Sunday, 19 May 2019

Buckle Up


Well, here we go. Super excited for the Game of Thrones finale. Had a little tinkle on the piano to build the atmosphere. Probably going to watch it with my neighbour, Didier, as we're both hooked.

I've been laughing loudly at the #GoT hashtag on Twitter but I've been so restrained and not retweeted anything in case it spoils it for others. But, down below, are a couple of my favourites. Don't scroll if you're still getting there.




Down




Doo




Bee




Doo




Down




Down











That last one feels like a long time ago now!

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Hard Copy Decisions


Much closer to the release of Children of Lir. Big debate about the cover colour, so ordered a copy of both the blue and the green. It didn't make things easier. Still a really tough decision. The blue looks good in photos, but the green just has the edge in print I feel. So, going for green for print and possibly blue for the ebook.

Just going through the hard proof now. It's absolutely astonishing how different the reading experience can be in print compared to word or Kindle. Looking at it in different formats helps you catch the extra issues.

Almost there. Looking forward to releasing it into the wild. This one's been a long time in the making.  


Sunday, 12 May 2019

Consider Phlebas


Finished this today.

I really enjoyed The Wasp Factory. When I read it, I assumed it would be sci-fi as I knew that's what Iain Banks was best known for, so I was surprised it was horror. Thought it was excellent, so decided I'd also check out his sci-fi and picked up Consider Phlebas

I have to say, this one wasn't really my thing. It falls into the category of space opera, which isn't a genre I'm that into. I like Star Trek a lot, but that's about my limit. So, this is just to say, it wasn't for me, but that's not to say it isn't for someone else. When I mentioned I was reading it, friends told me they really enjoyed it.

The first book in Iain M. Banks's seminal science fiction series, The Culture. Consider Phlebas introduces readers to the utopian conglomeration of human and alien races that explores the nature of war, morality, and the limitless bounds of mankind's imagination.

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

There was definitely some very good imagery, such as phaser blasts bouncing off a crystal temple, the guy who jumped the barrier without an anti-gravity unit, and the cannibal, Fwi-Song, is also very memorable, plus some nice lines:

Still, the underlying point held. Experience, as well as common sense, indicated that the most reliable method of avoiding self-extinction was not to equip oneself with the means to accomplish it in the first place.

I had to smile at one point when Banks seemed to let slip something of himself. The father in The Wasp Factory is obsessed with measurements and exact conversions. There's a point in this novel where a computer starts calculating how many two-millimetre characters could fit onto a piece of card 10x10 cm,  if writing on both sides, and how many cards total you could stuff into a draw one metre long. A conundrum that would have been at home in The Wasp Factory.

There's also a nice point of security logic. The main character, Horza, is a changeling (think Odo in Deep Space Nine and you're not far off). He takes the form of a ship's captain and logs into the controls. Banks explains that some ship's identity software looks for signs of relief after someone successfully logs in, as an indication of fraud. That could be useful for a lot of things. An I-got-away-with-it detection program.

So, it was interesting in parts, but the story just didn't pull me under. Glad I checked it out, though. Proved Banks to be a diverse writer, and Peter Kenny is an exceptional narrator.

I think there are ten books in the Culture series. You can find out more about them here. Apparently Amazon bought the rights to Consider Phlebas last year, so there might be a film adaptation on its way.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Why UBI is so Important


Saw this on YouTube and it made me smile. Reminded me a of a cartoon I saw once where a kid turns up at his parents' door after graduation with a massive sack of debt on his back. His dad greets him with no sympathy, saying "I left school with nothing!", and the kid replies, "I wish I'd left with nothing."

I mentioned Universal Basic Income briefly in my TEDx talk. For those who don't know what it is, here's the lowdown.




Finland joined the list of countries to trial a UBI payment. The experiment recently finished and I was a bit annoyed by the coverage. One of the key complaints was that it didn't lead to significantly more people starting businesses.

