Glad to say that ideas are coming thick and fast at the moment. As has become usual, my only impediment to writing is having to attend to other tasks. But I have a trusty notebook (paper one, not computer) to hand , so jot things down in that. I have also acquired a laptop computer for the purpose of working outside in the summer – assuming we have one, of course. My husband, Jim, and I share a workroom, and it’s one of his quirks that he chatters to himself constantly, which is a distraction to me, since I can’t stand any noise while I’m writing. This includes music as well, which is a shame, because I find it very inspiring. Still, to write I need Silence. I have my own little workroom in the spare room of the house, but it doesn’t get much sun and feels a bit subterranean, so I’m hoping we get enough decent weather to be able to sit in the garden this summer and write. Fingers crossed.

Ian Whates has asked me to write a story for his Newcon Press ‘future of agriculture’ anthology, to be launched at Bristolcon this year, where I am one of the guests of honour. I was a bit stumped to start with, because all the ideas that came to me were rather dark and not terribly positive about this aspect of the future, but now, after doing a bit of workshopping with my friend Lou Coquio, have come up with something that’s a bit brighter in tone. I felt that for this particular collection, it seemed appropriate to be upbeat rather than dreary and doomy.

I’ve managed to find time to write a few scenes for my third Alba Sulh Wraeththu novel. Again getting lots of ideas but things are just so hectic at the moment. I look back wistfully to the days when my workload when I got up in the morning was just writing. I squandered a lot of that time, because I had no idea how things would change. Writing time is a luxury for me nowadays. But that said I do savour it and look forward to immersing myself in it. It seems bizarre to me that for quite a few years I suffered writer’s block, yet now it’s not so much I can’t write because the words aren’t there, but just I have so many other things to do. But the positive side of this is that writing is now a pleasure to me rather than something to be feared, or dreaded. We all have our own ways round writer’s block!

Aside from my own writing, and working on Immanion Press titles, I have a delicious little job of typing up one of Tanith Lee’s stories for Ian Whates. I do the layout for Ian’s Newcon Press titles – one of my favourite things to do. I adore designing books. Tanith works on a typewriter rather than a computer, and hers died recently, so she’s been writing by hand. I’ve done quite a bit of typing and scanning for Tanith over the last year, which gives me the privilege of reading her new work – aside from the novels of hers Immanion Press is publishing. The tale I’m typing up now, which is a fairly long one, is ‘The Frost Watcher’, to go in Newcon Press’s new edition of Tanith’s short story collection ‘Cold Grey Stones’. Tanith’s husband John Kaiine did the cover art for the original edition, which I always thought was wondrously spooky and strange, and for the new edition Tanith has written the story to go with that illustration. Ian is launching this new edition in October, so check the Newcon Press web site for more details.

I’ve recently done the layout for another of Ian’s titles, the ‘part two’ of ‘Diary of a Witchcraft Shop’ by Liz Williams, and her partner, Trevor Jones. I just had to read parts of it as I was doing the layout – irresistible – and my favourite bits are the recounting of conversations with customers in the shop. A hoot. I loved the first book and can also recommend this one.

In respect of my own work, and reviewing what I have stored in my ‘ideas’ folder on the computer, I had a look at a novel I started some years ago, called ‘Shimbari Dreams’, which is sort of autobiographical in that it concerns a female writer who’s created a fantasy world where the characters have ambivalent sexuality. But primarily, it was my attempt to explore the possibilities – and dark shadows – of the internet. Looking again at the pages I wrote for it, I realise that social media have moved on so much I need to rewrite it quite a bit. I was interested in investigating how virtuality could leak into reality, and also about the more obsessive side of fandom. The ‘new’ fandom that evolves in the story grows beyond the regular fans, and is as much of a mystery and an absurdity to them as to the author. Then things take a sinister turn. I’m thinking at the moment, this might be the novel I return to after I’ve finished the last of the Alba Sulh sequence, but I do have several other stand alone novels started, either with a few chapters done, or just in note form, so I’ll leave it until later to decide which one I’ll actually work on next.

For now I need to finish the agriculture story and also the Alba Sulh novel. There is one part of this novel that I’m sort of reluctant to write, and might not include it ultimately. It’s something I find extremely gruesome and therefore uncomfortable to write about. It’s based on a real event that was reported in the news last year, and when I read about it, it affected me greatly. I need something quite shocking for the core of this novel, wrapped as it is in ghosts, but whether I can stomach actually writing that part remains to be seen. I might yet wuss out!

I’m still mulling over what should be the next Wraeththu anthology theme. I thought it might be nice to bring out a collection annually but I think bi-annually is more realistic.

So, lots going on, and feeling very positive about my work. Could just do with more time, or some kind of device that lets me stretch time. Now, that would be handy!