Blowing off the dust and cobwebs.

It’s been a while since I posted anything on here. Frankly, it’s been a while since I’ve felt like posting anything. Eastercon was brilliant – I had a really good time – but I was a bit down after it because I know I won’t be attending the big cons over the summer. Eastercon was, basically, it. 

Piling onto that work commitments, hospital appointments, a leaky bathroom, a bedroom plagued by mould (we discovered it was not underlay under the carpet, but *another carpet*, replete with dubious stains and manky damp bits), and just a general feeling of being crushed by everything all at once, I just let the ‘blog go fallow for a bit. You all understand.

In other news, we put Aoife on a swing. She loved it.

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Along with the ‘blog, the writing has taken a bit of a hit over the past week or so. I’ve got a short story to finish, though, so that should be a nice leg up in getting back on it. I’ve been writing/planning a new novel, which – for the first time – has seen me cracking out the index cards to do a bit of planning. Developing some new skills can’t hurt, can it? Also, thinking up names is bullshit. Full-on bullshit. I want a sealed deck of cards covered in interesting, not-weird-sounding names that I can just crack open and start flinging up onto the corkboard. I managed to royally piss off an old WoW friend by admitting that I’d used the name of one of the other Rogues from our raiding days as a character and not him.

I was going to re-start the ‘blog with a book review, but the last book I read was not my cup of tea at all. It made me so angry I was sending all caps DMs to my friends on Twitter just so SOMEONE would know how much rage I felt. While a hatchet job would be cathartic, I’d really prefer to just keep things light on here.

Instead, I thought I’d do a re-read of the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy. The Farseer Trilogy was one of the first fantasy series I read, coming on the tail end of a childhood defined by the vistas offered by our local library’s Withdrawn table*: techno-thrillers (Tom Clancy represent!), South Africa (Wilbur Smith), and horror (Stephen King/Brian Lumley). I was not an easy convert. I had avoided my brother’s complete Lord of the Rings (won as a prize for achievement at school, a beautiful edition which we immediately marred with a splodge of raspberry sauce from celebratory ice cream) and tried to read the Belgariad a few years earlier: I can distinctly remember slapping the book shut after it started on about Grolims.

The Farseer Trilogy worked for me. It was slow going, but I loved it. LOVED it.

So, when a new book in the series was announced, I was pretty excited. Excited enough that reading all six books again before release day (question: to do the Liveship Traders as well, or just the six? We’ll see how the time goes) struck me as a great idea. And since I haven’t ‘blogged on here in a while, I might as well write about it. Just don’t expect much structure or sense to it. I’ve never tried a read-through ‘blog before, much less a series of linked posts.

So, onward!

 

*true story. For a really long time, book shopping meant taking my £1 pocket money and filling a 65L purple rucksack with books.

Eleven percent.

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It’s been a long week.

Let’s kick off with a genuine conversation that I have had with a student this week. An A*-target student.

Student: “Sir, do horses lay eggs?”

Me: “No. Horses do not lay eggs.”

Student: “So how do they breed? It’s not like they give birth to little tiny horses.”

Me: “That’s exactly what they do.”

Student: “They’d need a uterus for that. And a vagina.”

Me: “That’s exactly what they have.”

Student: “Don’t be stupid. *People* have vaginas, not horses.”

This conversation is pretty much my week, in microcosm. Like I say, it’s been a long week.

So, yeah. Other fun stuff that is happening: my kidney function has tanked somewhat to the titular eleven percent (way to bury the lede, I know). This means lots of appointments with nurses and consultants who are all very, very keen to discuss my “options” with me, which is a hilariously euphemistic way of saying it’s transplant time, with a potential side dish of dialysis, schedules to be announced. I thought a post appropriate so that I don’t have to endlessly explain on Twitter once my tweets start becoming really cryptic and hospital-centric.

