All posts by kate

Snippet of an Idea

This one’s from a colleague at work – “I send my books out into the universe”.

On space-ships. Through portals. On the colony transporters carrying thousands of sleeping passengers. On the cargo freighters picking up minerals from the asteroid belts and ice from the far-out moons before beginning their run back. On the orbiting stations above alien planets, circling above long-dead surfaces. On tiny skimmers flitting across the planet’s surface, darting there and back again.

The paper has been well-thumbed – maybe enough that you now have to wear gloves, or use a tool to turn the pages, so that you don’t wear the print off for someone else. There’s a box, or a shelf, or an alcove on every vessel; crammed with the crew’s choices, their precious sheets. There’s always someone amongst the team who knows how to repair a binding, or can coax the printer to spit out new pages to paste between the worn plastic covers. They are treasured, patched and repaired, bound and bandaged, to be read and worn down again and again.

They read in their bunks. In the long hours between asteroids. In the silence of the stars. In the howling storms of alien worlds, the bright sunshine of the galaxies, the darkness of space. On new worlds, deep under the crust or in new settlements on the hills, high above the surface or somewhere on the endless ice-plains. They read between customers at the dive-bars on the docking-station, before starting the day fishing on the narrow seas, after crossing unimaginable distances and back again.

No matter where they travel, stories go with them, and the scraps of paper and plastic are a better dimension to other worlds than any they can imagine in their own.

Heartache and suicide

It’s taken me some time to write this. I’ve written, re-written, held onto it…but I’m hoping it’ll feel better to get it out into the world, to push it away, to say it all.

Back in January, my friend Ryan Rogers was killed by a train in Stonehouse. We thought it was an accident; I originally thought that he collapsed on the crossing. We slowly learned bits and pieces, but it’s hard when all the evidence is being collated and no-one’s entirely sure. So we were waiting for the inquest to hear everything together, and that was in May.

He stepped out in front of the train. It’s a matter of public record, now; it’s pretty clear what the train driver saw even if there’s no video of it. He’d left his rucksack tucked by the bridge, too…I don’t entirely know what to believe, but on balance of probability, I have to go with what was said. There wasn’t anyone else involved. There aren’t any other factors we can point to. I’m still wavering, but I have accepted the verdict.

I saw him that morning; we’d had an awesome game the night before, and a good morning watching Ghibli films. I dropped him home. He was last recorded in the pub in Cirencester at about 2pm, and then he went to meet someone. Then it was 6.20 pm, and he was in Stonehouse. That’s it.

I’ve got two options.

Either; something happened between 2pm and 6.20. We don’t know where he went; we don’t know who he saw.  We don’t know why he was in Stonehouse. We don’t know what method he used to get there, or when he arrived. But something happened that made him decide to not want to live any more, and I don’t know what it was; only that it would have to have been something big, something hurtful, to turn him from the person who smiled as me as he got out of the car to the person who walked out in front of a train, five minutes’ walk from a place that was a second home and a sanctuary for him, where he knew we’d be waiting with hugs and acceptance, whatever the circumstances.

Or; he was lying to me. I don’t know how long for. We were good friends. We spoke honestly and often about mental health, and suicide, and the honest reality of what it means to live with a brain that tells you life is shit. If he was thinking of suicide before that day, then it means he was lying to me when he said he would see me next week, and when he said he did have things to live for, even if life was a struggle at times. It means he was lying to us all when he seemed happier, more stable, more optimistic. It means I can’t trust any of my relationship with him, because I don’t know how much of it was a facade. But it also means that he didn’t trust me, and that almost hurts more.

I don’t know which option to believe, or if it’s a mix of the two.

We don’t have his notebook; he always carried one, and it wasn’t in his bag. He didn’t leave messages for anyone.

We don’t know.

In many ways I’ve made my peace with it – I accepted it back in January, in the few horrible days after I first heard. I don’t have any answers. I can’t talk to him, or yell at him, or hug him. I won’t ever know. And I’m ok with that, because it’s not something I can change.

But it still hurts like fuck.

This is the reality of those left behind when someone commits suicide. It’s a way out, and believe me, I entirely understand the temptation. Life sucks, the world sucks, and no one cares; it’s a way out of the pain and it’s a way of removing yourself from the lives of people you’re just a burden to.

Except you’re not.

You leave behind so many unanswered questions and so many holes in hearts. You rip apart relationships and families, and you won’t ever be forgotten.

I’m not sure, if I ever did see Ryan again, if I’d punch him or hug him first. Probably both, which could be awkward.

This will fade, and this will heal.

But I will always have the scar. And I will always have, buried somewhere in the depths of my heart, that tiny list of questions, that frustration that we don’t have answers, and that little nagging doubt.

Could I have done anything to stop this?

A Bucket-load of Reviews

the moon king coverThe Moon King by Neil Williamson

All is not well in Glassholm. Life under the moon has always been so predictable: day follows night, wax phases to wane and, after the despair of every Darkday, a person’s mood soars to euphoria at Full. So it has been for five hundred years, ever since the Lunane captured the moon and tethered it to the city.

