Monday, 20 August 2012

Weekend Stuff

The weekend consisted of all sorts of fun stuff. On Saturday we were at Lees Library, Oldham, where I gave an afternoon reading to a good-sized and perky audience of all ages. We had tea and cakes and I read some 'Never the Bride' and '666 Charing Cross Road.' There were some there who were new to my work, but also some hardline Brenda fans - plus some Iris Wildthyme devotees.  It was a lot of fun.

And Sunday took us back to Alderley Edge and lunch at The Wizard pub, and a walk round all the steepest and mulchiest bits under those colourful crags and overhanging trees. It's a spectacular place, and lovely to revisit following my recent rereading of Alan Garner.

Sunday night - there was just a hint of autumn in the air. It made me turn to costume dramas late in the evening at the very tail-end of the weekend... a spot of Downton Abbey and Sense and Sensibility. A bit of lavish landscape and a few tart rejoinders. It seemed the only way to prepare for the week ahead.

Reading this weekend was just perfect. Susannah Clapp's 'A Card from Angela Carter' is a lovely though too-short read. I love the way it jumbles the chronology of Carter's life and jumps intuitively from image to image and idea to idea. Some of the details we've heard before - but there are startling things i'd never heard. It's twenty years exactly since I was starting my phd on Angela Carter's novels, and this was a lovely way to revisit all those titles and those themes - and to retrace a narrative I haven't been back to in a while.

Then I read with huge enjoyment Jenny Colgan's recent Doctor Who novel, 'Dark Horizons' - a tale of vikings and hardy islanders and alien creatures who manifest themselves as fire. It's a smashing adventure - with some wonderful action set-pieces and moments of real danger. I love the episode at the bottom of the sea, in particular - and the fact that the TARDIS itself comes under threat. There are many things to love about the novel - including a pitch-perfect rendition of Matt Smith's Doctor - gangly and cartoony and keen. I love the fact, too, that Colgan is clearly an old-school Who book fan - the text is sprinkled with clues ('voluminous' and 'wheezing and groaning' and a very Terrance Dicksian sentence which runs something like: 'Suddenly, everything seemed to happen at once.')

Above all, though, she gets the fact that what a Doctor Who story needs is a great supporting cast. We have to want to be among people we care about - and we should want the Doctor to be tempted to take them with him at the end. Her cast of characters here are great - the love interest couple of Henrik and Freydis being particularly worthy companions.

There's also a curious chapter 19 which jumps us rather sweetly out of the action - shoots forwards in time, addresses us directly, revisits the scene of the adventure and features a delightful cameo appearance somewhere in the far distance. Watch out for it!

So - a lovely weekend of reading. How was yours?


  1. I really enjoyed 'Dark Horizons' too and I agree it had that Targety Dicks feeling to it. Great stuff - I hope they ask her to do some more!

    1. I'd like to see her do another Who book, too!

  2. 'Hardline' fans -- you make it sound like a drug addiction!

    1. Brenda (and Iris) fans are very hardline!