It’s late in the month but it’s still January so I’ll attempt one of these review/ preview things.
Through my fortnightly book group and some other recommendations, I read about 25 books or graphic novels. Highlights for me were:
Big Brother by Lionel Shriver. As expected from the author of We Need to Talk About Kevin this was a deeply uncomfortable but thought-provoking read which raised all questions about relationships with food, diets, family and judging others. It generated one of the best book group discussions because there was just so much to talk about.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. A beautifully quiet take on the post-apocolyptic. There was something quite folklorey about it and it reminded me of Russell Hobban’s Riddley Walker.
Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It reminded me of Alan Garner and Susan Cooper booked that filled my childhood and I gobbled it all up in one train ride to London.
Fables by Bill Willingham. Having fallen in love with the TellTale choose your own adventure style computer games, my friend lent my the first few volumes of Fables and I was immediately hooked. Brilliantly realistic modern humans drawn from their fairytale tropes it had me laughing and crying in equal amounts. I have always wanted to get into graphic novels more but found the never-ending DC/Marvel sagas very daunting. I know I’m very late to the Fables game but it feels like a breakthrough to me. Having read Alan Moore’s excellent League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Watchmen I was really looking for something similar for a long while now.
Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I was hooked from the first page. A modern love story with real life witticism and the diversity of alien characters and landscapes to rival Star Wars.
In case you are wondering what my tastes in books normally are, my favourite authors are currently Kazuo Ishiguro and David Mitchell. I grew up on a healthy dose of Pern, Valdemar, Krynn and Shannara. I wrote fan mail to Richard Adams and Robin Hobb. I will happily read what is considered literature, mainstream or SFF and like it best when I have a pick and mix of them all.
On my to read list are Ann Leckie’s books, Zen Cho’s debut novel that everyone is abuzz about and about a dozen others.
2015 will be remembered for bringing equality to the cinema if not the toy industry with Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Other memorable highlights for me were Ex Machina, Inside Out and the Martian. On the small screen I enjoyed The Walking Dead (behind a cushion), RWBY for my anime kicks without the pants shots and Game of Thrones. Obviously. We have so far resisted the call of Netflix because as much I want to watch all the superhero spin-off TV series, I also do not need more procrastination excuses. Although we might just get it for Jessica Jones.
Last year I did more writing than I had done in several years thanks to finding a great writing group since moving to Manchester. Speaking of which, these guys have managed to put out their first anthology called ‘Revolutions’ filled with Manchester-based short stories. This is great timing as Eastercon will be in Manchester this year and I’m going for the first time!
I managed to get two short stories accepted for publications last year, both due for release this spring. Fox Spirit are publishing a Winter Tales anthology in February featuring my story ‘Yukizuki’. Fox Spirit won the British Fantasy Award for best independent press in 2015 and they publish some lovely anthology and books.
Also being published is my short story ‘Spirit of Regret’ in Insignia‘s SE Asian SFF antho this spring. A few of my other stories are still under consideration so fingers and toes crossed! In November I also completed my first every NanoWriMo. I have the first 50,000 words of a novel that I’m very pleased with so far. I had absolutely no plan to do this until the last week of October when I was persuaded by a friend and it was through sheer caffeine, panic and a very supportive husband that I managed to make the word count and the month. It’s in bad shape and I haven’t touched it since but I have about 70% of a storyline down and I love my characters.
And a late edition to the round-up, another short story of mine ‘The Water Museum’ was accepted for publication by Holdfast for their #8 issue on Love, Sex and Romance! More details to follow.
All in all, a great 2015 and start to 2016! Hopefully will have lots of news and updates as the rest of the year unfolds.