Tags are marvellous for bloggers who can't think what to write today other than posting pictures of their own publicity materials... I'm grateful, therefore, to Alis Hawkins for putting up the following open-invitation tag on her own blog. Without further ado, here goes:
What was I doing ten years ago
Finishing my first novel, The Zael Inheritance. For all its flaws, I still have some affection for it, and its anti-heroine remains in my eyes the best character I've ever written. I was also a month into speed-dating one of my work colleagues--ten years later we are still speed-dating...
Professionally I was doing much the same things with spreadsheets as I do today.
The Vance Integral Edition, a hobby which was to fill much of the intervening period, was still a year away.
Five things on my to-do list for today
- Go running at lunchtime
- Find a minimally unflattering hi-res photograph, preferably of myself, to send to the Portsmouth Evening News for a story they are running on The Dog of the North
- Compere this morning's 'Finance Briefing' at work
- Continue re-reading the first draft of The Last Free City, despite my resolution not to...
- Watch Russia vs Spain in the Euro2008 semi-final
Buy an island, pay people of five feet two and under to live there, and stride through the streets I had constructed, head and shoulders above everyone else. With money left over I would invest in telecommunication jamming equipment and turn it on at 7:30 when the BBC transmits its dismal 'drama' of grunting half-human beasts, EastEnders.
Oh, and end world poverty.
Three bad habits I've got
- Coveting my neighbour's ass (not as kinky in the UK as the US, but clearly not a good habit))
Muesli. Chocolate. Yoghurt-coated raisins. Curious crisps/chips from America shaped like UFOs.
The last five books I've read
How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them—A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman.
As recommended by David Isaak. Can be read just for laughs, but if you don't recognise a liberal sprinkling of your own faults here, you're in denial.
Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell
Sorry, Bernard, I like your books normally but this was grim. A largely unsympathetic hero gets himself into various spots of bother, all of which he gets out of by virtue of being an invincible warrior. I gave up halfway through, almost unheard of for me. If you're going to write a book with only one real character, he needs to be a bit more nuanced than this. Like Michael Moorcock's Elric novels but without the irony.
Dirty Money by Richard Stark
The latest Parker novel. Not his best, by any means, but Stark operating at 80% is still pretty damn impressive. The books have been getting longer which dilutes their sinewy power, but Stark remains one of the greats
The Sleepwalker's Introduction to Flight by Sion Scott-Wilson
At once funny, touching and anarchic, this is a "typical" Macmillan New Writing effort--defying ready classification but beautifully written and highly intelligent. The closest match I can think of is Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
It terrifies me when MNW publish stuff this good... it raises expectations of my own work which may not be satisified!
Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
As previously blogged. Brilliant character-driven fantasy, subversive and hard-edged.
Cop-Hater by Ed McBain
The first of McBain's 87th Precinct novels, this was credited as launching the police-procedural sub-genre. Others have subsequently done this much better, and I wasn't gripped enough to expect to read more of these any time soon.
Five jobs I've had
Deckchair attendant (best job ever...)
Identity parade stooge
Five places I've lived
Willard Price's Adventure series
Jack Vance's Gaean Reach
E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman universe
Mondia, the setting for Dragonchaser and The Dog of the North
Oh, real places...
Sandown, Isle of Wight
Grim seaside resort
Shanklin, Isle of Wight
Less grim seaside resort
Hey, this one we like!
Grim seaside resort. The arsehole of the universe.
But--for those who know Bosham--not the posh bit.
If anyone else would like to be tagged, please treat this as your invitation.