It’s one of those things I’ve known has been in the post for some time. I was told by a consultant in 2009 that I would need a transplant within 3 to 5 years and it just so happens that a majority of that time has actually passed, much in the same way as the 90’s feel like last week but are, in fact, a decade and a half distant.

I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole thing, even though it’s been looming for sometime. It’s not like I have much choice in the matter, though, so might as well get on with it. I dissemble beautifully in a hospital situation. Outwardly phlegmatic, inwardly shitting it. Again, something of a microcosm, albeit one with a more personal slant.

The pamphlets the hospital send out are a joy, though. There’s one that’s obviously been written by someone who is probably far more comfortable writing copy for selling spectrometers than they are writing about renal failure, as the resulting document is quite dark – far more than they intended, no doubt – with its surprisingly upbeat bullet-point list of what happens to the human body if you decide to refuse treatment.

So, anyway. Yeah. That’s what’s happening, or will be.  As you were, internet.

Thinking about Thought Bubble.

ThoughtBubble

 

So, the family and I popped across to Leeds at the weekend for Thought Bubble. Actually, that’s not entirely true. We went across for a small section of Thought Bubble, which happened to be the first day of the convention (Saturday) but the second-to-last day of the festival entire.

I really, really like it. I’m not a huge comics fan – I very rarely read them, either in digital or print form – but I love fantasy art. Even if I was indifferent to that, though, Thought Bubble would be worth a visit. I see some of my friends there, for a start, and it’s always nice to see people in meatspace every so often. This year was a bumper crop for conversations, and I spent a lot of time with the ever-excellent Alasdair Stuart and the talented-and-outright-bonkers Jenny Gyllblad. I also met new people! I met an awesome English graduate called Lorna who was collaborating with her brother on a Star Wars inspired comic (with a great pitch) and chanced across someone working on their NaNo novel – a book where every chapter correlates to each of the major arcana in a Tarot deck.

I also got to see so much stuff. The convention is very different to every SFF convention I’ve been to as the major attraction of the event is the dealer’s room. Rooms. In fact, the vast majority of the convention is three massive rooms, all crammed full of dealer tables. The closest comparison I have for it is Woolfest, really. Table after table after table of people ready to talk in a genuine and interesting way about their work (and hopefully sell it at the same time). Even the big names are sat down at tables, which overcomes the issue of access – how do you go up and talk to one of your heroes at a convention? Easy! Just get in the line. Alternatively, come back at the end of the day and say howdy – the 30-min queue for Olly Moss had evaporated by four in the afternoon, and even Kelly Sue DeConnick only had four or five people waiting.

It’s a really young convention, too. Cosplayers? Tons of ’em. Kids that I have taught? A couple (that was weird). Roller Derby! Colouring In! Space to sit down!

I don’t know what the take-home message from all this is, because I don’t organise conventions or sell books/art/knitting. I can’t say for sure if much of it – if any – would translate to the SFF book world, much in the same way that knitting shows do not. A designer like Ysolda Teague can rock up at a relatively small knitting show and sell every single one of her 75 page, self-published books for £20 a pop (with almost every buyer paying a little extra on top for a photo with her)*, but that kind of success just doesn’t seem to have an analogue in the print world. I think it would be really interesting to see some kind of breakdown from the artists themselves regarding what sells and what doesn’t at this kind of event,** but I’m guessing that anyone lugging boxes to a convention is going to stay tight-lipped about that sort of thing. Inasmuch as art isn’t a competition, sales definitely are.

But yeah. Thought Bubble. Great con, as it has been for the past few years. Yet again, I was unable to go to the party which is (apparently) one of the great highlights. Maybe next year.

*not their own photos, btw – they had a printer set up to print out the picture taken so it could be stuck in the book next to her signature.

**I know there’s a whole world of theorycraft around how to set up dealer tables – from optimum position in the room to creating a display that draws in and sells to the passerby.

Any excuse to post GIFs, really.

