Feeling Like a Writer

It’s a strange thing, being a writer. On the one hand, you just are. I’m always writing something. It’s who I am. I can’t not write. It’s as simple as breathing. 

But you know how sometimes even breathing isn’t simple? You get a cold, and a blocked nose. Or the pollution is so high that your nose gets full of gunk and you can’t breathe properly. Well, sometimes that happens with writing too. You know it’s simple. You know it’s who you are. But sometimes, it just feels complicated.

I’ve been feeling that lately. But more specifically, towards “professional” writing. I can still write. I can still fill pages of my journal, or write beautiful letters and what-not. I can still write stuff that doesn’t need to be finished, or stuff that doesn’t need to judged. But what about all the things that have to be finished, and have to be judged? What about stories that must meet a certain criteria, or pass through individual judgement? What about a novel that needs to meet my vision of what it should be? On that side, there have been stumbling blocks. 

And that led me to conclusion that I need to do more things that make me feel like a writer. 

Life gets in the way. There are jobs to be done for money. There are hobbies and interests. Crazy challenges that take over my life (I’m walking London to Brighton non-stop, 100km/62.5 miles in May). Personal relationships. And after all that if there is actually any time left, my energy level or mental reserves are too low for me to be as productive as I would like with my writing. 

A part of me resists this. A part of me thinks of all the writers who had full lives, woke up at crazy hour every morning and wrote before going to work. A part of me wants to be able to do that no matter what. Another, more realistic part of me is becoming aware that it is not sustainable. I’ve ups and downs with writing, as with most things in life. Sometimes words just flow. Sometimes it’s bloody hard work. Sometimes it fills you with elation. Sometimes it depresses you. That is the inevitable nature of creative endeavor. But it is also the inevitable nature of pursuing dreams. 

However, there are ways to feel like a writer. I’ve joined a local critique group, a writer’s group, and may even do more of those depending on suitability and availability. That gives me people and accountability, so that writing comes with a deadline rather than just something hovering in the background. I like deadlines. I like having something specific to aim for. It also feels more professional somehow. And more “doing” rather than “wishing.”

So today, I had to remind myself again that it’s okay. Sometimes you feel down in the dumps, and question everything. It’s okay. Feel it in the moment. Then get back up, dust off your pants, and start again. Because that’s all it is. One word after another. Sometimes it’s crappy words. Sometimes it’s torturous words. But they come. Because they are in me. Patiently waiting. When I stop obsessing and worrying about being a writer, underneath it, I already am. When I remember why I wanted to do this – for the pleasure of creating my own stories – it suddenly becomes such an achievable thing. It is there, waiting to be unearthed, to be moulded in my voice. Because I am a writer. 


Leave a comment

The Seashell Contract: An Interview with Rhys Hughes

In this article, I interview Rhys Hughes about his new anthology, The Seashell Contract. All proceeds of this book are for charity. Rhys is also on a mission to write 1000 short-stories (and almost nearing the end). I hope you enjoy this interview, and please do check out his book.

The Seashell Contract is a new collection of short-stories by Rhys Hughes. It includes only previously unpublished work, all written in the past two years. The author’s profits will go to The Mariposa Trust, a charity that supports mothers and families who have lost babies. The book is available both as a paperback and an ebook. It features 22 stories that are fantastical in style and are typical of the work of this writer. The book was issued under his own imprint, Gloomy Seahorse Press, in order to maximize donations to the charity.

DG: This is quite an eclectic collection of stories. Do you believe they share a common theme or subject matter?

RH: No common theme, other than that all my stories probably share subconscious images that help to form connections between them. I am sure that the underlying motives that compel me to write fiction can be quantified and defined, but at the moment I am far too unsure of what they actually are to make a guess as to their nature. So this book isn’t a collection of a certain type of story. Having said that, my style is quite distinctive. On a basic technical level, I have an affection for the story told in the first-person, but I’m aware that with a collection it’s necessary to vary the manner of the telling as well as the subject matter, so this book features third-person narratives too. I tried to make it as varied as possible but I like to think that my writing is already varied and that the things that do crop up more than once are universals the individual pieces can’t exist without. I try to be entertaining but the stories aren’t just entertainments; there is humour but they aren’t comedies; there is also melancholy but they aren’t sentimental tales.