Well, would you, if you knew UBI was an experiment lasting for two years, and after that the money would stop? You're hardly going to behave in the same way as you might if you knew the money was guaranteed for life. One woman gave a heartfelt panic as the year drew to an end, because she wasn't sure how she'd make up for the loss of UBI. There were also strongly influential restrictions to the study, which you can read about here, that discouraged people from taking employment. Many people involved in the study had been living with financial insecurity for a long time, you can't just ask someone to trust in a stable income and behave with confidence.That takes time.

All that considered though, I think the emphasis is on the wrong thing. Leading opinion compellingly suggests that we're facing a fourth industrial revolution and that 9-5 jobs are not the way of the future. The other thing we're seeing is a global mental health crisis brought about by financial stress and a growing lack of purpose. As the video above shows, you can have someone physically in the office eight hours a day, but that doesn't mean they're productive.

One thing that has come out of UBI studies is their positive effect on mental health and boosting self-worth. This is absolutely what we need to focus on. We need to stop talking about work and the simple act of living in terms of how much money it equates to. The crux of it should always be quality of life. Whatever that means for each individual.

Happy people are also more productive people. When you care about what you do, and enjoy doing it, you usually do it well. When you don't give a crap and see no point to it, why bother?

For me, as a writer, it's of particular interest. Recent research shows that the average writer in the UK earns around £10,000 a year. I'd suggest that's optimistic for many. Most writers work several other jobs to get by and financial tension, as shown above, leads to increased mental stress. This is true for other arts too, from circus performers and dancers through to musicians and painters. Art takes time to develop and mental space to conceptualise. Yet the pay off is significant, with a recent report showing the arts industry contributes more to the UK economy than agriculture.

Not that farming escapes the ravages of austerity either, with Brexit and climate uncertainty leading to a spike in suicides among farmers. These are people who love the land. Who want to raise animals, grow crops and put food on people's tables. Often farms that have been in families for generations, or a person's life-long dream of escaping the city, now rendered unsustainable because of our obsession with financial worth. Although I'm viewing this from an artistic perspective, because it's my perspective, nobody in any profession is unaffected by the times. For a developed country, we're backwards when it comes to income inequality.

Here's an excerpt from the above report which sums things up well.

Another popular assumption about employment is that all employment is better than no employment. Finland’s experiment did not break employment down to the granularity of the nature of the work itself. If they had done so, and the results showed that 50 basic income recipients quit their jobs as telemarketers to pursue their doctoral degrees in biotechnology and quantum computing, would that loss of employment reveal a failure of basic income, or its success? Existing research also shows that going from unemployment into a bad job is worse for your mental health than staying unemployed.

We need to start asking some important questions about employment. How much employment actively hurts society? How many people have jobs that are the opposite of contributing to society, and instead drag society down? How many people have entirely unnecessary jobs that don’t need to exist at all? How many people have jobs that could already be done more cheaply and with higher quality and dependability by existing technologies? How many hours are we clocking that could be reduced without accomplishing less?

None of the above questions were investigated in this experiment, because for the most part, these questions aren’t being asked by society in general because of a mass delusion that all employment is good. That assumption is not only wrong, but dangerously wrong with exponential technological advancement. - Understanding Finland's Universal Basic Income Experiment

Capitalism is a financial feudal system. Money only travels in one direction unless we're willing to redistribute it. UBI is a way to redistribute it. Whereas I'd love to think governments would do this out of the goodness of their heart, to benefit the mental health and well-being of their populations, you know that's never going to be the reason.

The reason it is most likely to happen is to save economies. If people have no money, they don't spend anything. If they don't spend anything, you don't have an economy. You need to give just a little back to the people, so that the people can give it back to businesses - and the wheel keeps turning.

And you know things are getting bad, because the UK are mooting this point right now. It's been suggested that every adult in the UK gets £48 in UBI each week. Whereas this does sound like a ridiculously small amount given the current cost of living, the horrific thing is that almost four million people rely on food banks in the UK and that money would actually make a significant difference to their lives. 

