Thursday, 27 January 2011

Review: Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

Michelle Paver is probably best known for her Chronicles of Ancient Darkness books, but I came across this little gem in my local bookshop and I just had to tell you all about it.

Because, quite simply, this book is amazing!

It was the cover that caught my eye – bleached whalebones on an empty beach, and when I picked it up and looked at the blurb and saw that it was a ghost story, set on Svlabard in the 1930s – well, that was me hooked. Honestly, she could have written it especially for me! I headed straight for the till.

You see, I’ve been to the Arctic, and I know how special it is.

So I guess for me this book had a unique resonance. But I would have loved it anyway. I was hooked from the start and it didn’t let me go. I was there on that Svalbard shore, watching as the days grew shorter, and then I was cowering in fear as the night drew in and I was still reading.

I won’t say anything about the plot. You must read it for yourselves. But quite simply this is the best book I’ve read in a very long time and I wanted to tell you all about it.

But something else occurs to me. With all the talk of bookshops and libraries closing, I can’t help feeling that if I couldn’t browse the shelves then I might have missed this little gem. My local bookshop is a treasure trove. I’m saddened to think, should it ever close, of all the wonderful books I’ll simply never find.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Stylish Blogger

Thankyou to both Jaxbee over at Agenthood and Submissionsville and to the enigmatic masked blogger for awarding me the lovely stylish blogger award.

So it seems that the rules for this one are as follows:

1. Link back to the lovely person who gave you the award.
2. Tell us 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award on to 15 recently discovered bloggers.

Oaky, here goes on the 7 facts.
1. I was born in Scotland
2. On my desk there is a tardis.
3. When I was young I wanted to be an astronaut
4. In my living room there is a giant inflatable dalek.
5. I love wild and open places
6. I own a sonic screwdriver
7. My favourite colour is green

And here are some fabulous blogs I’ve recently discovered:

Adventures in space
Creepy Query Girl
Wendy Godding
Drawing a Line in Time
At the rim of the far flung sky
The eye of a little God
Inwardly digesting
The Scribblers Cove
Inside the Mind of Lucy Jones
Got YA
The Apocalysies
Terry Lynn Johnson
Almost True
Charlotte’s Web
Jill Scribbles
Laura Jane Cassidy

Monday, 17 January 2011

More About Giants

There was a time when Giants roamed this earth. For the people of those ancient times they were a common sight, striding across the landscape. And then they disappeared, lingering only in legend and myth.

So what became of them?

Let me tell you.

The Giants angered the great wizards of the north. It is one thing when they grind the bones of ordinary men for their tea, but when one went a bit too far and fed the noble wizard of Ardsheal to his family, the rest of the wizards rose against them. They held a great council on the plateau mountain and cursed the giants for all time.

Across the world, in an instant all the giants were turned to stone – wherever they were walking, whatever they were doing, in a moment they were gone.

But if you look closely you can sometimes see them, for they form part of the landscape beneath our feet, entombed in the rocks of our hills and cliffs.

And here, as proof, is one of them. If you stand at the right angle you can see his profile in the cliff.

Some say this is the face of Merlin, or Arthur himself. But you and I know different.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Dear Brucie...

I’ve enjoyed your company. We had fun along the way. From the first moment you barged your way into the text you made me smile, with your odd quirks as you followed the others through the story. You only played a minor part but I had such high hopes for you.

I hate to have to break the bad news but changes have to be made. Your role is too small and one of my other characters can easily serve the same purpose. You and me – it just hasn’t worked.

There isn’t a place for you in the novel any more.

I won’t forget you. But you’re going to have to be…


I’m so sorry Brucie. It’s never nice to delete a dog!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

A Visit to London

Yesterday I took the train up to London to meet my Agent. It was a long journey, but a good one.

It's strange, isn't it - the people we meet on trains. For a few hours that carriage is our world and we swap stories and set the world to rights. Then, when one of us reaches our station we shake hands and say 'Goodbye' like old friends - yet often we still don't know each other's names.

Then on I went into the city to meet Julia. I've met her before of course - I met her that day at the Frome Festival - but this was different. This time I was her client and we were meeting to discuss my book. It was really productive and the next round of revisions are about to begin.

I have to admit though, visiting the city makes me realise how much I love living by the sea. I walked along the beach this afternoon, salt spray on my lips, and watched the surfers playing in the swell.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Of Rocks and Writing

I remember one Christmas holiday, more years ago that I care to say. I came home after my first term away at university studying geology and climbed up the old iron age hill fort behind our house to stare out across the landscape.

It was a view I had looked at many times before. But this time it was different. This time I saw it through the eyes of a geologist. I saw the structures that underlay the hills, the dip and strike of the strata, the folds, the fault lines. I saw where the limestone ended and the clay began.

I've seen the world differently ever since. To me the landscape tells a story.

Writers see the world in a different way to other people as well. As the geologist in me sees the story behind the rocks in these cliffs - a tale of an ancient ocean and the mighty creatures that swam its depths - so the writer in me sees the stories behind the smallest things.

What have those people found on the beach - washed up by the tide?