Friday, 1 November 2013

Ideas Bank (MA MS)

I've started my MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa.
It's a lot of work.

I'm collecting things for my novel or a future novel or a short. The stuff below is actually for my own benefit, so I can find these links again in the future. If I email them to myself the emails will get lost in amongst boring stuff. So that's the justification for this post, which to other people will probably seem out of place.

Character scrapbook: older man, well dressed:

Alden shoes - Charvet shirt - Alexander McQueen tie - Thom Browne accessories

character scrapbook:
point of interest: cardigan.

weekday t-shirt - second hand cardigan - weekday pants

Fi's housing estate

The world/ the kinds of people who populate it:

Most of my novels have a playlist attached to them, or a style of music or a particular musician that represents something about that world or a character within it. The idea behind this is that I begin to form an association between that music and the novel, so if I need to work on it and I'm struggling to get into the zone, I can put on the associated music and be instantly in that zone. It's always difficult at the beginning because I've not yet formed that association. Here's some music that I think will form the association for my MA novel

character association: Ross (and Fi)

(four tet in general, as well as the four tet/ Burial collaborations.)

(awesome video!)

character association: Fi

Balam Acab's entire Wander/ Wonder album 

character association: Mark

Monday, 29 July 2013

Geofiction, author talk, art shows, story slam, book launch, cvhf: Busy times.

Since I last wrote the following things have occurred:

I've been busy over at Storyslingers organising a geofiction competition, fictional worlds event and exhibition of fictional maps. Here's just two of my personal favourites:

Winner, Jeffery Bebee:
Map of Western Refractoria
original: inks on watercolour paper
Jeffrey Beebe,
b. IndianapolisIN
Lives and works in NYCUSA

original: coloured ink on 60 sheets of black paper
Juli Martí Casals
b. BarcelonaSpain

Check out the rest of the winning and shortlisted entries over on the Storyslingers blog. This collection of various geofiction is (to my knowledge) one of the first in the world.

We've also hosted authors Jaine Fenn and Susan McLeod (both published by Gollancz) who came to talk about their work and experiences in the world of professional authorhood. We may have a blog post coming about that talk, keep checking back at the Storyslingers blog.
Talking of which, that's where I've been blogging recently, so if you're ever wandering what I'm doing, chances are you can find out over there.

(image by Dan Morison, go over to kickstarter and look at his awesome forthcoming tabletop card game, The Agents. Pledge a little money to the project and you get to be one of the first owners of this game along with the stretch goals, which are fast unlocking because the project is very popular)

I'll be moving to Bath in October to start an MA in Creative Writing, so looking for a place to live is top of my list right now. On a recent house-hunting trip I popped over to Bristol for the preview of Antlers' new show Spatial. Check it out this week, it's worth taking a look - the show continues until the 10th of August at Temple Studios, near Bristol Temple Meads station. Antlers is a roving art gallery representing some really talented young artists.

Earlier in the month I went to London to see another art show: which was excellent. 
photo by Matthew Heaton-Blankley

 And I've been invited to co-organise another story slam at Bridport Open Book Festival, so keep a look out for that - it'll be on October 16th at the Beach & Barnicott, It's an open mic event. Judges include YA author Katherine Kelly, Julie Musk - editor of Roving Pree and flash fiction expert - Gail Aldwin of What the Dickens Magazine et al. 

Also, I attended Winchester Writers Conference, Neil Gaiman's launch of the Ocean at the End of the Lane (my good friend Jennifer K Oliver wrote about it on her blog:
And I went to Chalke Valley History Festival, which was fantastic. Storyslinger Amanda Thyme wrote a review for Do More magazine

Who needs to write a blog when you can link to all your friends' blogs?

(image by Jennifer K Oliver:\)

Friday, 10 May 2013

Documented Walk May 2013

I went on a decent cycle and walk on Tuesday and documented it visually and aurally. 

I cycled from Madjeston to Pen Selwood: 

I've admired these gates for years. 

Soundscape for this view:



I've set some of my novel in this combe: my favourite place in the world.



Hambledon (n.) The sound of a single-engine aircraft flying by, heard whilst lying in a summer field in England, which somehow concentrates the silence and sense of space and timelessness and leaves one with a profound feeling of something or other.


soundscape without visual documentation of a horserider and his dog: 

View from Coit Mawr to Ynys yr Afalon (Selwood to Glastonbury Tor)

cycled through the forest. This road is great to cycle along: very exhilarating.

view over Coit Mawr towards Caer Pelladwr (Selwood to Shaftesbury)


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

First Impressions poster

check out this poster I designed for the artists Amanda Keyte and Marie De'Ath. If you're in Shaftesbury from May 13-18, then pop along to the arts centre and look at their exhibition. 