That is why I predict UBI will come into effect. Not for our well-being, but because the government need it as a way to placate growing civil unrest. You can only control people for as long as they feel they have something to lose. Take everything from them, as is happening now: homes, pensions, health care, self-worth, dignity and financial security, and, well, this beautiful individual right here explains what happens:



Thursday, 9 May 2019

Sali Bracewell


This is my incredibly talented cousin Sali, with her latest song Cwch Bach Coch (Little Red Boat). And yes, she really is underwater! Llongyfarchiadau, cous. You can find her on Facebook and SoundCloud.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Pride, Prejudice and Pianos


Huge thank you to Bugesera Lodge for this fine spread. I went to take a look at their piano the other day and Jocelyne and her husband fed me a four-course spread. Included blue cheese and rhubarb, two things I can't remember the last time I ate.




They have an American Hamilton piano which came with them from Tanzania. It was a little worse for wear but mostly just issues with the action, so I've spent the past few days working on that. I've been really unwell for about three weeks so just finding my feet again. Got through a lot of movies whilst sitting on the floor, surrounded by whippens and jacks. Nice listening to the piano playing on Pride and Prejudice whilst physically putting one back together. More about pianos on the project page.




Monday, 29 April 2019

Love, Death & Robots


Been hooked on this the past couple of days. It's on Netflix. An anthology of animation, mostly futuristic sci-fi and fantasy delivered in bite-sized 15-20 minute helpings.



It was one of those things that sat on my list for a while, then I ran out of other things and clicked play. I was hooked from the first episode. It's a tour de force of animation styles from super-realistic CGI through to more manga-looking characters. 

What I liked was just the sheer originality of many of the stories. They were all really quirky. If I had to pick one, I think my favourite was probably Zima Blue. It took real imagination to come up with something like that. 

It's not for everyone - lot of blood and gore in some of them - but wonderfully artistic.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

A Tonne of Confusion


I do a lot of editing for various organisations. It can be really interesting, you learn a lot as an editor, reading through information on many different topics. I've covered gender-based violence, the refugee crisis in Europe, cancer treatment in East Africa, global immunisation efforts, and the lives of famous science fiction and fantasy writers, to list but a few. At the moment, I'm working on water management and soil erosion.

Not only do I learn a lot about these subjects, but I learn even more about language. It's only over the past couple of years that I've felt confident enough to edit in both British English, my native English, and American English. My confidence in American English has grown through reading pages of reports and learning common American variants of words.

It's actually come to the point where I've started automatically spelling some things in an American way, which is something my younger self would have been horrified at, but my older self is quite at home with. I mean, honestly, when did program ever need that extra me?

The thing is, just when you think you know exactly what you're doing, something mad hits you in the face, like the fact that you spell enrol with one l in the UK and two in the US, but travelled with two in the UK and one in the US.

Often, second-language English authors learn English switching between different education systems. People growing up in many parts of Africa, for example, have been through education systems developed using both American and British sources. So they see both spellings on a regular basis, but don't always know why the spelling is different or that they belong to two different spelling systems. Because of this, both spellings seem acceptable in all situations. It's really common to edit a report where the author writes organization and organisation in the same paragraph, sometimes within the same sentence. So, you really have to be on the ball and remember which particular brand of English the report is supposed to adhere to.

The one that had me stumped this week was tonne v. ton.

I'd like to simplify my findings.

At first, I thought it was another US/UK spelling variant, but it became more troublesome when I read that it actually relates to two separate units of measurement.

The bottom line is, one is metric and the other imperial. Only three countries in the world still use the imperial system, and none of those are England, where it was invented. The three countries as of 2019 are the US, Liberia and Myanmar. If the US didn't use imperial, there'd probably never be a reason to discuss this, but because America and Britain dominate the spelling of English, it's important to know the difference.

UKUS
Metric Imperial
Tonne Ton
1,000 kg 2,000 lb
So, you either need to know the country you're quoting your statistics from, or you need to know the exact weight of your object in order to work out which spelling to use. One tonne is roughly equivalent to 1.2 ton, as 1,000 kg equals 2,205 lb. 

