Some of you will have gleaned from my social media posts that I ended 2017 with a dramatic change on the home front. Garry and I moved house from Chester, moving not simply across town or to a neighbouring county, but to Scotland. To be precise we’re now living in Port Bannatyne on the Isle of Bute. It’s not as remote as you might imagine since the island has excellent connections to Glasgow. I’m thrilled and excited to be here and I’m keeping my fingers crossed this will prove to be an inspired relocation.
My first priority is to unpack my books, but there isn’t a single bookshelf in our new home. So I’m looking for design inspiration. And where better to look that the local gothic pile, Mount Stuart, which has four libraries! Pictured here is the Purple Library, so called for the colour of the marble pillars. Somehow, I think my ‘library’ will be relatively minimal in architectural terms, but my book spines will be way more colourful!
Today, 2nd January, I’m back at my desk in my new writing room, ready to start a writing project which I’ve been mulling over for several months. I hope the lovely views of Kames Bay and Loch Striven won’t be too distracting!
2017 turned out to be busy all round. My third novel, Dreams Before the Start of Time, was published by 47North. In addition, NewCon Press published my novella, The Enclave, set in the world of A Calculated Life. And Unsung Stories included my short story “A Good Citizen” in its anthology 2084. What’s more, as part of The Ada Lovelace Conversations, I interviewed five women science fiction writers; a wholly enjoyable and enlightening experience.
Looking back, our recent house move – the whole packing and unpacking process – has been a massive time-sink, and the first casualty has been my personal reading challenge. I had hoped to read 50+ books in 2017, but in the end I had to accept that 40 books wasn’t too bad an effort given the chaos of recent months. In fact, much of my reading focussed on pre-2017 releases with some re-reads. Among the highlights in no particular order were:
Zero K by Don DeLillo
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
The Vegetarian and Human Acts by Han Kang
Speak Gigantular and Butterfly Fish by Irenosen Okojie
The Beauty and Arrival of Missives by Aliya Whiteley
H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Rift by Nina Allan
The Bees by Laline Paull
The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver
Central Station by Lavie Tidhar
Automonous by Annalee Newitz
Virology by Ren Warom
Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan
And I’m starting 2018 by reading, pre-release, Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift who wrote my favourite short story of the year, “The Endling Market” in the 2084 anthology from Unsung Stories.