So! Let’s get off on the right foot here. I really enjoyed the Agents of Shield pilot. As a bridge between the longer format (and canon) of the movies and a weekly tv show, I think it did really well. It was fun and didn’t take itself too seriously and Coulson was exactly what a show like that needed to give it that twist that lifts things above the standard level of tv fare.

But.

it did lose me at one point. Very close to the end, and no, it wasn’t the flying car (although I did suddenly get an urge to watch Kopps again.*)

There’s a kinda, sorta maxim in fantasy writing** that magic should be consequential. I’m paraphrasing a lot of other people here because generally the saying goes that magic should have rules, or magic needs to have limits. I don’t agree with either phrasing, because I’m kind of fond of the idea of magic being this wild and limitless thing, but I do agree with the concept that whatever you do with it, there needs to be something else going on.

The same thing applies (for me) to science-y woo in tv and movies. I am perfectly happy with credit cards that can open any lock, cameras that enhance beyond their resolutions, “computer hacking” as an essentially meaningless thing that can be done in seconds by rattling out a few lines of code. I am fine with all that because they are nothing more than window dressing.

Here’s an aside. I watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol the other day. You know what I love about that movie? The Renner stretch.

Renner

 

 

 

 

 

(This one’s for you, Lou!)

Okay. Renner aside, the movie is packed to the gills with science woo gadgets and – here’s the fun bit – most of them don’t work. The corridor gag dies when more than one guard is in Line Of Sight; the rubber mask machine dies on its arse; the contact lens camera irritates Brandt’s eyes and gives them away; the climbing gloves slowly fail as the sandstorm begins to pick up around the building. Nothing goes right for the disavowed IMF team and every time it happens the stakes are raised.***

Back to Agents of Shield. Near the end, Science Bod Leo Fitz informs Coulson that there is no way of stopping the reaction that is consuming Mike’s body. Either they kill him, or he will explode and cause a major incident. Coulson retorts that it’s unacceptable – that they need to find a third option and find it fast. This is all fine. We’re racing unstoppably towards two conclusions, both of which are – to achieve viewer satisfaction – just not on. Everyone has to live, and the team have to find a way to make that happen that (according to Fitz) defies their expertise.

But then we see Fitz and Simmons in the lab. Fitz is running a sim and panicking****, Simmons is telling him to calm down, and in the foreground a magic fucking bullet is being loaded in a press. That single shot lost me. Right there I knew there would be no difficulty in succumbing Mike. There would be no consequence, no price to be paid. Science woo would pull through – an impossible solution in an impossible deadline – and all that we had to do was wait.

Which was a shame, because I enjoyed the rest of it. Apart from Skye’s excessively perfect hair, of course. Did she park her van next to a salon? What the fuck was that all about?

 

*Swedish comedy from 2003. It’s hilarious. Trust me.

**I say kinda, sorta because if you’re REALLY, REALLY good then you can just do whatever the hell you like and still have it work.

***also the bit with Simon Pegg’s inflatable arm kills me. The simplest tricks are the best.

****side note – if they can run simulations of that complexity, how about Coulson being an artefact of a SHIELD training sim used to prep potential agents (Ward, Skye, Fitz, Simmons) for the field under the supervision of a desk-bound field agent (May)?

Stay awhile and listen!

Warning: picture heavy. Mobile users beware.

Today the family unit took a trip to Riveaulx Abbey. I saw it mentioned on Twitter a while back and realised it was fairly close to where we live, so we decided to go. It was such a nice day for it, as well, it seemed a shame to spend the day moping and playing rock, paper, scissors over who has to do the chores.*

So, we drove up to Helmsley. Well. We drove up to Malton, got diverted by a closed road and went in a big circle but eventually we got to Helmsley. Lots of narrow roads, lots of 14% inclines – before we did anything else I had to go sit in the cafe.

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After a spot of rejuvenating tea, we made our way out to the abbey itself.