This was all rather upsetting to me, as I grew up in the British education system in the 1980-90s. Although the UK went metric in 1965, before I was born, I grew up talking about my height in feet, my weight in stone, and recipes in pounds and ounces (lb/oz). This is because both my parents and teachers talked that way. I still understand height much more easily in feet than metres and I have no idea what stone translates to in kilos. However, I did grow up using the spelling tonne. So, I was using the metric spelling but understanding the imperial system. 

Just to confuse matters further, if you're just referring to something that is very heavy, rather than a specific weight, you can use ton in both systems. Even a British person could say: That elephant weighs a ton. Meaning that elephant is very heavy, rather than that elephant weighs exactly 2,000 lb.

And the final nail in the coffin of reason, tonne is the metric spelling, but can also be called a metric ton. When you precede tonne with metric, you drop the ne. So, a ton is different to a tonne, but a metric ton is also not a ton.

And with that, I leave you to your breakdown.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Six Months Since TEDx


Can't believe it's been six months since I was standing on a stage in Luxembourg desperately hoping not to fluff my lines.



And just a reminder that Henri, who I mentioned in the talk, has just released his autobiography and it's a stonking good read, so get your eyes around a copy - UK/US.


Tuesday, 23 April 2019

World Book Day 2019




For the past few years now, I've been celebrating International World Book Day to the British calendar (2018, 2017, 2016, 2015). So, this year, I've switched to the US/rest-of-the-world date just to spice things up. Because nothing says 'international' like a dozen different dates.

This year has been a year of non-fiction for me. I've gone through a lot of books thanks, in part, to joining Audible, which has allowed me to get through tomes in the shower, whilst cooking and whilst pretending to listen in meetings. I'm not making any distinction between books I've read and those I've listened to.

Because I can get through twice as many books, I've added a lot more non-fiction. Pressed for time, I enjoy the escapism of fiction, but my brain does crave a bit of knowledge now and then. So, here's my top picks. For a more thorough list of books I'd recommend, check out my Juicy Reads section.

Non-Fiction:


Thanks to my friend Emma Lawson for putting me onto this one. The Frighteners by Peter Laws, the Sinister Minister. No, seriously, a priest who writes, and is fascinated by, horror. This book is a lot of fun and explores the human fascination with all things gory and bump-in-the-nighty.
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari is an excellent in-depth introduction to the history of human kind and our impact on the world around us. Really engagingly written and full of fascinating facts. He's written another, Homo Deus, about the future of human kind, which is on my TBR pile. I think this and The Silk Roads should be mandatory reading in schools.
Stuart: A Life Backwards by Alexander Masters was an excellent read, I think suggested by my aunty Patsy. Can't remember how we got onto the subject, but certainly remember the story. It charts the life of a homeless man, Stuart, and how he ended up where he did, from childhood to traumatic adulthood. Very poignant read.
A much older biography, The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid written by the man who shot him, Pat Garrett. I couldn't help myself, I've always loved Young Guns, and the legend is an enticing one. Sometimes it's also nice to read yea oldey writing, something in a style completely different to today's slick prose. Something with a bit of history behind it.
Finally, this biography is absolutely worth a read. My African Dream was written by my friend Henri Nyakarundi, who you might remember from my TEDx talk. This is his life story, growing up as a Rwandan refugee in Burundi, then moving to the States for 17 years, and about the events and decisions that led him back to Africa. He's led a fascinating life and it's a thoroughly engaging story.




Fiction:


I fell in love with Differently Morphous by Yhatzee Crowshaw. I've read a bit of China Miéville and currently on Ian Banks at the moment, and enjoying them all, but as far as kookie characters and imagination-stretching goes, this one wins out for me. Occult institutions bogged down by bureaucracy and political correctness - and a lot of glitter.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley is beautifully written and rather enchanting. Plus, who could ignore the sumptuous cover? Set in Victorian England, it's hard to explain this story, so pick up a copy. By the end, I guarantee you'll be in love with an octopus.
 
