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New York City, 2141: Yojana Patel throws herself off a skyscraper, but never hits the ground.

Cornwall, 1640: gentle young Dora Predennick, newly come to Sweetclover Hall to work, discovers a badly-burnt woman at the bottom of a flight of stairs. When she reaches out to comfort the dying woman, she’s flung through time.

On a rainy night in present-day Cornwall, seventeen-year-old Kaz Cecka sneaks into the long-abandoned Sweetclover Hall, in search of a dry place to sleep. Instead he finds a frightened housemaid who believes Charles I is king and an angry girl who claims to come from the future.

Thrust into the centre of a war that spans millennia, Dora, Kaz and Jana must learn to harness powers they barely understand to escape not only villainous Lord Sweetclover but the forces of a fanatical army… all the while staying one step ahead of a mysterious woman known only as Quil.


TimeBomb publishes 9 October 2014.

The big NEW DEAL blog

So the secret’s finally out.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook you’ll know I recently finished and delivered a book. You’ll possibly have realised it’s a time-travel story, and if you’ve really been paying attention you’ll have guessed it’s called Timebomb.

It’s the first of a three-book deal I signed with Hodder & Stoughton. In March! I’ve been keeping this secret for MONTHS! It’s been driving me nuts! It’s a good job I’m teetotal these days, otherwise I would certainly have gone out for a quiet drink one Friday and ended up telling THE ENTIRE WORLD!

Yes, this is a four-exclamation-mark kind of day.

So how did it happen?

At the end of last year I worked three books into pitches – that is the first ten thousand words and a synopsis. One was an alternate history war-story for adults, one was a fantasy mash-up which would probably have ended up YA, and the third was a YA time-travel romp called Timebomb.

I decided I was going to spend the year writing one of them, and picked the war story. I was chugging along nicely when Anne Perry dropped me an email. I’ve known Anne for a while. She and her husband run the Pornokitsch website. I call them the ‘The Pornos’. This does not amuse them nearly as much as it amuses me.

They were generous enough to shortlist my last book, Children’s Crusade for the 2010 Kitschies. The winner was Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. I’m not bitter (but what on earth happened to her, eh?)

The Pornos also co-edit amazing short story collections which they publish under the Jurassic imprint. I’ve contributed two stories so far, and found Anne to be a sympathetic and incisive editor. Also – whisper it – I think she might be much, much cleverer than me.

Anyway, Hodder, knowing a sure bet when they saw one, headhunted Anne in 2012 and gave her a commissioning editor job. Her brief: to beef up Hodder’s fantasy and sci-fi list. So when she emailed and asked whether I was working on anything at the moment, I sent her all three of my pitches by return email.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, from Simon Guerrier, was ‘pitch three to get one’. That is, send in three pitches for every opportunity and accept in advance that if they bite, they will never pick the one you expect. And so it was here. I thought that if they wanted any of them, the fantasy mash-up would be it, but Timebomb was the one they liked best.

They didn’t bite straight away – they wanted me to expand the text from 10,000 to 30,000 words and put more detail into the synopsis, which I did double-quick.

As I did this, I realised it was probably time for me to find an agent. I had been stalking considering approaching Oli Munson for a while. He had a great reputation and represented a number of my fellow Jurassic anthology contributors so I figured we had common ground. The whole process was remarkably smooth. Oli and I met. I thought him a splendid chap and a safe pair of hands. He was kind enough to overlook my sweaty fidgeting, nervous tic and smoggy miasma. He read the pitch, liked it, took me on, and very shortly thereafter a deal was done.

Ever since then I’ve been biting my tongue and writing the book. Which is now done and dusted, delivered and being passed around the Frankfurt Book Fair like a hot potato as I sit here impatiently waiting for an opportunity to watch The Web Of Fear.

So it’s a three-book deal. It’s one long timey-wimey story. And I hope you’re going to love it. For now, I’ll just leave you with Anne’s announcement over at Hodderscape.

Coming soon…

So the first draft of the next book is done!

It currently clocks in at 91,437 words, which makes it longer than any of my Afterblight books. But as it goes through my editing process, then my agent’s, then my editor’s, that number will change many times.

It’s been the most difficult book that I’ve written, and has gone through the most revisions during the writing process – I wrote one chapter four times until I had it right, which is something I never did during the Abaddon years.

