Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Saturday Times…

Buy it. Skip past the boring news and sport stuff. Find the far more interesting book section. Look for this summer’s recommended reads by Lisa Tuttle. See A Matter of Blood there…;-)

That’s what I’ll be doing anyway…

Big smiles!

added note: Apparently they sometimes do the reading list over 2 or 3 weeks…so if not this Saturday, DEFO one or two afterwards…;-)

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No thanks, I don’t want an anorak but…

(Okay Calf, I give in. This one’s for you…)

Last week I was going into London to ‘do lunch’ (like you do…) and as I rocked up onto the platform at Milton Keynes there were two train options. On my left was the 11.41 (oh yeah, I know the times…I am one step away from a kagool and a notebook) that only had two stops until Euston. On my right was the 11.47 – the slow train – that had about ten. I looked from one to the other and then got a cappuccino and thought some more. Which one to get? In the end I asked how long the slow train took and the ticket man told me an hour and ten minutes. If I took that one, I’d be late for my meeting.

I clearly must have looked miserable with this realisation because he grinned and said, “Don’t worry, love. (note – he didn’t actually say ‘love’ – I just made that bit up. Artistic license) the 11.41 will get you there in no time.”

I looked at him as if he were mad and said. “But I don’t want to get there in no time. I like the journey.” After that, to be fair, it was his turn to look at me as if I was mad. And maybe I am a bit, because it was with a heavy heart that I got onto the 45 minute train feeling slightly cheated.

You see, I’ve come to realise that I love trains. Not in a make, model and serial number kind of way (dear god, if that ever happens just give me a gentle shove over the platform edge), but I love the whole business of travelling on them. Not only is there the thinking time they allow just staring out of the window as the country rushes by, but there’s a great sense of purpose to them. People are ‘going places’ on trains and there’s an excitement about that. Most people are aimless. They drift through life as if it almost doesn’t matter. I like things that have a purpose – that are headed somewhere. Trains are the epitome of that.

When I was a kid and we’d go up to Edinburgh to visit the relatives, I loved standing in the draughty chill of Waverley Station watching the platforms while waiting to be told which one was ours.  I liked watching the people. Everyone was doing something, going somewhere – every passenger was a story. Everyone had a purpose, whether dragging suitcases or children or simply carrying a briefcase. The air hums with energy in train stations, a kind you just can’t get anywhere else.

Clocks. There’s another thing. Clocks are big in train stations because time is important there. Knowing exactly what time it is is imperative at a station. Sometimes I think we all need train station clocks standing in the middle of our houses just to remind us of how time is passing and we need to make the most of every moment. I have one of those clocks in my head – a huge white face with those roman numerals stabbed at by relentless iron hands. Sometimes I’m sure I can hear it ticking, and it often lacks the optimism of the station clocks. Station clocks smile. I’m going to try to make mine smile too from now on. The world is too full of wonderful things for negativity.

Now I know there is an argument that airports have the same vibe as train stations. Not for me. Number one – travelling by plane always holds that fear of falling to one’s smashed up death from 32,000 feet. (Note: Not exploding or dying – but FALLING. Takes a long time to fall from 32, 000 feet. That’s several minutes thinking time that I can do without.) Number two: there is just too much stress. Passport control, did you pack your own bag (like I’d tell you if I didn’t??), body search..waiting. And then just strap in and sit there – no trees, no stops, no people on phones to listen to. Just an awful lot of impatience.

There’s no impatience on a train – not for me. I know I’m going somewhere – I have a purpose – and if I take the slow train I get to look out at all the stations and see who’s getting on and off. Check out the new faces. Listen to their chat and imagine their lives. Look out the window again and put the faces to the houses. Think about stuff some more and let all the fields drift into one. All the while knowing that I’m  getting where I want to go, but I’m not missing anything as I go.

Some people are fast train people. Maybe that’s how they live their lives too. Get on and only  have one stop before the end of the line.  Not for me. I’m well aware of that big clock ticking away at the station, but I’m determined to enjoy the journey. There’s the odd breakdown on the way that frustrates, but you know the engine will get going again. Rain will turn to sunshine as you pull in somewhere and someone interesting gets on just before the doors shut.

I’m going back into town on Thursday to go drinking/eating with a crime writer..(I have a worrying feeling they drink as much as the horror crew…). This time I think I’ll leave home early enough to get the slow train and enjoy the ride.

SP x


Neil gaiman….

…says a lot of interesting things about being a writer and also outs me as the anti-tweeter to the stars..;-)

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2010/06/neil-gaiman-the-prospect-interview/

and in book news I’m pleased that A Matter of Blood has been sold into Germany…not that I can speak German..and what exactly is ‘A Matter of Blood’ when translated?


