Sunday 27 April 2014

Be good for good, not for gender

I confess the title isn't mine. I nicked it off my good friend Jan Edwards. But it just seemed to sum up how I feel about the current trend in anything to do with writing, genre fiction, the convention circuit: the circles I move in - or used to move in. I'm a bit more square these days, I think...

Gender Parity.

With capital letters.

Read any write-up of a genre convention and there'll be somebody banging on about it. How there were more men than women on this panel, more male guests than female guests and don't the organisers know that there are women writers too? Whole pages devoted to listing all the awesomely good ladies.

Anthologies are the same. Oh no - there are twenty stories and only two written by women! Surely that depends on the ratio of publishable stories that were actually submitted by women? Even committees are getting in the act. Must have an equal balance etc etc. It's bad enough in real life when the public sector talks about how many women there are in higher-management roles and are we under-represented because we took time out to have a family?

Now don't get me wrong. I'm all for women's rights and equality of opportunity. But the key is that word - opportunity. Take for example a hypothetical fiction anthology calling for submissions. It should be open to men, women, people who identify as either gender. After that it's surely down to the quality of the work submitted? Gender of author becomes irrelevant - in the same way that race, religion and any other identifying characteristic is irrelevant to the ability to write a good story. It's the same with panels at conventions and conferences; I want to listen to what somebody has to say because they have a valid and/or interesting contribution to make - not because they are a man or a woman and are there to make up numbers.

Frankly I find it all rather insulting. I don't want to be given preferential treatment because I'm female. I don't want to think people might be muttering she only got there because of her sex. I want to be on a panel or in an anthology or selected for anything in my life because somebody thinks I'm actually rather good at it. Because I am.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Rat's Tale is live!

So Rat's Tale is now live in ebook format at and The paperback and other sites should be there in the next few days hopefully.

Lenny’s turned his back on the past. In return for police protection and a lighter sentence, he’s grassed up his old gangland boss and he’s hoping that eventually he’ll be free to start a new life with Amanda.

But the past isn’t giving up on him yet. New man on the block Mick Carlotti fancies himself as a crime lord – he doesn’t have the contacts or the business acumen, but he knows a man who does. He also knows exactly how to get Lenny to play ball.

Caught between Carlotti’s rock and the hard place of a life sentence for a murder he didn’t commit, Lenny’s running out of choices. Turning his life around is going to be a lot harder than he thinks.

Set just after events in Calling the Tune, this shorter novel is Lenny's story and contains adult material. 

This one's been fun. Getting inside the head of a bad-boy and working out what makes him tick has been fascinating and not something I've done before. I think it works ...

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Spring Senses

Use all five senses and write about spring. 10 minutes - go!

It's so close, I could touch it. At least I could if the window opened more than the inch or so required for "ventilation" - although really it's just to drop fag ends outside. But I like to stick my fingers out and touch the rain, or get my nose so close to the gap that I can smell and taste the weather. It's a better smell than body odour and boiled cabbage.

Freedom is something I can see through the glass, but always just out of reach. I can hear traffic sometimes, on a still night when the morons on the wing finally quit carping and curl up in something approaching sleep, tucked up under their dirty grey blankets with their dirty grey dreams. Cars in the distance, people travelling, arriving, living; without freedom, I simply exist.

But spring is somehow different. Always full of hope with the promise of summer just around the corner. I always stick my fingers out of my cell window when it rains in the spring.

So I don't do light and fluffy...