Wednesday, 26 November 2014

been to the Goldsmiths Infant Lab

OK, so a few things have happened since my last post (about reading serialised novels way back in January. Ahem). Probably the most significant of these is that I had a baby, though we also moved house, and Liars' League got mentioned in the Guardian's Top 10 Great Storytelling Nights and won a Saboteur Award for Best Regular Spoken Word Event. Don't ask me to sort these in order of importance because someone's going to get hurt.

Seriously though, I really did have a baby. (His eyes don't always look like that).

I was going to blog about the pregnancy – in fact I wrote all the posts – but then I got superstitious and didn't even want to talk about it until it was a done deal and the baby was safely out. He's now just over seven months old and is called Theo. I submit that just like everyone else's firstborn, he's the most attractive, intelligent, talented etc. child in the world and will surely end up running it. (Come on, he's cute).

Naturally I take every opportunity I can to show him off to admiring strangers, which is why this afternoon we found ourselves in an office in the Ben Pimlott Building, home of the Goldsmiths College Infant Lab. Although with a name like that it sounds like it should be growing foetuses in bottles a la Brave New World, it's actually where they study child development, and Theo was there to take part in an experiment on Visual/Tactile Attention in babies.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

read a serialised novel

Rec: BBC Sherlock Fanfiction (1)
Do I really need an excuse? OK then, Sherlock Holmes was one of the first serially recurring characters in fiction
 Anyone who regularly reads this blog (hi Mum!) will know that as a writer of historical fiction, I love to see people indulging in a bit of Victorian action – whether it’s reviving a forgotten tradition or practice from the time (visiting cards anybody?) or just a new take on a nineteenth-century classic. (Yes, I am enjoying the new series of Sherlock – thanks for asking). 

File:Alltheyearround 1891.jpgOne of the great literary trends of the Victorian period, from Dickens’s Pickwick Papers onwards, was novels published in (usually weekly) instalments in magazines like (Dickens again) Household Wordslater All the Year Round. A huge number of today’s classics, from Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone to Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, as well as many of Dickens’s own works, first saw the light of day in the pages of such magazines. 

In these times of instant download and speed-reading, it’s often hard to imagine the sort of anticipation and interest each new instalment generated, or the level of delayed gratification the reading public were willing to accept (some of the fatter potboilers, such as GWM Reynolds’s The Mysteries of London, took over two years to finish their run). So can it work again today?

Over the last twenty years or so, a few A-list writers and their publishers have had a stab at resurrecting the form, but it’s never come back into the mainstream. Alexander McCall Smith’s novel 44 Scotland Street was a weekly serial in The Scotsman for six months in 2004, and way back in 1996 Stephen King led the way with The Green Mile which was published in six bite-sized, individually purchasable chunks, appearing monthly. Small press Salt Publishing even adopted the aptly Victorian instalment approach for the e-book version of Niall Boyce’s steampunk romp Veronica Britton: Chronic Detective.