Sunday, February 24, 2008


The Three Graces

Today: exactly eight months in Spain. Not counting the time spent in Portugal, Gambia and Senegal.
Next week: back to Wales. Still not sure exactly when.

This may be my last blog entry from Madrid. Perhaps I’ll have time for one more. Thanks to Luís Prado of Bibliopolis who is paying for my flight home. Otherwise I’d be stuck here!

Not such a bad fate, but coffee and chocolate costs money...

I have been asked for clarficiation of the advice I gave in my most recent post. So here it is. My advice to budding writers is this – never attend a creative writing class! Don’t even socialise with other writers! Keep yourself pure, original, aloof, grand, talented... The alternative is slimy hypocrisy, cowardice and failure!

Who says I’m not allowed to be a demagogue?

The website WoW is about to close.

Livros de Areia have floated the idea of a big collection from me. When such ideas are floated I become a fan of buoyancy.

Last year I had five books published. The above photo shows three of them, filled with lovely words and arranged in a lovely manner on a lovely table.
My next book will be The Less Lonely Planet or perhaps Engelbrecht Again! How lovely is that?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Rhysaurus Rex

A few posts ago I mentioned that issue 1 of Polluto was going to publish my prog-rock fantasia ‘Cracking Nuts with Jan Hammer.’ In fact that story will appear in issue 2. It turns out that issue 1 contains the entirety of my ‘Mr Gum’ novella, all five parts. ‘Mr Gum, the Creative Writing Tutor’ is one of my most vicious and justified satires. It attacks with filth and menace that most detestable of pseudo-academic pretensions: the creative writing class.

In the history of the universe only one decent person has ever attended a creative writing class. All other attendees are patsies and all tutors of such classes are talentless fakes. Writing cannot be taught: there is nothing to teach. If you want to be a writer, then WRITE. Be published or be damned! Don’t look to creative writing tutors for guidance. Remember: they aren’t famous, they aren’t successful. How can they possibly help you?

(the first in an occasional series of quasi-Imperial announcements)

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Valentine's Day!

Valentine’s Day. Also the six month anniversary of Rosa and me. I remembered without prompting. Who dares say I’m a thoughtless fellow? To celebrate, we plan to sample the jazz nightlife. There’s always great music happening somewhere in Madrid, this most vibrant of cities! Rosa doesn’t much care for this photo of her but I like it. Sort of pseudo-Japanese. Exactly like my slightly contrived sense of honour.

My time in Spain is drawing to a close. I imagine I will return to Wales in two weeks or so, perhaps on February 24th or shortly after. This means leaving Rosa behind in Madrid. Conducting a long distance relationship isn’t easy but it’s not impossible either. I think we’ll manage. We’ll see each other as often as feasible. Money is the key to everything, as always. Which means I have to find a proper job!

Friday, February 08, 2008


Crystal Cosmos

All writers make use of spin. On my blog I try to give the impression I find it easy to get my work published. In fact it can be extremely difficult. My fiction often languishes for years before being picked up by publishers. Sometimes initial disappointment leads to a better situation in the long run.

The Crystal Cosmos is my most recent book but it started life as a novellette intended for a particular anthology in 1997. The editor who originally commissioned the piece gave me one specific and slightly odd requirement: he didn’t want the inhabitants of the planet in the story to be described. I fulfilled this requirement. The editor then rejected the piece because the inhabitants of the planet in the story weren’t described.

Such idiocy is not uncommon. I sat on the unsold novellete for seven years then revised and extended it and sold it to Pete Crowther, one of the best editors in the business, and the result is a vastly improved piece of fiction. I should be grateful to that original editor, I guess. But I’m not. Call me grumpy, call me vindictive... but I don’t feel either of those things. I just feel massively talented. Ah well!

Talking about talent, here are my top ten favourite writers...

Monday, February 04, 2008


Back to Albarracín

I've been away from Wales for almost 8 months and I've seen and experienced many things since then. One of my best discoveries was Albarracín in Lower Aragon, a town that looks like an Escher drawing. I decided to return for a few days with Rosa. We hiked around the region, through forests and over hills, visiting caves where prehistoric paintings can be found. The scenery is among the finest in Spain.

Lower Aragon is the most remote region of the country, with the smallest population and least number of villages, and is remarkable in many ways. I'm surprised (and relieved) that Albarracín isn't more widely known. It's a perfectly preserved mediæval city and at night was almost completely deserted. On the way back to Madrid we visited the Ciudad Encantada, an area of strangely shaped rocks, and Cuenca, another ancient city.

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