What I Did On My Summer Holiday (or, How to travel to Helsinki and end up on the radio in Bristol)

UPDATE: The Listen Again links at Ujima Radio have expired, but interviews are now going up at Cheryl Morgan’s Salon Futura podcast site. Here’s mine (apparently I also got to be an example in Cheryl’s podcasting class at BBC Bristol!).

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I haven’t done a Worldcon75 round-up; I was too busy in Helsinki and I’ve been too busy since I got back. I’m working on a revised draft of my new novel, following some candid and entirely apt feedback from my agent (bless you, professional readers who pull no punches. Bless you, bless you). I’m also one of the Lignum Vitae Awards judges this year; they’re for unpublished work by Jamaican authors. My beat is adult fiction or creative non-fiction, so I’ve got a scary number of novel-length manuscripts to finish reading in the next few weeks. I suppose I didn’t actually have enough time to take any off, but I’d been planning it for a year and I’m very glad I went. The con was great, and so was the city (I have to keep reminding myself that I was there during a gloriously sunny and warm week in August; it’s possible I might have enjoyed it less in oh, say, December. But I doubt it.) Helsinki is on the water, with bridges and bays everywhere you look; it’s compact, clean, easily walkable, good for cyclists (I’m not one) with excellent train, tram, bus and ferry service. The food is good, the people are lovely, the museums are excellent (and everyone speaks English).

No post-mortem as such, but I was asked if there was a particularly memorable con moment. There were actually two, starting with the panel I wasn’t scheduled to be on and the reading I hadn’t known I was going to do. The panel was Caribbean SF, and featured Worldcon Guest of Honour, fellow Jamaican Nalo Hopkinson; Barbadian writer, Worldcon Toastmistress and my good mate Karen Lord; and Brandon O’Brien from Trinidad & Tobago. As they made their way to the front of the room I was summoned from my front-row seat to join them on the platform. They’d already discussed kicking off with 2-minute readings from their own work, to give the audience a sense of how our region influences the way we write: in dialect, in imagery, in the cadences of our prose. I obviously hadn’t been part of that prep meeting, but as luck would have it I happened to have with me the newly rewritten opening chapters of the new book, which is influenced by Jamaican heritage and folklore to a far greater degree than any of my previous books. So I got to test it out via my own mini-reading (it went down very well), in addition to being part of a brilliant conversation with a brilliant group of people.

Memorable moment number two is actually online, so I can share it. The prominence of Caribbean women writers and women of colour at Worldcon this year (N.K. Jemisin won the Best Novel Hugo award for the second year running) prompted Cheryl Morgan to do a series of interviews for Ujima Radio‘s Woman’s Hour programme. Ujima is an award-winning community radio station in Bristol, with a strong Afro-Caribbean focus. The show went out last week, and Listen Again links are now up. I’m on first, followed by Karen Lord. That link is here. I talk about the rise of Caribbean speculative literature, the politics of diversity and importance of cultural narrative, and the joy of being surrounded by friendly Finns who look as though they’re cosplaying my characters. Karen takes us behind the scenes at Worldcon, is delightfully amazed to find herself doing the incredibly cool things she’s doing, and talks about her new gig writing seasonal fiction. (If you need any more reasons to listen, the playlist includes Prince, P-Funk and Hendrix.) The second hour kicks off with African-American writer K. Tempest Bradford, and wraps up with Nalo Hopkinson; here’s that link (and yes, the playlist is just as awesome).

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Audio Audio Everywhere

I seem to be having a bit of a podcast spike just now. Last week Cheryl Morgan interviewed me for her Women’s Outlook program on Bristol’s Ujima Radio. Bristolcon director Joanne Hall was live on Wednesday’s show, ahead of the con this Saturday; Cheryl bounced expertly between the live interview with Joanne, the recorded one with me, and some truly inspired musical selections. It was made even more special by the news that Ujima had just won the  Community Organisation Award for Race, Faith and Religion at the National Diversity Awards. You can listen to the show here.

I’ve been a fan of the Midnight in Karachi podcast series on Tor.com ever since it began; this week I’m the guest! Presenter Mahvesh Murad (currently earning big kudos for editing the fourth volume of The Apex Book of World SF) and I talk about writing the ®Evolution, the politics of the ‘other’, the legacy of colonialism and what we mean when we talk about humans. It was a great conversation, and you can listen to it here.

Back in Bristol

It’s less than a week to Bristolcon! I’ll be there in voice (though not in person) a few days early, as an interview with Cheryl Morgan on Ujima Radio at 12pm Wednesday 23rd. Here’s the livestream link; it’ll be available on Listen Again after the broadcast. Cheryl will also be talking with Bristolcon director Joanne Hall about what this year’s con has in store. As we say in Jamaica, and on Ujima: CHUNE EEN!

The con itself is Saturday 26th September at the Doubletree Hotel in Bristol. Here’s what I’m doing:

15:50-15:55, Programme Room 1

Reading – a short passage from Regeneration (which will be available from con booksellers Forbidden Planet).

