nabokov makes a distinction between “what the book is about” and our “artistic appreciation” of the book, he is separating our reading of the subject, story and characters — the book’s aboutness — from our appreciation of the book’s so-called artistic qualities, the details we would notice if we looked at a novel the way we look at a painting.” By which he means patterns and recurring imagery.

This is from an essay — “How to Read, How to Write” by Nabokov. I found the citation in an essay by the Canadian writer, Douglas Glover. That piece is “The Novel as a Poem”, which I highly recommend.


4. Share one thing you do when you get stuck.

I keep a kind of Commonplace Book in Scrivener where I have tons of stuff like the bit above. When I’m stuck or struggling with motivation, I dunk my head in there. It’s a treasure chest of wonders and never fails to inspire me.


5. What’s your desert island book and why? 

Love in the Time of Cholera, by Marquez. George Saunders has said that “something significant and undeniable should happen to you between the time you enter and exit the box.” So it is here. Even Thomas Pynchon swooned.

Thanks RP. Great recs. Good luck with the novel and we’ll need to hear more about that wolf vet.


Dark Angels Online Advanced Course

Join Richard and Jamie on the Advanced Online Writing Course this Autumn. A guided journey into language and storytelling, there’ll be a mix of live online sessions, fast-paced writing exercises with time built-in to work on a personal piece of writing.

Two-hour sessions, twice a week, for one month.
Dates: each Monday and Thursday, November 8 – December 2
Time: UK 5.30 – 7.30 PM; US E Coast 12.30 – 2.30 PM; US W Coast 9.30 – 11.30 AM
Fee: £795 / E895 / $1095


October Starter Day 

On 20th October at London’s October Gallery, John and Neil plan to host an in-person day of writing. This course is designed as a first step into the world of Dark Angels. But if you’ve worked with us before and just need a day of face-to-face wordy creativity, we’re happy to give returning angels a 25% discount. We also have one 50% discount spot for a scholar – that’s someone new to writing or can’t afford the full fee. Spread the word.

Timings: 09:30 – 16:30
Fee: £475

Interested in either of these courses or a scholarship place? Contact Susanne.


Dark Angels Gatherings

Our Tuesday night gatherings are off and running once again. Same time as before (7.00-8.00pm in the UK), but with a new Zoom link. If you fancy an hour of connection and reflection in the company of other Dark Angels, you’d be very welcome; bring a friend too.

Be well, keep reading, keep writing and know that we’re always here..

From everyone at Dark Angels

Also published on Medium.