No justice in truth: My Name Is Revenge / Ashley Kalagian Blunt

Truth. History. Genocide. As an authority figure in Ashley Kalagian Blunt’s My Name is Revenge says, we know how “contentious various narratives can be.” These are the words of a principal to a student, young Vrezh, expelled soon after. Vrezh’s misdeed? He tried to bring to the attention of the school faculty events relating to…

Journey to the Golden Age

First post of 2018! As of NaNoWriMo last year, I’ve become consumed by this new project, the tentatively-named Cabinet of Wonders. Yesterday the word count of draft zero passed 65K. I’m not sure where it will go, but I’m struck at how transformative the writing process is, especially in a work that traverses time. It…

Strange and beautiful: From the Wreck / Jane Rawson

Speculative fiction is by its very nature strange and unexpected. Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck is both of these and more. I’d heard of the title from various book lists and reviews yet I was reluctant to pick it up given its seemingly incongruous premise: a surreal blend of historical fiction and sci-fi. The history…

Why we need… The Power / Naomi Alderman

I’m tidying up this review from a jumble of notes scrawled while listening to the audiobook edition of The Power. More often than not, I post reviews after a significant procrastination mulling-over period. In this case, I couldn’t remember the last time I was so utterly, maddeningly in awe of a work. The premise of…

Review: The North Water / Ian McGuire

The North Water is a book I suspect I’m not meant to have enjoyed. For one, it’s undeniably ‘masculine’: a miasma of semen, blood and sweat. The only women in it are whores, largely unnamed background characters that function as little more than orifices for rent. It is also a book about whaling. And I’m…

Review: See What I Have Done / Sarah Schmidt

I saw the ink-bled pigeon on the cover; it was beautiful. I heard the title; I was intrigued. When I discovered the story was about an infamous slaying, I couldn’t not read it. I must admit my approach to Australian author Sarah Schmidt’s chilling debut See What I Have Done was tinted with classic writer’s…

Birch: Hermitage Cats

One day, I went yet again to the State Hermitage Museum. It was well before opening and while I stood taking photos of the huge expanse of Dvortsovaya Ploshchad, Palace Square – the central heart of Saint Petersburg – a tabby cat wandered across the warming cobbles, brushing confidently against my leg. The cat perched…

Birch: Memory External

Without intentionally writing it into the manuscript, the role of memory is a key driving force in Birch. Alyona, the central character, begins her story in purposeful denial of her family’s memory. She is forced to contend with the result of this denial when she becomes the primary caretaker of her grandmother, Irina Alexandrovna. Irina’s…

Birch: Hermitage (an introduction)

A mass of first and second hand research contributed to the material that resulted in the manuscript I’ve called Birch. Much of it didn’t make the final cut, and some is present only in small glimpses. I’m hoping to share the details and experiences I encountered in this blog. This first entry features one of…