Now, all that has changed. Amidst rumours of unsettling dreams and strange whispering children, society is disintegrating into unrest and violence. The very sea has turned against Glassholm and the island’s luck monkeys have gone wild, distributing new fates to all and sundry. Turmoil is coming.

Three people find themselves at the eye of the storm: a former policeman investigating a series of macabre murders, an outsider artist embroiled in the murky intrigues of revolution, and a renegade engineer tasked with fixing the ancient machine at the city’s heart. Each must fulfil their role or see Glassholm shaken apart, while all are subject to the machinations of their inscrutable and eternal monarch, The Moon King.

Weird – in a good way! Interesting, mixed, imaginative and odd.

I didn’t enjoy this as much as Neil’s short story collection, as it lacks the lyrical edge that made his writing so compelling in the shorts. However, the ideas are in full force – the world reminds me of China Mieville’s New Weird style, tilting over the edge into strangeness but weaving enough human characteristics and reactions in to keep it understandable. The plot is interesting, weaving three different characters into each other, without revealing the connections until towards the end. I loved some of the details – the luck monkeys, Darkday and Full,  the machines and the history. But I wasn’t as sucked in as I would have liked to be…a flaw as a reader, rather than the writer, I think. It’s certainly a weird, unusual, odd book – and all the better for it.

witches of lychford coverWitches of Lychford by Paul Cornell

The villagers in the sleepy hamlet of Lychford are divided. A supermarket wants to build a major branch on their border. Some welcome the employment opportunities, while some object to the modernization of the local environment.

Judith Mawson (local crank) knows the truth — that Lychford lies on the boundary between two worlds, and that the destruction of the border will open wide the gateways to malevolent beings beyond imagination.

But if she is to have her voice heard, she’s going to need the assistance of some unlikely allies…

I was expecting this to be longer. I would have liked it to be longer! It seemed…well, I had that feeling when I finished it of “Oh. Is that it?”

That said, it’s very good. It’s a mix of Miss-Marple style village life, with a large dose of supernatural and a seasoning of personal angst. I would have liked to see more of the enemy (although I believe there are more novellas to come, so I assume they’ll be back?) and more of the village’s characters as well as the three heroines, but the plot and characters as they stand are engaging and tense. Worth a read!

Silversands by Gareth L Powell

In an age where interstellar travel is dangerous and unpredictable, and no-one knows exactly where they’ll end up, Avril Bradley is a Communications Officer aboard a ship sent to re-contact as many lost souls as possible. But a mysterious explosion strands her in a world of political intrigue, espionage and subterfuge; a world of retired cops, digital ghosts and corporate assassins – all fighting for possession of vital computer data that has lain hidden for almost a century. . .

I have to admit….I couldn’t get into this. There just wasn’t the hook; there wasn’t a catch that grabbed me and got me in. Sure, there’s an explosion, and someone coming back from a long journey to a mysterious message, and a big secret that could hold the future for humankind…

Bah. When I put it like that, it sounds like this book should be really exciting – and I’m sure it is! If you like that kind of thing. Which I just…didn’t. I read the first few chapters and then skipped on, and eventually did the Kindle equivalent of putting it down and not picking it up again – which for me is skimming past it in my carousel every time I tried to find something to read!

I would, however, highly recommend the Ack-Ack Macaque series by the same author, so it’s obviously just my taste in sci-fi!


I am a Horrible Author

I’m a horrible person.

When writing, that is. In real life, I’d hope I’m kinda nice.


When people don’t piss me off too much.

(Mostly joking! I’m usually incredibly polite and friendly, with the usual proviso of “slight introvert so finds it hard to start a conversation”. If you ever see me, do come and say hi!)

I was thinking about No Man’s Dawn, which is sort of a prequel to No Man’s Land. I’m not entirely happy about it, so I’m just letting it stew…so I was thinking about it in the car as I drove down to see a friend.

And I had the BEST* idea.

You know it’s bad when I start giggling to myself. It’s even worse when I start laughing. And when I lean back and go, “Oh, now that’s GOOD” is when it’s going to be really bad.

Have I told you that my beta reader didn’t talk to me for two days after That Ending in No Man’s Land? I’m still quite proud of that as it’s entirely deserved. I’ve now got a little private bet with myself as to what names she’ll call me after she reads this one – I may have to create a bingo sheet.

Off to do some writing I go! There may be evil chuckles.


*Worst. For my characters.

Reminder: pub, reading & Peter Newman

Bristol Con FringeA reminder that I’ll be at the The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer (aka. The Volley) in Bristol on Monday, supporting Peter Newman. He’s reading from one of his short stories, and I’m reading an excerpt from the next GreenSky book, plus you get to ask random questions.


Hope to see you there!*

*My anxiety brain isn’t sure if lots of people or no people is the better scenario, so…come along anyway and help me fangirl.