Metaphysics & Gossip

Aside from utopias and related genres, the metaphysics of stories is my most enduring monomania—one I can precisely trace to a single influence. During my formative journey through such topics as ontology, aesthetics and philosophical anthropology, the British writer Raymond Tallis was key. And in his incisive early essay ‘Notes Towards a Manifesto for a Novel of the Future’, collected in The Raymond Tallis Reader, he begins with a statement to which I often return, ‘In my more honest moments, I am inclined to admit that I find only two things in the world truly fascinating: metaphysics and gossip.’ It’s an arresting dichotomy that demands unpacking.

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Writing Tips: Character and Place

Attempts to address setting too frequently focus on description, but if we read a piece on characterisation that stopped at how to evoke X’s roman nose or Y’s greying hair, we might suspect something is missing. Settings and characters make similar demands on the writer, and it is true that a good setting can function structurally much like a character. When you start a novel, short story or play you have to ask how many characters you include (from zero up), their relationships, histories, story-arcs and temperaments. Likewise, will there be one setting or many? That choice can significantly alter the mood of your book. And if more than one, what is the relationship between the different places? What has occurred there in the past? What is the mood of this meadow or that street? What will change there during the course of the narrative?

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Writing Tips: Show, don’t tell

There are innumerable editing clichés, most possessing strong underlying principles, most treacherous in application. The suggestion to ‘show, don’t tell’ is often accompanied by this quote from Anton Chekhov, as it is on the Wikipedia page:

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Leaflets for Rowan Tree Editing

Leaflets for Rowan Tree Editing

Today's post had a few welcome surprises. As well as a hardback, bound copy of my PhD and utopian novel, We Are Seven, I also received Rowan Tree Editing's first leaflets. They are modelled on the website and were designed by the very talented Adam Craig. He is the commissioning editor of Cinnamon Press's Liquorice Fish Books imprint, a champion of innovative and idiosyncratic writing. 

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Retake: Tales from the Greenhills

Retake: Tales from the Greenhills

Yesterday I posted a link to an Amazon review of Terry Melia's wonderful Tales from the Greenhills. Amazon promptly removed my review without explanation or a means of contacting them, as well as deleting another review written by my mother—who runs a publisher in Wales called Cinnamon Press. Today I repost both reviews here. First, Jan Fortune's excellent endorsement:

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Tales from the Greenhills Review & Other Updates

Just posted my Amazon review for Terry Melia's Tales from the Greenhills, a book that deserves to be widely read. As well as adding it to my own list of available edited work. Currently working on new, exciting editing and preparing to release leaflets for the Rowan Tree website. Exciting days. 

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Frantic Februaries (Successful Friends)

During an exciting fortnight moving house, attending my mother's book launch for the quixotic This is the End of the Story as well as Adam Craig's oneiric High City Walk and submitting my PhD We Are Seven to Bangor University’s printers and binders, two people I edited have shared exciting news. Terry Melia published his magnificent coming-of-age Tales from the Greenhills (review pending) and Marg Roberts released a new blog-website. The customary January fatigue has given way to a good tumult for everyone. And there is more coming this month: I have a few fresh projects to promote, including a utopia themed writing competition and a return to essaying—as well as lots and lots of editing.

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