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Category Archives: Hull

When I opened my curtains this morning onto a non-descript autumn day, I found a rainbow waiting outside my window. Traditionally my view is nothing spectacular: a road, and houses in all directions. If I’m really lucky I might get to hear bird song over the new developments’ machinery.

New houses on green land, new houses on flood plains, new roads, new shops. Irritating drivers, thoughtless pedestrians. I might as well live in a fantasy world.

No one listens just outside of Hull any more than they do inside it, I suspect. Yes, City of Culture 2017 lots of things happening, not all of it ‘Hull’.  Yes there’s that stigma again.  An understandable one for those of you from Fantasycon who happened to have survived the meal offerings at Scarborough’s Grand.

Hull? Isn’t that the place the PM just compared to Detroit? There’s a lot about Detroit I like, but I do worry for the city up the road when targets are placed on things so few get. A bit like Shoreditch, and planners designing roads for towns they’ve never been in.

Yet, despite all these negatives and changes – be they wanted or forced upon us – I’m surrounded by endless references to worlds that don’t exist and a culture that cannot be bought in or rebuilt at any price. Even though ‘outsiders’ are trying. Generations ago the town told a king to ‘do one’, a true rebel revolt waiting to be found in the history books. And that’s not the only one.

While the politics at a local level might belong in a dystopian novel along with the rotting boats along its beck, buildings born from fishing wealth inspire Georgian alternate history tales down streets where Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell would be quite at home.

I still expect to see Lord Poppy (Emma Newman's Split World Series) here one day.

I still expect to see Lord Poppy and his entourage (Emma Newman’s Split World Series) here one day. Image by Jon Parkes Photography

Inspiration for Lewis Carroll lies in wait at one church, while Tolkien’s touch is everywhere. Under-crofts and ancient churches treasure their secrets, next to narrow staithes hiding murderous lore of their own. The source of the town’s multicultural world building stares us in the face as we pop in to Maccy D. The essential component to any fantasy novel, the ‘barter town’ market trades under many faces. The nightlife would give Bladerunner a run for its money.

The future veers out across the Humber where its bridges are swallowed in paranormal mist.

Avoiding its miserable mud as the fog rolls on, the ghosts of Romans still search for their missing mosaic. Further along, over lost raised walkways, souls continue their pilgrimage to towering standing stones. Secret rooms buried in rubble uncover the forgotten meeting places of the elite and still standing pubs hold tight to the conspiracies plotted there. Pillar boxes maintain their guard for the airships while buildings draped in tattered canvas plead for a hero to rescue them. Shelters crumbling into an eroding coast are blinded by the hazey sun while pirates saunter back down the estuary.

HMS Bounty approaching Paull. Humber Bridge in background. Image by Karen Constantine. Source BBC.

Not actually a pirate. HMS Bounty approaching Paull with Humber Bridge in background. Image by Karen Constantine. Source BBC.

There’s so much to complain about these days, yet we take so much for granted. Like an unexpected rainbow filling a grey sky with colour.

So I’m quite happy living in my fantasy world, and I’m certainly grateful for the endless inspiration. Its global and diverse population are a great source for characters and conflict. That unsuspecting hero? Hull is one great big community that won’t turn its back on a friend.

Of course the rule for Hull is you don’t mock Hull unless you’ve lived it. Everyone Back To Ours, is the phrase for the coming year so you can’t say you haven’t been invited.

Snubbing it? You can probably do one. 😀




When I’m working on my own writing I find it difficult to read within my preferred genre. For me one of the biggest advantages of SFF is, while there’s a good dose of imagination and future thought in it, the genre still has a healthy dose of day to day life. People still have relationships, crimes are still committed, mysteries still happen, so I’m able to read other stuff too.

On the search for something outside Fantasy and Science Fiction I pottered across town to catch Nick Quantrill launching his latest crime novel, The Dead Can’t Talk. It wasn’t so much as it being a local author which drew me to the novel, more that one of Hull’s most iconical buildings featured in it. The Lord Line Building not only means something to the thousands of people involved in the fishing and shipping industries, but just like the Humber Bridge, a child knows the landmark. Everyone knows they’re home when they pass Lord Line just off the A63. The people of Hull have adopted it as their own.

An Event to Remember.

Nick gave his book a proper send off into the big wide world, yes the expected gathering of chairs were there, and right comfy ones they were too. More were brought in to accommodate the crowd. York band, Bull brought the music. Helen Cadbury prompted questions relevant to the genre they both share. Much like Hull, the launch blended all the things Hull folk hold dear, friendship and fun, to create a great festival feel.

For a book.

Not too many days later. In the university library I attended a more composed launch of Daphne Glazer’s The Hendersons. A quite room, the white walls prepared for the next art display. Tea and coffee as well as finger foods awaited the guests, perfect for a composed book rich in characterisation. While I knew nothing of the Sheffield locale nor its history in which her book was set, it still transported listeners from the modern austere surrounds. Elegance and the unique mix of art and books found in Hull University’s Brymor Library merged with Daphne’s ability to inspire and enthuse. Her audience was entirely different from Nick’s, but just as engaged and curious about the novel, the author’s writing processes and inspirations. An extravagant launch and minimum expense in a city known for its grit, but I’m still waiting for the butler to offer Ferrero Roche to everyone.

