Hospitals, Hugos and episode 18 of Tea and Jeopardy

As you may already know Em had to go into hospital recently, came out and then went back again with a post op fever. Because of this I’ve spent a lot of time going to and from hospital.*

This has largely sucked.

A few things I noticed. The staff were generally excellent and doing a fine job, especially considering how few of them there were! The shortages were really noticeable when there was any problem that wasn’t urgent. And even urgent needs were slow to be met sometimes.** But to stay on the positive, the doctors and nurses were clearly doing their best and were always reasonable, patient and kind.

Constantly having to pay money to park when I never knew how long I’d need began to irk me. It just seems wrong to have to pay to park at the hospital. I see why it’s necessary of course, but still.

Also, the hospital was woeful at providing gluten free options. One time all Em got was the fish option without the fun bits and another time she was given a gluten free ham roll*** that only provided 50 calories and that was supposed to be an evening meal.

In other news…

<Takes deep breath>

Tea and Jeopardy has been nominated for a Hugo award in the best fancast category!

This is amazing and both Emma and I are as delighted as we are surprised. Big thanks to everyone who got us nominated. It’s especially flattering given how high quality the competition is.

Also, on the subject of saying thank you, our Patreon campaign is nearly at its next milestone and it’s a particularly fun one. Fingers crossed we make it soon. If you’re interested, the link is here.

Given the madness mentioned earlier I’ve been a little lax mentioning Episode 18: A chat with Emma Vieceli. It’s a great episode that includes amateur dramatics, comic illustration and the power of doilies. Check it out here.


*And a trip to Bristol Zoo for the Bean’s birthday. He’s 7 now. Where does the time go, eh?

**One woman was due results to urgent tests within 30 mins. They were  sent of at 3.45pm. She still hadn't received them at 10.00pm.

***If you haven’t ever eaten one, it tastes a bit like cardboard.

Tea and Jeopardy 17 – A chat with Adam Christopher. Also: we now have a Patreon page!

teaandjeopardy_300The latest Tea and Jeopardy is up. This time Adam Christopher comes to the tea lair for a bit of time travel and fake facial hair. He talks about The Burning Dark, the surprises of being published and his previous life as part of a band!

The link for episode 17 is here.

There’s also a blooper reel for episodes 12-17. If you like swearing and the sound of us laughing, the link is here.

Now for some big news:

*takes a deep breath*

Tea and Jeopardy has its own Patreon page.

If you’re not sure what I’m talking about the best thing to do is go and visit. We’ve made a short video that explains it all there and the page itself is fairly self-explanatory.

Failing that, I’ll try and sum it up below:

Patreon is a bit like kickstarter but instead of funding one project, it provides a way for fans to support work produced on a regular basis.

To be clear the content is still free. It’s just that if you’d like to support what we do, now you can. And now we have a way to thank you for it too*. :D


*With secrets, promises of future glories and more! Seriously, go check out the page.

New photos and The Vagrant is going to Czech Republic!

214B0901 Two wonderful things have happened.

The first was that I had a photoshoot with Lou Abercrombie (aka @Ladygrimdark). As a result of this I have new author pics. It’s rare that I have a photo of myself that I like (at least any taken of me after the age of six) so credit to Lou that she made the whole experience fun and managed to catch my good side!

If you’re based anywhere near Bath, and need a picture, I’d highly recommend getting in touch.

The second thing was that my super-agent Juliet Mushens* has sold Czech rights to The Vagrant to Host! The idea that my book is going to be available in another country and will be translated and have its own cover is as unexpected as it is delicious!


*She really is super. And she’s just been shortlisted for the Literary Agent of the year award.

Tea and Jeopardy 16 – A chat with Seanan McGuire


teaandjeopardy_300This week Emma invites Seanan McGuire to the tea lair. I should warn the faint of heart that this episode involves more time travel and contains dangerous reptiles, filking and an in depth discussion of Disney!


Here’s the link.


Signing my contract and all the feels.

Signing pic I realise I completely failed to write a self-indulgent blog post when my book deal was announced but don’t worry, I’m going to try and make up for it now!

In all seriousness, I find this sort of thing hard to write. Somehow it’s easier to write nice things about other people’s achievements, or to rant about the evils of the world than to put my hand on my heart and say “I’m proud of what I did.”

And that’s kind of sad.

Even my intro to this post is coloured by the idea that I shouldn’t really be writing about myself. That to write about one of the most important things in my life ever is somehow self-indulgent but to write about how I glued a draw back together and only realised afterwards that I’d forgotten to put the bottom in is fine*.

So *takes a deep breath* here we go…

My life has changed so much over the last few months I’m still trying to get my head around it. Back in December I was crossing my fingers and slowly crossing names of my list of potential dream makers. Yesterday I signed my contract with Harper Voyager.

Clichés come to mind. This is a dream come true for me. I couldn’t be happier. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

It could all change of course but right now life is pretty peachy. I feel like I’ve got the best agent in the world**, the right editor for my book and a better start to my career than I dared to hope for back in August when I started subbing.

