Tag: wasting time



Someone told me that my bios are far too minimal, so I’ve updated one with some random crap (including the caravan incident) if you are particularly bored.

Also, watch this space, because I should, within the next month or two, have an shiny new website courtesy of the web guru at Sevenoak Design. It will look very lovely.

Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to find Nights of Villjamur listed amongst “important works” for 2009, in Farah Mendlesohn’s A Short History Of Fantasy, which was rather nice considering it’s only been out a short while.


BBC Cricket Commentary

I like cricket. At one point, deep in my youth, I was playing four games a week. I was Malmesbury Cricket Club Under 15s Players’ Player Of the Year (about 13 years ago – to this day, probably the only trophy I’ve ever won). I once opened batting for the district (lord knows why, I always fancied myself as a bit of a demon swing bowler).

It’s the start of the Ashes, but I don’t want to wax lyrical about the quality of the teams in this iconic series. I won’t ramble on about the sport. But I do want to talk about a particular BBC Online E-Commentator, who is one of the finest writers in any form. His name is Ben Dirs. He has a Facebook fan group. Little is known about him, but here are some of his finest quotes:

Aaah, the English summer. The sound of leather on willow, the smell of freshly cut grass. Village folk dancing round the Maypole, attractive ladies in strappy tops, aggressive looking men with their shirts off drinking strong lager in town centres. Finding yourself nuzzling an unwashed armpit on the Tube in 50C heat. It’s going to be another belter ladies and gents.

Embarrassing cricket tales. When I was about 14, my school team played against a school called Langdon, somewhere or other in the wilds of East London. They batted first and racked up 180-3 off 20 overs. We got 13. My PE teacher called it the most humiliating day of his life. Years later, he got done for sex offences. I wonder what he thinks now.

Watching Test cricket again is like slipping into a Penguin Classic after seven weeks locked in a room with only the entire back catalogue of Nuts magazine to read.

Oof! McCullum kerplunks a fuller Sidebottom delivery for what looks a certain four until it smashes into Gillespie’s, erm, mummy-daddy button at the non-striker’s end and he is denied a run. That had to hurt. Gillespie turns down the opportunity to have it treated by the Kiwi physio – perhaps he’s not his type.

Umpire Billy Bowden is decked by a Jones sweep! How marvellous…I mean what a choker…A sweetly-timed shot by the England batsman, which strikes Bowden on the hip, sending sunnies and walkie-talkie flying. Shame for Jones, that was going for four. Bowden will have secretly loved that, the old drama tart.

If this chap doesn’t make you a) fall in love with the English language and all it’s nuances, or b) make you appreciate cricket, then I don’t know who can.


Abandoned Cities

Stolen shamelessly from Velcro City, with a nod to Darren for flagging it up for me, check out Twenty Abandoned Cities, Towns and Places.

The Kowloon Walled City was located just outside Hong Kong, China during British rule. A former watchpost to protect the area against pirates, it was occupied by Japan during World War II and subsequently taken over by squatters after Japan’s surrender. Neither Britain nor China wanted responsibility for it, so it became its own lawless city.

Its population flourished for decades, with residents building labyrinthine corridors above the street level, which was clogged with trash. The buildings grew so tall that sunlight couldn’t reach the bottom levels and the entire city had to be illuminated with fluorescent lights. It was a place where brothels, casinos, opium dens, cocaine parlors, food courts serving dog meat and secret factories ran unmolested by authorities. It was finally torn down in 1993 after a mutual decision was made by British and Chinese authorities, who had finally grown wary of the unsanitary, anarchic city and its out-of-control population.

And if that isn’t enough, here is more abandonment! I do so love derelict structures.


Amazon Stores?

I saw this article linked from Bookninja: is Amazon planning to launch retail stores?

The online retailer received a patent earlier this week for a mini-building design that has sent rumbles throughout the retail world — or, more specifically, on several online financial blogs — of a possible brick-and-mortar business venture by the company.

The patent, number D593,208, was originally filed on Oct. 31, 2007, and lists Michael Ausich, Peter Stocker and Stephanie Landry of Seattle as inventors. The relationship between the three and the company was unclear in the patent filing.

And while the designs for the building do resemble a storefront, it’s worth noting that Amazon has also already toyed with pick-up locations in Seattle for its Amazon Fresh delivery service, which it discontinued in February 2008; the patent could, in fact, augur a reprise of those.

I’d like to see more book stores of any kind, to be honest, especially in the UK. Preferably, though, they’d be smart little indies, with cool music (Kings of Convenience playing in the corner?), free coffee, big-ass sofas, and an endless SF and Fantasy section. There’d be comics too. And you’d get all the arty types hanging out there, and I’d run literary-type speed dating events (you ain’t read a book this year, you don’t get laid) and acoustic nights. Cute geek-girl staff for the guys; aloof geek-guy staff for the girls. (Or vice versa if that’s your thing.) Okay, so this is the bookstore I’d like to run then. I’d make an absolute fortune.

Or maybe I’d want it like Black Books, in which case everyone can just leave me alone to drink wine.

Who’s in?


Busy, busy

When I first set out to write about six years ago, I never had a clue just how much time an actual novel deal would take up. Here’s where I’m at now: I’m currently working on polishing up the final draft of the second Legends of the Red Sun book. (I have a title, by the way, but I’m holding it back for now.) On top of this, I’ve been firing off interviews for publicising Nights of Villjamur.

My mind is spit across three time lines. I’m a year ahead of now (in publishing terms), whilst I’m skipping back to answer interview questions on book one. Meanwhile I’m thinking of the plot of a third book. And I’m very conscious of keeping to a rate of one title a year, as best of I can.

There’s other publicity stuff behind the scenes too, arranging signed copies with various folk, considering signings, doing local press stuff, and generally keeping on top of significant increase in emails. Add the obligatory few minutes of ego-surfing for reviews…

And somewhere in all of this there’s a personal life to fit in, apparently. Oh yeah, and with a full-time job too. So I can very much understand sentiments such as these.

None of these are, of course, bad problems to have, but if you are someone hoping to be a novelist, do keep in mind the heavy baggage that comes along with it. Bohemian hermits would not cope well. But all is not such misery! Ten copies of the book arrived, in one of those massive Macmillan boxes I used to open when I worked in bookstores. When you see the copies stacked up, you know it’s all worth the effort. Two weeks or so until publication.