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Fictional Map Making Competition

I love maps of fictional places. Such creativity and imagination! 

I'm running a fictional map making competition with my writing group. Check it out. I've had maps from across the world coming at my inbox and I like it. 

In other news: I'm writing. Last week I was mostly gardening, professionally. This week I will be mostly writing, non-professionally (for now). 

I am writing a fantasy novel set in Dark Age Britain. Think Wells Towers, think Samurai Champloo, it's not those things but those things are good things. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Writing is going well. I'm listening to a lot of new music (new to me). 
The garden is not doing so well. 
But who cares!
When we have words
and funky music

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Ideas Bank

Here's an ideas bank for a forthcoming project that is based on a really old project.

Kids coming together into edgelands to create new spaces, to learn about themselves and each other, to make something from nothing without interference from an institution or state: freedom (consider Society of the Spectacle/ Guy Debord). These spaces are more important than council created skate parks, more inventive, less controlled, a place where man and nature meet.

“A core element in virtually all these developments remains a dissatisfaction with the nature and design of the modern environment and a desire to make the everyday world more interesting.”

Nature/ bio-diversity thrives in transitional areas. 

photography, the sublime, edgelands, Jung, psychoanalysis, The Uncanny, Freud.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


WALK 19 Feb. 13

I went on a quick walk shortly before dusk. The temperature range between setting off and coming back – a period of about half an hour – ranged from comfortably sporting a t-shirt to in desperate need of several woollen layers; measured in degrees of clothing. I didn’t take my camera, but I can report that the countryside looked photogenic: gold on green, bright half moon in deep blue skies, pampass grass casting long feathery shadows, and distant black cows looking toy-like in their perfection. There was a deep earthy smell I don’t often sniff in the winter.
When I reached the bridge I experienced a strong urge to throw my glasses in the river. Throwing your most valued personal item into water was a popular British practice up until the 14th Century. I guess we all became stingy around 1300AD. I managed to fight my urge to toss away my most valued item; my distant ancestors did not.

Wildlife of note:
A buzzard
2 kingfishers (or perhaps the same kingfisher seen twice)
A hare that ran up the hill and paused at the brow looking majestic in the golden setting sun.
A limp-wristed jogger in hi-vis.
A buff man in wellies capably wrestling with a lamb that had escaped from the field opposite my house, and his small terrier.

Latin of the week:
In Season: Galanthus nivalis
Out of Season: Briza media

My sabbatical is going badly. One and a half weeks in I was given a little one-off day of work closely followed by several intensive 9-13 hour days, and I’m set to work 8-16 hours a week from now until the end of my sabbatical, when I will “resume” an 8-16 hour week.
…I think the sabbatical is over. I think it was less of a sabbatical and more of a short holiday. 
 But this is good because I’ve been offered a place at Bath Spa’s Creative Writing MA again, and at this rate of employment, I might be able to afford it, even without AHRC funding. 

Friday, 25 January 2013


I've given up working in the book shop and I'm currently on a sabbatical until the spring when I will resume my part time gardening jobs. The idea of this break was to get lots of work done on my novel. But I've quickly realised that spending 12hours or more a day at the computer trying to write is not all that productive. Recently I've become obsessed with writing the novel, it's all I do, all I think about, all I care about, even though I find the process of writing difficult and I feel inadequate. 
Back when I first gave up full time work to write (five years ago!) I didn't put so much pressure on it. It wouldn't matter if I only spent an hour writing, the rest of the day would be spent walking or in the garden. And I enjoyed writing more then, maybe because I didn't realise how bad at it I was. But more likely because it wasn't the only thing I was doing. 
I've decided to get back to the good old days of fresh air and wholesome rural living, so I'll hopefully go on more walks and get into the garden more. 

A big reason I stopped walking so much is that I moved to Mr Kite's cabin, which is in the middle of nowhere, but there are almost no footpaths here, and the countryside is dull: intensely agricultural. The village I lived in before was close to the ancient forest of Selwood; there's coombes, woods, lakes, Stourhead (national trust property), hills, and lots of footpaths everywhere. It was just easier to walk there. It's only a forty minute cycle ride away, so I will hopefully return to my old walking routes. On cold days such as these, I have to make do with the lane walking on offer locally. 

I don't like to bring a camera with me when I walk, though I might do so occasionally. Yesterday I had my Dictaphone and recorded some sounds.

Here's some observations I jotted down at this location:

Small lake reflecting white winter light and browns. A duck makes a V in the water as it swims. 
A line of tall conifers near the lake. 
A large deer or possibly small horse lying down near the hedge.
Rolling interlocking landscape, hazy and cold blue.
Remnants of snow flecked on fields. 
A chinnock flies overhead. 