I may be slightly drunk in this picture...

I may be slightly drunk in this picture…

And people have been great. Friends, family, and the twitterverse have helped to keep a smile on my face for weeks now. I feel really lucky.

There’s a bit of me that worries I’ll be pissing people off writing this post. That I’ll come across as arrogant or worse.

I’m still writing it though.

Things are fluffy at the moment. Life is good. I’ve had a series of wonderful experiences*** and there are a lot more to enjoy before I get to the scary world of reviews or sales figures.

Until then, I’m determined to make the most of it.



Yes, I really did this.

Yes, I really did this.










**Probably because she is.

***Getting an agent, telling everyone, getting a deal, telling everyone, meeting my agent, meeting my editor, getting drunk more than once.

Good things: Everyday Sexism Project

I was reading a book a few months ago but didn’t manage to finish it. This is rare for me. I can be brutally impatient with TV shows, tough on films but I’m normally fairly forgiving with books.

This particular book was science fiction. It was well paced, had interesting concepts. It was in many ways a very good read. There was just one snag.

The female characters.

Or perhaps I should say the lack of female characters.

It’s not that there weren’t women in the book, there were quite a few, but every single one of them was a sex object, described primarily in terms of appearance and usually shacked up with one of the male characters within a scene or two. The exception to this was an older woman but even she was described in terms of how she would have been attractive in her day and there were suggestions about her previous liaisons.

Eventually* this facet of the writing became too much for me to ignore and I stopped reading.

And I realised that somewhere along the line, the way I consumed media had changed. You see, five years ago, I would probably have finished the book, just to see where the writer took the other concepts. Ten years ago I may not even have appreciated the problem.

Because that’s the thing: I don’t believe for a second that the writer was intentionally sexist. I think that side of the writing was coming from a place of ignorance, or at least a blind spot.

Sexist messages are all around us and as a parent I sometimes despair how gendered things are at an early age. Mainstream media bombards us with images and slogans that are, at best, outdated and at worst, damaging to our psyche.

Unless we have access to other messages, other ideas, it’s all too easy to mistake the unacceptable as normal.

For me, a number of things have been slowly raising my awareness. Getting together with and then marrying Emma was one of the biggest of those. Watching her get increasingly incensed by the (often lazy) portrayal of women in fiction and realising that when we went to the bank, or talked to a builder, they’d have a tendency to look only at me rather than her.** It made me start paying attention. Before then it wasn’t so much that I didn’t care before then, more that I hadn’t even noticed.

The other big eye opener was following @EverydaySexism on Twitter***. If you haven’t come across it before I’d recommend watching Laura Bates’ Ted talk. What shocked me most about it wasn’t so much the level of abuse or discrimination that women suffer (though that is certainly shocking) but the sheer volume and frequency of it.

I find those messages a useful reminder that things are not okay and there is still a lot more talking to be done.

There’s a clip doing the rounds where an Ohio State Legislator who is anti-abortion is being asked on Al-Jazzera why he thinks women might want to have one. He struggles to answer because he’d never even thought to ask the question before.

It’s easy to be a shitbag when you don’t have to think about the consequences.


*I made it about a third of the way through.

**They should have been talking to her. I’m about as practical as a porcelain hammer.

*** Or you can find them here.



Tea and Jeopardy Episode 15 – A chat with Myke Cole

teaandjeopardy_300This week, the amazing Myke Cole comes to the tea lair to discuss all sorts of things including: romance novels, transferable skills you can bring from the military to your writing and why he doesn't engage other writers in brutal contests of martial prowess. Link is here.

Also features time travel and chickens.

Good things: Minecraft

MinecraftOn the run up to Christmas I was looking for games for my son and kept coming across this game called Minecraft. I’d heard of it and had a vague idea that you mined stuff and built stuff and that there were rpg elements to it. It hadn’t lit my fire and the graphics felt a little too retro for my tastes.

Anyway, I asked online if people had anything to recommend and Minecraft popped up again. I asked if it would be suitable for children and got a resounding yes. So I had another look.

A kind fellow sent me the link for this documentary and I was immediately won over by how down to earth the creator was.

So I’ve picked it up and played it for a few days and now I get the Minecraft thing.

I love it.


I think because the game gives so much freedom and because it makes me creative. In most games, the thing being tested is reflexes and the ability to push buttons in sequences but here I have to actively engage with the world.

And the world is big. Huge even. On the scale of Skyrim but with so much more depth.

I’m playing with Em at the moment* and so far we’ve built a physics defying house. At first we built it to have a shelter from the monsters but it soon became more than that. Like a virtual joint Lego project.

I didn't build this!

I didn't build this!

It now has three floors and growing out to the roof, my pride and joy, a tower, topped with an observation tower made of glass. It’s mad and it’s brilliant. Em’s been busy with perimeter walls, a chicken coup and wolf taming.

Some cool moments in the game so far:

-          The first night when the monsters come out to get you. We hadn’t made any weapons by that stage and had to listen to a zombie trying to smash down our front door.