Why so difficult? Well, unlike my School’s  Out trilogy, the first two of which were written to be stand-alones that could spawn a sequel if one was requested, the new book is very definitely the first of a series – hopefully satisfying in its own right, but not by any means wrapping everything up in a bow by the end.

It’s the added complexity that has slowed me down, as I had to keep stopping to work out the timelines of various characters – there are many colour-coded flowcharts – but that’s what you get when you decide to make your book insanely timey-wimey.

The title, publisher, release date and all that jazz will be announced soon, and then I start gearing up for the launch, the publicity etc. After a year where I’ve kept a relatively low profile, I’ll be all over the internet like a rash soon.

It’s been  a very interesting year, and next year’s looking even better – I can’t wait to tell you about it :-)

If you can’t wait either, I may be persuaded to spill some beans on 30 September, when I’m taking part in a panel at the Windsor Fringe Festival, with the brilliant Essie Fox, Julie Cohen and Kate Mayfield.

Information and tickets here.

Readers, Authors, Fans

Two great blogs about the relationship between author and reader floated across my screen today:

For my part I’ve not been doing this long enough, and haven’t quite the volume of feedback to have a sense of my relationship with those fans I have. As an author, all I can say thus far is that I get a few nice comments and emails on this blog, Twitter and Facebook every now and then, and my interactions with those commenters always make my day that bit nicer.

As a fan, of all sorts of stuff – I am basically fannish, I have the fan gene, I fan therefore I am – I just try not to be a dick. I mean, I went to watch them film Doctor Who the other day; didn’t vault the barrier, shout out to get the actors’ attention, or refuse to put away my camera when I was asked nicely. I don’t go up to famous people on the street if I recognise them, figuring that they’re on their own time – and working where I do, I regularly pass very famous folk on my wanderings, some of whom I really would like to get an autograph from. But at conventions I reckon they’re on duty, so to speak, and have been known to go and introduce myself and diffidently fawn a bit.

Most regularly, though, I’ll tweet something nice at an author, musician or what-have-you when I’m feeling in the mood – having received a few nice random stranger-tweets myself I know how nice it is, so I try to pay it forward.

The Paps, in their own words

'Fucking rubbish' - A pap, todayPicture the scene… I’m standing in Trafalgar Square watching them film the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. I’m standing behind a barrier watching Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman filming a scene. There are other members of the public here taking pics and a good-natured, smiley guard on the opposite side of the barrier to make sure we don’t get in the way.

One of the crew comes up to the guard and tells him that some paparazzi are being aggressive to members of the public by the steps to The National Gallery. Smiley guard goes  with police officer to tell them off – there are children here, after all. Result: the paps come and stand on either side of me. They talk over my head.

Here is an exact transcript of their conversation, with no addition or embellishment:

'Nice looking' - A pap, today

Pap 1: Thing is, I f***ing hate Doctor Who. F***ing rubbish. Wouldn’t f***ing watch it if you f***ing paid me.

Pap 2: The bird’s nice looking though.

Pap1: Yeah. (Pointing at smiley guard) He’s a funny c*** inne.

Pap 2: Yeah, weird c***.

Pap 1: (Addressing smiley guard) Oi! You shouldn’t let this lot in here (indicates public). Should just be paps.

Smiley guard: (Smiling) Well, your photos aren’t gonna be worth nothing once this lot have put theirs up on Twitter. (Wanders off smiling).

One-nil to smiley guard, I reckon.

Meanwhile, in front of us, Matt Smith earned his wages like nobody’s business. Don’t believe me? Check this out!


Rage fatigue and professionalism

So Margaret Thatcher died.

For those who don’t know who she was, she was British Prime Minister during my youth and did a lot of things that were extremely controversial.

And that’s all I’m saying about it. Why? Two reasons.

First, I work for the Government in my 9-5 job at the moment, so I’m not really allowed to say anything overtly political – it could get me fired. I really can’t afford to get fired.

But more importantly, I try very hard to use my online presence to only put out positivity. And engaging with Thatcher’s legacy in any way shape or form is going to offend at least half of my potential readership a whole heck of a lot. Not that I’m unwilling to offend. Sometimes I think it’s very necessary. But most of the time, what would be the point?

Increasingly I tend towards the view that people only read articles that they expect will reflect their views. Very few people are willing – or able – to seek out viewpoints that differ from their basic kneejerk reactions, consider them carefully and thoughtfully, and decide to either reject them anew or, perhaps, to amend their views somewhat if they were persuaded.