DG: What do you think speculative fiction in particular gives to the reader, as opposed to say mainstream, or pure SFF? 

RH: All types of fiction have something to offer. Speculative Fiction offers more freedom to experiment with ideas than most other kinds of fiction, and to experiment in a more unrestrained way while at the same time preserving a sense of logic. A speculative fiction writer can conduct thought experiments just to see what happens and if the results are wondrous, unique, enthralling, there is no need to worry too much that the mechanics of the process that gave rise to the results are impossible in empirical terms. For example, if I write a story about an interplanetary space giraffe that has a neck so long it can stand on one planet and browse the forest canopies of a different planet, that story is going to be essentially speculative fiction rather than science fiction. A science fiction writer would be too concerned with the fact that such a scenario is against the laws of physics and biology to just go along with the conceit and see where it might lead. It’s true that such a story might also be called fantasy or whimsy, but I think there is an essential difference. If the subsequent adventures of the space giraffe are governed by rules that are as rigorous as those of science fiction, even though the scenario is impossible, what we have isn’t pure fantasy but something else. That something else is speculative fiction. I just find it a useful label. It would be better if we didn’t need labels at all, but while we do still have labels, it seems one of the better ones.

DG: Several of your stories include chess as a theme, is there a particular reason for that?

RH: I have always been fascinated by chess, by its possibilities and variants. I played it from a young age. My very first publications of any sort were chess problems for The Independent newspaper back in the 1980s. I have utilized the game of chess in several stories since, as a technique of controlling a text, to greater or lesser degrees of complexity. For example, I once wrote a story that hinged on a ‘knight’s tour’ which is a puzzle that involves a chess knight visiting every square on a chess board once and only once. The solution to this puzzle provided the solution to a riddle in the story itself, which in turn tied up all the loose ends in the plot. I also wrote a novella with a crucial sequence based about the ‘Babson task’, the most challenging problem to construct in chess. Without going into too much detail, this problem involves the fact that a pawn when promoted doesn’t have to become a queen but can also turn into a knight, bishop or rook, and that in a very small number of cases these lesser promotions will be more beneficial. I used to regard myself as rather a good chess player. I beat a Spanish grandmaster during one feverish night in a log cabin in Cantabria, but I learned humility when a 17 year old girl completely destroyed me in a cafe game the following week. Little moments like this can be important. In the wake of that disaster, I have been careful not to be overconfident about anything.

DG: You’ve quite a unique writing style. The closest comparison I can make through my limited experience is Douglas Adams meets Paulo Coelho. Do you think humour and magic realism blend well?

RH: I think that humour can blend with anything if it is done well. I think the same is probably true of tragedy, pathos, bathos and anything else you might care to name. I am, however, largely unfamiliar with Douglas Adams. I have read two of his books. And I am totally unfamiliar with Paulo Coelho. The writers who are my favourites and who have inspired me the most for the majority of my writing career are Italo Calvino, Donald Barthelme, Boris Vian, Flann O’Brien, Jorge Luis Borges and Stanislaw Lem. In more recent times I have also discovered the work of Mia Couto, who has been a revelation to me. But I guess I can say that Calvino and Barthelme are the two writers who have affected me the most deeply. I love the endless flow of ideas, the playful prose in which those ideas are conveyed to the reader, the fact that their work can appeal simultaneously to the head and heart. My writing style is often called ‘unique’ but it isn’t really. It is distinctive, yes, but not unique. It’s just that I read more fiction from non-Anglophone countries than most other writers I know who write in English and I have picked up an approach that seems unusual. There is so much great literature out there and it’s always worthwhile expanding our reading horizons. I discover incredible writers who are new to me all the time, but I haven’t really changed my favourites for the past thirty years. It is undoubtedly a good thing to have one foot planted in the familiar, while the other foot strides off on the end of its leg into territories unknown.

DG: Short stories as a genre is considered to be a tough sell for anthologies, yet we see so many markets online and offline for short stories. Some pay, some don’t pay, but it’s clear that readers are reading short stories. How do you find them different as a writer, as opposed to a novel? What freedom short stories allow that a novel does not? Or what limitations?