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It is massive. Even with all the drawings and plans mounted around the place, we struggled to imagine what it would have looked like when it was complete. It’s just so big! There’s an exhibition centre off to the right of the path that starts off talking about how the lives of monks were austere and spartan at first, but after a couple of centuries they just went wild. Wild for a Cistercian monk, that is.

The audio guide was good, but I was so disappointed to discover that no-one had slipped a Diablo gag into it. Not even a whiff of impeity!

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Aoife was so impressed.

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Yeah. So she’s a bit young for it just yet. I was impressed. Everything about the place just screams “epic sword fight AND/OR spooky ghost location”.

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Ghosts! Sword fights! Inexplicable inclusion of kung fu and parkour moves! Lightning!

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We even found the remains of the stairwell from the Kurgan/Ramirez fight from Highlander.

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Bonus Aoife picture!

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I thought it was unusual that the website listed the cafe as one of the high points of the giant ruined abbey, but it was. Giant pot of tea! Chutney and brown sauce made at the abbey! Local bacon and sausages! One of the staff coming out of the kitchen and taking Aoife for a walk so that we could eat in peace! Brilliant stuff.

As a special treat, Lisa bought me a notebook that I intend to use as a bible for all the random fantasy novel worldbuilding facts that I think up.

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Just look at it! Notebooooook. So exciting.

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So, yeah! Lots of fun. Next time, Castle Howard!

*spoiler: me. I do.

Things change. People change, hairstyles change, interest rates…fluctuate.

Again, bonus internet points if you can identify the movie I’m quoting.

So Worldcon was on this past weekend, and thus the fields of genre discussion have been a little touchy this week. It’s nice to see that the majority of discussion exemplifies the oft-repeated advice for authors and other industry professionals to try and keep their tempers in check and not say anything online that they wouldn’t say to someone in a pub. Even if we all disagree, at least we can get along.

Well, most of us can. On the upside, you can gauge quite well who is likely to give you the time of day if you talk to them in the bar at a con and who isn’t based on their online conduct.* Someone who goes from zero to explosively insulting in three tweets flat is probably one to avoid.

Anyway. Tom Pollock (author of The City’s Son and The Glass Republic, available in all good stores now, buy them, seriously, what are you waiting for) wrote a ‘blog post last night about world building. It got me thinking about the stuff I have been writing and am planning to write in the future. More specifically, it got me thinking about magic.

What I’ve been writing of late is fantasy, but there’s no magic in any of it. I’ve been worrying about that because one of the big hallmarks of fantasy is that it’s a space where magic can exist, and as a fantasy writer it feels like I have a duty to put magic in.

The thing is, for these projects, I don’t particularly want to. I think I can achieve pantsless crazy  (good term) and create something fun and satisfying without it.

For example, Gunslinger Symphony is an alternate-earth western. There’s no magic, but what I have done is transpose almost all of the scientific development of the 19th (and early 20th) century to post-Civil War America. Mass nostalgia for the boundless energy of the gold rush combined with some leaps in scientific discovery have created a second rush, but instead of gold the commodity is ideas.

Of course the first thing people say when I tell them this is, “oh, steampunk,” but I’m loathe to apply the label because although steam power certainly exists, it’s not the driving force. Everything that’s in the book has existed, in one form or another, in the real world – I’ve just switched it all around.

Okay. Okay. Maybe I need to give you an example. Gregor Mendel was a monk and a pioneering geneticist who very famously crossed pea plants. He also worked with bees, and spent a lot of time trying to breed bees that produced especially delicious honey. The latter plan didn’t go so well, though, as he ended up breeding bees that made tasty honey, but were also incredibly aggressive.

So, in Gunslinger…, Mendel ends up accidentally killing the abbot at St Thomas’s and ends up in exile in the US, still trying to breed the perfect bee.

Long story short, KILLER BEES.

Note: this is not actually Gregor Mendel.

