Dear friends, old and new,
Welcome to my website.
I am a ‘Young Adult’ author from London, currently unpublished, writing about lots of things, from mythology-inspired fantasy, through near-future dystopian nightmares, to contemporary action adventures.
My novel, ‘The Twain’, was in the final of the 2012-13 Guardian Hot Key Books Young Writers’ Prize, and received an Honourable Mention in Undiscovered Voices 2014. ‘The Hunt is On’ is a finalist in Undiscovered Voices 2016 and featured in the winners’ anthology.
Check the ‘About’ page to find out more about me and how you can get in touch.
There’s a gym in the basement of my new office building. I’ve been going at least twice a week for over a month, hauling myself out of bed an hour early to burn some calories. I’ve even been working with a personal trainer. Where once I was intimidated by the grunting and groaning of the singlet-wearing weight lifters, now I waltz into the strength area with confidence. Well, not quite. But getting there.
Stepping into the gym is like entering another world, replete with harsh fluorescent strip-lighting, a non-stop Rihanna soundtrack and posters that urge us to ‘get fit or die trying’ (!). But there is another, hidden place nested within this one, like a matryoshka, or more fittingly, a harem buried deep within the sultan’s palace. I’m speaking of the women’s changing room.
Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything. – Donald Trump
In this era of endless reboots, remakes and re-imaginings, Westworld is hardly remarkable. A new version of the 1973 Michael Crichton movie (itself endlessly parodied), the series has been given the high-gloss HBO treatment, with a stellar cast and big budget. Its production has been beset by delays; its concept rehashes not only the original movie, but also a host of tropes harvested from across the science fiction genre. And yet, it may turn out to be the season’s most relevant drama.
A rioting prison-ship led by a convicted terrorist. A rogue missile in the hangar bay. A dust-bound planet with a toxic atmosphere. Not to mention their own demons. As BSG Season 1 hits its stride, there’s a hell of a lot more for our heroes to worry about than just killer robots. In three excellent episodes, Bastille Day and the two-parter, Act of Contrition and You Can’t Go Home Again, the show maintains the thrilling mix of tight plotting and character work that made its opening installments so engaging.
After a summer of relative calm in the education world, the new term has brought with it yet another raft of announced changes from education minister Justine Greening and the new PM Theresa May. This time it’s a doozy: grammar schools are back. New free schools will have the option of selection, and existing schools may introduce selective processes into their existing admissions policies. The aim is to improve social mobility.
Many people have already written about why grammars don’t do anything of the sort but instead mainly cater to the middle classes. Loic Menzies of the ‘think-and-action tank’ LKMCo has a series of excellent posts on the topic, in particular his take-down of the ‘Uncle Steve defence‘ – the anecdotal evidence that Baby Boomers whip out to prove that grammars help bright but poor kids. If you want to see the hard data, he’s got it. For a more irreverent but nonetheless thorough exploration of the political background to the decision, I also recommend Disappointed Idealist. I’m not going to rehash all this, but I do want to offer a personal perspective on the issue.
You see, until a few years ago I might have been an Uncle Steve apologist. I was a grammar school girl. I happened to live in an area with one grammar for girls, and one for boys – not the full on 11+ system at work in other parts of Kent, but a significant watershed nonetheless. My parents were absolutely desperate for me to get in there. They wanted that social mobility for me – the status of being at grammar school, yes, but also what they thought would be a first class academic education of the type they themselves (for various reasons) hadn’t had access to/taken advantage of. In their view this was a ticket to the dream life. I remember my mum having a total meltdown on the day of the test because she forgot my invitation letter and felt she’d ‘ruined my life chances’. The Headmistress herself (a rather stern, birdlike creature who would waft into assembly in a full-on black gown and bang on about eagles and budgies) had to calm her down. “Madam, as long as you know your daughter’s name, we have no problems here.”
It was 2007 and I’d just started my summer job at Christ Church in Oxford, doing admin for a summer school for mature students (mainly Americans aged over 60). It was to become a regular gig, and it was a really great job to have because it included a lot of free food, a nice place to stay over the summer and quite a bit of free time. The guests were usually interesting to chat to and I have a lot of great anecdotes from that time.
Anyway, the first weekend I arrived and moved into my amazing suite of two rooms, which I later discovered was once lived in by Lewis Caroll! I had a laptop and a Wheelock’s Latin textbook to work through, but disastrously no internet connection. I soon realised I was going to need some way to amuse myself in the long stretches of downtime. The next day I popped into HMV and browsed their DVD stand, eventually picking up Season 1 of Battlestar Galactica, which wasn’t too expensive for the amount of episodes included. I’d seen some of the original version when it was 0n BBC2 and something about this remake really caught my eye. Maybe it was the promise of a fresh reimagining of a show that had seemed fairly campy and silly; maybe it was the picture of Six punching Athena in the face that let me know there’d be some badass ladies. I don’t remember what really sold me on it, but anyway, I bought it.
A few weeks later I had inhaled almost all three existing seasons. I fell in love with the mythology, the politics, the grey morality and the amazing female characters (hiiiiiiii Starbuck!) It became one of my all time favourite TV shows, and I was able to follow Season 4 in real time. I also introduced my friends to the show and we used to watch the DVDs together after finishing our essays and tute work, usually around midnight, so I got to experience it a second time. Then *that* finale happened, and I was so sad about it I didn’t want to rewatch the show at all. Until this year…
So, join my lovely friend Jodie and me as we dive into a rewatch of BSG! Our reactions are grouped into four categories: Starbuck (the most impt, of course!); Mythology; Music; and the rather bloated Miscellaneous. Spoilers abound!
In Part One, I covered our itinerary plus first visit to Tokyo and Takayama
In Part Two, I covered our time in Kyoto
Leaving Guesthouse Soi was hard, but it was now onto the last leg of our railpass week: Hiroshima. I have always been wary of morbid tourism, not least because it feels disrespectful to the dead and those who suffered. However, after hearing from friends what an amazing city Hiroshima is now, I felt I needed to visit for myself.
It was an emotional time to be in the city, as it was only a few days after the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bombing. The Peace Park was full of memorials and tributes, including thousands of paper cranes folded in memory of Sadako Sasaki.
In Part One, I described our itinerary and how I came up with a schedule for our trip. I also described our first few days in Tokyo and Takayama.
An afternoon and morning in Takayama were enough to see most of the old town, visit an Edo-style palace (Takayama Jinya) and start a walk into the mountains…until we saw the signs warning of bears and I chickened out of going any further. It was soon time to get back on the train and make our way down to Kyoto for the next leg of our holiday.
Kyoto was the place I most wanted to visit. My interest in Japan had been sparked by Memoirs of a Geisha, after all, and I went on to read a few books set in the city, including Liza Dalby’s non-fictional account of becoming a Geisha of Gion. Kyoto definitely lived up to my expectations.