So those who hated her and everything she stood for have articles like Russell Brand’s piece on Thatcher to read. And those who loved what she stood for and cherish her memory can enjoy David Cameron’s eulogy.

I have very strong opinions indeed about her. VERY strong.

My close friends know what I think. But I don’t for one second flatter myself that anybody else is interested. And even if they are, I certainly don’t think that my insights will improve their understanding or their day. I just don’t think my views matter a damn.

Does this make me a lightweight, a fraud or some kind of political refusenik? I don’t think so, although I could see why you might think that. And certainly, adopting a public stance of political neutrality while at the same time claiming Phil Ochs as one of my greatest artistic and moral idols may seem contradictory and doublethinkish.

But unless I have the time and energy to become a Laurie Penny or a P.J. O’Rourke, I think I should probably keep schtum and let them get on with it. My father, too, is expert at blending passionate political commentary with art and humour.

They’re better at this stuff than I am, they’re professionals. Anything I post here about Thatcher would be amateur in comparison. And that would embarrass me.

Maybe, at some point in the future, I will feel that I have the time, energy and wherewithal to do my political views justice in blog  form. Maybe I will adopt a role as political commentator, and try to hone a form of non-fiction writing that addresses the complexity of the world in a way that I feel is worthy of attention.

But I come from the school of ‘if you can’t do something properly, don’t do it at all’ and right now I haven’t the time to do it properly.

I think my approach largely also stems from rage-fatigue. My Twitter feed particularly gets filled with a lot of people basically just shouting into the void. I sometimes feel as if I’m drowning in opinions. More than once I’ve considered leaving Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook, for that reason. But instead I tend my Twitter feed carefully, weeding out the relentlessly negative voices - sometimes of people who, in person, I find delightful company – and keeping those who express my kind of views with eloquence and intelligence, and also those who challenge them in the most interesting and provocative ways.

If I have something political to say, it will crop up in my books – hopefully in the form of a dilemma or discussion rather than an ill-advised rant (one good reason to be sure you’ve got a good editor!)

You want to know what I think? Buy me a drink and we’ll talk. Or read my books – they’re very political, with a small p, and hopefully not partisan. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to share stuff that makes me smile, think or gasp in wonder, and not the stuff that makes me rage. Stuff like

Iain Banks and deferred pleasures

The first Iain Banks book I read was The Wasp Factory. I knew I was going to enjoy it, so I put it aside as a reward for finishing my finals at University. It sat on my shelf, a deferred pleasure.

I remember the circumstances of reading it vividly – I had been to our graduation ball and, unable to sleep after a very drunken, flirty evening, I collapsed on my bed and picked up the book. I didn’t sleep that night at all. I devoured that story and, still awake at 6am, I went for a walk in the early morning mists, my head swimming with excitement about my future, and the strange, dislocated sense of formless dread that Banks had conjured in me.

“Come outside,” the book seemed to say, “the world is far, far weirder than you could possibly imagine…”

Looking back on that moment of transition, it feels almost as if it was Banks himself who ushered me out of adolescence into the wider world with a warm but slightly ghoulish grin of amused invitation.

I read The Crow Road in one sitting, too, in an attic bedsit in Brussels where I hid from the menagerie of freaks who shared the house with me – the mad, snaggle-toothed landlady, her grotesquely fat son who read books about nineteenth century post codes, the alcoholic Aussie tennis coach, and the Irish girl across the hall, who I loved with a fervent, unrequited passion – they swim in and out of Gallanach in my muddled memories, no more real than Uncle Rory, Prentice, Ashley and the rest.

Two years later Whit kept me company as I languished at home with flu, feverish and delirious, bedridden for a month, living on soup and stories. I recall little of what happens in the book – I just retain an impression of vivid, formless colour and a girl brandishing a water pistol filled with tobasco, laughing wildly.

Complicity held my hand and whispered dark revenge fantasies into my ear as I hid in another attic, this time of a private school in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by children of all ages, playing at being adult much as Cameron does.

I picked up The Business immediately after hanging up the phone to reject a very generous job offer from a large company who really wanted me to work for them. I had initially accepted the job, but upon being presented with the contract, I noticed they had a dress code and, instinctively rebelling, I retracted my acceptance to the utter, outraged astonishment of the recruitment agent. Torn between exhilaration at my defiance and fear that I had made a terrible mistake, I sought solace in Banks’s corporate fantasy, and was immediately reassured that I had done the right thing.

