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Ongoing series

Hi lads and ladies! Did you know, the downside of a four month long embroidery project, where you spend all your evenings sitting on your backside (except Thursdays – I do line-dancing now) is that when it’s done and you think “yay, I can go for a run!”… really what you can do is go for a wheezy speedwalk and a bit of a shuffle. I have never been the consistent gym-bunny type. So I have never been in top running form, that’s why I’m trying to work on it. There’s no way I can make myself get up and go before work (I’ve tried) so I usually go on Wednesdays and at the weekends. Twice a week probably isn’t doing much, but as I said I’m also line-dancing on Thursdays and my job involves a fair bit of walking about. Hey, this “average woman in her late twenties who has never given birth but who kinda cares about herself just not obsessively, y’know, with vegetables and not eating takeaway every night, but without a gym membership or a fitbit” bod isn’t going to Instagram itself!

In the meantime, I’m drinking my first morning coffee out of a lovely TARDIS mug, which was a surprise present from some of the leavers at work this week. They know me so well… I’m also going in to work soon. Yup. I was planning to stay last night and do some stuff ready for Monday, but it turns out no one had told me my section was being used for important meetings yesterday (to which I was not invited) so I had to go home. So yay for Saturday trips to work! The sun is going to be out all day, so where’s the best place to be on a day off? Walking? Town? Outdoor activity of any kind? No for me! I love that sweet sweet stuffiness of my workspace, with its tiny opening windows and the lack of internal airflow! Gimme some of that!

Not to over-exaggerate. The sun might be out but it’s still only about fifteen degrees and I’m still using the winter-weight quilt and an extra blanket on my bed. Winter never blooming left North of the Wall.

Also on the go, I’ve been taking photos of the projects I’m working on, so that when they can be revealed I can show you the journey. We’ll see if I can keep up with that…

Finally (I saved the best for last) I’m now on the ARC list for Katie Cross! Her third full Network novel is coming this autumn! Super-excited. The series is about witches and politics and old family mysteries. The first (Miss Mabel’s School for Girls) …don’t let the title put you off. This isn’t a girl Harry Potter. There’s a school in the middle of the magical woods and Bianca Monroe is a new arrival. No one ever sees the beautiful headmistress, Miss Mabel, but they’re all in awe of her. The pupils are working towards skill specialisms, called Marks, which appear as tattoos on their wrists when they’re passed. That way, you can see a witch’s skills immediately. There’s this political underbelly though, in that the country is split into five provinces (Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western and Central) and there’s trouble brewing. Border raids, thefts, stockpiling resources… there’s a war (or at least a coup) coming.

It’s a bit like Howl’s Moving Castle in a way, in that the main characters are the focus and there’s stuff happening in the background that you don’t realise til later is actually driving the action. The characters make decisions and do things that are logical and seem normal, but then you realise that they’re because of something they don’t even know about. And as the reader you’re given the information they have, and the information they don’t know they have, because it doesn’t occur to them to think about it properly.

The second, Antebellum Awakening, carries on immediately where the first left off. It moves the action from the school to the centre of the government, and there’s a whole load of new and horrible turmoil to go through. The progression of the characters and the story works really well, you can tell it’s all planned, and not “well it was a school last time, now what do I do?”. There’s a lot of family drama, too, with Bianca and her father, and the problems they’ve always had. But it doesn’t feel contrived and like a moral lesson, it’s part of the plot and also shows the reader a lot about their society.

And there’s a strong, mainly female cast, if you care about that sort of thing.

So that’s all going on. Time to go and pretend to do my hair (can’t wait til it grows out! NEVER shave your head for charity. Get all your fingers broken instead) and think about all the stuff I need to do at work. It’s clear out day! And notice board change day! Wooo!!!!

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Being continued

Hello, folks! I have had a very busy and yet kinds not-busy week. Flurries of activity with still time to chill. The best thing of course is that following a huge four-month embroidery project, I have very much enjoyed Not Sewing. I like sewing, and making pictures with thread, and the daintiness and the colours and making stuff for people, but I also appreciate the lull after its all done, where you discover all your free time.

