Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Aliya in the sky with diamonds

So Aliya's story, In the Clouds, which was in the first issue of Serendipity, got a notable story from Story South's Million Writers scheme. Go her. Go Serendipity. Go go Gadget gravy...

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Six things about Aliya

1. She’s part of a new breed of English woman that’s taken to wearing top hats as a fashion statement. Given that she’s very tall (6’3”), this can be quite intimidating for the shorter man

2. Although Aliya’s dislike of tomatoes is well documented, what isn’t so well known (because she’s a little embarrassed about it) is her love of tomato ketchup, which she pours on practically all savoury foods, including salads and soups. Eurch.

3. Due to taking pity on a new classmate who had moved to Aliya’s hometown from a neighbouring county during primary school, who everyone else ignored as her grasp of English wasn’t the greatest, Aliya is fluent in Cornish.

4. Aliya hates cheap tea.

5. Aliya has a collection of yellow dungarees that she has bought from ebay. It currently numbers four pairs, but I’d be unsurprised if this grows along with her success as an author.

6. One of Aliya’s uncles is Dave Brock from seventies space-rockers Hawkwind.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Judging a book by its author

I’ve recently agreed to make the odd contribution to the Big Blog of Marvel, a new blog commenting on all things magical realist. The founder, Tamara Sellman, has asked for a picture and bio, which a lot of places do now, but which set me thinking. On Serendipity we do the same, and the magazine somehow seems to have one of the finest-faced bunch of contributors around. I promise this isn’t intentional. I don’t go around asking good looking women to submit stories, but that doesn’t stop them from doing so. (In fact, the people I have actually approached for submissions tend to be big fellas with beards, a lá Jeffrey Ford and Steven Savile). As well as the Pootle herself, there are an increasing number of others: Phyllis Anderson, Maria de la Rosa, Joanna Gardner, Julie K Rose, Kate Aton-Osias, Flavia Baralle, E Nesbit (okay, so she didn’t actually submit her story, but she fits in with the crowd)…

There was an article in one of the literary supplements a year or so ago asking whether we choose books based just as much on the way the author looks, as the blurb or recommendations. One of the examples given was of Peter Høeg, author of Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. I can’t say I bought the book myself for Pete’s striking Nordic looks (I bought it because I liked the cover), but I think this is a valid point. I mean, would you buy a book written by this man. No, I thought not. Seriously though, Steve Redwood submitted a really old picture of himself for the publicity shot for Prime’s edition of Fisher of Devils, as he was worried that not being a Hollywood-faced thirty-something with Zadie Smith and Toby Litt for pals would somehow impact on his success. The thing is, I’ve a feeling he might be right. The only other option is for him to put on a few pounds around the waist and grow his beard out a bit. Am I wrong here? Don DeLillo seems to make a point of not wanting his image used to market his books, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of Michael Chabon either. Are they both really ugly, or do they just have a level of literary integrity and a lack of ego missing in most writers?

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

New Serendipity Magazine up.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Lists and favourites

Reasons I write that sound like cryptic crossword clues:

  1. Masochistic tendency enjoys courting constant rejection
  2. Too much un-used ink in the world
  3. Large and not entirely stable ego

Two rubbish sentiments often spouted by writers:

I don’t tell the story, the characters do. I just give them the means to do it. (Forgive me, anyone who believes this is clinically insane.)

  1. I don’t read much fiction anymore. I’m too busy

Favourite book

I know sensible people steer clear of breaking things down into numbered lists such as the above and having favourite things. I don’t think I’ve got a particular favourite anything else, but I do have a favourite book and I think it’s unlikely to be toppled from its pedestal any time soon. The book is Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban. It’s not for everyone. For a start it’s written in a broken down and re-constructed version of English and is set in post-apocalypse Kent. But if you’re reading this blog, you’ll probably quite enjoy it. More people should read it. Go, go buy it.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Reindeer girls

Talking of research, this is only available for a few more days, but provides a great insight into one of the cultures to feature prominently in our collaborative effort. It's also a really educational and beautiful film. Watch out for the ride on the car-ferry!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Snow salad

I don't partake of a veggiebox, but the last couple of weeks has seen me plant some early lettuces and optimistic tomatoes (to keep Pootles at bay), along with runner beans and cucumbers. I'm sure they'll all enjoy the snow that's forecast for tonight.

And on the punctuation front, the Independent discusses semi-colons.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Punctuation, my dear, I don't give a damn. Or: Holy exclamation marks, Batman!!

Okay, so hands up on the hyphen front, but as lucky-winner-from-West-Sussex states, I'm not the only one. And Whiteley, I want the hyphen in time-piece put back in. The letter was written in 1943.

But can I just record for posterity, none of the exclamation marks in the book are mine. And there are 36 of them.