I can’t recall where and when I read the other books, but I devoured them all, many more than once. The shock of Use of Weapons‘ double twist was so profound that I remember exactly how it made me feel, but all attendant detail was washed away by the brilliance of the denouement - that memory sits in splendid isolation.

But the one Iain Banks book I have never read is The Bridge.

Banks says it’s his best. I take his word for it so, much as I saved The Wasp Factory for the last day of my adolescence, I’ve been saving The Bridge for the last day of my adult life -the plan has always been to keep it safe for the day I am diagnosed terminal.

Seriously, that’s always been at the back of my mind. Accidents notwithstanding, we all get that bad news sooner or later, and I have The Bridge set aside for that day, sitting on my shelf, a deferred pleasure.

In his heartbreaking, dignified, funny statement yesterday, Banks said he and his wife will be spending his final months ‘seeing friends… that have meant a lot to us’. I’ve always though that I would want to do the same when the time comes, and he is one of the friends I plan to spend that time with, reading the book he considers his best. That way, as I face another transition, Banksy will be there, grinning wolfishly, ushering me through another door – a companion, a guide, a mentor I’ve never met, but who’s been one of the best and wisest friends a man could wish for.

I will miss him terribly, but I know he’ll be there for me at the end, in the pages of a book, as he has been so many times before. And for that I am more grateful to him than I can adequately express.

From the archives: Robert Palmer

In December 2002 I was working for the BBC’s Top of The Pops website. Mostly I wrote silly pieces of content, like Top 5 Most Depressing Depeche Mode Lyrics, or the three news stories that the site used to publish every day.

But then I was asked if I’d like to do some interviews, and I jumped at the chance. My first interviewee was Robert Palmer.  I knew who he was, of course, but I wasn’t a particular fan or an expert, so I was not only worried about stuffing up the interview technique, but also about being revealed as a know-nothing charlatan.

So I did my research. I spent a whole day tracking down and reading every single profile, article and interview I could find online and making lots of notes. I noticed one thing – the interviewers rarely asked him about music. Fashion, videos, the industry, his career, his private life – but rarely ever music. And the one or two times a musical question slipped through the net I thought I sensed flickers of interest from Palmer that the rest of the interviews lacked.

So I decided I would make music the focus of my interview. It felt like a gamble, but it seemed logical to me.

I presented myself at the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone – a very upmarket hotel that was kind of intimidating to me.

Mr Palmer arrived with a spin of PR folks. I was his first interview in a day set aside solely for him to talk to the press. It was clearly going to be long day for him – he was professional but wary and, I sensed, kind of preemptively tired of answering the same question thirty times.

We went up to the room he had booked and I took out my minidisc player, with which I was going to record our conversation. He was intrigued by it, and took out his own, slightly higher end machine and enthused about the quality of sound it got, and for a few minutes we chatted about recording tech. He was enthusiastic and a bit of a geek, truth be told, and I could tell he’d rather talk about this stuff than go onto the interview, which would have been fine by me. But eventually he quelled his enthusiasm and braced himself for another round of questions about the Addicted To Love video.

So when I started to hit him questions about music, his eyes lit up, his enthusiasm returned and we ended up having a lively and really enjoyable chat.

When we reached our allotted time, the PR guys stepped in and Mr Palmer expressed regret, which seemed genuine, and said he could happily have kept talking much longer. He knew it was my first interview – I’d let it slip in our initial chat – and he complimented me on doing a good job. I walked out of there feeling pretty chuffed.

A journalist from a tabloid took my seat and I heard them chummily ask him if he’d slept with any of the girls from the Addicted To Love video as I walked out. I felt kind of sorry for him.

At the end of the day my boss took me aside and told me that Mr Palmer’s staff had phoned – he’d asked them to call and say how much he’d enjoyed our chat, to tell my boss what a good job he thought I’d done on my first interview, and to thank me for my hard work. It was far and away the most enjoyable interview he’d done all day, he said.

It was such an unnecessarily generous thing for him to do, I got quite choked up.

He died less than a year later, but I count myself lucky to have met him. He was a proper gentleman, whose eyes lit up whenever music was in the air.

Here’s the interview.

Robert Palmer

You’ve described your forthcoming album ‘Drive’ as a ‘Gutbuckety Swamp thing’. What does that mean?