Herself is away on holiday, so I’m planning to make the most of the empty flat and get some preliminary work done on Rivka’s Christmas present. Yup. That’s the big project for the next six months. I can’t really talk too much about it in case she keeps updated with this thing, but I for one am super-excited by this. It’s a bit different from things I’ve done before, but I hope I can pull it off. I’d better, or she’ll have no Christmas present!

Also need to get working on a birthday present for my friend. He also dips in to the blog so I can’t say much about that either. I know. Useless!! But I really want to tell him what it is!! I am resisting for now, but I have to keep quiet on this until July and it’s really hard!

What can I talk about then? Well, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention books. I went to town yesterday, popped in for lunch to my favourite cafe, Velocity, and then went for some big sheets of paper to get my templates drawn out. And I bought two books. Oops. I bought Longbourn by Jo Baker, and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson. I have read The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and very much enjoyed it, so I’m hoping for another good one. I couldn’t stop myself from diving into Longbourn though. Anyone who knows me a little bit will know I love Pride and Prejudice. This book by Jo Baker is a story set within the parameters of P&P but it’s all set from the points of view of the servants. So you get major event signposts from the original story, but the focus is on how it affects the Downstairs world. Yes, there is a lot of complaining about scrubbing stains out of petticoats, but the people Below Stairs have their own lives to be getting on with. It also shows how privileged the Bennets were, and in some cases how unthinking. For there to be ribbons and darning and all their comforts ready exactly when they’re needed takes a lot of work. Last-minute plans create fresh hell for already overworked serving staff. I’m two-thirds through and intrigued.

For now the sun is out, though if the weather is similar to yesterday it’ll no doubt lash it down again within half an hour. Not enough time to walk to Meryton without getting soaked. Curse! How will I meet an eligible officer if the weather remains so unobliging?

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Status and Stasis

Hey, guys. Confession: I’m probably never going to be a writer. And that’s OK. I just started a sentence with “and”, for Christ’s sake; look at the evidence! That’s not to say I have stopped writing or that I never intend to finish any of the many ongoing projects I have. I enjoy writing and I feel like I have stories worth telling. I just can’t stick to writing as a sole creative outlet.

So I’m planning to restructure this place as a more general creative space. I have a number of projects that are textile-based that I’ll be talking about, as well as things about writing. It’s a sad time but also a happy time. I haven’t been active on here or on Twitter for months and months. I can’t claim that this is a space I want to use as a professional tool.

I am really happy about the friends and acquaintances I have made so far: E O Higgins, Ivory Quinn, Rivka Spicer (though I do know the last two IRL), Katie Cross, Julie Hutchings, Rich Ford, and the lovely people at Opening Line Magazine who published some of my poems. Not to mention my writer-in-crime JA Garrett whom I’ve known the longest of all of them, and apart from his wife I’ve probably read more of his stuff.

For a long time, writing prose and poetry was a saving grace for me. I can’t draw to save my life, but I could paint pictures with my words *vom*. However, I’ve always been quite craftsy. I have made wedding and birth records, countless friendship bracelets, clothes, toys, Christmas decorations, bedding… so despite my lack of 2D visualisation, I work quite well in 3D. I re-upholstered my own headboard!

My time and energy these days is more and more devoted to Stuff I Make With My Hands. I’ve got a few birthday and Christmas projects I’m very excited about. Priorities change, I guess? If I ever get to the end of writing something I’m excited about, you’ll be the first to know. But in the meantime prepare for photo blogs of stitching and rants about Hobbycraft.

And probably some more Book a Day things. Because they’re fun. The books are never going to go away.