-          Realising that with the right objects in your hand, you can get animals to follow you.

-          Watching the Bean become obsessed with building a giant pathway from his front door.

Another thing I like is how you can solve problems in different ways. For example, we’d sometimes go exploring but get caught out after dark. One of us** had a habit of falling down holes and needing to be rescued. So we dealt with this in two ways. First, we fenced off the major holes and second, we built pathways between the islands, with beacon towers along the way to guide us home at night. Alternatively, we could have built tunnels, or filled in the holes with dirt, or laid down track and rode carts from one pace to another.

We found a giant set of catacombs running under one of the islands, where rivers run through the rock in some places, lava in others. If we mine the wrong blocks, or if one of the monsters destroys one, it can alter the course of these rivers, trapping us inside or changing the layout of the caves.

There’s a genuine sense of exploration that I haven’t felt in a game for a long time.

Or this!

I didn't build this either.

When we finish with this current world, I might treat myself to the Mass Effect version of the game, or the Skyrim one. Oh and I’m going to build an epically stupid castle with huge paths going across the sky so that I don’t have to worry about the monsters down below.

Anyway, that’s enough for now, I’m off to see what I can make with the gold ore I just mined.


*This is another reason the game is so fun, I doubt I’d enjoy it as much on my own.


Tea and Jeopardy Episode 14 – A chat with Melinda Snodgrass

teaandjeopardy_300What with new houses, Christmas and New Year madness* I’ve been late to the party here. If you missed this episode amidst your own festive chaos, it’s well worth checking out.

Here's the link.

Melinda Snodgrass comes to the tea lair which is a big deal for Em as Melinda is something of a hero to her. They talk about Hollywood, horses, writing and Star Trek.

This episode also features time travel and chickens.


*Oh alright then. We started playing Minecraft.

2013: It was the best of years, it was the worst of years

2013 has literally been the best and worst year of my life. It started innocently enough* and chugged on that way until the summer where a series of work, life and other stresses hit like a triple whammy of terror.

I’m not going to dwell too much on the bad things here, except to say that I spent several months in a state of high anxiety which really took its toll. People deal with stress in different ways and I retreated inwards, posting less and less and generally being less creative. This became a nasty spiral where I was spending my time dealing with stressful things and feeling too exhausted to do the things that made me feel good.

The one thing that I do want to talk about here is that we moved house. At first this went incredibly smoothly. We got the house ready over an intensive two weeks and (with the superheroic help of family) worked a pretty magical transformation.

We went to Nine Worlds that weekend, and in between bouts of pretending to be a character from Em’s books (and trying to kidnap Paul Cornell**), I got a call from our estate agent saying that we’d sold.


But woe was to follow. Our lender was being incredibly slow processing our mortgage and in the end our mortgage promise turned out to be no such thing and we were let down by them at the eleventh hour, nearly breaking the chain.

Even though I’d banked with this particular lender for over twenty five years, even though I had a perfect credit rating, never missed a payment, already had a bigger mortgage with them than the one I was asking for, they still let us down.


I’m still a bit mystified about this to be honest. But as far as I can tell the answer is that it’s because we’re self-employed and therefore not to be trusted.

I’m a bit of a loyalist at heart and it really upset me that my history with them seemed to count for nothing. It also upset me that the mortgage promise (which we’d got before making any offers on new houses), seemed to count for nothing. I was left feeling judged, undervalued and generally shat upon.

Eventually we found a solution and moved in early November. Things ever since have passed in a blur of decorating, work, and getting ready for Christmas.

A month and a half later life couldn’t be more different. My other stresses appear to have resolved themselves. I’m in a new house, which I love and I have an agent. I still struggle to articulate what that means to me***.

I don’t believe in karma but it was a bit like the universe noticed there’d been a serious imbalance and then threw good things at me all through December to make up for the previous six months.

I'm not a fan of Moshi Monsters but I quite like these Christmas Moshlings.

I'm not a fan of Moshi Monsters but I quite like these Christmas Moshlings.

We hosted Christmas this year. Em put the last licks of paint on the dining room on the 23rd of December and then we were cooking like mad things until Christmas lunchtime. But it was one of the best Christmases ever. The Bean was wonderful, a true delight and it was great to be able to thank family who have been incredible all through the moving process. I liked having it at my house too. It already feels like home.

So I look back not sure how I feel about the year. I met some great people, did some cool things, and learnt a lot, worried a lot, probably shaved a few years of my life.

I can’t quite believe it’s all happened in the same year.

Still, right now, things are good. Better than they’ve been in a long time, actually, and life seems full of promise. I’m really looking forward to taking the good bits of 2013 and taking them with me into 2014. But more on that in another post!

San-Ta, the ever living! (He's been with us for over 4 years now and still going strong. Not bad for a balloon)

San-Ta, the ever living! (He's been with us for over 4 years now and still going strong. Not bad for a balloon)


*And I started writing Tea and Jeopardy with Em, which was/is great fun!

**I failed. Curse those Split World players!

***But I’d be delighted to try, should I meet any of you in a pub sometime :D