RH: Short stories really are becoming less popular in commercial terms. Collections of short stories tend not to sell very well. I have heard several proffered reasons for why this might be so. One highly respected editor I know told me that the attention spans of readers are getting shorter and shorter, but that it’s a mistake to assume this means that short stories are ideally suited to them, because they don’t want to have to engage with a brand new set of characters and situations every few pages of a book. They want a familiar group of protagonists. Therefore novels are actually more suited to the modern reading public. This might be true. I just don’t know. Many of my own stories have shared characters that pop up from time to time. Maybe this helps to break the isolation that is a standard feature of the short story and maybe it doesn’t. But none of this really answers your question, because it could be simply that short stories continue to be read in great numbers but that it’s the willingness to pay for them that has changed. Also let’s not be too Anglo-centric about this. There is a science fiction magazine in China that features primarily short stories that has a circulation of a quarter of a million. I know that my agent always used to tell me to stop writing short stories and concentrate on novels instead, but although I have written novels and have more planned, I think my heart and mind are those of an irrepressible short story writer! My imagination is too restless to focus on only one work for too long.

DG: You are giving all proceeds from the sale of this book to charity. Tell us more about it. What made you decide to support it? 

RH: It was an impulse decision. A friend of mine was raising money for The Mariposa Trust and she was promoting the charity on social media. To raise money she was doing some remarkable things, such as a 100 KM walk non-stop over the mountains of central Wales. I wanted to help in some way. I could have made a simple donation, of course, but then it occurred to me that if I put together a new book of stories and donated the author’s profits to the charity, that would be an action I could promote much more widely and effectively. Of course there is a bonus in it for me, as it helps to expose more readers to my work. That’s the hope anyway. So it’s not pure altruism in that sense. But if more money is raised for the charity this way than I could reasonably expect to donate to them myself, the project will definitely be worthwhile. And the book will help to promote the charity too, so anyone who doesn’t want to buy the book might still make a donation to the charity. I have donated the profits from a book to charity on a previous occasion. That time I chose Animal Aid as the recipient. Gestures like this are only a drop in the ocean but while there is an ocean and we have extra drops, why not shake them in? Just so long as we don’t get the impression we are better than we really are, there is certainly no harm in it.

Rhys Hughes was born in Wales but has lived in many different countries. He graduated as an engineer and currently works as a tutor of mathematics. He began writing fiction at an early age and his first book, Worming the Harpy, was published in 1995. Since that time he has published more than thirty other books. His short stories have been translated into ten languages. He is nearing the end of an ambitious project to complete a cycle of exactly 1000 linked tales. His most recent book is the collection The Seashell Contract and he is hard at work on an experimental novel called Comfy Rascals. Fantasy, humour, satire, science fiction, adventure, irony, paradoxes and philosophy are combined in his work to create a distinctive style.

Leave a comment

Book Launch Report – The Dark Half of the Year


Image may contain: 1 person, standingTime does run away when you are being busy, which all of January, I’ve been. So it’s taken me 8 days to report back on the book launch that took place on January 28th in Bristol.

We launched this gorgeous book, The Dark Half the Year, which is an anthology of ghost stories set on particular winter days. It’s a collective effort from the North Bristol Writers. I’m thrilled to be in it. My story, The Ancestors, is set on Diwali when Asha has to confront her ghosts. 

The launch was great, very well organised, and in a great venue. Thomas David Parker, found us an event room in the Royal Navy Volunteer pub. A cosy little venue with the right amount of charm, and of course drinks. Thomas, who is also one of the authors in the book, acted as our host for the afternoon.  He interviewed the editors, Ian Milstead and Pete Sutton on how the book came to be. We also had some readings. Then myself and three others were interviewed about our stories. (You can watch mini-clips of my interview on my YouTube channel) This followed by more readings, and then a panel about ghosts. So it was a very ghostly, but fun afternoon. 

At book signings, we are happy to report, we sold out. Books were signed. Fun was had. I had a chance to catch up with all my lovely friends and colleagues in Bristol. All in all, a good day out. 

And if you haven’t got a copy of Dark Half of the Year yet, it’s now available on Amazon

Leave a comment

Problem Daughters Anthology: An Interview with the Editor



I interviewed Rivqa Rafael, one of the editors of the upcoming Problem Daughters anthology. It’s an amazing, worthy project. I hope you will find this interview both interesting and useful. Please do spread the word about this anthology.

