Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monsters and Space Ships

Just back from Canterbury, which is a really lovely city, very picturesque. I stayed in this lovely hotel and my room was like something out of a fairy tale, all elegant and white with a big four-poster bed and chandelier. Very nice.

I managed to write whilst I was away, and have almost finished chapter twenty two of Inter Vivos (there are thirty planned chapters) and also worked on this monster short story I'm writing. I came up with the idea when I was taking part in Damien's writing class in November, and just really loved the tone I had come up with, so am continuing on. It needs a structural overhaul, as it was starting during a stream-of-consciousness exercise, but I have high hopes for it.

I'm also working on another story, a proper sci-fi story, with space ships and aliens et al, but I have to keep leaving blanks because I don't know about space travel. How fast does a rocket travel when taking off? How long does it take to train to be an astronaut? I'm sure a Google search would dig up the answer, but it's all very frustrating. Stupid brain.

(Pic from

Just read "The Book of A Thousand Days" which was just beautiful. Love fairy tales. Also reading the letters of the Mitford sisters, which is great, but has done weird things to my brain - my inside head voice keeps thinking I'm upper class for ages after I've read it, so have to be careful what I say or do! It's like I'm temporarily possessed by Nancy Mitford or something! Peculiar.

Need to get these short stories finished so I can send them out - more so that I have something active to write about in this blog!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Who says you shouldnt eat dessert before mains?

Am currently sitting in Starbucks sheltering from the rain, and they have Belgian chocolate cake that is wheat, gluten and dairy free. For purposes of this blog, of course I bought some. Bit crumbly and dry, but adequately chocolately enough to make it very enjoyable. Still not as good as the pret a manger cake, but I'm very supportive if more places want to sell wheat free baked goods.
Was in Berlin last week, and my tum still hasn't recovered.
Update on the writing soon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Just wanted to show you a little bit of the developmental process for Inter Vivos. Thematically, it started out like this:
Nox wandering gracefully, in chiffon, like a proper princess over the ice plains in the State of Aquarius. I still envisage an image similar to this as my book cover one day.

Now that I've come to write those scenes, however, it has changed into this:

Nox, wrapped up tight in a fur coat, army boots and wearing a motorcycle helmet, fighting her way through a blizzard like the scrappy pup that she is. That's just the way it goes, I guess!
[Illustration by me. Good, huh?! Hmm, perhaps I'll have to leave the graphic novel version of the book to a professional. At least Hannah can see that all of her commissions are safe!]

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Here is a first draft extract from Chapter Two of Inter Vivos - warts and all - for your enjoyment. After I've done my first edit, I may show you the same passage after it's been cleaned up. The extract is not very long, I know, but I wanted to keep it short and sweet, so you have time to read it! Enjoy.

I was never allowed to go into the board room. Though to get even as far as the corridor that led to that part of the house would have been a monumental achievement for my eight year old self. To say I was watched is an understatement. ‘Kept prisoner’ would be a more accurate term, although my parents did it mainly out of concern, at least, they did at first. Even though Inter Vivos had not yet been officially announced, there was word on the grape vine that things were not all as legitimate as they appeared. My father's people went on the defensive, and I was not seen in public again, not as ‘Nox Izotz’ anyway. Around the white facade of my family there popped up protesters, placards and chants, and for the first time since my father came to power, there was opposition. But what did I care, at that age? All I was concerned about then was firstly, to get well and away from those stupid machines, and secondly, to get my parents to allow me to go out and play.
The months after the operation were almost worst than the time before it. I was sealed in a clean room, allowed no physical contact, no food that wasn't through a tube. But I couldn't really complain, seeing as I was weak and sore from the procedure. Ghost nurses would float around my bubble, the plastic overalls they wore making distinctive creasing sounds that would wake me even from pill induced sleep. My mother did many of the check-ups herself after that, and I guess part of it was because of her protectiveness of me, and the other was out of necessity, to keep me hidden, to keep me a secret. As the months passed, I grew stronger, and my mother was forced to unplug me and let me move about a little. The clean room stayed however, white and clinical, insipid and horrible. The light was harsh and unforgiving sometimes, and I, a pale ghost with jet black hair in the middle of all this whiteness. Though even the whiteness and the sterility couldn't keep out the heat when summer hit, and that lead to me being allowed to sit out on the veranda.
“What's the point of a clean room now, when the child's just been exposed to all the elements?” My mother sobbed when I got my way and was allowed to sit in the shade on the porch.
“She's fine, isn't she?” My father replied, condensation from his iced tea staining the front of his white shirt.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Places to Write

It can be difficult sometimes to fit in writing when you're working full time, or have things like a family, boyfriend, over-dependent gerbil, etc. filling up your time. It is difficult, but it's not impossible. You just need to seize your opportunities when they present themselves.

Work these past couple of weeks has been manic, but train journeys provide the ideal opportunity to write, so long as you get a table and aren't boxed in on either side by businessmen with those giant-sized newspapers that take up all the space. Hotels are great too, because there's nothing else to do except watch Film 4, so you can usually factor in some writing time before Independence Day starts.

Sometimes in order to get anything done, you have to sacrifice a bit of a lie-in, and get up early at the weekend, or stay up late, or give up your lunch break to get something written.

Writing something is better than nothing, regardless of word count or quality! And you can't be a writer if you don't actually write anything!
Couple of pictures. The first is my hotel room in Manchester, where I managed to knock out just over 1,000 words (before and during Independence Day - and you thought I was joking!).
The second is in my horrible room in Portsmouth, where I wrote about 2,000 words after my event.
I'd like to have taken a photo of writing on the train, but I think my fellow commuters would have thought that I was a little bit strange.
I've heard about people (with small kids) locking themselves in the bathroom in order to write, and when I was younger, I used to climb up this tree in my back garden and write stories in my notebook. Anyone else have any favourite/bizarre places that they write?

Friday, April 03, 2009

British Library

The British Library the other day was actually really inspiring, though I couldn't find anywhere to set up camp and write. I wandered round the gallery and saw the manuscripts of some of the best writers in English history. I saw handwritten drafts by Angela Carter, Harold Pinter, Sylvia Plath, Thomas Hardy, Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. I got to see what Shakespeare's handwriting was (allegedly) like and discovered that my handwriting is similar to ... Nobody's! Oh well.
Perhaps I shall donate my notebooks when I'm actually a published author, though I'll have to wait til after I'm dead I think, as I'm not sure right now I could cope with people knowing that the book they (hopefully) love and treasure was once a pile of steaming crap. Ho hum.
Bloody freezing in Northampton, but what cheers me up is that I can get up after 6am tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that too. Yippee!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


-not for anything exciting, but for my event to start.
I've bought my writing stuff with me today and after this has finished, I'm going to find a quiet spot to do some work. I've broken every deadline I gave myself and inter vivos still isn't finished. They are still stuck in chapter seventeen limbo, and although I know what I need to write, I've been so tired and travelling so much I've not had chance.
Early starts don't agree with me, and two half 4 starts in a row have made me grumpy. Good job I'm on my own today!
Think I'm going to stop by the British Library today if I have time, for inspiration.