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Archive for June, 2007

sir, sir!

Well, I did my workshop at St Thomas Aquinas School on Monday. There were a huge range of abilities in the group, but they were all full of an amazing variety of great ideas. When it came to the actual writing I was genuinely surprised and delighted with the quality of the material the kids produced. Two or three of them were exceptional, and have the real potential to become published writers themselves in the future.

Initially our aim was to formulate a collaborative piece of work, but it quickly became clear that the majority of kids wanted to take the ideas they’d had off in their own direction, so it seemed wise to stick with the first paragraph we came up with – which was very good, incidentally – and then allow them to do their own thing.

At the end of the day I gave a talk to a class of year seven pupils. I’ve no doubt that some of them were bored witless by it, but I hope I got through to a couple of them with the “it’s up to you to make something of yourself” message I tried to hit home at the end.

The day was very hard work and involved far more preparation than I’d anticipated, but overall it seemed to go okay. I’m not sure what the kids themselves thought of it – it’d be interesting to know what kind of thing they told their parents when they got home. Anyway, that’s it – done and dusted.

Back in the rest of my life, I seemed to be getting involved in music again. More about that as, when, and if it all happens…


I’ve just finished reading Michael Mashall [Smith]‘s novel The Intruders. It’s a depressingly good book, as is one of his other novels — The Straw Men.

Last week I finished Elizabeth Moon‘s Speed of Dark — another superb novel.

Both are highly recommended.


I was going to write a longer post but the stuff I was going to write about seems out of date now.

Any road, at the weekend Ian MacLeod and I went to Cosford air show, where we saw spectacular displays by the Red Arrows (okay, the Red Arrows could only go from side to side in a variety of formations due to an overcast sky at that time of day), the Blue Eagles, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (although this included a Dakota rather than the Lancaster, which was a bit disappointing, and we’re not sure it counts). We also ate ice cream (eventually) and generally enjoyed ourselves.

The Eurofighter was also there, tearing the sky apart with it rip-roaring engines, and turning at 90-degree angles at the drop of a hat. Well, almost.

The finale was a demonstration of a fictitious scenario, with Tornado jets, one of those AWACS planes, a couple of Skyhawks, some troops, a C130 Hercules and a Chinook helicopter. Phew! It was all very impressive. If I’d had a Union flag I would’ve waved it proudly.

And what about Dr Who, eh? Who would’ve thought it: half a series of not very impressive episodes, then three corkers in a row! Gawdstrewth. Paul Cornell’s two-parter was excellent, and Steven Moffat’s Blink was superb, even if our daughter did have to hide her eyes now and then and cried a bit sometimes. Very sinister, loved the idea, loved the time line stuff, and loved the dialogue. Fantastic.

Last but by no means least, I’ve decided I’ll be going to World Fantasy Con in November, which this year is in upstate New York. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet up with a good few friends, and particularly those I haven’t seen for a couple of years. It’s a big trip for a few days but, hey, you only live once, right?

Oh yeah, and I’m also developing an idea for another new book which has my US agent quite excited. Well, he says he “loves the concept”. All I have to do now is deliver…

Absolutely lastly but by no means leastly, in a couple of weeks I’m – giving? hosting? Im-not-sure-whating, to be honest – a writers’ workshop at the nearby St Thomas Aquinas school. I veer from trepidation to great enthusiasm for this, but I’m sure it’ll be great. Indeed, as I prepare for the workshop, I’m not sure one day is going to be enough! Anyway, we’ll see. I’ll let you know how it goes anon.



Briefly: on the writing front I’m approaching 50,000 words on my new novel, which now has several possible titles. I’m also reading Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, which is a fascinating, compelling novel.

Another longer post is coming soon.


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