Problem Daughters will amplify the voices of women who are sometimes excluded from mainstream feminism. It will be an anthology of beautiful, thoughtful, unconventional speculative fiction and poetry around the theme of intersectional feminism, focusing on the lives and experiences of marginalized women, such as those who are of color, QUILTBAG, disabled, sex workers, and all intersections of these. Edited by Nicolette Barischoff, Rivqa Rafael and Djibril al-Ayad, the anthology will be published by Futurefire.net Publishing and is currently being crowdfunded.


DG: Problem Daughters. Let’s talk about the name first.  Why this title? And why “Daughters” specifically, as opposed to women, mothers, sisters etc.

RR: We put  a lot of thought into our title; of course we wanted something that would make people curious about what we had to say, as well as something that accurately reflected our aims. So it’s “problem” in the sense of not being accepted by mainstream feminism, and that could be for any number of reasons. Mainstream feminism doesn’t respond well to difference; it expects all other concerns to be put on hold for the cause. Race, ethnicity, religion, ability, choice of profession (most notably sex work); these and other intersections can make feminism a less accepting space. We’re a problem to feminism; feminism is a problem to us. The anthology is both of these aspects.

“Daughters” felt like another interesting way to engage with our topic. “Women” would fit, sure, but having a different word in there makes our descriptions less repetitive, so there was a practical angle there. Not all women are, or can be, mothers; the concept of a feminist “sisterhood” and the shared experience it implies is part of what we’re critiquing. But we’re all daughters, in one way or another, and responding to the past is another key element here.

DG: Why do you think this anthology is needed? Why not just standard BAME submission as many publishers tend to do these days?

RR: Anthologies can be anything from a completely open call to a most narrow, almost bizarrely specific theme, and I think this range is a great thing. I’ve written some of my best work (in my opinion) in response to calls for submission to anthologies; something about a theme can spark something I might not have considered. Problem Daughters falls somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of specificity. Hopefully, this keeps the topic broad enough that authors can play with it in interesting ways, but specific enough to be inviting to the marginalised authors we’re hoping to attract. Of course, this anthology doesn’t stand in isolation, and I hope it complements past and future diverse works.

DG: As a woman from ethnic minority, and as a writer, this idea excites me. You see in fiction, Indian women often depicted a certain way – exotic beauties, or sari wearing domestic goddesses, or whatever. I have a problem with that. I am sure this happens to other cultures, and other voices too. So I love this idea that you’re trying to find voices that are even more ignored than “minorities” in general, because let’s face it, minorities can be snobby too about inclusions and representation. My question is – how do you define these women? How do you define “feminism” in this selective context?

RR: I’m so glad it excites you! That’s definitely part of what we’re trying to address. Even just the tiresome concept that a single white woman can be a stand-in for diversity (Star Wars, again? Really?). What you say about inclusion is such an important point; this has been my almost constant experience, being at turns “not Jewish enough”, “too Jewish” or my personal favourite, “Jewish in the wrong way”.

But in terms of the anthology, we don’t want to define these women too closely; they will be marginalised in some way, and we’ve given examples, but mostly we want the reaction you’ve given – an individual interpretation, written as a story or poem. Likewise, our definition of feminism is as broad as possible; our stories might come from womanists, or authors who don’t self-identify with any such movement at all. Mostly, we want to see how our potential authors choose to engage with the topic, rather than define it for them.

DG: I believe three of you are editing this anthology, Djibril al-Ayad, Nicolette Barischoff and you. Would you say your experiences in fringes, or perhaps outside of mainstream voices helps you be more sympathetic or empathetic to the voices you seek to represent?

RR: I hope so. I can only speak for myself specifically, of course, but I really hope so. I’m white, able-bodied, queer and Jewish; I have a lot of privilege, and more passing privilege now that I’m no longer religious. But I also had a very different upbringing from the average white Australian, which stands out very starkly in certain circumstances. And within that very insular community, that “not Jewish enough” I mentioned before was often at play. There’s a bitter advantage to always being an outsider, but yes, I think it does force one to develop empathy. It’s much more pronounced for people with more prominent marginalisations, but hopefully it’s a starting point.

DG: You have created an Indigogo crowdfunding campaign to support this anthology. Tell us more about this, and how would this help the anthology, as well as usually unheard voices?

RR: Our campaign can be found at http://igg.me/at/problem-daughters, and runs until 14 February. We’re running a flexible funding campaign; once we reach our halfway point of $4,500, we’ll be able to guarantee professional payment rates to our authors. Our second goal of $9,000 will allow us to publish a longer anthology, including essays and internal artwork; we very much hope that we can make this more beautiful, substantive version. If we’re funded beyond that, we have other ideas of how to make Problem Daughters even more special.

We’ve fixated on pro payment because it’s all too common for labour, particularly in the form of art or writing, to be demanded of marginalised people for little or no pay. We want to pay our authors what they deserve (or as close as we can reasonably get).

DG: For the writers interested in submitting to this anthology, what is the one advice you would give?

Don’t self-reject. If you’re not sure if your work fits the brief – submit. If you’re not sure if it’s good enough – submit. If this is your first potential submission, your first in English, your first in the genre – you get the idea. We’re a team of three experienced editors, and we want to read your story.


Displaying 2016-07-19 21.35.26-5.jpg

Rivqa Rafael is a queer Jewish writer and editor based in Sydney. She started writing speculative fiction well before earning degrees in science and writing, although they have probably helped. Her previous gig as subeditor and reviews editor for Cosmos magazine likewise fueled her imagination. Her short stories have appeared in Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga Publications), The Never Never Land (CSFG Publishing), and Defying Doomsday (Twelfth Planet Press). In 2016, she won the Ditmar Award for Best New Talent. When she’s not working, she’s most likely child-wrangling, playing video games, or practising her Brazilian Jiujitsu moves. She can be found at rivqa.net and on Twitter as @enoughsnark.



Leave a comment

Book Launch: The Dark Half of the Year (You are Invited!)



We need something to do during the cold, dreary winter days. What better than to read? Even more importantly, read stories that are set during specific winter days around the world, focusing on what lies in the shadows. 

The Dark Half of the Year is an anthology by North Bristol Writers. Since I used to live in Bristol at one point, apparently, I still count. That’s a good thing for me, as the anthology also includes one of my short stories, The Ancestors.

We’re having a book launch on January 28th in Bristol, and you are invited. It’s going to be fun few hours, with interviews, reading, and a panel. And of course mingling, talking about ghosts and fantasy over pints – because as it happens writers and alcohol aren’t too far apart. I don’t count, because I’m a bit strange (even for a writer), and pretty convinced that there is coffee in my blood. 

The launch event will start at 4 pm at The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer pub. You can join in the event on Facebook if you are interested in attending.

Please do spread the word. 

Look forward to see you in Bristol.

Leave a comment

V. S. Naipaul on How to Be A Good Student of English Literature


V. S. Naipaul is a winner of Nobel Prize in Literature, the Booker Prize. He’s the author of House of Mr. Biswas, A Bend in the River, and numerous other books. Between Father and Son: Family Letters is a poignant collection of letters he exchanged mostly with his father and elder sister while studying at University of Oxford. In one of these letters, he gives advice to one of his younger sisters, Sati, on how to be a good student of English Literature.

It’s a spot-on advice, as valid today as it was then. For everyone who’s interested in not just getting degrees in English, but to really participate in literature, these few words of wisdom could open up a path of great immersion. 


English lit. demands more than a mere knowledge of the texts, and a familiarity with the criticism of your text editor. You must do your own thinking about the books you read. Learned criticism is what you need. In other words, if you are studying Milton, get to know something of his life, the temper of the times he lived in, the literary conventions.” 

– Between Father and Son: Family Letters, Pg 186



In other words, thought is indispensable. You must realise in the first place what the writer set out to do…Having found out the aim of the writer, ponder on the difficulties of the achievement, and then see where he has failed.

– Between Father and Son: Family Letters, Pg 187


Leave a comment

BristolCon 2016 – A fabulous day with fabulous people!

On Saturday 29th, I departed my house at an ungodly hour of 6:30 am to go to Bristol. The Great Western Railway terminated the train unexpectedly at Reading (under mysterious circumstances), so instead of reaching Bristol at 10:00, I eventually got there at 11:15. Putting aside the fact that I could’ve been in another country by then, it was annoying to have missed almost the whole morning programme.

