Friday, 27 March 2009

Order from chaos

The comically-haired Chris Packham (warning: typos on website may make you shudder) is taking over Springwatch duties from comically-comical Bill Oddie. To celebrate, here are some flamingoes

On the bad news front, no more saccharine joy as Lark Rise has ended, and no more cuddly sheep in wolf's clothing with Being Human well and truly over, and boo, Robin Hood and Primeval return to British screens. Telly people, what are you playing at? I'm off to read a book.

Oh, and because we don't want her to feel left out, here's Kate Humble's website. It's still under construction though.

Did anyone tell you Light Reading is out in paperback next week?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Book Settlement--I heart/hate Google

For anyone not in the know, you should go and claim your work in the big Google book settlement. I'm still looking into the options regarding taking the money and running, and holding out with all the other righteous holier-than-thou writers.

If you're cheap like me, and grateful to Google for, well, being Google, rather than hating them for, well, being Google--thanks for the free blogging software by the way!--it's $100 for a novel and $15 for a short story or other 'insert'. Very simple to do too.

On the other hand, Jay Lake has already given voice to my main reservations about the whole affair, ie, Google have infringed copyright, stolen work and strong-armed every author and original published illustrator with works available into the US into either accepting their terms, or actively seeking out their infringement and either fighting it, or, far more realistically, just ignoring it and walking away with no money and no presence in what's likely to be the world's largest digital archive of written work. And I guess if I choose to deal and get paid, they'll also want my bank details, about the only thing they don't already know about me.

We heart/hate Google

Flowers and other emotions

I don't read much poetry really, but the other day I read Wendy Cope's Flowers, and it made me come over a bit peculiar.

Possibly a somewhat obvious observation, but I suppose poetry is less about the reader's relationship with the writer (character, plot, narrative voice) and more about the reader's relationship with subject of the poem.

Over on the MNW blog, LC Tyler asked what endings of novels had made people cry. I reckon the emotions generated by books and film are in the main sympathetic ones, whereas the emotions stimulated by poems are perhaps more personal.

These questions and more were probably answered in a BBC4 documentary about the physiological and psychological impacts of fiction-reading that aired a while back, but I missed it. So I'm making all this up. Am I wrong?

Friday, 13 March 2009

Veggie Books: The Liveship Traders Trilogy

If you're a fantasy writer with organic leanings, then you've got a difficult choice to make. Are you going to call an orange an orange?

I've recently finished re-reading Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders trilogy, and enjoyed it very much this time around too, being a sucker for dragons and talking boats and stuff, but this particular sentence from Book One caught my eye:

From others came Kwazi fruit, whose rind yielded an oil that could numb even a serious wound and whose pulp was an intoxicant with an effect that lingered for days.

Made-up fruit. Way more exciting than real fruit. I think we should have more imaginary vegetables in books, personally. I'm going to put a tribblat in my next literary effort. My character will eat it and fall into an unpleasant dream about sharks. Tribblats attract sharks, you see. Tribblat trees grow on the shore and their full boughs hang down low over the water in summer. Then my character will awake to see a tiger shark make a twenty foot vertical leap to pick a particularly tasty tribblat with its teeth.

This will all be subtext, of course.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Who are you?

As someone experiencing a similar predicament to the writer Emma is detailing in her post--although I know I can still do a bit more to improve the two manuscripts looking for a home, and I'm not particularly frustrated either--the latest post on This Itch of Writing kind of interesting.

I'm not that analytical on the technical side of things, but try and pay attention to the mechanics of the art of writing, if that makes sense and doesn't sound too pretentious. The question of what work best suits a writer is at the crux of Emma's post. It's an interesting question. Maybe an easier one for writers like Aliya and me to answer, as we write so many short stories. Personally I was delighted with Overturned, the story we wrote together. So, what story or book do you feel is you, cooking on gas, all cylinders firing?

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Saturday Morning Watchmen and Untitled

If you haven't seen it yet, please go and do so:

Saturday Morning Watchmen

It really helps if you've read Watchmen.

And look, what a nice website. Not sure why I've only just come across it:

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Not being human anymore

My favourite programme since the mythical first series of Love Soup has come to an end. I watched the pilot for Being Human early last year with a kind of, yeah it's good, but could be so much more, kind of stance. It all felt a bit too self-absorbed cod-World of Darkness. But the programme (first series?), well, wow, really. Within the medium of British television and the constraints placed on programme-makers, I don't think there's anything it could have done better. If you have any affection or interest in horror-monsters, relationship dramas and,well, I guess even social commentary, then you missed out.

It was witty and funny both, Okay, so it couldn't make a fresh and filling meal from the whole vampires-want-to-take-over-the-world scenario. But point out anything of the supernatural persuasion better on television barring Afterlife in the last ten or twenty years. Doctor Who? Kids programme! (Sorry Mr Ecclestone, sir. And yes, I know Toby Whithouse--Being Human's creator--also wrote for Torchwood. Torchwood is also a kids programme, just with lots of sexual references.)

Ooh, look, there's a whole shiny website devoted to it.