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Another Year Over

Currently listening to: Maroon 5, Songs about Jane Time for Addison’s Big Fat Review of the Year. Let’s just gloss over the three months of inactivity. It’s not like I’ve been lying dormant for all that time. Here’s a quick run-down of stuff I’ve been doing:

  • Following on from the Battlefields trip I went on over the summer, I got to direct a performance of Private Peaceful with the kids at work and they moved pretty much everyone to tears. They were genuinely so mature and clued up and they did a fantastic job.
  • I failed NaNoWriMo spectacularly.
  • I’ve been researching sewing projects
  • Lining up to do costume design for Alice in Wonderland at Easter
  • And of course I’ve been reading

I’m lucky enough at the moment to be test reading Rich Ford’s latest Steelhaven book, Lord of Ashes. In preparation, I re-read the first two (Herald of the Storm and The Shattered Crown) and am pretty sucked in to the world. I was sat at the station during a three hour delay (damn you, Kings Cross!!) reading The Shattered Crown and actually reacting out loud to things. Quietly, mark you, for I am British and a seasoned traveller, but still out loud. This of course gives me a massive run-up for Lord of Ashes so while the book I’m currently reading is still settling in for the big set-pieces, really we’re already in the final third. So I’m enjoying that. Thanks, Rich! Cheque’s in the post.

Also I’ve been abusing my audiobook privileges and listening to Discworld. And I started re-listening to Ready Player One again again the other day. I like it because Wil Wheaton is a very soothing narrator and I can listen through the words and concentrate on sewing stuff and drawing without worrying about missing anything because I’ve heard the story so many times before. Last week I got the chance to give books to my nephew for Christmas. He got Stick Man and Zog, both Julia Donaldson, and he loves them. Various family members who were silly enough to sit down in his presence have had both books thrust upon their laps repeatedly. He’s at the age of ONE STORY A MILLION TIMES OVER IS NOT ENOUGH so for the entire journey home on the train (and in the station – damn you, Kings Cross!!) I found myself thinking in rhyme.

For Christmas I got only three books. I know. I almost cried. One was a recipe book (thanks, mum!) but the other was a translation of an early Bestiary. I know what you’re thinking: awesome! And it is! It’s got lots of footnotes which is good and the translation is done by T H White (the guy that wrote The Sword in the Stone) and he’s quite funny. The most interesting thing about the bestiary is that pretty much every animal provides an example of either a) how to live in a more Godly and Christian way, or b) an aspect of Christ himself. Religion and real life were so very intertwined. Did you know that Jesus is like a lion, panther, tiger, pelican… and the Holy Trinity can be represented by doves in a tree? It’s all fascinating. The last was a lovely shoebox surprise from J and his wife all the way from America. Republic of Thieves!! Not opened it yet but I promise to follow the instructions you put in the card, J!

Through October I was lucky enough to go to the wedding of two friends, meaning that I also got to unexpectedly meet my god-daughter for the first time. I spent a lot of time that week getting deep into emotional stuff and visiting the people I love the most in the world, which was an amazing time. I built some connections that I hope will last a lifetime.

November was such a tiring month. I know I have previously posted about making time for stuff that you really want to do and if you don’t make the time clearly you’re not that bothered. I think NaNoWrimo is becoming one of those for me. This is the second year in a row that I have failed to get to 50k, but I’m not letting it get me down. I did accidentally write a really creepy story in November as an aside, when I was meant to be doing my word count. Oops! But on the other hand, more stories await.

At the moment, I’m listening to fellow Team Squirrel associate from NaNoWriMo 2012 talking to himself as he does some programming. It’s nice to see Bryan this side of the Atlantic, and in my living room eating me out of house and home. Time for a kitkat and a cup of tea as I ponder the next batch of sketching for Sewing 2015. I did quite well yesterday at marking out a design on fabric but I still have some more to do before I can start threading needles. I feel like I say this for every project I do, but if I can pull this off, it’ll be the greatest thing I’ve ever done. And then there’ll be something else. Even if I’m not writing as much as I should, or as much as I used to, it’s good to know that the creativity is leaking out somewhere. I don’t think there’ll ever be a time where I’m not creating something. I hope not. I like my brain bubbling away. And I like that more often than not it’s thinking about making beautiful things (and beautiful things for other people).