So, I proceeded straight to the Break Room & Coffee, for much needed caffeine and just starting to socialize with all the lovely people I hadn’t seen for a while. In fact, as it turned out, this particular BristolCon experience revolved very much around just mingling, which was great. 

BristolCon is one of the smaller conventions, but even so, not only I didn’t get enough time to chat to a lot of people, completely missed the others. So it’s not that small. 

But I did do things besides chatting: I was on a “Murderous Women” panel (okay, talking) about how/if GrimDark has different perception/expectations of women authors than crime or horror. On the panel with me were Anna Smith-Spark, Jonathan L. Howard (who is the Guest of Honour at BristolCon 2017 by the way), and David Gullen. 

I also attended Kevlin Henney’s flash fiction workshop, which was really great fun. Kevlin, an accomplished flash fiction author, led us through the workshop, giving us plenty of tips in 45 minutes, and we even ended up creating some stories of our own. (Though in my case, not very good ones). 

After that, Dev Agarwal and I ran the Stage Managed Fighting workshop, which was really about accurate and interesting depiction of fighting in our stories. We were pleased to have a full house. Dev supplied the information and props, led the workshop with extreme competence and his years of martial arts experience. I was the lowly but glamorous assistant, and spent the workshop either being punched or punching (obviously the latter was more fun), and making faces at GR Matthews. I got told earlier that for a moment when I’d the boxing pad on, apparently I also had the “resting bitch face” which is fabulous, because looking like a mean boxer is the height of accomplishment for someone who is essentially an ever-smiling chatterbox! 

Most of the time then was spent sitting at the bar, which considering I don’t drink, just sounds weird. I had fascinating chats with a whole bunch of people, including Gaie Sebold with whom I’m thrilled to share an anthology (Fight Like A Girl, now available from all good booksellers), and her partner David Gullen (who I shared the Murderous Women panel with, and we got on brilliantly despite him covering up my name tag with his momentarily). Of course the wonderful GR Matthews and James Latimar, my online conversation buddies were a delight as usual. I also spent a long while talking to Richard Bendell, a fellow Stargate Fan, about music, religion, and great many other things. One of my highlight was seeing a guy dressed in Stargate SG-1 uniform. Dean, you’ve inspired me to do my own cosplay. Finally! 

MEG was her amazing organised self, and I’m pleased to hear that she will be chairing BristolCon 2017, though it is sad that Jo Hall is stepping down. Jo’s been absolutely amazing running the con. On a personal level, she was the first person to take me under her wing in the SFF world and for that she shall forever remain special. But Jo and Roz have wonderful adventures of their own planned, and I wish them both good luck. 


One of the first person I got to chat with at the con was Claire Carter, who is challenging her own artistic limits. I am sure we can expect to see great things from her as she continues to grow on her artistic path. I only managed to see Sammy HK Smith briefly, and Simeon Beresford – with whom a catch-up is certainly needed. Only managed to say hello to Cheryl Morgan, T. O. Munro, and Joel Cornah. Amanda Beecham was nice enough to bring me a cookie. Got some quality time at lunch with Dev Agarwal and Piotr Swietlik. A very brief catch-up with Dr. Bob. I have no doubt I’m missing great many people off this list, but suffice to say, that it was a wonderful event with lovely people.

Of course this adventure didn’t end there. The next morning, I managed to have a short session again with Nick Walters (and met Belinda the bicycle), GR Matthews, and Jo Hall. I also met RB Watkinson and her husband Paul. So even the post-con morning didn’t go without making new friends. 

I’ve of course already signed up for BristolCon 2017, and am already looking forward to attending. 

Leave a comment

Thoughts on why we read certain books at certain times

Like most book lovers, I’ve piles of unread books. I continuously keep adding to it by buying new books. Realistically, unless I retire and read full time, it seems unlikely that I will be able to read all the books I own in a decade. But we are not going to talk about the book buying…that’s a whole separate issue. What I have been pondering is what makes us pick up one book over another, why I start reading a certain book as soon as it arrives in the post, or even on the way home from the bookstore, whereas others must await their turn for months, years, or even decades? One thing is for certain, there is no logic behind it as far as provable logic goes. So what drives these decision?

