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Showing posts from March, 2018

The Geography of Words - Guest Post by Jacey Bedford

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Writing science fiction and fantasy often involves worldbuilding. Sometimes we take a concept, strip it right down to basics and invent a planet where the sea is pink, the sky is upside down and the dominant life form has seven tentacles and inhabits arid polar regions which have daytime temperatures of 60 Centigrade. Our hero is a brave tardigrade with a serious Walter Mitty complex and its love interest is a tri-gendered cephalopod with stunning bioluminescence that screams, 'Come and get me, baby!'
Other times we base our world on something closer to home. Our characters are human, living (maybe) five hundred years in our future or two hundred years in our past, but they are recognisably like us and they come from places that we might easily recognise.
We might set our fantasy on this earth, in this century (much urban fantasy occupied this niche) or we might use a medievaloid setting which is recognisably British or European, or—increasingly popular—a non-European setting in…

Debbie Young Celebrates the Unintended Consequences of a Writing Life

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In 2010, realising that no matter how hard I worked in my day job, it was leaving me unfulfilled, I made the radical decision to walk away from it without a job to go to. I intended to refocus my life on my writing ambitions.

Reading Between the Lines
It felt like a miracle when I almost immediately landed a part-time job with a wonderful children's reading charity, Read for Good, which served two purposes for me (apart from giving me an income, that is):

It reinforced the importance of books and reading not only for children but for all ages, which in turn validated my ambition to write books myself. It gave me space to explore different ways in which I could write what I wanted to write - and indeed to discover exactly what that was. 
Using commissioned non-fiction projects and experimental short stories as stepping stones, I gradually gained the confidence and competence needed to achieve my long-term goal to write a novel.

Now I'm hooked, with three novels published in the…

Still addicted: N M Browne

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I have a lot to do. I mean I have a ‘to do’ list as long as my arm. We are moving flats tomorrow and instead of packing I just read a novel. Please don’t judge me. It is my vice, that is both addiction and coping method. Like some kind of biblioholic, I read when I’m happy, I read when I am sad, I read when I’m anxious and I read when I have so much to do that the only way to deal with it is with a lage dose of fantasy. Preferably in another world or a version of this one which has nothing to do with the reality of packing boxes, papers, shoes and glassware to be individually wrapped in paper.
Juliet Mckenna’s new book, ‘The Green Man’s Heir’published by Wizard’s Tower Press is perfect anxiety busting escapism somewhere between urban fantasy of the Jim Butcher variety and Charles de Lint’s more mythical approach. It’s good to see such publishers republishing great books that were never made digitally available and have gone out of print and of course, publishing new books by well know…

Back burner work, feisty princesses and Easter dragons, by Enid Richemont

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I have written in previous blogs about my personal problems with Spring, and so here I am, in London (the UK one), facing, yet again, the horrors of a daylight which, like a fractious toddler, will be less and less inclined to sleep, plus the weather which can, as the mood takes it, veer from idyllic sunshine and pretty blossoms to icy wetness, and indeed, as has been recently forecast, even snow. I would choose, instead, to live in a perpetual Autumn - days full of dazzling colours followed by the quiet and introverted comfort blanket of early evening. I'm still, reluctantly, impressed, though, by all those amazing things coming out of the ground in my garden, and love the sleepy bumble bees - so strokeable (if you dare) but I welcome not the return of the house flies.

I spent a profitable hour late this afternoon in conversation with author (and friend) Rosalie Warren, who also regularly blogs here. Ros is the author of a futuristic novel: LENA'S NEST, with its hypnotic cover…

Absolutely Fabulous Snobbery in the Writing World- Andrew Crofts

This month I read a couple of books about very different aspects of the writing business. Both deal in very different kinds of snobbery and both are highly entertaining.
The first was “The Booker and the Best: Discrimination in the Book World” by Nicholas Clee.
Nick is one of those connected individuals of the book world who gets asked to judge book prizes. He is also an author and believes that by classifying some literature as being “better” than others we are doing the publishing industry a great disservice. It is a short book – both provocative and funny, and available at the moment only as a Kindle Single.
The second book was “The Vanity Fair Diaries” by Tina Brown, which covers her time re-launching the magazine between 1983 and 1992. Here we find an altogether more glitzy level of snobbery; somewhere between F.R. Leavis and “The Devil Wears Prada”, (I am exaggerating for effect, obviously).
What is most fascinating about this book is that we now know the outcome of some of the…

Centrum is my Literary Rx, by Dipika Mukherjee

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I first came to a Centrum Writers Residency in 2003 – yes, 15 years ago! – and left with the first draft of my debut novel. This year, partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, I am back to work on my third novel, a sequel to Ode To Broken Things.

Third novel, third Centrum residency...I know this will be a good one!
Centrum sounds like a medical prescription, doesn’t it? Writers look at me quizzically when I mention the name; this is not ranked with the more famous American literary residencies, but the paucity of literary rock stars makes this a gem of a place to write in complete solitude.



I am here for only 10 days this time, and I feel the time passing too quickly. In 2003, Centrum gave me the gift of six weeks of uninterrupted writing, which prompted me to give up a well-paid academic job in Singapore to pursue my literary dreams. I’ll always be grateful to the Centrum Foundation for that validation of my unpublished work.
This residency is …

"The Lost Words" -- a review by Susan Price

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This book really doesn't need any help from me. It's already a classic. But I wanted to review it because I love it.

I wanted to read it from the moment I first heard how it was inspired:-- during one of the regular revisions of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, it was decided to exclude certain words, which modern children no longer looked up or needed-- words such as 'bluebell', 'heron,' and 'conker'-- in order to make room for words such as 'broadband' and 'wi'fi'.

The book's wonderful artist, Jackie Morris, was incensed by this. She tells about how the book came about here. (The beautiful picture at the top of this blog is from Jackie's site.)

Many other writers and artists were aghast when they heard about these words being dropped. There is a theory of language that says that when you lose the word for something, you also lose the ability to think about it or consider it important. It becomes something nameless-- and if pe…