Showing posts from May, 2022

Crossing points: N M Browne

 I have been on a mini break. Yes, I am that kind of woman. In fact I have been on two - a brief visit to Madrid and a longer, less social trip down the rabbit hole of series fiction. Both have left me restored and exhausted in equal measure.  In Madrid we walked through the city, sipping  ribera del duero in a Spanish heatwave: a restoration of almost forgotten  pre-Covid pleasures barely marred by the combined efforts of Brexit, Easyjet and Southwest Trains.  In my solo adventures I deep dived into a couple of lengthy trilogies, came up for air, coffee, the briefest of conversations and disappeared again into a duology and a couple of compelling stand alones. I have been to space, supped God-knows-what with aliens and emerged, exhausted by late nights and eyestrain, surprised to discover myself home.   I loved both experiences. There is no substitute for being somewhere else, the strange reworking of all that is familiar, the smell of churros and chocolate in the street, late lunche

The Ex-Prime Minister - Chapter 3 by Andrew Crofts

 The third monthly installment of  our hero's adventures as he dances through the minefields of life and politics. “Mixed bag of responses,” Puppy said as he scrolled through the pollsters’ findings on his phone the day after the program was broadcast. “Almost exactly fifty-fifty.” “Fifty-fifty what?” Teddy dragged his tired eyes up from the blank diary page he had been working on, or at least thinking about. “Well, fifty per cent of the people who watched you on Bake-off thought you were hilarious, and believe you should be allowed to bring your own peculiar brand of gaiety back to Number Ten.” “And the other fifty?” “The other fifty can’t believe the British public ever allowed such a clown to get into Number Ten in the first place.” “Bloody photographers!” Teddy grumbled. “I’m sure they airbrushed that photo to make me look like Coco the Clown.” “Not sure they had to, Mate,” Puppy sighed. “You pretty much did your own flour-based make-up in there. The one thing almos

Carpenters and Shepherds -- Susan Price

The Carpenter and Other Stories  Years ago, more than forty of 'em, I landed a year as a writing fellow at a teaching college in Scarborough. I apologise to the college. Young and inexperienced as I was, I didn't shine as a fellow. In fact, I think the only reason I got the place was because as soon as I saw the calibre of the other applicants, I gave up all hope of getting the job. (One was, for instance, Authors Electric's very own Jan Needle, who would have made a far better fellow in every way than me. Sorry, Jan.) Knowing that I had no chance took all the pressure off and I decided to just practice my interview technique. When called in to meet 'the board,' I was relaxed and chatty and rather looking forward to a cuppa at the train station. Only towards the end of the interview did I start to read the glances the interviewing board were shooting each other and realised, with cold horror, that they might actually choose me. I knew I'd be no good but, if


  Earlier this month I visited our local library for the first time in a very long time. In a relatively small space I was really pleased to see a good selection of fiction books, and especially to find some interesting historical fiction titles. I know it is not a genre that is to everyone’s taste but I always find myself gravitating towards historical fiction – it is perhaps no surprise that it is what I write too. It didn’t take me long to find several books that I wanted to read, and I had to restrict myself to four. And then just as I was persuading myself to walk away from the bookshelves I saw a book with a cover and an author’s name that just called out to me. It was this one. I didn’t even read the blurb on the back. I just grabbed the book and ran – well after getting it date stamped by the librarian of course! Alison Weir is a legend in the world of historical fiction, and an historian in her own right. Apart from fiction she has written many non-fiction books, based mainl

Written before 'Brexit'... by Mari Howard

Snail... a beautiful shell... Today (May 2022) I walked into the garden to survey the plants, and remove any visible slugs or snails. These go, with a bit of human help, over the back wall into the sports ground beyond: where they happily play cricket, rugby, or football, according to the season. A fantasy of course: in reality they land in the wild grassy bit, to continue their quiet, slimy lives chewing on dandelions or being caught and eaten by various birds and creatures who live there… Coming to write a blog, hunting inspiration, I discovered in my ‘blog ideas’ folder, this, labelled Written before ‘Brexit’ : here, it’s updated... but first...  *** So, writing in 2012... A couple of weeks back, I posted on Facebook photos of a walk we took at the weekend. It was a showy-off piece about the beauty of the natural world —  here is a lovely place, and I live so near it. Something we don’t often think about — our thankfulness for home. Inevitably, most of us live where the work is. We

If lifeforms were horses, robots would ride... author Roz Morris interviewed by Katherine Roberts

Roz Morris In Roz Morris'  Lifeform Three , the robots have purple hair and maintain a futuristic theme park known as the Lost Lands, where various Lifeforms are kept for the enjoyment of their human visitors, who tour around the perfectly-groomed fields in driverless vehicles taking photos and playing on their 'Pebbles' (a type of smartphone). I spoke to author Roz Morris about her thoughtful and entertaining SF novel which, with the rapid advancement of technology in recent years, feels as if it might be only just around the corner. Katherine: I think this is the first book I've read where all the main characters are robots. Your bods are obviously programmed for certain tasks in the Lost Lands, and yet your hero (or possibly heroine?) Paftoo comes across as a very likeable and realistic character. Did you find his/her story easy to write? Roz: He was a challenge, yes. I wanted him to be like an intelligent child - perceptive and curious, and aware that his world had

About Cats by Sandra Horn

My picture book Nobody, Him and Me features a murderous, bullying cat, Biter the Fighter. Three small, smart mice trick him into chasing them up onto a high beam and then they scamper down, leaving him stranded and quivering because he’s afraid of heights. Ultimately, he’s carried off on a cushion to Mrs Kindly’s Rest Home for Distressed Moggies.    I had to change ‘Moggies’ to ‘Cats’ which was a shame, I thought. Anyway, after a school visit in which I used the book, a teacher came up and fixed me with a decidedly evil eye. ‘You don’t like cats, then,’ she snarled. I defended myself by drawing her attention to my other book featuring a cat, The Hob and Miss Minkin stories. Miss Minkin is a beloved tabby in a farmhouse modelled on the smallholding we moved to when I was in my teens. At night, when the family is asleep, she swaps stories and has adventures with Hob, who lived under the hearthstone.   "Hob lived under the hearthstone at Ghyllside Farm, but no-one had ever see