Saturday 22 December 2012

Book Review: The Great Unexpected

As well as writing my own books, I also write about other people's books occasionally.

Here's a review I wrote of The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech, which is published in today's edition of The Guardian.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

SF Said's Photography

Photography is my favourite hobby.  I love it because it doesn't involve words.  When you spend every day writing words, it's nice to get away from them sometimes!  And pictures can still tell a story.  Photography has helped me see so many strange and interesting things; things I would never have noticed otherwise.

I enjoy prowling around city streets at night with my camera, trying to see things from different points of view.  Sometimes I imagine them from a street cat's point of view, as if I was Varjak Paw, or one of his friends.  What would the city really look like to them?

This has led me into some strange places.  I can find myself staring for ages at puddles, or reflections of neon lights on a rainy pavement.  I spend whole evenings standing on precarious bridges over motorways, watching the light trails from traffic sparkling in the night.

I've even been down sewers to see what it really looks like there.  (And smells like.)  If you've read The Outlaw Varjak Paw, you might recognise this view:

I like to justify my photography by claiming that it's part of my research; it influences the way I imagine and describe scenes.  My new book, PHOENIX (coming in summer 2013), would definitely not be the same without it.  This book is not about Varjak Paw, or even cats; it's about people this time, and also aliens, because it's a science fiction epic set in outer space.  It begins with the stars singing to the main character.  I think that might look something like this:

By the way, if you like these photographs, some of them are published in a beautiful little book called London's Lost Rivers.  It's a guide to the hidden, secret rivers that flow underneath the city; rivers most people have never seen.  I didn't write any of the words... but there are 18 of my pictures in the book.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Writing Music: Varjak Paw

One of my readers recently asked if music ever inspired me while writing (thanks for the question, Jade!)  The answer is that music is absolutely crucial to me while writing, though different books have had  different soundtracks.  So I thought it might be fun to share some of my favourite writing music with you here.  (Of course, everyone sees and hears things differently, so I wouldn't expect anyone else to share my tastes in music!  This is just a bit of background, if you're interested...)

When I was writing Varjak Paw, I was almost always listening to The Cure.  Somehow their music seemed to be the perfect soundtrack for Varjak's adventures in the city.  Strangely enough, I didn't listen to Lovecats while writing, but it does seem  perfect for Varjak Paw, so I put it on a compilation tape for Dave McKean when he was doing the illustrations!

The album I listened to the most while writing Varjak was definitely The Head On The Door.  The track I would pick as the single most inspiring is A Night Like This.  Whenever it came on, I would always feel an extra surge of energy.  For me, it has exactly the feeling that I wanted to the book to have.

I still love that song; I listened to it a lot while writing Outlaw too, and even Phoenix.  But lots of other music came into the writing of those books, and I'll do some more posts in the future about them, if anyone would like to know more!