Friends Iona and Ali Shaw stayed with us this week. Ali and I studied English at Lancaster University, many moons ago, long before I started writing and when Ali was already laying the groundwork for his career. He’s a brilliant author, with novels The Girl With Glass Feet and The Man Who Rained winning awards and translations all over the place. I was privileged enough to read an early draft of Glass Feet, and Ali kindly took the time to read through my first draft of Riptide. His subsequent advice, notes and hour-long phonecalls were extremely helpful in shaping my third and final draft. Over the last few months, I’ve leaned heavily on Ali’s experience of being published, and his knowledge has helped me work out some of what I’m doing with the good people at Quercus Books.
Mon and I don’t get to see Ali and Iona very often, so it was fantastic to have a long overdue catch-up. We mostly nattered about babies, but we also discussed our current projects (his new book sounds AMAZING) and some wider publishing news. Ali recommended two things: firstly, that I try Scrivener. It’s a writing program dedicated towards managing large documents, with all kinds of bells and whistles for organising plots, characters, locations and notes. The various features sound extremely useful, and it’s available on a free 30-day trial, so I’ll definitely give it a go.
The second recommendation was for Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. I was describing my own new work, which is set in a maze of bogs and marshes, and Ali (who reads more graphic novels than me), thought Swamp Thing might be good for inspiration and ideas; another book on my birthday wishlist, then. I enjoy graphic novels, and own several of the real classics (Maus, Watchmen, From Hell, Ghost World, etc.) but seldom know where to begin with trying something new. Good stuff.