Sunday, 26 December 2021

Malvern Christmas Lights


More beutiful Christmas lights - Merry Christmas everyone!
(Perhaps a slightly Cthulhu Christmas in this one.)

Monday, 20 December 2021

With So Much Love



This post is in memory of one of the kindest, most caring souls I have ever known. I received the news today that my dear friend Kwizera Emmanuel, Emmy, passed away. We met a few years back through a friend. He was a driver and tour operator. Mum and Merrick got to meet him when they visited in 2019 and he took us to Akagera. 


Emmy, far right


Everybody who met him loved him, he was just one of life's truly genuine people. He came to my rescue more times than I can count. Once, when I was sick, I texted from the hospital to ask if he could pick me up, but I was too ill to check my phone again. He drove around the clinics until he found me, and he took me home and bought medicine on the way. I was in a perticularly projectile-vomity state and terrified of messing up his car, but he just laughed and told me to get in.

Another time, I was in a car crash in Kigali and he came hurtling across the city to find me, and then proceeded to drive me all the way to Gisenyi (a four-hour drive), because that is where I had been going. 

I have so many stories about his kindness. Any time I was in trouble, he was there to dig me out. He would go above and beyond for his friends. During the first lockdown, our friend Andy needed to take his family to Burundi and Emmy managed to pack up their entire house in his car and get them to the border. He was just that kind of guy.




Such an incredibly kind and gentle superman. He dropped me off at the airport two months ago, as I was returning to see my family in the UK. The thought of stepping off the plane in Kigali and not seeing his big smile in the crowd is absolutely heartbreaking. He loved elephants, he loved nature, and he loved rain. Whenever I would complain about the wet season, he would just smile and say 'it makes everything grow.' I will miss him very deeply, as I'm sure all those who knew him will. It was an absolute privilege to call him my friend. We'll raise a glass again someday. 💔




Saturday, 18 December 2021

Fangs for the Fiction

Anne Rice 1995
Rolling Stone

 

Sad to hear of Anne Rice's passing, but she will live forever in the fiction halls of fame. Obituary in The Guardian and this from her son:



Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Sudeley Castle Christmas Lights

 

Had a lovely wander around Sudeley Castle Christmas lights with dad and Marilyn last week. Getting in the festive spirit.

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Malamander

 

Gorgeous cover on this one.

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger...

A fun read and a cracking cover. Reminded me in parts of Neil Gaiman as there's a lot of humour and some inventive use of language. 

The man’s mouth, which is nothing more than a wide upside-down “V” in his dripping bone-yellow beard, opens with a hiss. I notice there is seaweed in that beard, and more tangled around his tarnished brass buttons. He smells like something bad is about to happen. 

*

A conical beam of cold light, swirling with dust motes, descends from the ceiling to a circular table in the middle of the room. Sitting beside the table, in a gleaming bronze and wicker wheelchair, is an old lady wearing a turban. The way her wrinkly head emerges from her sumptuous silky gown reminds me of a turtle. She beckons me in with a motion of her clawlike hand, and the doors swing shut behind me.

“Ah, Mr Lemon,” Lady Kraken says, as I hesitate by the door. “Don’t just stand there like a question mark, boy. Come closer!”

*

Above us the last of the sea mist melts from the sky, and we stop and gaze in wonder at the inky blackness of space, sparkling with stars. 

"What's that?" asks Violet.

"The inky blackness of space," I say. "Sparkling with stars." 

The whole of Eerie-on-Sea is painted as an underwater scene. It's hard to tell where the land ends and the waves begin. Each character, and much of the descriptive, weaves in elements of the ocean. It's as though the prose are painted in blue and green. As though you're reading through tinted spectacles. 

Only minor qualm with the audiobook was the compression. I listen at night as I'm dozing off, and it went from soft to shouty a little too often, which meant fiddling with the volume. But the story and the narrator were great.  

Saturday, 11 December 2021

The History of Creative Writing



I've just upgraded my talk on the History of Creative Writing. The original audio was pretty shocking and I've sewn in some extra illustrations. Hopefully it's of interest to those who have ever wondered when we first started to write stories down.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Bringing Ancient Images to Life

 

This is gorgeous. I remember visiting the National Museum of Wales years ago and entering Saint Teilo's Church, which dates back to the Middle Ages. They'd restored it with all the original colours, which really surprised me. You don't really think of the Middle Ages and ancient history being so colourful, usually because you learn about it in grainy black-and-white picture books. It's especially true with ancient stone carvings. They're so weathered and beaten that you never imagine them covered in colour. It really gives a different perspective. 


Saint Teilo's Church, Wales

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Snowscape

 

My brother, Will, took this goregous drone footage of the snow in Victoria Park, Leicester. He's really amazing at aereal footage. You can find more of his work at Will's FPV. Hit subscribe and show him some love!