Hey, everyone! Did I tell you I’m doing a podcast? Well, I AM, and it’s been a HOOT. Follow the link above to listen to Episode 3, which is a sordid tale of monsters, clashing cultures, and cannibalism. Go! Hurry!
One drizzly November morning, I sat down to a Skype conversation with the lovely Hannah Kate. Now, Hannah wears many hats, and one of those hats is as a presenter for North Manchester FM. She and I have shared email correspondence for years, as (under another hat) her small press Hic Dragones published my novel The Tattooed Wolf, but we have never actually spoken – words, sounds, jokes, stories, tangents, all those lovely things.
The interview was scheduled to take two hours. We didn’t even start recording for the first hour — we just chatted as if we’d known each other forever, trading tales of fireworks and Guy Fawkes and strange neighbours, and suddenly realized that time was passing quickly, and we were having so much fun that we hadn’t even noticed.
So Hannah started recording, and the conversation shifted to books, werewolves, landscapes, nature, murder, and my choice of reading for the Apocalypse. Good times! The interview was broadcast this morning on North Manchester FM, and I haven’t listened to it yet, but if you’re here because you heard us talking… Welcome!
Conversely, if you haven’t heard the interview yet, then you (and I) will be able to find it at the North Manchester Listen-Again site.
We continued to chat after we’d recorded the two-hour interview, and I’m sure we’ll have more conversations in future. I think it’s a magical thing, when two people race straight past the awkward small-talk to have a real, funny, inspiring conversation, and while we’ve known each other for years and years, I’m really happy we finally met!
I’m a day early, but tomorrow will be busy, so forgive me if I sneak my best wishes for a healthy, hearty, happy New Year in a little earlier than everyone else. Over the past two weeks, I’ve discovered a couple of things. I’d like to share them with you, here at the close of 2015.
(1) Saga – oh my! How did I miss this remarkable graphic novel? My sister-in-law gave me two of the five issues, and I think that’s just cruel, getting a girl hooked on a fantastic story and then leaving her hanging! What have I done, to deserve such torture? The art is superb, the characters are compelling, and as a 40-something mom, I love the way they’ve incorporated children – historically an underrepresented demographic in comic books – into the tale. Graphic novel readers are getting older. We’ve left our carefree youth behind, taken on new and exciting responsibilites. It’s kind of cool to have a story that reflects those experiences.
(2) Podcasts – I love podcasts. I’ve been listening to a ton of ’em. I want to make one of my own and I have stories to tell. That’s all I’m going to say about that at the present time.
(3) The Third Book – the third novel is underway, following Bucket of Blood and Mark of the Magpie. I’m planning to release it in the autumn of 2016, but we’ll have to see what the year ahead holds. I love being back in 1898, hanging out with Lizzie. She’s probably the craziest of all my imaginary friends.
(4) Spine – I am in really bad physical shape. That has to change. I mean, I know everyone starts their new year with vague resolutions to lose weight or jog more, but I’m serious, I need to change my habits. Since November, I’ve spent a couple of weeks flat on my back, nursing an old injury to my lower spine that I incurred in a tragic bed-related accident over 15 years ago. Basically, the act of sitting for too long in a poor chair flings me into apoplectic fits of agony – if I want to continue to write books, then I need to be active, too. So watch out, 2016. I’m going to be outdoors more. Doing what, you might ask?
(5) Detecting – While flat on my back, I did a lot of crochet and started watching a British television show call ‘Detectorists’. I didn’t tell my extended family that I loved the show, so I’m confused by how they knew to buy me a metal detector for Christmas, but I can honestly say it was the BEST GIFT IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. I actually squeaked when opening it. Of course, it’s December in Canada and there’s snow on the ground outside, so I haven’t taken it out of the box yet, but I CAN’T WAIT for spring. By all the goats of Thor, it’s going to be EPIC.
So on that note, let me take this opportunity to wish you and all you hold dear a very Happy New Year, and may we cross paths again in 2016. Can you believe it? 2016! We’re living in the future, with casual space travel and talking robots and face transplants and bacon-flavoured seaweed. That’s pretty awesome. Let’s live a little longer and see what else turns up!
After months of researching, I’ve decided to leap into writing the sequel to ‘Mark of the Magpie’, spurred on by that most-wonderful-of-annual-writing-challenges, NaNoWriMo.
Writing is normally a solitary pursuit. November, therefore, has become a time of intense community interaction, with writers from all over the world chatting and supporting each other and spending countless hours with their characters, having fun and rejoicing in creativity. Sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas, the novel-writing challenge is just one more reason to love autumn.
So, I’d say ‘I’m not going to be here much in the weeks ahead’, but I haven’t been here much in the weeks behind, either. If you’re writing in NaNoWriMo too, then good luck! And if you aren’t, then happy reading to you!
Fox Spirit Books has put up my second Monday Methods entry, this one about Time. Or, at least, time spent with those who inspire you, be they real or imagined…
Pop on over, have a read, and if you’re so seized by the inspiration, please share and like! Go on, don’t be shy!
Most days, I am swimming on the surface of a vast lake, and I can see the bright sky above me and my body is strong and it’s fine. Beautiful, even. I’m just doing my thing, swimming in the sunshine.
And then, there are some days when I remember I am swimming, and the water reaches down, down, down below me. I don’t know how far it goes. I can look down and see the infinite layers underneath me, holding me aloft – so much history, so many people’s experiences, so many different perspectives – and I marvel at how vast and unending it is. The lake is not just made of the surface waves made by my own little paddling; it’s much richer and deeper than I can even comprehend. I struggle to see it all, understand it all, experience the fullness of it all, but I can’t. However, just the knowledge of the lake’s incredible depths makes my own swimming seem small and special in comparison.
And then, rarer still, there are days when I remember that deep underneath all those layers of water, there is something in the blackness. I sense it. I’ve never seen it, but I know it’s there. Perhaps I feel the faint vibrations of its languid movement, a mile or so below my skinny kicking legs, and my animal subconscious registers the tremors, gives me a warning, makes my heart beat a little faster. I know it’s there. I don’t know if it’s waiting for me. It may not even know I am here, I am so small and insignificant. But I remember that I used to know something I’ve forgotten, something that hovers at the edge of my perception… something large and powerful below the currents of history.
But all I can do is keep swimming.
I’ve written three essays on writing for FoxSpirit’s Monday Methods, and the first one, ‘Space’, is up! Go have a look, and leave a comment about the things you need to feel comfortable in your own writing space … I’d love to know!