So here’s my New Year’s Resolution for 2015: keep plugging away. There will be some testing times ahead and for now I’m alone to face them. This year has been an emotional minefield and while I have just sort of deliberately cut myself off from the best thing in my life, I have done it for a weirdly cognitive dissonant reason. It was very selfish and in the interests of my own sanity, but it was also for the benefit of the other person because we were torturing each other, and who needs that? So while I’m facing the midnight bells in a very sad mood, it’s a sort of zen sadness, because I believe that 2015 will be a better year and that the trust I have in the person I’ve cast off from will be upheld. I am keeping the faith, albeit in a box. Happy New Year everyone. Scribbly scribble!

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Book A Day Challenge Week 3

Yes, this is a sneaky attempt to post my last two Book A Day collections… only… a fair whack late… but it has been one hell of a busy summer. It’ll be non-stop until the middle of October, I fear, and then WHAM, NaNoWriMo. I’m looking forward to it this year, I think, and have no idea what I might attempt to write yet. Though I failed to hit 50k last year, I’m hoping to do better in 2014 and it has really taken the pressure off, as I came through a defeat and shock horror didn’t die of shame.

Back to the books…

 

Day 15 – Favourite Fictional Father

Father Chains (Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora)

Father Chains. Legend.

Father Chains. Legend.

There was a lot of love for Atticus Finch, and for Moominpapa as well, but for me the only choice is Father Chains. He’s a Father in the priestly sense – but not for the god you think! – as well as looking after the child criminals he’s training up to be the best conmen Camorr has ever (not) seen.

He clearly cares for the boys, but he doesn’t take any of their bullshit either. Chains appears in flashbacks in Lies, but it’s clear his influence still lingers… He’s a bit of a mystery; he served in the Duke’s regiment, so he knows how to fight, but he is also an intelligent and articulate man who knows a handful of languages as well as academic mathematics, court etiquette, haute cuisine and espionage. We get the impression he learned a lot of this stuff for the sake of the con, and not because he necessarily wanted to, and in Lies we never get to really see his ultimate motivations, just that he definitely has some and that something in his past is pushing him on.

I’m glad Lynch has put together a couple of short stories about the past adventures of Father Chains so that we can learn more about him.

 

Day 16 – Can’t believe more people haven’t read…

John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things

 

I picked up this book on a whim at WH Smith once, and as usual the unplanned choices come out as winners. I have blogged about TBOLT before, in comparison to The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, and as far as I’m concerned, TBOLT comes out of top. Connolly has created a mini-Bildungsroman where a boy must go to a fae realm to rescue his baby brother and that fae realm is really creepy!

What I love about it is the way Connolly twists existing fairy tales: Snow White’s dwarves hate her and are Communists, Red Riding Hood and the wolf created a race of halfbreeds by luring other girls to lie with wolves, there are monsters to be slain and an evil trickster to defeat… plus there is this unsettling undercurrent that comes from the boy, David, wondering if his protector knight is gay. The book is set during WW2 in the human world, where homosexuality was a dirty, secret thing, and David can only work from the preconceptions his father has told him (the usual homosexual/paedophile conflation for the most part) so he becomes suspicious of their friendship and there’s a real twist of the knife in the reader’s heart about it (in mine anyway!). It is an excellent book and one I heartily recommend to you all.

 

Day 17 – Future classic

Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies

Erin Morgernstern, The Night Circus

David Benioff, City of Thieves

I see the future!

I see the future!

Yes, I picked three. Warm Bodies has already been made into a film, of course, but the original story itself is worth a read. It’s part Catcher in the Rye, part Frankenstein, part Les Belles Images (yes, I have read Simone de Beauvoir) and all of those are classics, so it shouldn’t take long… I think it would be an excellent book to study in schools or sixth form in the future (Gooooooooove!!) as a critique of consumerism, social isolation, and the fear of future mindlessness of “2dayz youff”.

City of Thieves is the (fictional) memoir of a Russian in 1942, in the winter (that famous winter that was the death of so many German soldiers and turned the tide of the war in the East), written by the soldier’s grandson. The story takes place over a week and takes many bizarre turns – there is danger and real desperation of course – and it is in many places hilarious. It isn’t quite a shaggy-dog story, but as a “buddy movie”, “road trip” sort of book set in another time and place, it could one day be a new Of Mice and Men.

