Showing posts from February, 2018


My latest children's book with Franklin Watts is called "MORE" , and it's a re-telling of the classic folk tale of the magic bowl which fills itself with whatever food you might wish for, as long as you follow the rules which aren't really that difficult. However, there wouldn't be a story unless something goes disastrously wrong. There's a Grimms version of it, involving a poor soldier returning from war, whose bowl is stolen at an inn and then misused, but there are many others.  In my version, it's a greedy maharajah with a serious eating disorder who covets the bowl. and here he is in all his overblown glory, as portrayed by my brilliant illustrator Shahab Shamshirsuz. The maharajah will demand the bowl owned by the young son of a poor family (which of course he gets because they have no choice) and takes it back to his palace in order to stuff himself whenever he feels like it, but oh dear! There is a quite serious problem which only one person

The Dark Lure of Haiti - Andrew Crofts

Poor, tiny, battered Haiti is in the global headlines once more – this time courtesy of a scandal involving aid workers and prostitutes. I have to confess that there have been many times where I have accepted an invitation to a destination simply because I have read and loved a book about the place, (“The World of Suzie Wong” for Hong Kong, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for New York, “Death in Venice” for Venice, “Myra Breckinridge” for Hollywood, “Don’t Stop the Carnival” for the Caribbean islands generally, “The Great Railway Bazaar” for the art of travel itself, and so forth).   I must have read Graham Greene’s “The Comedians” pretty soon after it was published in 1966, when I would still have been in my teens, (I had probably seen the film too, which was produced as a vehicle for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton the following year). Greene had already caught my attention with both his stories and his own life, taking my imagination to some of the darkest and most f

In Praise of Cozy Literary Festivals by Dipika Mukherjee

First Impressions Like most writers, I have done my fair share of speaking at literary festivals. In 2017, for example, I went from the humongous Singapore Literary Festival (which had concurrent panels for three days and a dedicated Artist Liason Officer (ALO) to escort me to the correct venue), to the much smaller Neustadt Festival in Oklahoma with nine speakers. All literary festivals have something to offer the writer and the reader, but I personally enjoy the cozier festivals more. There is something about being thrown together in close proximity for a few days, usually in the same cozy hotel, that encourages a special kind of literary friendship to blossom. L to R: Polly, Amy, Peter, Sheena, Annabel, Dipika, Jenny, Louisa Gladstone's Hearth Festival in 2018, held from February 3-4 in Wales, was just such a festival. My fellow speakers were Annabel Abbs , Sheena Wilkinson and Jenny Lewis . Polly Atkin  was writer-in-residence in February. I learnt a lot f

That Bloke by Susan Price

This blog is going to be a bit off-topic.      I'm in the middle of planning for several school visits and my mind is not so much like Sandra's fluttery brown things as like an over-excited and untrained collie racing round a field, barking furiously and scaring away the sheep it's trying to round up.      In an attempt to exhaust the over-excited collie, I went to the gym on Tuesday morning. And That Bloke was there again. The one that makes my jaw drop.      Before you start conjuring up some tall, blond, muscled Adonis, stop and think again. He is nothing whatsoever like that.      He is Asian and probably no taller than me, though he's certainly much slimmer.      He doesn't strut around in a skin tight vest with all his tattoos on oiled display. Instead, he dresses anonymously, in a loose t-shirt and knee-length baggy shorts. The most ' don't -look-at-me' gear you could imagine. I haven't seen him talk to anyone, and he does nothing at a

Reflections on going away and coming home. Jo Carroll

I’m home from my travels. So surely I should be returning to the blank screen with renewed vigour, shouldn’t I?  Why doesn’t it work like that? I’ve a big project I want to get my teeth into. I should be refreshed by five weeks up mountains. I should be rising from my bed at sparrowfart and tapping away at the computer as the cocks crow. Oh the best-laid plans. And I’ve been away often enough to know it never works like that. The reality of a long journey, heaps of washing, and an empty fridge means that ordinary self-care must come first. Ah, self-care. I had plenty of time to reflect on that while I was away. I had an apartment in Pokhara, with a sunny balcony and view across rooftops to the hills and mountains. From there I could watch as the women of Nepal worked to meet the basic needs of their families.  Unpicked, that can be reduced to: keeping warm, keeping clean, and keeping well-fed. None of which is too difficult for those of us in the UK with enough money t

One Is the Loneliest Number by Lev Butts

As any independently or mid-level traditionally published author will tell you, unless your first name is Neil or Stephen or J. K. and your last name is King or Rowling or Gaiman, you are going to spend a goodly portion of your time attending various conventions to promote your work. This is especially true if you are writing genre fiction. If you are traditionally published and lucky, your publisher may foot the bill for your hotel, and the convention planners may buy a few copies of your books for you to sign and sell throughout the weekend. If you are and independently published author or a traditionally published author and unlucky, you are going to be footing the bills for these things and setting them up yourself. Results may vary. You will still do it, though, because it's part of getting your work out there and building your own name recognition. However, regardless of how much you plan and prepare, every once in a while, things will turn out much differently

Choosing a genre: how Ali Bacon nearly wrote the wrong book

My hero D.O. Hill, by permission Preus Museum, Norway I may not have said much about my latest project here on Authors Electric, so in case you haven't heard, I have a novel coming out in April called In the Blink of an Eye . I was inspired to write it by the real story of one man's journey through art and photography and the women who fell, in different ways, under his spell.   The accepted term for  a life-story written as a novel  is 'fictional biography' , but t rawling through some older posts across at , I remember that for quite some time I wasn't sure what kind of book In the Blink of an Eye   was going to be.   While I explored the shape of the story on the page, I was aware of keeping as closely as I could to ‘the facts’. And new facts were popping up all the time. If I included them all  surely it would be non-fiction, or perhaps more correctly 'narrative non-fiction'.   Had I really only plumped for the novel bec

Publishers playing the Game of Thrones - Katherine Roberts

Yes, I know I'm about five years behind everyone else, but I've finally discovered the most addictive fantasy series to hit our screens this century - namely Game of Thrones , based on George R R Martin's series of best-selling fantasy novels "A Song of Ice and Fire". Briefly, for those of you who haven't come across this series yet, there is a scary looking THRONE made from the swords of enemies of the state, which powerful families known as HOUSES are fighting tooth and nail for the privilege of sitting on to become supreme ruler of a fantasy kingdom named WESTEROS. Needless to say, those who succeed don't tend to stay sitting there very long, which makes me wonder why they are all fighting so hard to sit there in the first place? Though I must admit the throne room with its stained glass windows is magnificent, and there must be a certain satisfaction in being able to order your fiercest rivals' heads sliced from their bodies so you can add t

Schmetterling by Sandra Horn

Dad always worked with his hands. He’d been trained as a carpenter and joiner, but after the war he joined Mum’s family building firm and learned to be a plasterer. I think these jobs must require total absorption – getting the consistency and thickness perfectly right, making changes in body movement to accommodate to distance-from-core,   constantly judging the state of the receiving wall...and all on what looks like automatic pilot; a deeply-embedded skill. All the time he was working, he sang. He sang completely unselfconsciously, almost as if he didn’t know he was doing it. He’d had his voice trained as a child by a formidable aunt (she was an LRAM, spoken in a hushed whisper) until she threw him out for misbehaving. He had a fine tenor voice and had picked up snatches of Italian opera. They were my first foreign words, but not much use in general conversation: None shall sleep! Your tiny hand is frozen! On with the motley, the powder and the paint! Love me, Alfredo!