In Oldham

Well, I’m back in Leicester after a fantastic two days in Oldham, where I was at the 2013 Brilliant Books award. And the whole thing has been enormous fun. We writers and illustrators were all looked after incredibly well (the legendary Oldham Cheese Pie lived up to the whispered rumours), and it was a pleasure to meet teachers, librarians, schoolchildren and parents and see such enthusiasm for writing and literature, as well as to get to know some of my fellow-writers better.

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Brilliant Books 2013

A very quick post this, to say that I’m heading to Oldham today for the Brilliant Books 2013 award, and am very proud to say that [amazon_link id=”1407116525″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Snorgh and the Sailor[/amazon_link] is on the shortlist. The full list of shortlisted books is here — there are some great books on the list, and it’s good to be in such fine company.

Tanimbar Medicine in Unmapped Magazine

I’m absolutely delighted to say that my essay on Tanimbarese medicine has been published in the wonderful Unmapped magazine. The essay is about witchcraft, possession, strange octopi that lurk in the stomachs of their victims and crazed Indonesian nuns with syringes. Unmapped is available by subscription, for £2 a month — and it’s a wonderful publication, so do think about signing up.

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Accidental Sinology

I’m down in Bangor for a brief spell, where I’ve been talking to creative writing and translation students about how a few years back I found myself stumbling into matters Sinological, and the general mayhem that has ensued since then. I wasn’t sure that I was going to get here at all this morning, as there was train chaos across the midlands; but five trains (five!) later, I pulled in to Bangor station on time. And I’m glad I made it.

It’s been a fun afternoon. My talk was called “A Book of Changes? Writing, Chance and the I Ching: or, The Adventures of an Accidental Sinologist”, so I was talking about my forthcoming novel-of-sorts, A Book of Changes, based around the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching. Read more

Uncertainty, Divination and the Book of Changes

I’m very pleased to say that Aeon Magazine have just published a piece I’ve written on the Yijing / I Ching / 易經, the Chinese Book of Changes, and the cultivation of uncertainty. Here’s a quote.

More recently, I have started to ask a different set of questions about the I Ching. I am no longer so worried about what the book means, about what wisdom, if any, it imparts. Instead, I have started to content myself with asking about what it does. In fact, I have come to suspect that perhaps the book has no wisdom to impart, that perhaps it means nothing whatsoever, and it might be in this that it is possible to find the secret of its power.

The link to the full article is here.

Do not adjust your sets

Well, after six whole days of having no access to email or to any of my various websites—thanks to a server meltdown—I’m glad to say that I’m now back in action. Apologies for the long, wintery blankness here on, but other than sending exasperated queries to tech support for the entire week, and lots of anxious pacing to and fro, there has been little that I have been able to do.

I’m currently reviewing how I host my sites behind the scenes; but I’m very glad that the site is back in action. Hopefully is not far behind. If you’ve sent me any email over the past week, then please do re-send if you haven’t heard back, as your email has probably merged with the ether. And the ether, as everyone knows, doesn’t exist…

Lyres, Kindles and Book Awards

I’m delighted to say that my novel, The Descent of the Lyre, has been shortlisted for the East Midlands Book Award. It’s a very strong shortlist, and so it’s great to be on it. You can find out more about the award here.

Meanwhile, the book has just been issued in Kindle format, where it’s £5.99 in the UK and less than $10 in the USA. So if you are a Kindle user, and are given to fables about Spanish guitarists, the myth of Orpheus, Bulgarian saints, banditry and fierce alcohol, then [amazon_link id=”B00BXIJIMY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]get yourself a copy[/amazon_link]. The book is also available in [amazon_link id=”9380905076″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]handsome hardback[/amazon_link].

You can find out more about the book on my personal website, where you can listen to extracts, watch the book trailer (book trailers being the in thing), listen to extracts and read reviews. The link is here. But, for the mean-time, here are some review extracts to whet your appetite…

~ @ ~

“Blends history and myth… lyrical and well-written.” The Bookseller


“This is a book that is memorable for all the right reasons. The story is gripping and highly original, and it is beautifully written” Louis de Bernières.


“Seasoned with knowledge of philosophy and storytelling as well as a deft touch and lyrical beauty… it feels totally original.” The Book Bag

~ @ ~

The prize-winning book will be announced in June at the Oakham Literary Festival. Wish me luck!

Isaac’s Gift

Just a quick email to say that I’ve got a new article online over on Aeon Magazine’s excellent website. The article is about the Tanimbar islands in Indonesia, adat ritual law, gift exchange, and talking lizards.

You can find the link here. Whilst you are at it, it’s worth signing up for Aeon’s RSS feed: they publish a new (and excellent) article every weekday.

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh

Well, it’s now more or less spring; and with the surging green buds etc., I thought I’d give TheMyriadThings a new look. After a few days of burrowing away behind the scenes, I’m just about ready to put the site back online. There are still a few rough edges (if you find any, then let me know), but I’ve simplified things considerably. Now the posts here are divided into three categories. There are essays, which are anything from, say, six hundred words or up; then there are snippets, which are any other bits and pieces that take my fancy but that don’t really merit further development, or that I might one day develop if I have time to do so. Finally there are news posts, which are about what I’m up to, or about what’s going on with the site. This is a somewhat loose and baggy categorisation, but it should be useful to separate out the longer-form pieces from the snappier ones. Read more

A Few Small Changes

It’s been a bit quiet here of late, as I’ve been busy writing other things; but this is just an advance warning that I’m planning to give TheMyriadThings a bit of a rejig over the next few days. I’ve fallen by happenstance into writing rather long essays here, which is fine: but I don’t want to only write long essays, as the fear of having to write at length could (given that I seem to be somewhat busy at the moment) prevent me from writing at all… So over the next few days, I’m going to give the site a new look, and to re-tailor it so that I can post—as well as longer and more essayistic pieces—various snippets, speculations and other sideshows that take my fancy.

This will mean that the blog may disappear for a few days, with a holding page in place whilst I tinker behind the scenes; but don’t fear, it will be back in action very soon!


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