Earlier this week I braved the flooding to head into the Forest of Dean, where I was warmly welcomed by the Newnham Readers group, a book club set up by local librarian Margaret Ellis.
The group chose The Undoing of Arlo Knott as their February read, and I went along to hear what they thought of it. I’d already been told that they never all agreed on a book one way or another…
Luckily they had mostly good things to say!
There were lots of comments about Arlo being driven by his own ego through much of the book, and what kind of person he eventually becomes. Surprisingly, there were also quite a range of interpretations of what happens at the end.
I also heard some interesting new ideas about the snake…
That’s the benefit of hearing from different book groups: it reminds you that reading is a hugely subjective experience. As a writer, all you can do is frame the story; what people see in it will always vary.
With thanks to Newnham Readers for a very pleasant evening (and to Maggie for the amazing lasagna!)
If you are a book club in the Westcountry and would like me to attend your event, please get in touch.
There have been so many book events over the last couple of months I’ve hardly been able to keep up! Needless to say it’s been great reading from The Undoing of Arlo Knott to new audiences, and getting into a lot of interesting chats with readers about the nature of time, quantum physics, snakes, superheroes and much more!
So what’s been happening?
Dragons and AI at Bristol con
In October I was at Bristol con, where it was lovely to see Gareth Powell as the guest of honour, plus a few more familiar faces. As well as two panels and a reading I ran ‘The Forest of Forking Paths’ workshop, in which we co-created our own adventure story. Being a fantasy crowd, a dragon got involved fairly quickly…
Super Relaxed Fantasy Club
Last night I was in London at the fabulous Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. Such a brilliant evening with a warm, friendly crowd and great readings from Paul Cornell and M.R. Carey – who gave us an exciting glimpse into his brand new and highly intriguing Book of Koli.
Tales of our city and more
This autumn we had another excellent Bristol Festival of Literature. My writers group Writers Unchained ran the ‘Tales of Our City’ spoken word evening, and we also had a stall at the Arnos Vale book fair.
What does the internet know about you?
Last but not least, Bishopston Library in Bristol kindly invited me to talk about Everything About You and dive into some topics of AI deep fakery, big data and the internet of things. A great crowd (and a library well worth checking out for its impressive range of events).
We’re seemingly surrounded by villains and in desperate need of heroes. But how do authors create them and what can we learn from these timeless archetypes?
Day: Wednesday 16th October
Venue: Max Minerva’s, 39 North View, BS6 7PY
Tickets: £3 (redeemable on purchase of a book)
About the authors
Heather Child’s latest novel, The Undoing of Arlo Knott, came out in August this year and was a Guardian book of the month. It tells of Arlo, who develops the mysterious ability to reverse his last action, making him better at life and able to experience anything without worrying about the consequences. But as he discovers, second chances aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
Robin Etheringtonis one half of the Etherington Brothers, the author of five Long Gone Don adventures and the creator eight book-length Von Doogan puzzle adventures for The Phoenix. He’s also written for Star Wars, Transformers, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. His new book, How to think when you write, is set to break Kickstarter records when it comes out in October.
With fabulous hosting from Hugo award-winning sci-fi critic and publisher Cheryl Morgan, we talked about having an undo button for life, plus the power of hindsight, quantum physics and snakes and ladders.
The room was packed and the shop ran out of books. Huge thanks to everyone who came and made it such a wonderful launch.
Finally The Undoing of Arlo Knott is hitting bookshops, and where better to launch it than the fabulous Storysmith books in Bristol? I’ll be talking to Cheryl Morgan of Wizard’s Tower press on the themes of the book, and on ‘Five things you won’t regret’ (according to Arlo Knott!)
Thursday 1st August, 6:30pm, £5 (includes a glass of wine and 10% off featured books)
Arlo Knott develops the mysterious ability to reverse his last action. It makes him able to experience anything, to charm any woman and impress any friend. His is a life free of mistakes, a life without regret.
Come along and enjoy some literary chit chat with a glass of wine… you won’t regret it!
Cheryl Morgan is a Hugo Award-winning publisher and science fiction & fantasy critic. She owns and runs Wizard’s Tower Press. Cheryl is also a co-host of the Women’s Outlook show on Ujima Radio. You can read more about her at Cheryl’s Mewsings and follow her on Twitter as @CherylMorgan.
Gone Girl for the VR generation . . . when the book is released ask Alexa to order you a copy. But be careful she doesn’t read it before you do, she may just tell the delivery drone that we’re onto them.
The paperback of Everything About You is finally here! It will be launched at Foyles bookshop in Bristol, on Thursday 21st February – come along and enjoy a lively evening of speculative fiction.
Freya has been lucky enough to get hold of a virtual assistant which knows everything about her and will fulfil her every desire. But there is something strange about its voice…
This is a joint book launch with Gareth L. Powell, author of the acclaimed Embers of War, a thrilling space opera featuring living ships, sentient forests, compelling characters and big questions about the nature of war. He will be launching the sequel, Fleet of Knives, at this event.
I’ll be talking about Everything About You, the future that is just around the corner, and how much control we are happy to concede to AI and automation technologies. What’s the worst that could happen, should you hand over your decision-making to an intelligence smarter than your own?
In these times of huge uncertainty, and with Brexit just around the corner, questions of identity loom large, and science fiction is perhaps the only clear lens we have with which to examine them.
Don’t miss out! Join us on Thursday 21 February, 7.30pm – 9.00pm.
This weekend I was in Bath with Writers Unchained, meeting lots of other writers’ collectives, small presses and other creatives.
It was a good chance for all the publishers based in the Westcountry – like Tangent Books, Wizard’s Tower Press and Silver Crow Books – to come together, get to know one another and share their wares with the public.
James Smythe’s dystopian novel I Still Dream, is also about an artificial intelligence, and deals with many of the same themes as Everything About You. Thus it was no problem launching into a lively and in-depth AI debate when I joined him in London – along with Rachel Heng, author of Suicide Club – at the Dark Societies dystopian book club.
One topic that seemed to strike a particular chill in the audience was the idea of AI clones of people being able to continue their lives after death. We discussed the (now defunct) @LivesOn Twitter service, which would digest a person’s tweets and then continue to interact as they would, even after they are gone.
It was a great event, marred only by having to compete with the World Cup semi-final… which really separated out the true fans of sci-fi fiction!