I'm including Pretty Little Dead Girls by Mercedes M Yardley because it is highly stylised and therefore completely different to anything else I've read in quite a while. It's one of the few times I've purchased something after seeing the cover on Twitter. Usually, this hasn't worked out well for me and those purchases have never been mentioned again, but this one was a good buy. Told as a living fairytale, rich with imagery.
This book, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, blew me away. Some of the best writing I've read in a long time. I'm a huge fan of Bem Le Hunte and Divakaruni, so stories of India and her histories and mysteries always draw me in. I saw this on the table at a local book swap group and liked the title, so went home to purchase a copy. I would recommend anyone does the same.





Short Stories:


My short story shout out this year is for my friend Dara Passano. I've known her as a Guardian columnist for some time, but she's released a short story in Meridian this year and it's excellent. You can read it for free online as part of a collection of short stories.







Plays:

Finally, I'd like to mention Girls & Boys which is a monologue performed by actress Carey Mulligan and released on Audible. It looks at the complexities of domestic violence, but it's extremely good listening. Some very funny moments, peppered with dark humour, and a thought-provoking finale.




Well, that's my round-up for 2019, see you again in a year for more recommendations. Let me know what you've been reading - and would recommend - in a comment below.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Instagramming


I've just joined Instagram. I tried a few months back, wasn't smitten, but trying again. It's like a cross between Pinterest and Twitter, but with none of the usefulness to authors that Twitter has. For example, you can't include links in your Instagram posts, so you can post a book cover but no seller information, which seems a little pointless. 

 Another thing I seriously dislike about Instagram is that it's set up so that you can only make posts from your phone, whereas, as a writer, I spend my life at my laptop. There is a hack around, but my goodness, it's convoluted.

So, all things considered, it's a long way down the list of useful for writers trying to share their work.

Instagram does have a larger following than Twitter, but an audience of people more image than word oriented. So, people willing to engage with Twitter are probably more an author's audience. It all boils down to my post on Sociela Media Marketing, is it Worth the Effort?  

I'd be interested to hear from other writers what you feel is most beneficial? I find the #WritingCommunity tag on Twitter very engaging. They recently ran #IndiApril, and I know I sold a few books through that. An inspired campaign. Anyway, whether Instagram is useful to authors or not, for the time being - pretty pictures. If you're on Instagram, drop me a line and connect: authormgw.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Before We Were Yours




I picked up a copy of Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Really impressive story, based on true events.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Well narrated and very atmospheric. Something of Little Gods about some of the descriptive of the river. 

Nicely handled examination of a difficult period in history, and there's an excellent note from the author at the end of the book providing a bit more insight into the real events that inspired the story. I definitely enjoyed this one, and there was a nice romantic side story which puled you along.  

I picked this book up without knowing what it was about, and glad I did. A worthwhile read and a long, winding journey to open waters.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

#IndieApril


An independent author, shortened to indie author, is someone who self-publishes their work independently of a traditional publisher. It can also be applied to people who publish through indie publishers, who are publishers independent of the Big Five or other established publishing houses. 

There's currently a massive trend on Twitter at the moment called #IndieApril which celebrates independently published books and writers. Lots of people asking for recommendations and book links, so get in there and share the reads you love.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Amazon's Non-existent Contact Process

[UPDATE: Impressively, someone from Amazon customer services e-mailed me with a direct e-mail address. So, if, like me, you've been going round in circles trying to contact KDP, use this:   kdp-support@amazon.com ]

I know I have a go at Amazon quite a bit, but they really deserve it sometimes. 

Needed help with a problem on KDP. Logged in, clicked Help.


Scrolled down and clicked Contact Us. 


Which, instead of taking you to a contact form, takes you to a Q&A page. You also get there by Googling Contact KDP. It's the top search result: Contact Us - Amazon KDP, so it's rather disappointing to get the blank Q&A instead of actual contact details.


