Hi, here you'll find information about myself, my novels, my approach to writing and details about my teaching and mentoring roles.
EVENTS: Everything currently cancelled! Watch this space. Here's a link to a live Facebook book group on Blasted Things that I did for the University of St Andrews Alumni Association: https://youtu.be/5X9QmcG77E4
I've been teaching this semester, and finding it disconcerting to do this online. I like to roll my sleeves up and get in among my students. Writing is quite a physical occupation and I feel that teaching it should have some element of that. It has all feels curiously distant, only meeting them as rectangles on a screen, never getting to know them, how big they are, what there body language is like - and yet getting glimpses in some cases, of their bedrooms! And somehow it's harder to communicate ideas in that flat electronic way. Like trying to wind a watch wearing rubber gloves. Though it has still been lovely getting to know my students this year and I so admire the way they are concentrating and producing great work despite the great disruption of the pandemic.
I'm longing to get back to writing my new novel, which I think I'll call 'This Day and Age'. Or maybe 'Starling'. it takes place 25 years after 'Blasted Things' and isn't doing at all what I expected. It is always a great and encouraging feeling, when a character refuses to fit in with his (in this case) writer's ideas of who he is. The trouble is it sometimes mean the scrapping of many chapters that suddenly aren't relevant to this new man's story. But cut bits are necessary casualties. I must have written far more words that haven't ended up in my novels, than have.
Below is a poem from my recent collection Nub, published by Mariscat Press. The first of a sequence about my relationship with a tree I met in New Zealand.
Do you know the Moreton Bay Fig? Have you been introduced? The one that spreads hall-sized the one with buttress roots that stretch like walls, head high or more the one with little beads of figs inedible, with patent leather leaves the one that’s deeply littered underneath in rustling clefts?
A human can press her lips against that vegetable hulk can eye the O’s and eyes that stretch the bark rear back her head to gasp at massive boughs (how do they branch so far, bear all that weight?) the complex bulk: in wonderment, in worship – or in want?