"To write anything worth reading you have to put everything you have into every sentence. There can be no lazy thinking, no clichés, no borrowed tropes, no third-hand experience; there can be no hiding.” Miranda Darling
Posts tagged "fiction"
A time to write

A time to write

It’s difficult to cast my mind back to the early days of the pandemic, even though it wasn’t so long ago. Maybe because it’s a stressful time that most of us would rather forget, or maybe since many of our deeply rooted memories have to do with human interaction, it is difficult to understand, to...
Weird and wonderful book dedications

Weird and wonderful book dedications

Most authors dedicate their beloved books to their family. To partners. To children. To parents. But not all authors. I dedicated my first novel Virgin to anyone who knew the pain of a Brazilian wax. My second – Not That Easy – was for anyone who ever felt like their life was a mess. My...
History train

History train

‘Mater’ comes from the Japanese abbreviation for ‘mountain’. During Japanese colonialism, fifty Mater 1 locomotives, modelled after their Mountain-type counterparts in the United States, were built in Gyeongseong (Seoul) and at the Kisha Seizo factory in Japan. The thirty-three-carriage Mater 2, an improved version manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, was introduced and operated mainly in...
Trials, trauma and women's tales

Trials, trauma and women’s tales

In winter 2017, I visited a sandstone cathedral in Orkney called St Magnus. I’d published two novels in as many years, with the next about to be released, and I was exhausted. This trip was meant to be a break from creating – I’d even left my laptop at home in Australia. I wandered the...
Catastrophe on the shore

Catastrophe on the shore

The boat had seemed large at the dock, but now that they’re rumbling away from Big Island, it seems flimsy and ludicrously small. Luda tries to think of the last time she’d been on a boat before coming to the islands. Years ago. Someone’s thirtieth birthday on the thick, marshy water of the Hopeturn River...
The water-god and the feathered snake

The water-god and the feathered snake

Another man is standing guard with the usual man who is standing guard. I have not seen this man before. He is slight, narrow-faced, with a shaven upper lip. All is well? I ask. I am not in the mood for talk but the question is a courtesy. All is well, says the usual man....
The weeping woman

The weeping woman

The Lienzo de Tlaxcala, an Indigenous 16th-century chronicle of the conquest of Mexico, frequently depicts a young woman with black hair. Dressed in a long skirt and a richly patterned blouse, she stands at the right-hand side of conquistador Hernán Cortés. She seems to be listening intently. Sometimes her finger is raised, as if she...
Gay love stories in historical fiction

Gay love stories in historical fiction

What was it like to be a gay man in Paris in 1870? While researching my novel The Beasts of Paris, I couldn’t find much in 19th-century writing about homosexual love, and even later there are strangely few literary, queer, period-set love stories (shout outs to Sarah Waters and Mary Renault), so I’m pushing the...
Escape from Tokyo

Escape from Tokyo

I have always wanted to write a novel set in rural Japan. The first place I lived when I moved there was a tiny coastal town in Hiroshima prefecture. Once a week, after work I would go to a battered old community centre in the town of Onomichi and have a one-on-one lesson with my...
A menacing charmer

A menacing charmer

They had come out on to the parade now, and he led Meg into a glass-sided shelter facing out across a sea so smeared and spangled by lights that it seemed as much a man-made structure as the parade itself. “Now tell me what it’s all about,” commanded Freddy; and without forethought or caution, Meg...
Spirited gatherings and random stacks

Spirited gatherings and random stacks

Lucy Barker’s debut novel The Other Side of Mrs Wood has been hotly anticipated since the manuscript-in-progess finished as runner-up in the inaugural Curtis Brown First Novel Prize back in 2019 – since gathering praise from literary luminaries including Marian Keyes, Sophie Irwin, Frances Quinn and Katie Fforde. The book whisks readers to the competitive...
A shower of stardust

A shower of stardust

It was long after nightfall, and a soft breeze played over Guillaume’s face. He had positioned his telescope to the portside and aft, to observe the constellations of Centaurus, Circinus, Volans and the Southern Cross. With a yellow glass disc placed over the end of the telescope, the image was more sharply focused. He was...