This particular pondering started because I just picked out my “Vintage” collection, which I bought almost to the day five years ago. For five years these books have sat on my shelf, looking gorgeous, but I’ve ignored them as I selected other things to read. Oh I have admired them, I have considered reading them, but they never quite made it out of their spot and into my hands. I don’t know why. Just as I don’t know why today this is the collection I was drawn to. 


There are other books for me to read. In fact, it would make more sense to start reading a second book in The Liveship Traders trilogy, because I recently finished the first book. It would make more sense to finish reading Rousseau’s Confessions that I’m in the middle of. There are a lot of other books that, logically, I should be reading right now. But instead, I took out my collection, intending to read a book by Maugham, and instead started reading The Easter Parade by Richard Yates. I’ve never read anything by Richard Yates. In fact, even among this collection, I should be and am more drawn to Isherwood – whose journals I enjoy – and Maugham, due to his reputation. Yet, they must wait some more. 

I believe that books are like people. Sometimes we meet the right person at the right time and everything falls into place. At other times, the people are right but the timing is wrong and things don’t work out so well. This happens with books too. A right book read at the right time has the power to transform lives. It can offer support, comfort, hope, understanding, a really good cry, fuel dreams, energize, deepen emotional understanding, educate and make you think. The right book at the right time can be a miracle, often a mini miracle, but sometimes a mega miracle. So that’s why when books draw me to them, I listen. When I feel the urge to read something in particular, against all logic, I read it. The stuff that needs to be read will be read somehow. But books that your heart/soul tells you to read…that’s where magic may happen. Sometimes, signals get crossed and it’s just an ordinary book. But sometimes, it’s another alleyway, exploring uncharted territories inside one’s own soul. 

Leave a comment

BristolCon 2016 – Come Say Hello!

BristolCon gen_banner


On October 29th, we will be gathering in Bristol once more for the annual Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, BristolCon. If you’ve never been, it’s a fantastic event. Unlike most convention, it is only a single day event, thus a lot of less tiring and way cheaper, but still full of lots of fun and really cool people. So if you happen to be a fantasy/sci-fi reader and in vicinity of Bristol, check it out.

At 15:00, I will be on a panel with Anna smith-Spark, Jonathan L. Howard and David Gullen, discussing “Murderous Women” which will hopefully be as fascinating as it sounds. We will be talking about why attitudes to what women want and what women are expected to deliver vary in different genres. Amanda Kear will be moderating us and keeping us under control. 

To then get completely out of control (kind of), at 17:00 I will be Dev Agarwal’s glamourous assistant in a “Stage Managed Fighting” workshop. We’ll give some demonstrations and look at how fight scenes can add depth to the story. 

There will of course be general shannanigans, cake, book launch, book buying, socialising and a quiz! Meeting up with old friends and making new ones is also all in day’s work. If you have never been to a convention before, BristolCon is a great first. If you are a regular, I look forward to see you. You can buy the tickets at the door, or just click on this link and buy them in advance. 





Leave a comment

Ishmael and the Failings of Human Race

DanielQuinn Ishmael.jpg


I just finished reading Ishmael, a novel by Daniel Quinn, which was recommended to me by Nik Perring (his book Beautiful Words is truly beautiful, and a lesson in how you can say a lot of things in few words). 

This is a philosophical novel. It is dialogue between a teacher and a student, where the teacher is encouraging the student to see through the myths human culture is trapped in. The teacher is a gorilla and the student is a human. It may sound weird, but when you read the book, the concept works. This book was awarded Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award in 1991, a $500K price, before it’s formal publication in 1992. 

I don’t want to give spoilers, because if you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend that you do. Though published in 1992, it is in fact even more relevant today when we consider the situation humanity, and the planet is in. The dialogue is Socratic, based on logic. And like any logical conclusion, once you figure it out it seems obvious. It highlights the failings of humanity, but more importantly, WHY we fail as a race.

I read about 50% of this book on my kindle while running 17.29 miles over two days on the treadmill. If you have ever attempted to run on a treadmill, you will know that it’s very difficult to stay entertained. I breezed through it, and it was easier than running with music or movies. It’s written in easy-to-read style, not heavy academic/jargony prose. It is basically a conversation between two people, and you can agree or disagree.

It may not change your perspective, it may not change your idea of humanity, but at the very least it will make you think. Perhaps it will encourage you to see things from a new angle. Isn’t that what good books are supposed to do?


Leave a comment