Trying to describe something musical is like dancing to architecture, it’s really difficult. But in order to get the feeling across it’s a very raw, bluesy, funk record and I was drawn to it in a very different way. I had an invitation to contribute a track to a Robert Johnson tribute album, and it was the first time I’d done anything like that in my life. I was not brought up with the blues or anything like that, and I really, really enjoyed it. Then I did a project for Faye Dunaway, I did the soundtrack for a movie she did which was set in Mississipi and New Orleans in the ’40s and ’50s. So I did some research and that gave me more information so I thought I’d go in that direction. It was just a lot of factors that came together at once. And the players fell together too, miraculously, out of the sky. I cut it at home and it took on a life of its own, and when we’re done here I’m going back to the studio to do some more.

Why’s that? I read you saying that the album was finished.

It is but I was here with my son, who’s drumming with me now, and this guitarist I’m working with, who’s really something, and I came across a couple of songs and asked the record company if they’d foot the bill for some more. And they said ‘sure’, so I’m squeezing in three hour sessions every night and it’s working out marvellously because when I started I had 50 or so songs to pick from and I ended up saying ‘yes, that’s the lot’. But then I thought ‘oh, I wish I’d done that one!’ So the opportunity came up and I’m doing it because I wanted to be doing the opposite of scraping the barrel. I wondered how many unknown blues tunes I could find that had never been done, but in fact I found a bunch that haven’t. I picked them mostly for the lyric content and the vitality and syncopation of them. Just from the experience of starting out doing two it was a revelation, I’d never thought about it before. As usual with any act, your latest is your favourite and that’s the case for me. Consequently it’s great that it’s tied in with the package that’s all the hits [At His Very Best]. So here’s the story up to date, and here’s what’s coming next. It’s a great plan, to describe the fact that it’s an ongoing thing, it’s not just winding something up. It’s fine as long as there’s somewhere else to go.

You’ve had two compilations come out this year, ‘Best Of Both Worlds’ and ‘At His Very Best, and both feature tracks from ‘Drive’ at the end…

‘Best Of Both Worlds’? Oh, you mean the American double CD. That was a different thing. The major thing behind all of it is that Universal acquired Polygram who had acquired Island which meant that for the first time I had access to all of my material. For all the other things I had to get a license to put tracks like ‘Some Like It Hot’ by the Power Station, and it would take about six months for them to say ‘ok, you can use it’. This time I had carte blanche to pick everything. So the American side wanted to make a definitive anthology which is about 40 or so tracks and I love it, it’s a real good history. But the idea here was to focus more on the songs that had the biggest recognition factor for England because a lot of the songs on the other one were hits in America but not here.

I read that before you went on stage you used to drink and smoke to make your voice sound older…

Oh, that’s a load of rubbish. Rubbish! What happens often – although I’m not particularly a victim of this sort of thing – is that somebody will make a quote, or invent a remark and it gets printed, ends up on the ‘net and it becomes currency. And some of them are so bizarre! Some idiot got generic terms mixed up and wrote that I was ‘white-eyed soul’. Now what the hell does that make me, an albino!? And it got reprinted! Another dreadful one was the story that there was a whole women’s movement against the video for ‘Addicted To Love’. This was some woman in one obscure paper somewhere and it got picked up. Really everyone thought it was a glamorous joke, which is what it was, but that story stuck around. Part of the fun of doing this stuff is setting the record straight. So as for smoking and drinking to change my voice, that’s bizarre. In fact the truth is when I go on tour it’s salads and water in that I can’t sing on a full stomach, I’m too busy digesting. And then when you come off stage everything’s shut because it’s midnight, and I’m certainly not going to eat junk food. So it’s an enforced discipline. The pounds fall off, and then you come off the road and they pile back on! But I’m still wearing the same trousers I had ten years ago… although they’re snug.

So looking back on your career what work are you most proud of and what would you quietly sweep under the carpet if you could?

‘Vinegar Joe’ I would happily sweep under the carpet, but that was my apprenticeship and I didn’t feel comfortable with what it was. What am I most proud of… generally the overview of the catalogue that the new compilation represents. I just think it’s great to be able to fill a CD with songs that most people have heard and that have been in the Top 10. That’s great. Some people people put out Best Of Hits and there are two big songs on it and the rest, well… I don’t want to be bitchy about it.

So the body of work?

Yeah. It keeps me afloat, it gives me a perspective, it keeps me moving forward and I don’t like to repeat myself so it pushes my imagination.

