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”


Why the Spread the Word campaign matters

I recently came across an amazing charity called Spread the Word, who work to improve access to literature for homeless people in the UK. They build libraries in homeless shelters and encourage people living on the streets to read.

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Matthew Francis and Singing a Man to Death

Just a quick one. In January I interviewed poet and author Matthew Francis for New Welsh Review about his upcoming short story collection, Singing a Man to Death. He told me how he attempts to recreate ‘the chaotic pluralism of modern culture’ in his work, and about his early flirtations with surrealist literature (‘the idea of it liberating, the practice usually disappointing’).

His collection weaves together a truly staggering breadth of settings and influences. Did you know, for instance, that the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary was a mythical tiny sheep once thought to grow from the stem of a plant? I know. Now.

Like Michael Ondaatje or Anne Michaels, Francis’ background as a poet (he was named as one of the Poetry Book Society’s ’20 Best Modern Poets’ in 2004) has given him a prose style that is at once spare and energetic, and an impressive eye for detail makes his new collection an enchanting read. Maybe worth an amazon one-click.

Sex, Drugs and Semiotics: a review of Jeffrey Eugenides’ ‘The Marriage Plot’

For some time now, we’ve been watching for what Jeffrey Eugenides will do next. He has cultivated a reputation as one of the safest hands in modern fiction, and his new novel, The Marriage Plot, topped international best-sellers lists and won the 2011 Salon Book Award. It is in many ways an impressive book. It follows the lives and loves of three students in their final year of Brown University in 1982, and pursues them through their first year of graduation.

Madeleine, a somewhat naive English major, has been sucked into one of the biggest crazes to sweep Brown University in the early 80’s. Is it toga parties? Ecstasy? No, it’s semiotics, the new, byzantine study of sign and signification. Continue reading “Sex, Drugs and Semiotics: a review of Jeffrey Eugenides’ ‘The Marriage Plot’”