Is It Worth All That Hassle?

Both launches saw book sales, of course. That’s the point of it, isn’t it? Marketing?

Or.  Is it a celebration of work, hours of effort and editing, wrangling with submission processes and book cover choices? Why shouldn’t it be a party that reflects the author’s individuality as much as the product?

Alcohol often flows at these events, but both authors were keeping a clear head – for the readings at least. Slurring your paragraphs doesn’t sound all that professional after all! Neither launch appeared to take the authors outside their comfort zones. I believe it added to the atmosphere, which in turn made their events successful. The authors enjoyed the experience on the whole.

Going Beyond The Fear.

Through the fear of no one turning up or the nightmare of standing in front of lots of people book launches are often a side thought or organised because of expectation. It might require a little bit of money too. Generally speaking book launches involve people staring at a writer, posing questions the author might not want to answer, as well as the author reading from the book in question. For those reasons many authors preferring a quiet life dislike promotion and the public process. Something I do understand.

Seeing readers gathered to support you as an author however can be a huge encouragement. Online book launches offer a shield from some of face to face engagement, but for me I’m more likely to remember a commitment to attend in person.

Being Different Isn’t A Bad Thing.

If anything, the last few weeks have shown me that a book launch is no different than a story. An author’s talent and creativity can be found in the pages just as much as it can in a launch.

Like a story, a book launch can be anything you want it to be. By being different in your approach a book can stand out from the crowd and last in a reader’s memory.

It’s not a wedding, there’s no need go beyond your budget. A little bit of planning can win you a fan or convert an undecided reader. It will give you a celebration you deserve as opposed to many sleepless nights.


I forgot to tell you. I’ve been so busy sorting and preparing that I forgot completely.  I’ve been awarded a Special Commission at the Humber Mouth Literature Festival.

Humber Mouth Literature Festival 6-16th November

Humber Mouth Literature Festival 6-16th November.


With Ten Miles East Of England: The Quest For The Lost Stories I’ll be connecting kids with words by using Minecraft. Over the next 3 weeks I’ll be working with one class in Alderman Cogan C.E. School. We’ll look at play scripts, lyrics, poems, comics, websites and generally play with words until we have a story to build in Minecraft for the festival in November. (You’ll notice a significant lack of the word BOOK in there.)

2015-09-27_07.53.56When I popped in to meet the class I would be working with I had no intention of raging on about books and their importance. There’s no greater turn off after all, than being told, preached at or ordered to do something. I took lots of different ‘books’ with me, all varying in game and visual tie in. The shiny covers of the Minecraft guide books were the most popular things on the table – and that’s before we actually start,  so let’s have less of “kids don’t read.” They just don’t always read what ‘we’ want them to read. It doesn’t mean we should devalue what they (and own up guys, what we) enjoy. It doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of narratives or stereotypes. These exist in formats outside of our much loved books. Let’s stop judging things by the cover.

What IS Ten miles east of England?

What IS Ten miles east of England?

I’ll be updating the commission website: throughout the coming weeks with various things. We’ll be recording our gameplay on You Tube, and inviting everyone to take part and write their own Minecraft stories too.

Drop by the website, write some stories of your own (check out the challenge page) and have a play on Minecraft turning those descriptive passages into biomes! (You may be there a while!) Or you could just share the website address on Twitter, Facebook and their other social media friends.


Six years ago I started out on a Creative Writing Degree at Hull University. Today I officially graduate…

The reason why this blog exists is due to that course, but was it all worth it?

I wouldn’t now be working in the area I am nor exploring the creative ideas I have, had I not attended the course. It’s highly doubtful I would have discovered the markets I have, let alone built the same portfolio of narratives had I not endured the whole six years.

I would not have the confidence in my work, or the understanding of the wider industry. I wouldn’t have the friends I do, or the respect for the things I create. I would not comprehend the importance of how creativity and art fits into the world and how it drives things. I still would not take written work seriously. Because. “Oh… You’re a writer…” is never said in with the same weight as “Lawyer”, “Doctor”, or “Rocket Scientist”.

Nasa's DIY Rocket Science podcast.

Nasa’s DIY Rocket Science podcast – Build Your Own!

It’s disappointing to learn that the course will be ending in three years, but who could possibly find the time to work to pay the fees and write as well as fit it all around a family? I wrote a novel, several short stories, attempted a play, a radio script and a TV script. Oh, and poetry. I also had my second daughter. Writing and night feeds… ‘Nightmare’ is all I will say.

The dissertation piece will sit in a frame near my writing area. It was an important lesson in itself, one I will not forget any time soon. All the preparation and editing in the world will not protect you from the guidelines set out for the submission of a piece of work.

We never stop learning.
So where now? At this point. Probably the pub. 😀


Ten reasons why’d think twice before pickin’ a scrap wit’ someone from ‘Ull.

Top Ten: Quirks Of Character That Make Hull Folk

Via Weird Retro.