I’m supposed to be working

Ibn Battuta (minus the scooter...)

Ibn Battuta (minus the scooter…)

My daughter came home from school yesterday, talking about Ibn Battuta – arguably one of the most travelled individuals in history. Had I heard of him? Had I binglepots.

So, I looked him up. His name and the places he’d been became the inspiration for some nonsense verse, something I used to love writing.

This was the result – not sure her teachers will approve!

The World’s Greatest Traveller

There once was a Berber named Ibn Battuta
Who travelled the East on a wind-powered scooter Continue reading

Walking the Tree by Kaaron Warren

Walking The TreeThere is so much to love about this novel. The premise alone was enough to hook me:

A tribe lives in the shadow of a giant tree. After training for a series of trials and tests, a group of young women are chosen to circumnavigate the base of the tree. It’s a huge responsibility because they’ll be taking the tribal children with them and the journey back to where they set out from takes five years. Everything learned along the way will form the children’s education.

Ace idea, right? Who or what will they encounter along the way? Will they all make it home?

The story buzzes with mystery right from the outset and all the way through I was wracking my brain to try and work out the book’s secrets before I reached the end. All I can tell you is that I didn’t manage it and I was glad not to. I read the book on holiday; first book I’ve been able to read ‘properly’ for many, many months. The fantasy and wonder Warren conjures contributed to making my time away an absolute joy.

I’m a sucker for trees and the human relationship with nature, so Walking the Tree was right up my street. A lot of Fantasy, a little SF and an ocean possibility; a truly delightful book.

Cometh the Crowman, people…

It comes as no surprise to me that images of the Crowman have begun to appear around the world, scrawled hastily on walls and in alleyways in furtive acts of prophecy.

Just to get his dark form out of the mind and onto a ‘canvas’ – whether it be cracked brickwork or a warped timber fence – must be a tremendous relief. I know from long, crushing experience what a burden the Crowman is to carry.

These are the latest pictures. Continue reading

Sad days as I wait for the end of winter

shut happensMy literary representative, Brie Burkeman, who’s effect on my career and profile has been tremendous, is closing her agency for family reasons.

You can see the full story here.

Brie has looked after me with great care for two and a half years, streamlining my productivity and securing a number of rights deals I could never have manifested on my own.

She made it possible for me to get on with writing while she handled everything else. In addition, Brie taught me a lot more about the publishing business and, by example alone, how a ‘good’ agent should behave. She’s been the perfect combination of rock and Rottweiler: always there when I needed support and utterly uncompromising if anyone stepped out of line contractually.

When Brie emailed me a couple of weeks ago, attaching the letter which outlined her plans to shut up shop, I completely understood her reasoning and her decision. Nevertheless, I was floored.

That sensation of solid ground liquescing beneath my feet – a feeling I’ve come to know well in what has always been an uncertain career – returned with knobs on. I’d hoped such uncertainty was forever behind me but perhaps that’s unrealistic, especially given the state of utter flux that publishing as a whole is in right now.

As with all Good News/Bad News stories, though, there is a positive aspect; a new chapter, no less. I’ve been taken on by Meg Davis at Ki. I met her for the first time a few days ago and was very impressed – not to mention relieved – by how focused and experienced she is. She was also surprisingly open to all my hair-brained ideas.

So, the journey is far from over.

After fifteen years or so of turbulence, I’ve finally bought myself a gravity belt and strapped myself in. Wherever the ride takes me next, I’m ready.

A natural cold remedy that really works? Yes, it’s true!

man with coldI hate colds so much. Hands up who’s getting one right now? Worse, who’s getting manflu? Well, you can stop feeling sorry for yourself because I have the answer.

Like anyone else, I’ve been getting colds all my life. In that entire time, this is the first remedy I’ve tried that actually has an effect. So far this year, it has stopped two colds in their tracks, leaving me fit to get on with and enjoy the run-up to Christmas.

Caveat: if you don’t dig garlic, you’ll probably want to stop reading right now. Continue reading

Eco Shock Horror

Broadcaster Alex Smith works tirelessly and single-handedly to bring you cutting edge information and incisive wisdom on the environment: latest science, authors and issues including climate change, oceans, forests, pollution, Peak Oil, the economy and peace.

Listen to his weekly show and you’ll be most dreadfully educated about the ecological challenges we all face.

Alex was kind enough to take an interest in my ecologically inspired horror and fantasy novels, including MEAT, Garbage Man and The Black Dawn series.

We had a great chat, me sitting on my sofa in Northamptonshire recovering from killer man-flu and him somewhere in Vancouver – a place I’ve always wanted to visit.

Take a listen for an in-depth discussion of the eco-horror genre or visit the Ecoshock blog for a written précis and info about the rest of this week’s episode…

Re-imagining democracy for Parliament Week

On Wednesday 19th November, for Parliament Week, I joined Mike Carey, Mike Fell and chairman Dr. Chris Tyler to reinvent democracy with an audience of  gamers, sci-fi, fantasy and comic fans, LARP-ers, scientists and people interested in the future of politics.

The evening was part of a week of events intended to encourage people to engage with politics. (You can find out more about this using the hashtags #scifiparl & #DoDemocracy.)

Everything was filmed – there was even a stenographer! – so you’ll be able to see what we each came up with on the Parliament YouTube channel very soon. Chris and the two Mikes had many things to say, ranging from the fascinating to the terrifying and the audience was full of astute, broad-minded people who asked some very challenging questions. It was an excellent night and I was glad to have been invited.

The following was my contribution. Continue reading