The MK Myth is a novel based on walking Milton Keynes. It has created a new myth for the city and anyone can walk its route and enjoy its fictional adventure, either reading as they wander or in the comfort of their armchair. The novel seeks to respond to the generally accepted misrepresentation of MK as a soulless collection of roundabouts and reveals the ignored mysteries, wonders and tragedies of the city. The book comes with a fully-described route through the city that a reader can follow. Indeed, the reader can literally walk in the footsteps of the central character ‘K’, a young woman who works as a marketing rep in a local company, as she finds herself having to cross the city on foot and discovering a city within the city, a city she had always been so close to but never knew. Along the way she meets a vast array of local characters from Amazon delivery men and wheezy female tour guides to a sixteenth century alchemist and the Archangel Gabriel. She visits a huge array of places from beautiful chapels to hidden wastelands, from suburban obelisks to splendid windmills. The plot of the novel concerns how attempts by ‘K’ to promote her new marketing programme become sidetracked by a war in heaven and how ‘K’ gets caught up in a battle between two motley groups of characters; but are they all parts of her own imagination? The resolution of her dilemmas and predicament is one that the reader plays a part in choosing.
At the Groundwork Weekender 2018, we celebrated the launch of The MK Myth. We followed Phil’s footsteps from MK Gallery, through Campbell Park to Gulliver’s Land as he brought the book to life, reading extracts from the novel and sharing anecdotes from the writing of the work. At Gulliver’s participants of the walk were invited to join Triarchy Press (the book’s publisher) and Phil in toasting its genesis. Other highlights of the evening included a tour of Gulliver’s Land, music and opportunities for people to obtain their own copy of the novel.
Phil Smith is a performance-maker, performer, writer and academic researcher, specialising in themes around walking, site-specificity, mythogeographies and counter-tourism. He is a core member of site-based arts collective Wrights & Sites, who have just published ‘The Architect-Walker’ (2018). He is the company dramaturg of TNT Theatre (Munich) and the author or co-author of over 130 plays. ‘The MK Myth’ is his second novel. Phil is presently developing a ‘common dance for threatened subjectivities’ with choreographer Melanie Kloetzel (Calgary University) and working with ornithologist Tony Whitehead on a novel about angels in South Devon called ‘Bonelines’. Phil’s publications include ‘Making Site-Specific Theatre and Performance’ (forthcoming), ‘Rethinking Mythogeography in Northfield, Minnesota’ (2018), ‘Anywhere’ (2017), ‘A Footbook of Zombie Walking’ and ‘Walking’s New Movement’ (2015), ‘On Walking’ and ‘Enchanted Things’ (2014), ‘Counter-Tourism: The Handbook’ (2012) and ‘Mythogeography’ (2010). He is an Associate Professor (Reader) at Plymouth University.