Other observations
Along the railway bank: a glass beer bottle suspended in a barbedwire fence by the handle of a plastic bag, so neatly done it must have been deliberate. Other scattered litter, also deliberate but less artistic. Badger set. 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Peters Comic

I forgot to mention that I wrote a short comic. Danny Morison did the illustration, and most of the work. At the moment it's up on this website so please read it and let me know what you think. This is the first comic we've finished, and we both used it as a learning tool/ a bit of a playground. 

It's a sci fi story set in a future world but with my own hippy nature-is-awesome slant. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

All the books I read in 2012

Happy New Year! Last year I read 55 books (or more, I think I forgot to note some of them). My resolution for this year is to read at least 45, so I can say I've read 100 in two years. I hope I can read 55 again, but too much more than that and I start to eat into my writing time and that's not something I want to happen. 
Other resolutions include to quit one of my jobs in order to do more writing (already put that one in motion, I leave the book shop on the 20th of January), to finish writing a book, to send it off, to  do more exercise, more gardening, more walking, find more good music to listen to, maybe find time to update this a little more often too. 

Books I read in 2012 plus my own personal award ceremony for the best writers and books I personally read in 2012. 

(those in bold have broken into the 80s. Only the rarest of gems get such high scores. Scoring system based on my old University marking system where getting 90 or more was almost impossible).

1. Twilight Robbery – Francis Hardinge                                       65
2. Apples – Richard Milward                                                       45
3. Love Songs For the Shy and Cynical – Robert Shearman        78
4. The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God – Etgar Keret              77
5. Girl on the Fridge – Etgar Keret                                              72
6. It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Ned Vizzini                                  42
7. No One Belongs Here More Than You – Miranda July              69
8. Tiny Deaths – Robert Shearman                                           80
9. Nimrod’s Flipout – Etgar Keret                                               73
10. Dogs 0 (Manga)                                                                   49
11. Naïve. Super – Erland Loe                                                    73
12. The Tiny Wife – Andrew Kaufman                                          75
13. Legend of a Suicide – David Vann                                        70
14. Warm Bodies – Isaac Marion                                                71
15. St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves – K.Russell        69
16. The Safety of Objects – A.M Homes                                     76
17. All My Friends are Superheroes – Andrew Kaufman               75
18. Palo Alto – James Franco                                                    67
19. 1Q84 1&2 – Haruki Murakami                                                78
20. McSweeney’s 30 – Various                                                   73
21. Suddenly a Knock on the Door – Etgar Keret                                    60
22. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – A. Bender              62
23. In Watermelon Sugar – Richard Brautigan                              68
24. The Middle Stories – Heti                                                     52
25. Tell Me No Lies – Malorie Blackman                                      39
26. 1Q84 3 – Haruki Murakami                                                  87
27. On Writing – Stephen King                                                   65
28. The Waterproof Bible – Andrew Kaufman                            83
29. The White Cat – Holly Black                                                  66
30. Pastorlia – George Saunders                                                67
31. Red Glove – Holly Black                                                      64
32. Granta 119 – Various                                                            52
33. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love – Carver    85
34. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned – Wells Tower      89
35. HBWOSG – Dave Eggers                                                     76
36. Lights Out in Wonderland – DBC Pierre                                 71
37. King Arthur – Robin Lister                                                     36
38. Black Heart – Holly Black                                                     55
39. The Crimson Chalice – Victor Canning                                   68
40. The Circle of the Gods – Victor Canning                                58
41. Writing Fiction, Critical & Creative Approaches – Boulter        72
42. The Crystal Cave – Mary Stewart                                           68
43. McSweeney’s 40 – Various                                                   60
44. Civitas to Kingdom – Ken Dark                                             69
45. A Better Angel – Chris Adrian                                             82
46. Assassins Apprentice – Robin Hobb                                     67
47. The Wild Things – Dave Eggers                                            63
48. The Great Night – Chris Adrian                                              58
49. The Bird Room – Chris Killen                                                62
50. The Little Sister – Raymond Chandler                                    74
51. Granta 120 – Various                                                            70
52. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern                                     61
53. Dr Who Apollo 23 – Justin Richards                                      15
54. A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness                                             79
55. AD 500 – Simon Young                                                        45

Best and worst of the books I read in 2012

Best short story collection: Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned – Wells Tower
Best novel: Andrew Kaufman’s Waterproof Bible.
Best children’s/ YA book: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.
Best Non fiction: Civitas to Kingdom by Ken Dark.
My favourite all-round author in 2012: Andrew Kaufman.
Top authors: Andrew Kaufman, Wells Tower, Robert Shearman, Chris Adrian, Murakami, Carver, Chandler.  
Worst book: Dr Who Apollo 23 (I’m not sure if I should even count this one.) I also read half of Kraken by China Mieville and couldn’t finish it.