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Category Archives: Hull 2017

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. 😀




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.

Last night (March 21st) saw the burning of the Temple. A wooden temple built overlooking Londonderry, the 2013 City of Culture.  Late yesterday afternoon the Temple’s architectural avatar built by Adam Clarke, BlockWorks and Sparks on Minecraft received the same fate.


Templecraft is an innovative digital arts project inspired by a monumental real –world construction. More here:

When I first heard about it, I immediately thought of The Burning Man Festivals held in Nevada which has become a ritual in its own right. David Best being the sculptor linking the two projects.

Ok, why am I waffling about what is clearly ‘not book related’. What has this to do with writing, reading and stories? (Aside from all the written messages left in both versions of the Derry Temple, of course.)

Because this particular ‘piece of art’ was accessible through a Minecraft server as well.

I know. Minecraft isn’t a book either, or as some would argue, even ‘art’. Moving along…

So long as you had access to a Minecraft on PC version you could transport yourself across the world to Londonderry and be a part of it. A teeny tiny dot on the globe and no airfare needed. You didn’t even need to “understand” it. Minecraft made it accessible to people that would not have given it the time of day. Minecraft brought in visitors that wouldn’t have even known about it.


Templecraft Timelapse by Blockworks.

I know you can follow events on Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the social media sites. You get to see a festival through another person’s eyes on YouTube experience their feelings and are left wishing you were there too.

It’s not the same thing as being there in person.

We were there in spirit. My family are still talking about seeing the ‘Real’ burn on the news at the same time as exploring the ruins on a server.

BBC: Londonderry temple was a bonfire to peace

So what does this have to do with writing?


As authors, our main aim is to engage our reader, just as any other artist seeks to engage their audience.

Could a book cross that many miles as swiftly? Twitter and co can cause a buzz about a book but that’s not a writer to reader level of interaction. A movie adaptation can invite others in to the story, but as we all know, the movie is never the same as the book.

Reading transports you to anyplace, anytime. One at a time at a speed you can deal with, all you need is the time to turn the page.

Prose can engage and inspire people, but  I doubt one book/story could access the range across generations and interests as The Temple did.

Over time, maybe a book could. Look at that best seller list. The big sales are also movies with a massive web presence, toy lines and various merchandise. That is not writer to reader engagement, that’s franchise expansion.

I’ve spoken with and worked with children who do not know who Harry Potter is. (Imagine!) Children who don’t read books with endless words at all. (Comics are a different beast. However this isn’t going to cross into an debate about whether anyone reads any more.)

These same kids would have been on Templecraft though. They would have explored it.

So, author-writer-person, ask yourself this. Why are you writing?

Fame and fortune?


To share a story?

Then perhaps it’s time you looked at other ways to share your world with others.


*Thank you Londonderry for also showing the next City of Culture, Hull… that the fun doesn’t stop after the spotlight moves on.