Thanks everyone for a brilliant Reddit AMA

I did a Reddit AMA over this weekend, and it was a brilliant experience. For anyone who doesn’t know what this is, it’s sort of like getting interviewed by hundreds of people all at once. The positivity and curiosity I received were quite overwhelming.

Some of the more suspect questions included ‘what appendage would you lose?’; ‘are you single?’ and ‘what’s that thing in the corner?’ – but others asked about the research required to write River of Ink, about how they can balance writing with the exigencies of daily life, and the best ways to construct plots and characters.

Continue reading “Thanks everyone for a brilliant Reddit AMA”


Hell in a handcart: The secrets behind Hieronymous Bosch’s The Haywain

After a recent trip to Lille, where I saw some of the creepiest and strangely wonderful art I’ve ever seen, I was stuck on the Eurostar for an hour and a half with no book to read. What I did have was an enormous 3210 x 2065 scan of the masterpiece painting by Hieronymous Bosch, The Haywain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Jheronimus (Hieronymous) Bosch
Jheronimus (Hieronymous) Bosch (c. 1450 – 9 August 1516)

I thought I could kill ten minutes or so looking over this wonderfully rich piece of medieval symbolic painting – but an hour and a half later, I pulled into London King’s Cross, and I was still looking at Bosch’s painting.

This artwork is so complex it has the richness of text. It brought me right back to poring over the Where’s Wally series as a kid: spotting concealed storylines, visual gags, hidden connections between elements.

Continue reading “Hell in a handcart: The secrets behind Hieronymous Bosch’s The Haywain”

Yayoi Kusama and the Sublime Dot

Beautiful video about Yayoi Kusama and her latest participatory artwork. I don’t know how I feel about the craze for participatory art that seems to have reached a peak in the last years. It is gimmicky, of course, but what does that mean? Something organised still emerges. Something beautiful. I’ll let the video do the talking.

The Best Song in the World Right Now

Company Flow – Patriotism

So I decided to start blogging about music, partly as a way of sharing some of the things I love, but also as a way of solidifying the things I think I know about what I like. When I write I learn. Things become solid.

I like listening to music. Most people do, but that act of listening, like any exploration into an art form, means taking a million different sidepaths and driftways, getting lost and finding your way again. It means drawing up theories, either explicitly or without realising it, and comparing everything you first listen to with what you already know. Continue reading “The Best Song in the World Right Now”

Goodbye Sri Lanka, hello WordPress


In exactly 12 days, I will leave Sri Lanka after 6 months of teaching here. This is accompanied by the strange feelings usually associated with suddenly shifting your entire surroundings overnight. We humans weren’t designed to wake up one morning 5,000 miles away from where we woke up the morning before. It’s always a surreal experience, and is pretty hard to believe, on a fundamental level, until it actually happens. We participate in it as far as checking in online, getting to the airport, and from then on it’s a largely passive experience. Sit back, try to sleep, watch a film. Modern travel is something done to you, rather than something you do.

I hear it’s raining back home, that it’s getting colder. My body won’t know what’s going on. Anyway, I think that starting this blog is a way of alleviating these feelings of uprooting, a way of establishing a thread of continuity. Let’s see how that works out.

Of course, it’s not just timezone, climate and food that contributes to this total shift, but also the way people you’ve become used to seeing every day suddenly become people it might be years before you see again, if at all. I’ve made a load of great friends here, but I’m particularly indebted to the Herath (hard ‘t’ sound; ‘Herat’) family that has put me up for the last 10 weeks of my time here. They’re a normal family, which is to say they’re a largely crazy and dysfunctional mess of competing personalities.

Shashi Aiya and Shashi Nangi splitting a jak fruit.
Shashi Aiya and Shashi Nangi splitting a jak fruit.

As a way of saying thanks, I thought that with my first post I’d showcase some of their daughter’s work. Shanika is studying architecture at the University of Moratuwa, and has a rare talent. While she’s excelling at the architecture course’s photorealistic approach to drawing, some of these paintings from her school days really impressed me. Continue reading “Goodbye Sri Lanka, hello WordPress”