Gregor Mendel, beekeeper and ninja

Similarly, the draft of The Spirit House (terrible placeholder title, I know, but it has the BEST first line**) I pulled out a few weeks back is fantasy, but it isn’t terribly magical. It’s full of spiritualism and madness and dances along the line between the rational and the supernatural. It’s not about magic being real or not, but more about how the world is shaped by belief.

I guess my point is that it has taken me a long time to get used to the idea that fantasy doesn’t necessarily need to have magic. All it needs is to be is fun.

 

*Caveat: talk to them in a “normal human interaction” way. When I was at Eastercon a guy came up to me in the bar and asked who my agent was. No “hi”, no introduction, just “you have an agent who is it tell me.” I told him (because it was a very easy way to get rid of him) but I made sure to add, if you do submit, please don’t do it like you’ve just approached me. I felt embarrassed for him, really. He just laughed and said “it’s okay, I’ll tell her you recommended me.” EPIC CRINGE.

**which I will probably edit out.

I think the word you’re searching for is “Space Ranger”.

So I was talking to a workmate today and she was asking a lot of questions about writing – about research and editing and so on and so forth – which prompted me to ask if she was writing anything. She wasn’t. Her twelve-year-old daughter, though…it turns out that she writes virtually non-stop, and when she’s not writing she’s reading or talking to anyone within earshot that will listen about it.

That’s the spirit, I thought.

I was kind of at a loss when she asked me if I could recommend resources or events that would be suitable for encouraging her, though. They had been to an Anthony Horowitz event and really enjoyed that, but author events in the North East tend to be notable for their scarcity. She asked if there were any workshops or groups that would be suitable, but all I could think was, at twelve? Needless to say there weren’t many things I could think of off the top of my head that would be age appropriate or successful in helping her interest along. The local theatre does a young playwright’s workshop but that was it as far as I could recall. If anyone has any suggestions, they would be gratefully received.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway. So I’ve been thinking about ways to a) up my writing tempo and b) get better at it. I’ve been sitting in a kind of limbo state tinkering with Gunslinger… since I finished editing the Fantasy novel and other than that just jotting down the odd idea as they come to me I’m not doing that much else. I’ve been reading where I can, but it feels like I’m not pushing myself forward. I need to do more things, and challenging things at that if I want to improve.

On the news front, I’ve got a story coming out soon in Dark Fiction Magazine, and another in Fox Spirit’s Tales of Eve anthology. I’ve been thinking of doing some more short fiction and my notebook is slowly filling with scribbles as I toss ideas around. I’m still toying with the idea of trying to hunt out a local writing group, if only to keep myself from spamming my Twitter friends every time I have a neurotic outburst, but it’s still the case of finding one. I would have liked to have kept up with the York Nanowrimo group, but it clashes with my other half’s knitting group and it’s a bit of a trek.

So, um, yeah. Things. Stuff. Less procrastination required. More words. Better words.

But first, tea.

Thought Bubble 2012

Last year, I went to Thought Bubble for the first time. I’m not a massive comics person, really. I think the most regular comic event in my childhood was the Oor Wullie and The Broons annuals and in spite of the regular endorsement of my friends I could never quite settle into the serial format. In fact, there’s only one comic book arc that I have read in its entirety, and that is Mr Hero, The Newmatic Man. 

Still, Leeds was close by, and as the number and quality of webcomics has increased over the years, I’ve found myself making more time for comics and cool art. Plus, genre is a small place and you never quite know who you are going to run into. I met the rather excellent Alasdair Stuart in the flesh at the last Thought Bubble, which by itself made the trip to Leeds worth it. I also picked up some lovely prints, some of which I still haven’t found frames for, and generally had a very good time.

Fast forward to 2012, and when Thought Bubble rolled round I decided that it would be worth going. That decided, I discovered that work (or lack thereof) had left me fairly skint, so I shelved the idea. In the end, my brother and his wife stepped in and sent me the money for a ticket and rail costs, and I was able to go again.

