2016 was a curious year. Politics ate itself and the internet took over all discourse. But personally, it was pretty good. I published two books, one a collection of short stories and one playscript. I wrote this blog every week, made a website and got in the habit of producing things regularly. I went to Skye for a long week and went to loads of gigs. It’s odd having this dichotomy between the terrible news of politics and the quite good personal life.
The year end is a natural time to reflect, so following the...
What a year. It started with David Bowie dying and somehow went downhill from there. A rabid media stirring up hate forced the British people to shoot themselves in the foot, whilst in the USA hate and intolerance won the day- if not the popular vote.
I feel this year the internet took over political debate. Now, many people get their news from Facebook or Twitter. It was a year in which the internet became central to how information is received and shared. No longer the underdog, used by a few, it is the mainstream way we connect, publish and...
On a long coach journey back from Leeds a couple of weekends ago, I listened to Chris Gethard’s podcast Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People. I was recommended the podcast by Mel and it’s become a firm favourite. Each person calls into the program and has an hour to speak about whatever they want before the call hangs up. The only rule is that it needs to be anonymous, hence the title. It’s well worth listening to. Chris Gethard is a natural host, encouraging conversations to go in different directions and allowing the caller to speak. It’s also fascinating to...
Now the nights are drawing in and daylight is a distant memory. We surrender ourselves to the dark and cold, waiting and hibernating until spring.
Due to events and publishing a play, I haven’t read a lot of articles this month. The ones I did read tended to be depressing and ranty about politics. But with the long nights, I’ve read a couple of books I can recommend.
I’ m featured on the latest episode of Lies, Dreaming- “The language of business”
It can be found here or listen below:
Last week, I published a new ebook. Called Remain Vigilant, it consists of two linked one act plays set in the same fictional government agency that deals with surveillance. I actually wrote it over eighteen months ago, left it on my hard drive and forgot about it. My background is in playwriting, so this was before I got into writing short stories and other pieces.
I will write a little bit more about it shortly, but for now I hope you enjoy
Science fiction is an escape from our mundane reality to another shinier, brighter alternate world. There’s a whole universe of unusual aliens to discover. It reflects the times it was written and what the hopes were, or extrapolates based on available data. As well as providing an escape, it can also show us a way forward at the moment.. We go halfway around the universe only to discover ourselves.
In the shock generated in the wake of the US election, one refrain I keep hearing from people was what does it matter to us? Sure, people feel bad for the USA and all, but we have our own problems to deal with. I can sympathise with this view. The UK is a scary enough place at the moment, what with Brexit, the rise of hate crimes and confusion that has followed in its wake. However, I feel like the rest of the world needs to be concerned about the election of Donald Trump.
Summer is a distant memory now. We huddle around the fire for warmth and watch the leaves slowly drift to the ground. It’s chilly outside. Best to draw up the blankets around you, grab a hot drink and hibernate for the winter. Here are a few links to keep you going
One of the most important changes I have implemented in the last couple of years has been a creative routine. I find it helpful to work regularly towards a goal, writing every day instead of waiting for inspiration to strike. Showing up whether I feel like it or not. When I was writing Amber Stars: One Night of Stories, I woke up at six every weekday, wrote for 45 minutes then got on with the rest of my day. I’ve kept it going since and have drafted several short stories, a play and a novella in the past months....
I finally got round to listening to the new Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds album Skeleton Tree. It is an incredible listen, but also quite harrowing. After twenty-three years as a band and sixteen studio releases, the music still manages to sound fresh and different. Warren Ellis’ sparse but haunting instrumentation adds a strange melancholy air to the proceedings. I’ve listened a few times now and I think it might be one of my favourite albums by the band. But also, I don’t plan on listening to it too much.
Oh boy. If ever there was a book that was designed to make you furious about the current state of the world, this is it. Although The Shock Doctrine was published in 2007, Naomi Klein’s insight into the conservative mindset still remains sadly relevant to the world today.
So I was going to write about something else entirely, but then the I stumbled on The Daily Mail on Twitter. I try to avoid it when I can because it is always a hate-filled rag, but I couldn’t avoid it. Today it published this front page:
It brings to the surface a lot of feelings that have been brewing in this country recently. It’s also widely inaccurate and scary. Everyone has accepted Brexit is going to happen, it’s just a case of how badly it is going to hurt the country. Front page spreads...
Summer has flown away, the trees are turning and autumn has hit with a punch overnight. All of a sudden it’s a bit grim outside and we hunker down, gather straw around us and hibernate until winter. Ah well, here’s some things that I enjoyed in September, and you might too: