Lost & Waiting: the Wardian Case

The plants and ecoregions of the world are under threat from urbanization, deforestation, mining, landfill, fire, climate change, plus air, water, and soil pollution. Much fine non-fiction nature writing addresses these issues, but is it preaching to the converted? What of the people for whom these concerns are too factual, too serious, too much to Continue Reading

How to write a review

If you’re not famous for something else, if you don’t have some high profile names to spread the word, then you’re largely reliant on reviews, awards, and word-of-mouth. Tim Clare, author and poet, Three Weeks in the Life of a New Book (2019) Before you even get going, read Tim Clare’s blog on the importance Continue Reading

Mexican Gothic

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Family bonds have never been so strong 1950s socialite, Noemí, receives a worrying letter from her recently married cousin, Catalina, and sets off to investigate. Catalina is now living with husband, Virgil, at his family home, High Place, a remote, dilapidated pile in which the family’s history and traditions are kept very Continue Reading

Out Now…

A long-lost plant hunter’s journal leads Evangeline to Chile on a quest for the World Tree. Can a tree heal her past? When Evangeline comes across a Victorian plant hunter’s journal at Kew, it is the sign she’s been waiting for. Its author, Edwin ‘Chile’ Morgan, claims to have discovered a living myth:  the World Continue Reading

Magic mode: magic(al) realism and the author

If you are confused by the term ‘magic realism’, you’re not alone. The wide variety of novels and short stories all claiming to be magic realism can be bewildering, ranging as they do across romance, family saga, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, surrealist, fabulist, slipstream, absurdist and weird fiction. How can this be? In literature, Continue Reading

Endorsements

‘I was held, I laughed, I marvelled … this is such a winner!’ Fay Weldon CBE FRSL, author, essayist, feminist and playwright ‘Joyful, sensual, funny writing.’ Samantha Harvey, author and academic ‘A tremendous force and energy and a sharp wit.’ Gerard Woodward, novelist, poet and short story writer ‘Tantalises.’ Gavin James Bower, writer, editor, scriptwriter Continue Reading

Lost & Waiting: the Exhibition

Art is all around us. From the masterpieces in a museum to an advertisement, from cinema to a shoe style, from a conversation overheard to an obscure news article, the choice between tea or coffee, a choice of career, in science and nature, in the kitchen, at the station, art is inspiration.

As a writer, I might come across a picture on social media, or a news article may pique my interest. Often without realising it, these things plant the seed of an idea in my head. Over time, the idea germinates and comes to fruition in my writing.

I find it helpful to squirrel away pictures, video clips and articles which stand out to me. Later, if looking for inspiration, I turn to my folder of treasures and curios.

When writing a character—and settings can be characters as well—I find it helpful to have one or more pictures displayed on my desktop, to help bring them to life.

Usually, my fictional characters are a hybrid between various pieces of inspiration.

For example, the character of Victor, the art-collector in my novel, LOST & WAITING, was inspired by an advertising campaign popular in the ’80s, an Italian actor of the ’50s, a friend’s Mexican father, the audio guide of a Spanish cathedral, and an anti-hero of gothic literature.

The following art or artists appear in LOST & WAITING.

See also my blog on music as a muse.

Lost & Waiting: the Playlist

I prefer to write without external distractions, but I frequently play music as a precursor to writing, to access a certain mood.

Perhaps this is why music often finds its way into my work.

Evangeline, the protagonist of LOST & WAITING, has been unable to listen to music since she suffered a stillbirth. Everything changes when she embarks on a plant hunting expedition to Chile.

Not all the tracks listed here appear in my novel, but they were there in its formation.

For more on music as a muse to writers, see my review of Tyler Keevil’s talk on the subject for NovelNights, Bristol.

See also my blog on art as inspiration.

Now Available…

Operateur Cephalique, line engraving by Campion, 17–. Credit Wellcome Collection CC BY The Nag’s Head by Amanda Read A short horror story based on a character of French folklore targeting Enlightenment-era female empowerment. Published by Breaking Rules Publishing, Horror Magazine April 2020 Issue. Breaking Rules Publishing Horror magazine April issue. Available in eBook and Paperback. Continue Reading

Ten of the Best in 2019

In no particular order: Gingerbread by Helen Oyayemi. A dazzling mix of folklore, pop culture, allusions, absurdism and wit. It is Hansel & Gretel, and then some. My Review. The Ice House by Tim Clare. A rip-roaring speculative adventure with the female hero I wanted to read before she was ever written. My review. Bitter Continue Reading

Fever Dream

by Samanta Schweblin (trans. Megan McDowell) Feverish, Argentinian horror. Lying in a hospital bed in rural Argentina, Amanda is visited by eight-year-old stranger, David. A traumatic and terrifying event has brought her to this point and the precocious David cajoles her into confronting the memory. Amanda is immobile and David explains ‘It’s the worms. You Continue Reading

Fox

by Dubravka Ugresic Narrated as though a series of autobiographical essays, heavily footnoted with real and fictitious references, and foxtrotting across continents, cultures and history, Fox takes on the persona of its namesake to explore storytelling, to challenge the form of the novel, and to comment on human survival. Like the fox, the novel is Continue Reading