“If space flight gets to the point that it’s like jet travel, I’m definitely there. It may just be we actually can’t get very far. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try." Michael Chabon
Contexts
A wonder to behold

A wonder to behold

Imbolo Mbue made headlines in the publishing world a couple years ago, when Random House snapped up her debut novel The Longings of Jende Jonga with a million-dollar pre-emptive bid. Mbue, a former market researcher left unemployed after the 2008 crash, had written the story of an African immigrant (like her, a native of Cameroon...
Out there

Out there

The Doll Funeral began as an image of a young girl running out from the back door into an unkempt garden. In my mind it’s as if there is a camera tracking behind her. The camera follows her out into the garden where she jumps off the step, runs through the overgrown grasses and begins...
Diamond discoveries

Diamond discoveries

Not long after I began writing my Aviary Gate series of historical novels, I came across of portrait of Paul Pindar. It shows a narrow-faced, scholarly-looking man in his middle years. He wears a suit of sober merchant’s black, a falling collar of simple but exceedingly expensive white lace at his neck. The portrait is...
An unfailing life

An unfailing life

On 29 April 1937 Virginia Woolf read one of her texts on the radio, the only recording of her voice known to have survived from a total of three BBC radio broadcasts. This highly introspective essay on the craftsmanship of writing was entitled ‘Words Fail Me’; four years later, almost to the day, Woolf would...
Mixed-up thinking

Mixed-up thinking

This is the story of how I came to write Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars and how it came to be more relevant than even I had imagined. It is a story of two parts – the first a little more obvious than the second. But everything needs a beginning… My beginning lies...
Vagrant tales

Vagrant tales

Before Greece embraced modernity and its marvels, it was a nation of stark realities and pernickety sprites. Lore and legend held as much validity as did hard facts in the popular imagination, but also in the synthesis of what was no less than a national soul. Sprites, trolls, crones, harridans and ogres, with innumerable names,...
Wraiths of neither good nor evil

Wraiths of neither good nor evil

With the hindsight of history, with the raw, stinging feeling on the skin of one’s conscience of the viciousness and harrowing desolation that was spawned by Nazi rule and WWII, it may seem that there was for Germany a distinct separation between a brutal, all-obliterating moment of total guilt and a redeeming ‘moment after’ of...
In defence of book learning

In defence of book learning

Running for President in 1952, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson came up with a peculiar rallying cry. “Eggheads of the world, unite!” he declared in a stump speech. “You have nothing to lose but your yolks!” These days, of course, such a bad pun wouldn’t make it out of a Democratic Party focus group alive, but...
Strange fascination

Strange fascination

The 1970s took their shape from any number of events, tragedies, trivialities, crises, obsessions, conflicts, characters, fashions, inventions, resignations, processes and social and cultural situations. It was a decade of cults, terrorists, protests, scandals, strikes, recessions, environmental panic and a sense of constant crisis. It was also the decade of Bowie. He always had a...
The hydra of memory and forgetting

The hydra of memory and forgetting

“If you have no wounds, how can you know you are alive?” wrote Edward Albee in 1998’s The Play About the Baby. Steven Uhly’s Kingdom of Twilight could be said to be all about physical, psychological and historical wounds and about the true meaning of knowing oneself to be alive – the true worth of...