You know it's been a busy year: I strted work at Hong Kong University, started a pension policy, started jogging again, and I (we?!) had a baby, (Isabella Arwen) who has been delightful and rejuvinating - as well as a large consumer of sleep-time.
It's because of her I'm writing this blog, actually. Isabella has given me the gift of sitting and doing nothing, as she chugs quietly away on a bottle of milk. Part of that time has gone to catching up with sleep, but a large amount of time has gone reading. Yes, reading!
It's a slightly odd admission for a writer to make, but I haven't been reading as much as I ought, and sometime this year I decided to go back and read books I liked as a child. I got Terry Brooks, Sword of Shanara, one of the first Lord of the Ring's look alikes, that Santa kindly brought me back in the early '80s, and which became my Christmas holiday reading for years after. I would aim to finish the book on Christmas Eve, hoping it would keep me up long enough to catch sight of Santa, or perhaps later, my father coming in with a well-stuffed stocking.
I bought Julian May's Pliocene Series. I went back to my old Dan Abnetts. I read The King of Athelney, by Alfred Duggan - which my father gave me years ago, and said something like, 'Try this, you might like it.'
He was right of course, I loved it. It tells the tale of King Alfred, from a boy to an old and victorious man. It has chapter titles like, Battle Winter, which got my teenage and adult imagination masticulating with excitment.
I could go on. Haggard, Tolkien, Robert E. Howard. All fabulous writers and fabulous ways to spend an hour or two with a baby. Between books I realised a couple of things. I wasn't reading any of the worthy 'literary' fiction my books seemed to be lumped as. These books, that teenage boys like to read, were still books that I like to read, and then I realised I was finally writing a book that I could give to my teenage cousin and say 'Try this, you might like it.'