The Night Circus is a difficult book to explain, and a quick straw poll of those I know who have read it gives it mixed reviews. Rivka wasn’t keen, but I love it. It has all the obstacles-to-love and class issues of Wuthering Heights or Persuasion, but with the added bonus of being set in a magical circus. I KNOW. The story builds slowly, with a lot of time to admire the scenery, which usually drives me bonkers (Thomas Hardy!!!!) but hey, magical circus! Using illusion-filled tents to court your soulmate… who doesn’t want that?! It isn’t just a romance, though, there’s the magical duel side of it as well, and the mechanics of the circus itself. Gorgeously rendered in black and white with splashes of red.

 

Day 18 – Bought on a Recommendation

Andrew Mayne, Public Enemy Zero

Read this!

Read this!

I cannot help but read this book all in one go every time I read it. Even though I have now read it four or five times, I still get just as sucked in to Mitch’s story and the thrill of the chase. As the title suggests, the protagonist, Mad Mitch, is Public Enemy No.1 and also a “patient zero”, except his weird disease doesn’t affect him but rather turns everyone around him into a rage zombie intent on literally tearing him apart. It is a what-is-the-government-secretly-testing-on-us, bio-terrorism, race-against-time, classic mid-nineties thriller action film book. I am so glad someone told me to read it.

 

Day 19 – Still can’t stop talking about…

Rivka Spicer, Marked

Book 3 soon????

Book 3 soon????

I reviewed this book a while back, and yes it was written by my flatmate. Rivka writes all kinds of books but the one I’m most eagerly awaiting is the book after Marked, because I really want to see how it resolves itself. Marked is the second book in Rivka’s series about a young female witch with enormous power, and the Establishment of witches, and the way they try to control her. I figure if I drop enough hints around the house, it’ll get bumped up her writing schedule.

 

Day 20 – Favourite cover art

Josh Kirby Discworld covers

Parchement covered Abercrombie

UK hardback of Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Lovely covers!

Lovely covers!

Again, I picked three. While I also like the Paul Kidby Discworld art, the amazingly detailed Kirby covers are a major part of the scene setting for the books. The cartoon grotesque, the striking colours, and the attention to detail give you a super punch before you even open the book. I know he worked on a lot more besides those covers, to me Josh Kirby is Discworld just as much as Pratchett is.

I love the simplicity of the parchment cover editions of the Joe Abercrombie First Law series. They are simple but that sets them apart from the usual warrior-on-the-cover of most fantasy (and of the Chris McGrath versions. Grrr.) novels and they look so classy! Good job on that front, whoever managed to push the concept through.

The UK editions of Laini Taylor’s trilogy are beautiful. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is my favourite, though. It is covered with long, delicate, textured, glimmering feathers. It is perfect for the book. The blue and smoke colour palette combines with the fronds of the feathers and the mood of umbra that suffuses the story. Plus, it’s about angels.

 

Day 21 – Summer read

Terry Pratchett, anything Discworld

I have a preference for the middle third of the Discworld series, around Witches Abroad to The fifth Elephant because that’s when he really hit stride, in my opinion. Jingo and Feet of Clay are my two ultimate favourites. You can pick up a Discworld book and happily spend hours at the beach, in the garden, on a train… they’re easy to read but not without weight. Don’t read too much Vimes in one go though, or you will end up Knurd.

 

Week four hopefully out before Christmas! She says, only half joking…

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Geogromancy

It might seem weird that for all I read it, I tend not to write much that is what I would call High Fantasy. I’m talking Feist, Hobb, Goodkind, Gemmell, Le Guin, Rothfuss, Martin, Jordan… epic world-building and magic and dragons and warriors and all that. I think the trouble is, I’m too afraid of either completely ripping them off, or not being up to that standard.

Fantasy novels (mostly Gemmell and Pratchett) were a massive part of my adolescent development and influenced my philosophy of life. Kids need to read more fantasy, as a side note, when they’re young enough to not be total bags of disillusioned cynicism yet. A good dose of good-vs-evil, honour and chivalry (NOT equivalent to sexism, btw) would work wonders.

