National Novel Writing Month – Hmm, might give it a go

National Novel Writing Month starts in November.

 The object of NaNoWriMo, as I understand it, is to try to write what is essencially the first draft (50,000 words) of a novel in a month and then upload it to the website. I first read about NaNoWriMo earlier in the year in one of the writing magazines I get regularly. It looks like fun, I think i’m going to haev a go at it this year.

 I have a tendancy to edit as I go along so I think it could be an interesting exercise in just getting the initial story down on paper, and then tidying it up when November’s over. Since I also struggle to finish novels (but not short stories once i get going) it might help me get past that problem as well.

Happy writing


Book Review: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

‘Rivers of London’ is the first of two books (currently available) detailing the adventures of Detective Constable Peter Grant of the Met, and last Apprentice Wizard in Britain.

In ‘Rivers of London’ we are introduced to Peter Grant, a probationary constable in the Metropolitan Police. At the scene of a murder he tries to take a witness statement from a ghost and thus comes to the attention of the last official Wizard in Britian, Nightingale. Nightingale is the head, and only member,  of a specialist crime unit known as ‘the Folly’, about whom most police officers have no knowledge, and the ones who do know about it don’t like talking about the Folly. Constable Grant becomes the second member of the Folly and an apprentice wizard. Between solving a series of supernatural murders and settling a territorial debate between the genii loca of the Thames and the Thames  valley/London rivers, the Folly are stretched to capactity. Covent Garden gets set on fire and flooded, Punch causes a riot in the Royal Opera House and eventually a sacrifice has to be made.

With a cast of well written, funny and occaisionally creepy characters this novel races around London giving a new twist to old tales. The central character is well drawn, heavily embedded in the location and very ‘real’. Constable Grant’s struggle’s to learn a vast body of arcane knowledge and match his scientific understanding of the world to that of magic is entertaining. Especially the exploding apples.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next one, ‘Moon over Soho’.

The Brazen Horde Part two

Quick recap – Hibalt and Tobold have been invited to attend an interview for a place in the Brazen Horde by its famous leader Gorgo the Terrible. After witnessing a punch-up between a horde member and another interviewee they finally get to meet the great man himself. They have just been invited to take a seat.

Tobold sat down, and down, and down. The stool was so low all that could be seen of him was his greasy mop of hair. Hibalt lowered himself gingerly on to his stool and found that it wobbled slightly if he sat too heavily on the back leg; the stool had only three. It reminded him of the milking stool his mother had had, until Hibalt’s father used it to break someone’s head open during a brawl at their tavern.
‘This is a very impressive application, did you write it yourself?’
Tobold wasn’t sure to whom Gorgo’s question was directed, so he answered it anyway,
‘No, we found a scribe to fill it in for us both.’
‘And we didn’t pay him.’ Hibalt added by way of clarification; it wouldn’t do for Gorgo to think they were so polite, even if they had apologised after they had slightly roughed the scribe up.
‘Very good. As you are, I am sure, aware, here at the Brazen Horde we have a policy of community involvement, and we are an equal oppurtunities employer. The mission statement of the Horde is to provide a valuable service to community, by removing evil kings, mad sorcerors and the like from power, and substituting enlightened government by barbarism. We have branches in all major city states and empires, and our employees are afforded many oppurtunities to travel and develop they’re own interests. How do you feel you would, if offered a position here, cope with joining sure a large organisation?’
Hibalt had already decided that he would do the talking,
‘Well, Sir, as we have shown on our application, we have been part of large organistions before. Last year we spent three months with the Gurner’s, and they number three hundred at least. I think we would settle well in such a large and well organised horde as yours.’
‘Why did you leave the Gurner’s?’ The man who had shown Hibalt and Tobold in asked from behind them.
Hibalt jumped and fell from his seat. In this ungainly position, that is flat on his back in the floor with his legs waving in the air, he answered the man.
‘We weren’t very good at pulling faces when we attacked people.’
‘Ahh, I see, well, I’ll add ‘differences with management’ to the reason for leaving section of the application form.’
‘Thanks, we couldn’t decide how to phrase it properly, so we left that bit out.’
‘How do you feel about the extensive travel required of anyone who gains a position with this horde?’
Gorgo brought the interview back on track.
‘I’m looking forward to it.’ Tobold answered so that Hibalt had time to get back on his stool, ‘ We’ve never really been away from the Ider and the country ’round it. It’ll be fun.’
‘Why don’t you tell us a little about yourselves, how did you come to be barbarians?’
‘My dad was one,’ Tobold’s voice floated up to Gorgo, ‘He was a freelance and I followed him in to the family business. I was apprenticed to my uncle Ned for ten years and then i met up with Hibalt at a convention for newly trained barbarians. We decided to give it a go as a partnership, and we’ve worked together ever since. Thjat was about fifteen years ago.’
‘And have you never wanted to be anything else?’
‘Sometimes I wondered what it would be like to be a farmer or something, but then I think wouldn’t it be boring staying in the same place all the time and stop wandering. It’s a family tradition, i couldn’t really see myself as anything but a barbarian.’
‘What about you Hibalt?’
Hibalt was now firmly settled back in his seat. Dusting off his jacket and smoothing his hair, Hibalt replied,
‘My father had a tavern in Iderford, the Green Dragon, we got all the best barbarians in there when I was a kid. I would listen for hours to them talking about their adventures. i was apprenticed to Black Hand Alf at the age of seven and have been a barbarian ever since.’
‘Lifers then, both of you. Just the sort we need. We’ve had a lot of youngsters apply for the job, enamoured by the legends and adventure.’
‘Young people these days, they have no concept of the hardship involved. But they learn quickly enough, I’m sure we all did.’
‘Very true Hibalt, very true. Experience and wisdom are valuable assets in this sort of organisation. But youth has its advantages; which of us now could ride for three days, fight a battle and then rescue and ravish a princess? I know I don’t have the energy any more.’
‘Oh yes, well I never was much for ravishing , I’ve always prefered theiving.’
‘Really Tobold? You’ve never said anything before.’
‘Well, you were enjoying yourself so much, it didn’t seem fair to spoil your fun.’
‘Thank you.’
‘Now gents, are there any questions you would like to ask us?’
‘Yes, do you supply accoomodation or do we have to bring our own?’
‘Afraid you have to provide your own.’
‘Is this a saleried position, weekly paid or profit share?’
‘Profit share, and we provide food as well. Although we expect Horde member’s to suppliment their incomes with private ventures these must not conflict with any and all work for the Horde.’
‘Do you have any more question?’
‘No, none that I can think of. Tobold?’
‘Well, in that case I’ll round up shall I? I’m sure you have things you wish to do. We have several more applicants to interview and then we will deliberate but if you are successful a messenger will be sent to find you by next friday at the latest. Good bye gentlemen.’
Tobold and Hibalt scrambled from their seats to shake hands again with Gorgo and his assistant before scuttling out of the yurt in to the afternoon sunlight.
As they strolled away with false purpose Hibalt heard Gorgo’s assistant call ‘Next’ then turned to Tobold,
‘Well that could have gone worse.’
‘We could have both fallen off our seats.’

They still hadn’t heard back a month later so they gave up on the Brazen Horde and decided to head in to the north for a holiday. Apparently the Northern Kingdoms were very nice in summer.

And just as soon as I decide what they are going to get up to the Tobold and Hibalt will be back.