Alt Fiction 2010

Big thanks to Catherine Rogers for organising such a great event and making everything so easy for us.

A great day that was much needed catching up with great friends. Here’s a few of them…

Tim Lebbon, Mark Morris and Juliet McKenna….

I don't know what Tim was whispering....

I was leading him astray....

Me and Jasper Kent….

Me and Mark Chadbourn…

we write genre fiction and must wear black..

Me and great chum (and surprising football hooligan…) Mark Morris…

He does the smiling, I do the pouting...

The horror panel..after 2 hours drinking. Sigh.

And me..

Doing what I do...looking scruffy and drinking wine..

I wish I’d taken more, but you all know how these things are…

And now to work..

SP x


The British Fantasy Awards Shortlists

This year’s British Fantasy Awards shortlists have been announced.

I’m very happy that The Language of Dying is up for Best Novella, and The Confessor’s Tale is up for Best short Story.

The full list can be seen here:

http://www.britishfantasysociety.org/


On behalf of Miss Silverwood…

My alter ego hasn’t got her site set up yet, so I’m happy to announce on this one that Polish Publisher, AMBER have purchased the translation rights for The Double-Edged Sword. Given that the book isn’t out over here for three months yet, I’m very pleased. AMBER are the Polish home for Anne Fine and John Le Carre amongst many others so I’m happy to be in such good company.


CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Before I start can I just point out it’s 3.30 a.m. and I can’t sleep…this makes me grumpy.

“I TWEET, I FACEBOOK, I BLOG, THEREFORE I REALLY REALLY SO AM.”

No. You’re not.

Let me take these things one by one…

Twitter: Get off it, get back to having a life, talk to real people who haven’t told you what they’ve had for breakfast, what mood they’re in and what colour pants they’re wearing and may well be stalking you on google Earth…and all before you’ve got out of bed. Leave it alone and do more stuff. Life will be better. Done.

Facebook: I deactivated my Facebook account for a week. I gave prior notice via a status update but still the results were interesting. Friends emailed to ask me what they’d done to upset me. Friends emailed other friends to ask what they’d done to upset me. Friends emailed other friends to check I was ‘okay’. No one texted me, or called. Two people thought I was dead. Really? Is this how we exist now?

I’m kinder to Facebook than Twitter because I like keeping up with writer friends all over the country easily on it, but I currently have 104 outstanding friend requests sent by people I have never met. Not one of them has put a message in the request. To me, this reads like a demand to be my friend. Like they have some God given right because the Internet has validated them and therefore I should welcome them in. Well, I’m sorry – if you’re too rude to stick a “hey, I’d like to be your FB friend cos I want to spam you constantly about my upcoming self-published chapbook.” in the message line, then you’re too rude to be a friend of mine. My friends aren’t rude.

I’m giving serious thought to deactivation again. The quiet was nice for a while.

Blogging: Now my issues with blogging may be because I don’t really get it. If I didn’t have this job I would never blog. Ever. I do it because I’m told to, and I’ve tried (although they’re now mainly hidden on the website under this wordpress) to make them interesting and not all about me, me, me. But if I didn’t have a publisher wanting me doing stuff, there is no way I’d do it. The world does not need to know my thoughts. It probably doesn’t need to know yours. Everyone seems to be blogging these days and it leaves me baffled.Is your life really that interesting? I know mine isn’t. Neither is my opinion on stuff important. The same goes for you. Harsh, but true. Some people do the blog thing brilliantly (I follow a few) but most people don’t. Some people have fascinating lives (Stephen Fry, Amanda Palmer) that I want to read about – most people don’t.

Having a blog does not validate your life. It’s just words on a page that a lot of people will never read. And then there’s the content. The other day I found myself nearly writing an abstract blog about something recent that hurt me very badly. It stopped me in my tracks. Why would I blog about that? It was a private thing. It should exist only in me. It should not be papering the walls of the Internet. That’s just so…..American.

Not only does the world not need to know what I’m thinking, it definitely doesn’t need to know what I’m feeling. Maybe it’s because I’ve never felt a particularly overwhelming need to be liked. In fact, I’ve never felt a particular need for anyone or anything to validate my life. Except maybe my books. I want people to like them, and I want publishers to keep buying them from me and maybe that’s all the words and liking I need.

The long and short of it is, with all this noise in the Internet I find myself thinking,”World, shut the fuck up.”

So I’ve decided to take my own advice and shut up. I’m taking a break from blogging. I don’t want to feel the pressure to stick something on here for a couple of months. Maybe when the house is sold (decorating nearly finished – yay!) and my mad move to London is underway I’ll have something more interesting to share…but until that moment strikes, it’s adios from me unless I have book news to post…

Catch y’all later. Now switch off the computer and go and do something more interesting instead…

Eyeore x