17:00-17:45, Programme Room 1

Bad-ass with a Baby

It’s still fairly rare to see depictions of parenting in SF&F. If a character has a child, does that mean they’re no longer allowed to be a bad-ass? And how difficult is it to juggle childcare and saving the universe?

Lor Graham (Mod), Amanda Kear (Dr Bob)Jasper FfordePeter Newman and Stephanie Saulter

Despite the fact that I dislike the term ‘bad-ass’ almost as much as ‘kick-ass’ (and for much the same reasons), I’m really looking forward to this discussion. The absence of children and family in SFF is something I’ve been writing and talking about for a while. Agree? Disagree? Do come listen, challenge and share.

Gemsigns on the radio: podcast and other larks

I had a great time on Ujima Radio in Bristol yesterday. Cheryl Morgan invited me on to the Talking Books segment of the Women’s Outlook show to discuss Gemsigns. I haven’t yet been able to listen to the show, but I think it went well. Cheryl is a very good interviewer, and after a nervous first couple of minutes I relaxed into it. You can listen here, and tell me what you think in comments.

Then we went to Foyles and Blackwell’s, and I signed books, and a lovely lady who was looking for something to read got very excited and shook my hand, because I was the first real live author she’d met. Which made me feel like a real live author. We had coffee in a wonderfully eclectic cafe / vintage clothing store / performance space called the Birdcage, and I was taken on a walking tour of Bristol, which is a far more hip and cool and happening city than I had realised. Many thanks again to Cheryl, who is gracious and kind, and endlessly helpful.

Then on to London, where it feels like I am making a slow start this morning, though that can’t be true: I’ve been awake for ages. It’s publication day! I’m signing more books at Forbidden Planet later this morning, as well as at Jo Fletcher Books HQ. And it’s a Thursday so that means free books. Watch out for the next post …

I’m going to be on the radio! And other upcoming events.

A quick shout-out to Cheryl Morgan, who has very kindly invited me to join her on Bristol’s Ujima Radio 98fm Women’s Outlook programme from 12 – 2pm on Wednesday 27th March (podcast to follow). This is not at all coincidentally the day before Gemsigns is officially released into the wild, so we get to talk about books in general and that one in particular. It should be interesting – Ujima is largely aimed at Bristol’s Afro-Caribbean community, and I’m originally from Jamaica, so there’s an obvious link. But I don’t look or sound like what most people think a Jamaican ‘ought’ to look and sound like. Half the characters in my novel are people who are marginalised and discriminated against because of their origins, but those origins are not national, racial, religious or indeed anything else that we have experience with out here in the real world. Gender issues concern me, but only to the extent that I believe ALL issues of inequality and prejudice and presumption, ALL constraints and limitations and denials of freedom, should be of grave concern to ALL of us – whether they are constructed (or excused!) on the basis of gender, ethnicity, appearance, sexuality, religion, disability, or any of the other myriad stupid reasons we find to repress and abuse each other. So I tend not to place myself in niches because frankly, with so much nonsense to contend with on so many fronts, you need room to swing.

Then I’m at Eastercon (or EightSquaredCon as it’s known this year) in Bradford. I’m not sure exactly what (if anything) I’ll be doing as the programme isn’t out yet, but I’m told there’ll be a launch event for me and other Jo Fletcher Books authors who have novels out this spring. Anyway, if you’re there you can’t miss me; I’ll be the one floating three inches above the ground, grinning from ear to ear. And a couple of weeks later, on Thursday 11th April there’ll be what I’m grandly referring to as the London launch – basically a party in a pub with books, because with the best will in the world it’s a little too much to expect all my friends, fans, colleagues and alpha-readers to decamp to Bradford for Easter weekend (although some of them did volunteer, and I love them dearly for it). I’ll post the location once it’s confirmed; anyone who wants to come along will be very, very welcome.

Between now and the start of all that I will mostly be in Leeds, working on a very intense but short-term project to combat fuel poverty that will have me criss-crossing the Yorkshire countryside. I will be living in cheap-and-not-that-cheerful business hotels (unless I run into Lenny Henry in the lobby), which means that I should have no distractions and therefore no excuses not to write at night (I would so love to have the draft of Binary finished by the time Gemsigns is published). I will definitely be online daily (if not all day), and starting next Thursday I’ll be giving away a fantastic book every week. So it’ll be a busy-busy-busy couple of months, but it’ll be fun. Stick with me.

  • I love stories.
    My new novel, Sacred, is all about them. Publication info will be posted as soon as I have it.

    In the meantime check out Gemsigns, Binary and Regeneration, available wherever good books are sold.

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  • UK edition

    REGENERATION

    The 3rd Book of the ®Evolution

  • UK edition

    BINARY

    The 2nd Book of the ®Evolution

  • UK Edition

    GEMSIGNS

    The 1st Book of the ®Evolution

  • US Edition

    REGENERATION

    The 3rd Book of the ®Evolution

  • US Edition

    BINARY

    The 2nd Book of the ®Evolution

  • US Edition

    GEMSIGNS

    The 1st Book of the ®Evolution

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