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.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

spoken on Radio 4

First of all, the Radio 4 discussion I took part in on The World Tonight last Thursday had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I had a couple of stories on Radio 4 back in August. 4 is a big, many-tentacled beast, and when the producers got in touch with me they didn't even know my name, let alone my history (such as it is) with the channel.

This is because the discussion I was asked to contribute to was about short stories (and specifically the impact of short story writer Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for Literature) and so I was contacted via Liars' League. This happened at 2.34pm on 10th October, and by 8pm that evening - having dashed out of dinner with my parents - I was in the studio. So what was it like?

Saturday, 5 October 2013

joined a gym (Weeks 3 & 4)


Fourteen days and seventeen visits down, this is where it gets hard – not just because I'm pretty sick of writing about exercise, possibly one of the hardest subjects to make interesting, but also because I caught a cold on Sunday. Well, it was Saturday really, but it started making itself known on Sunday, and thus my Monday and Tuesday were pretty much spent on the sofa. It should have been a nice rest, but obviously I was feeling shit so didn’t really get the benefit. 
Also I seem to have brainwashed myself by dint of repetition into actually wanting to do some exercise every day … has the Gymsperiment worked?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

joined a gym (Week 2)

So, after a whole week of doing at least one exercise class or sporting activity per day without (and this is the important bit) injuring myself or dying, what possible terrors could Week 2 hold? I’ve already sampled two-thirds of what the Peckham Pulse has to offer, and with only Zumba, Aqua Zumba, Combat Aerobics (me neither) and the ever-tantalising Soca to sample, soon I will be able to cherrypick a smorgasbord of fitness pursuits to suit me. While mixing my metaphors.


SUMMARY: WEEK TWO
Total cost so far: £82.76
Number of total visits: 17
Number this week: 7
Total cost per visit: £4.86

Thursday, 12 September 2013

joined a gym (Week 1)


I am not one of these.
In fact, I have never even really used a gym, let alone joined one, hence this is a pretty large Never for me to tackle. The last time I did regular exercise it was 90 minutes per day of dance workout as part of a drama course. I hated every minute, and although at the end of the month I could do lots of press-ups, I have never before or since had the desire to do press-ups at all, let alone multiple ones. 

Therefore those who know me, even in passing, may be forgiven for scrunching their brows and wondering aloud (as one in fact did on Facebook when I announced my intentions) what I have done with the real Katy Darby.

Friday, 23 August 2013

had a story on Radio 4 (part 2)


(For the background to my getting broadcast on Radio 4, please check out my previous post).

William McGonagall
The second story in my Radio 4 “series” (of two, but I just love the sound of that) is called On Apollonian Shores, and the lofty and pretentious title is actually drawn from the work of its protagonist, Matthew Hathersedge, a failed poet in the 1830s who, driven to despair by bad reviews, resolves to end it all. Believe it or not, this one's actually a comedy. What with hangings, murder and dismemberment in The Tyburn Jig too, though, who knew I had such a thing about death? Perhaps it's the historical setting and the fascinating gruesomeness of the research I'd been doing about Victorian prisons and criminals for my second novel.

But the main inspiration for writing about poor old Matthew was in fact a highly successful Scots poet – William McGonagall, author of execrable doggerel verse including The Tay Bridge Disaster. Deaf to rhythm, blind to appropriate rhyme (e.g. buttresses/confesses) and the father of many a hamfisted simile and metaphor, McGonagall nonetheless profited from his poetry, even when he had to stand in a circus being pelted with eggs and vegetables to do so.