Eric Thorngren once described you as ‘a musicologist above all’, so what are you listening to at the moment that’s turning you on? And what’s making your skin crawl?

Anything by Gonzalez Rubalcaba is unbelievable. I’ve been listening to the best of Django Reinhardt. There’s a new album by Terence Trent D’Arby, who now goes by the name of Sananda Maitreya, believe it or not, and it’s fantastic. A lot of it is too obscure to mention. You see, I get home and there’s packages asking ‘do you want to record this, do you want to produce that’ and I go through it all and I find these gems from someone’s demo in South Africa, or outtakes from somwhere, and I sometimes find wonderful stuff. To some extent it’s a drag because people come over to my house and I make compilations on mini-discs and I put it on and they say ‘what’s this, where did you get this?’. And it’s such a drag that they haven’t heard this great stuff so I’m writing lists down and it’s just because of my enthusiasm for listening to music from everywhere and not having any musical prejudices. Except I don’t like broadway show music, it’s too much posturing and not enough content. Generally, and especially in cities, there’s this homegenised force feeding of what is hip and then the kids take sides. Actually musicians are the worst – ‘I only listen to classical’ ‘Oh, well I only listen to heavy metal’. I don’t like that. I just absorb everything and if it’s good it’s good, if there’s a spirit to it and there’s something coming out of it and I’m entertained. Whereas if I find it merely a package I don’t know what it is they’re trying to sell me.

Tina Weymouth once said “If you think his records are experimental now, he’s been holding himself back”. Do you still have experimental albums in you fighting to get out, or are you conscious enough of an increasingly homogenised market to restrain your more extreme musical impulses?

I always restrain them. My experiments are pictures on the wall at home. My idea is to communicate and entertain with music and audio and some things will just be execises for me to find out how to do something. And then I use what I learn from it in a more accessible way, not to dilute what I’ve learned but to interpret it and make it my own. Such as singing clusters of seconds like the Ukrainian singers and their strange harmony values. So I experiment with it and then I’ll come to a bridge in a song and use what I’ve learned and it explodes. So it’s in the context of something rather than it being my learning how to do it. Because otherwise it’s just the same old same old…

Three verses with a chorus, in and out with a hook…

And that can be marvellous too. With the right melody juxtaposed there’s always something in there. But in order to give something a particular personality then you look for some fresh way to apporoach every bar in order to give it a uniqueness, not to go the normal route. For example I’m on a big campaign to ban thirds. The third note in a chord is what depicts whether it’s major or minor. Rhythm and Blues hardly ever uses it because it means that the melody is free to move between major and minor because you’re not clashing with the third being depicted one way or the other.

Of THAT video you said “I had very little to do with it, I just showed up and mouthed the words for 15 minutes”.

That’s right.

Now, that’s an iconic video, and it was recently imitated by Shania Twain. I wonder if it’s a milestone or a millstone?

Neither. I think that it’s glamorous and funny – funny ha ha, not funny peculiar. It obviously has a sensibility from the photographer who filmed it, who was a stills photographer for Vogue. But on the other hand I’m not going to attach inappropriate significance to it because at the time it meant nothing. It’s just happened to become an iconic look. There’s hardly anything I’ve ever done that’s made me cringe, I’ve got pretty good pitch for a start so I’m not known for hitting bum notes. I think things only go wrong when you don’t care enough and you let things get out of control and end up in a situation where you get egg on your face if you don’t go through with it, but it’s nothing to do with you. So you’ve got to be constantly wary of what’s going on. But then I think you get to a certain point where people get where you’re coming from and don’t lay stupid stuff on you, or if they do it goes straight by and you just go ‘Next!’

Related blog: A year later I interviewed Adam Duritz of Counting Crows

Make / Let

I’m beginning to see a theme emerging in the various discussions taking place about the future – specifically, the changing nature of the interaction between individuals and organisations, be they commercial or social.

Two TED talks I have watched in the last week both articulate the same thought, and bring the theme into sharp relief. Both are very worth your time.

Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud

A brilliant, funny, inspiring mashup of history, science and pedagogy.

“It’s not about making learning happen, it’s about letting it happen”

Amanda Palmer: The art of asking

I backed her Kickstarter, and although I remain agnostic in some respects, her contribution to the conversation is invaluable. Plus, crucially, her album kicks ass.

“I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is how do we make people pay for music. What if we started asking, how do we let people pay for music.”

Writer of books and plays. Also: geek, chap, dad, absurdist.