None of the answers were relevant to my needs, but by clicking enough of them, I eventually got this question:



No, of course it didn't. But telling it no just takes you to a feedback box.


Like me, you might have noticed the contact us link. Having exhausted all other options, you'd think it might just take you to a contact form. Instead...



 

Straight back to the Q&A.

Utterly, utterly useless.

Thanks Amazon.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Honeywitch


A shout out to my friend Claire Robson and her band Honeywitch (Facebook/Twitter). She's really looking forward to the release of The Children of Lir and reminded me that her band also has a song by that name. You can find the lyrics halfway down this page.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Cover Colours

Oh my goodness! What a few days.

A few years back, just after Rosy Hours came out, my publisher also took the manuscript for a retelling of The Children of Lir. This is a story I've wanted to tell since I was a kid. I first tried putting it down in script format, thanks to Celtx. After some years, and the realisation that scripts don't get you very far unless you know a lot of people, I decided to rewrite it as a novel. 

It got as far as a front cover before my publisher ran into difficulty and offered it back to me. I tried passing it around again but didn't get anywhere, so decided to self-publish this one. It's that or it's going to be in a bottom drawer forever, and I think - after so long - it deserves to see the light.

I thought that would be the hardest decision, whether to publish or not. Turns out, that's just the start of it. My lovely cover designer, Valdas Miskinis, had originally made the cover in blood red. Then he offered up sea blue and Irish green. And we haven't stopped talking about it since.
   


 

I've asked in a number of forums, and each gives a different answer. Very few are for red, and I wasn't at first, but you have to admit it's eye-catching and would stand out on a bookshelf. Plus, it matches the colour of my website. 

Everyone's really caught between the green and blue. Green was storming ahead in Pagan Writers Community, then blue started to catch up. It's now about neck and neck if you include responses in  Women Fiction Writers and on my own page

I've also learned that blue was more strongly associated with Ireland than green originally, with St. Patrick's blue being traditional before turning him green. Like Santa Claus was supposedly green before Coca-cola, and blue was the colour for boys, and red for girls, during the time of the crusades. But, green is very established as the colour for Ireland nowadays.

It's so, so hard to choose. Sometimes choice is overrated - I'm wishing I hadn't been given options.

Which cover do you prefer?

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Kwibuka 25


Kwibuka means remember in Kinyarwanda.

Today marks 25 years since the Genocide Against the Tutsi.

As a 13-year-old, I watched the news of the genocide on the telly in my mother's front room. 13 years later, I moved to Rwanda as a sign language researcher.

It's incredible to see how far the country has come in that time.

Each year, I post a reminder about this reading list for those who want to learn more.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Differently Morphous


I am an absolute fan of this. 

Picked it up in my Black Friday Audible haul. Wasn't at all certain what it was, but I liked the cover. Completely loved it. 

A magical serial killer is on the loose, and gelatinous, otherworldly creatures are infesting the English countryside. Which is making life for the Ministry of Occultism difficult, because magic is supposed to be their best kept secret.

After centuries in the shadows, the Ministry is forced to unmask, exposing the country's magical history - and magical citizens - to a brave new world of social media, government scrutiny, and public relations.

On the trail of the killer are the Ministry's top agents: a junior operative with a photographic memory (and not much else), a couple of overgrown schoolboys with godlike powers, and a demonstrably insane magician.

But as they struggle for results, their superiors at HQ must face the greatest threat the Ministry has ever known: the forces of political correctness...

Highly reminiscent of Vampire State of Mind in that it involves extremely unusual beings trying to navigate their way through government bureaucracy and placate the media's thirst for sensationalism, all whilst saving the world.

Just very quirkily written and very well produced, with sound effects and voice distortion. There's an excellent twist towards the end and Doctor Diablerie is just utterly delightful - sales of glitter will double.

And, who knew? Marmite is harvested from the tear ducts of chimney sweeps.

Very much looking forward to the next instalment.

You can follow Yahtzee Croshaw on Twitter and via his blog.