Monthly Archives: February 2013

Swimming Along


imagesSo there I was, head held out of the water like a poodle fresh from the salon, when it struck me that several classic examples of LIFE were there in the pool with me in the form of my  fellow swimmers.

SWIMMER #1: long, slow strokes, cutting through the water so carefully that he didn’t make a single splash. His hands were knives. His feet were scimitars. He swam on his front, then turned on to his back, seal-like, all the while as silent as a ghost in slippers.

SWIMMER #2: faster, this one, with a red swimming cap and fierce boggly goggles, she drove grimly on, splashing a bit but always pushing forward, relentless, never pausing for breath, doing that splashy crawl designed to impress but always with a hint of human flailing.


Paddling perfection

SWIMMER #3: With her nose clip and her sudden pause at the deep end, she sank as I watched. A silent back flip beneath the surface, then back into the world. A handstand next, pointing toes beneath me, hands holding down the bottom of the pool lest it explode upwards in an unaccountable fountain of blue tiles. Handstands again at the shallow end, big white legs straight and firm. Carefree. Encouragingly strange.

I swam until my legs trembled: envying swimmer #1, admiring swimmer #2, dreaming of a life as swimmer #3.  Then a hot shower and away into the chill outside.


Library Love


booksI had a tremendous time on National Libraries Day at Fleet Library last weekend, reading to a lovely audience about the odd assortment of animals and characters in my book KOALA CRAZY: specifically scary girl Cazza (“OK in a strangely terrifying way, with her death motif badges, regular detentions and insanely illegal school shoes”), dappy Taya (“If my plans to be an actress stroke fashion designer stroke singer don’t work out, perhaps I’ll be a teacher or a politician or some other kind of person who talks a lot and impresses people because I’m pretty good at it”), Taya’s sci-fi obsessed, spiky twin sister Tori (“K9  as robot dog – fine and actually pretty funny. 2thi as human person – not fine and about as funny as measles. Spelling stuff in stupid ways is just really annoying”) and confused kangaroo Caramel, who has no quotes because she’s a kangaroo and can’t talk. The atmosphere was relaxed, the room was airy, the children were attentive, the parents didn’t fidget too much, and everyone wanted to know what happened next because–

chapter 3 ended on a cliffhanger. *sly smile*

Ah, la Lumley

Ah, la Lumley

I also got to share a paragraph about it with Joanna Lumley in the Bookseller.  Ha!

All of which makes me doubly sad that a well-known author like Terry Deary should attack libraries and the important community work that they do.

Possibly he was saying it for effect. I understand that he enjoys taking a combative stance on things, which doubtless serves him well in his taekwondo classes, knife-throwing target practice and Special Forces training, but isn’t much help to these precious, endangered public spaces with their free reading material, free WiFi, cheap coffee, computer desks, e-book lending, knowledgable staff, toddler music sessions, rainproof roofs, blessed silence (except, admittedly, during said toddler sessions) and warm all-ages-welcome human environment. Humanity needs just as much investment as fibre-optic technologies, pork bellies and wind farms. More actually.

I have a Kindle and I see the value of e-books. I also spend an inordinate amount of time on my computer. But I try not to forget that we are still people in need of comfort, communication, kinship and communal spaces where these needs can be met. There is nothing sentimental about that, nor about the PLR money hard-pressed authors earn from library lending, not to mention the important publicity following library appearances like my own last weekend.

Perhaps Mr Deary will give away his PLR earnings this year. Perhaps he’s been stealthily doing so for years?


Drawing a Blank


I have a white board! I’d love to wax lyrical about this exciting development in my writing life but essentially it’s white and it’s a board and not even I can find much else to say about it at the moment. BUT, as Bob Hale would say, NOT FOR LONG!

You see, I have written myself into a computerised corner with my new project and have discovered an urgent need for a PLANNING TOOL that I can see without opening tabs (not on cans of beer though that is tempting) and flipping from screen to screen in a WHAT AM I DOING I’LL HAVE A BISCUIT AND THINK ABOUT IT HOPELESSLY kind of way. It’s a little embarrassing, to find myself at this juncture 30,000 words in. Also ironic, as I spend much of my editorial time urging other authors to plan BEFORE they start. Quite.

Unlike my usual projects, which have word counts ranging from 6,000 to 35,000 words, this honey needs to weigh in at around 80,000 words, and my usual habit of holding plot arcs in my head like a host of imaginary spinning plates is presently letting me down with lots of similarly imaginary crunching noises and illusory ceramic splinters up my fingernails. So, a white board it is.

Look! I’ve got a title and everything!


Brilliant! Why haven’t I thought of this before? I want 40 chapters, each around 2,000 words long. Lots of little boxes then, with different-coloured arrows from one to the next. Off I go!


Good. Yes. Well. This could take longer than anticipated.