Anyway… I don’t write high fantasy. I did start one, once, back in my Gemmell years, that I had a good plot lined up for. I have a similar outline for a different book with the same plot mechanisms in a notebook somewhere. But they’re just random doodles, anomalies. I greatly admire those who can fully immerse themselves in such an epic.

I don’t have the discipline for that. I don’t have the patience. I live in the real world too much, even though I don’t think I do (can’t remember the last proper social occasion that wasn’t online or with Rivka and Ivory) and I can’t block it out. That’s precisely the reason I read high fantasy. I get that escapism while I’m in the pages and I come out feeling refreshed and ready to hit 21st century Scotland in the kilt. But to devote that much time and effort to a whole different world is too daunting. Maybe if I had the luxury of writing full time and very understanding supporters who paid my rent while I spent weeks on research.

That doesn’t work for me.

I am happy writing what I’m writing. Quril is set in and around a city in which I lived for four years. I don’t need to spend hours on Google maps: I know the streets I’m writing about. Likewise for a lot of Once Bitten, I’ve been to the places I’m writing about. Some geography might get a little blurry for the sake of narrative causality but it’s a world I know well enough to write about. The research has been done already by dint of it being physically in existence.

I know if I were inventing my own fantasy kingdom or world that I would know it well enough to write about it, and no one else could tell me it was wrong because it’d be my world and my rules. This is the one area where my massive control issues work in my favour. Not only can what I decide never be wrong, but it would be completely made up so no one could challenge me on it either.

I’m also too lazy to want to bother with producing a map. In a hypocritical twist, one of my favourite soundbites is to declare that I don’t like fantasy books that need a map and a glossary and a character index. Too complicated! But then with worlds with no maps, or at least not detailed ones, I scour the net looking for them, official or fan-drawn.

As a sop to my fantasy-longing brain, here are some of my favourite fictional worlds:

Stewart & Riddell – THE EDGE/Edgeworld. My uni lecturer once referenced Sanctaphrax and I was the only one who got it. That made us both sad. I started at the beginning, with Beyond the Deepwoods, and this weird world with woodtrolls and slaughterers, banderbears and shrykes… there was nothing saccharine about it. This fantasy world is dangerous. If the trees themselves don’t drug you, the wig-wigs will eat you alive, the shrykes will sell you into slavery or perhaps the Gloamglozer will take your soul. There is rock that is lighter than air – a whole city floating above the land and secured with massive chains – and timber that becomes buoyant when it is burned. Sky ships that are kept in the air because of a flight stone that rises when cold and sinks when hot. For kids’ books there is an awful lot of full-on heartbreaking tragedy. But that’s awesome.

GRR Martin – WESTEROS. Has to be on the list. Summers and winters that last for a decade, all the best and worst of the high medieval period, and also dragons. I did get to this quite late, so it’s not a part of my teenage DNA, but I can understand why each book takes so flipping long to write.

C S Lewis – NARNIA. Can’t miss out Narnia. Sentient animals, fauns, a massive effing Lion! And children get taught to use weapons and can grow up to be Kings and Queens! MUCH better than the Famous Five. I do like Narnia a lot, and am quite happy to read the stories with or without Christian overtones. When I was ten and reading them, I had no clue about all that and still managed to read through them alright. The idea that time passes differently was a curious one for me as a child but is clearly a help if you want to start writing about different characters. It also gives a lot of history for the country. I love the idea that the first King and Queen of Narnia were a London cabbie who was dragged in by accident, and his wife. And the lamppost tree! And the way you can either stumble into Narnia by accident through a portal (though as every child knows, you must NEVER shut yourself into a wardrobe) or be called there in times of need. I can be a bit grumpy about real-world/fantasy world overlap and interaction because sometimes it doesn’t really gel at all well, but it works with Narnia.