The first thing you notice about the con is how young it is. Their enthusiastic embrace of the cosplay community means that the average age is a lot lower than I’ve seen at the other UK cons I attend. I don’t know how this translates into business for the stalls around the show, but I did see a lot of the cosplayers clutching bags of stuff, and there seemed to be a much swifter trade in things like badges and accessories than I would have expected. The upshot is, though, that they were welcome, and they were having a great time. Granted, I did roll my eyes when someone started putting a Gangnam Style parody video together, but that was about as cynical as I managed to get.

Jennie Gyllblad. Please note, these are not actually her feathers. It’s just a fascinator. Again – not a bird-person

I spent a lot of time with the Clockwork Watch gang. I’ve known Jennie Gyllblad for a while from a SFF forum and Twitter, and had her do a commission for me earlier in the year. She’s really lovely and enthusiastic, terrifyingly energetic, and always fun to talk to. Also she makes great art! Buy her stuff. She introduced me to Serena Obhrai, who is collaborating with her on a comic that should be coming out in 2013, Elysia, and Yomi, the relentlessly charming collaborator on the Clockwork Watch who was sporting the waistcoat of the event. It was also good catching up with Corey “Every Molecule in the Universe will Meet Eventually” Brotherson, who I would have talked to longer but he seemed to vanished without trace around two, and meeting Peter Thompson, who seemed to have the same idea as me (hanging around the Clockwork Watch stand stealing chocolates).

I met Kate Ashwin and Robin Pierce, who write Widdershins and Curia Regis respectively (see links), and they were lovely to meet and talk to. Both write historical adventure stories set in the 19th (Widdershins) and 18th (Curia Regis) centuries and I’ll be catching up on their stories so far online.

I also saw Emma Vieceli, who I met at Alt.Fiction earlier in the year, and picked up a copy of Dragon Heir: Reborn (buy stuff). I didn’t have much money this year, but I thought it was a good investment. Her art is amazing – I was watching her draw as she was talking to people, selling books, etc; considering she was being constantly interrupted it was mind-bogglingly clean and precise – and the Dragon Heir book looks great. Lisa doesn’t read as much manga as she used to, but she seemed pleased with it as well.

Another thing I bought was Forgotten Muse, by Tanya Roberts. She’s worked on the Star Wars comics and has a lovely art style. I also commissioned a sketch from her, a slightly cheeky request for a sketch of the main character from my own work-in-progress – I’ve been using a folder full of art from the Gunslinger Born as inspiration while I write, but it’s proving to be a bit darker than what I’m writing. I thought it’d be interesting to give a very vague description of Symphony and then see what an artist would come up with. Thankfully she didn’t think it was cheeky in the slightest.

Sadly, I couldn’t stick around for the evening do or today’s events (including the launch of Adam Christopher’s first comic), but I thoroughly enjoyed what I did see. It’s a really fun event, with lots of things to see, an insane number of pretty shinies to buy, and everyone seems to be having a great time. One to mark in the calendar for next year.

Alt.Fiction 2012

I have a special place in my heart for Alt.Fiction. It was the first con I ever went to when I decided that I was a) sick to the back teeth of simply walking into bookshops and trying to psychically divine what books I should buy and b) sorely confused about what the hell I was doing with regards to the desire to write things and have people other than my brother read them.

It was very hard going, that first con. I don’t think I talked to a single soul for the first three hours after arrival until I finally recognised someone from an internet forum and then trailed in her very understanding wake for the rest of the event.* I did, as hard as it was to get started, enjoy myself immensely and resolved to keep coming along to events like it.

My con experience had changed somewhat in the two years since.