Scott Lynch – CAMORR. The Lies of Locke Lamora rocked my world and the setting is a major part of that. Lynch started with Venice and then made it a bit cockney and a bit piratey and a bit alien. I love the Revels and the Shifting Market and the catbridges and the Elderglass towers and the districts and the Floating Grave. Execution by shark and alchemical plants and all the flavours of liquor anyone could want. There are street gangs and priests and a weird calendar system and what I like most, I think, is that the rulers of the City aren’t really involved. They’re mentioned, and they’re in the background, but the story is all about the underlings. The two worlds overlap and come very close to colliding. But they don’t. It isn’t about overthrowing the establishment. It’s about the power struggles lower down the food chain.

Stephen Hunt – JACKALS. I read the whole of The Court of the Air getting to the end of each chapter with no idea what the hell any of it was about, but being sure that the next chapter would illuminate. Jackals is a steampunky, chunky, riproarer of a kingdom. If John Bull had one too many stout ales and vomited up a country, Jackals would be it. Woven within this classic – and potentially pantomimic – Victoriana is a strong element of sci-fi, but also Earth magic. It’s so delicately balanced. There are insectoid creatures below the ground trying to take over, and their clinicial, pheromone-driven lifestyle is at odds with the bluff and boisterous Jackelians. Add to that the weird, folk-legend magic of the Feymist, the sentient machinery (steamdriven, of course) and Crustaceo-humanoids and there’s a whole lot of themes going on. Any two of these in conflict would be enough for a decent plot, but Hunt rams them all in and shakes them up and throws them all over the reader and leaves them to sort out all the pieces and sponge the stains from their clothes.

Sidenote: Also loved the Napoleonic style, raised sea level islands of Britain from For the Crown and the Dragon, though I hated the abrupt ending with no chance of resolution. Going back to that at any point, Hunt? Hmm? OK it’s been twenty years, but dammit, what happens????

Terry Pratchett – The Discworld. I started reading Discworld novels when I was fourteen. Back in the year 2000 there were a fair few to go at. So if we’re talking Addison’s-development-curve, the Disc is about sixty percent of that. Come on – it’s a flat slab of a world, carried on the backs of four elephants, who themselves are balanced on the back of the great Turtle A’Tuin who is slowly swimming through space. Duh. The different countries or states themselves are twisted versions of some semblance of reality – Lancre is a tiny mountain kingdom that is sort of like Switzerland but with a strong element of Yorkshire and Scotland; Ankh-Morpork is any major city (London or New York) with real-world name-checks (Lancaster street names! I’ve seen them!); Ephebe is Grecian; Fourecks is Australian… there is magic and weird science and a lot of cynicism. But it’s almost a second home for me. Daylight moves like treacle, sometimes an extra continent rises out of the sea, and above all else… The Turtle Moves.

Honourable mentions for Earthsea, Clive Barker’s Weaveworld (It’s a rug! But it’s also a dimension!) and Gregory Maguire’s version of Oz. Any favourites of yours?

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Still Alive

Oh, hello, blog. It’s a hazy Saturday morning and I’ve just renewed my car tax.

My name is Addison and I haven’t updated since 15th April. Step one is admitting there’s a problem.

Well, hey, legions of fans *sips coffee* I still haven’t got my stuff off my old hard drive. I might just have to go into a computer shop and get them to take the hard drive out for me. I want my 240k of self-worth back. I keep getting all these new ideas (not just for writing) but with three millstones of unfinished drafts around my neck I’m loath to really get stuck in to anything new.

In the real world, work is also insanely busy. I’m directing a play with the kids. It’s a serious one. So we had the auditions and I’ve just put that aside because there’s a whole new lot of teaching to do and so much to prepare for that.

And I’ve got a load of sewing to do.

I’m at the tipping point of motivated success vs shame spiral. I can go get ‘em! Or I can ignore all the things and hope they go away. Hi there, TV.

Speaking of TV, Rivka and I have had double disappointment recently: they cancelled Almost Human and there’s no season 2 of Dracula either. Dammit. Karl Urban… nooooo… and Dracula really got going towards the end. Even if Lucy did look like a cut-rate Keira Knightley. At least we still have Orphan Black to rely on. Michiel Huisman has just turned up. So that’s nice.

Right. I’m off to work. Efficiencyyyyyy!

 

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