I think Alt.Fiction has been the first con I’ve been to where I have managed to miss every single panel. I did make a determined effort to attend the New Writer’s panel, but due to space issues it was not to be. Other than that, almost every single moment of my weekend was spent talking to people and having a great time doing it. This is not a criticism of the con and the content of the programme; it just turns out that’s the kind of person I am. I perpetually found myself either catching up with people I knew, getting to know better people I had kind of met before, and meeting entirely new people altogether. Since it’s a fairly small convention and a fairly small space, the event and the venue were perfect for doing just that.

I made a resolution a while back to deliberately not talk about my own writing at cons, if only to avoid the “please don’t pitch at me” look that crosses the faces of other con-goers (particularly industry professionals), although I’m now beginning to think that it may need some revision. One of the high points of my convention was being introduced to Ken MacLeod, who I am an enormous fan of and was struggling to think of things to say to for fear of going “you know what, I read Learning the World so many times that the book fell to bits and I had to buy another copy”. Having overheard me talking to Anne Lyle about writing, he asked what I was working on. Lacking anyone else nearby to high five about this, I found myself blathering through the world concept for Gunslinger Symphony without ever getting to the point of the story. Way to go, I thought, but no damage seemed done.  I think there’s something exciting enough about the words “frontier scientist” that it can survive two minutes of ill-thought blather.

I would like to say I improved after that, but really I didn’t. Anyone who asked about my writing rode out the ensuing blast of interesting but not entirely necessary guff about science communications on a wave of their own patience and goodwill towards me. It occurred to me later I should really take a leaf out of Tom Pollock’s book – not literally, of course – as he was able to talk in a very engaging, passionate, and direct way about his book (and the one after) that made me a) want to read it immediately and b) grind my teeth into dust out of sheer envy. Ironically, he did go on to talk about the Long Price Quartet, and asked if I knew the feeling you get when you read or talk to another author and their ideas just make you feel insanely inadequate and jealous at the same time. “It’s not just you,” I said.

I took part in a lunchtime flash fiction reading, which I thought went rather well. I came up with the title back at the SFX Weekender, where I suggested to Lou Morgan that three minutes is not enough time to tell a full story, and that the build of tension could be faked by frontloading a scene with a squick-inducing title that doesn’t pay off until the very, very end. Thus, Mister Ipkiss and the monkey who poops pomegranates, was born – a tale in which everyone is waiting with bated breath for the moment when a primate shits fruit. It worked, kind of, and I was glad I chose it over the other, more meta effort that was a bank robbery told in real time called, unsurprisingly, Three-minute bank job blues.**

Adele and the rest of the team behind the convention deserve massive congratulations for the event. I think they pulled off pretty much exactly the right mixture of space to event to attendance that meant as an attendee I always felt busy and never felt as though I was missing out. I spent the weekend with some incredibly enthusiastic and interesting people, and have come away from it feeling charged up and even more excited about the world of SF/F than ever before.***

I would love to mention people specifically, but I just can’t. I’d be at this keyboard until Wednesday. Please, go to my twitter feed @mygoditsraining, go into my “following” tab and just start following people. They are all there, they are all genuine, excellent people, they are all worth talking to and getting to know and if you ever find yourself at a table with one or more of them you will never be disappointed in the conversation.

 

*There is a Swedish phrase for people like this. It translates to “goldfish poop”. Apt, if you’ve ever seen a goldfish poop.

**I blame Cowboy Bebop for the repeated occurrence of (NOUN) (MUSICAL TERM) titles.

***Although after two late, late nights on the trot I now have a sinus headache that has put me on the couch with a duvet and the curtains drawn. Enthusiasm has its limits.

Owl-stretching Time

For Lisa’s birthday, I bought her – amongst other things – a half day’s owl handling at the Falconry Centre near Thirsk. Lisa likes owls, which means that every birthday or Christmas she gets at least one owl-themed thing from someone in her immediate family. Obviously I had to get in on the action.

Warning: extremely picture-heavy post follows. Mobile internet users beware!

Continue reading “Owl-stretching Time”