Phoenix Square

Today was the official public opening of Phoenix Square, Leicester’s new independent cinema and digital media centre. As a mobile worker my main demand of any new cultural centre in my city of residence is that it provide a decent place for me to sit and answer emails, and I’m happy to say that Phoenix Square succeeds nicely in this regard (or will do on days when the bar hasn’t been turned into an early 90’s rave). I’m certainly going to love having two well equipped cinema screens showing the kind of movies that don’t make into the multiplex. And the digital art programme seems genuinely interesting, to judge by tasters on offer at launch (except for the 90’s rave DJ’s, who can and must be banned from the building).

If there is a major negative it is that the area around Phoenix Square is truly dismal, but then one aim of the project is to regenerate that quarter of the city, so that is too be expected. Phoenix Square is a tremendous gift to the city, especially after the disappointing failure of the Curve theatre to engage the local community in any meaningful way (lets hope they put that right soon). I will certainly be a frequent visitor.


Name the best science fiction titles

You should never judge a book by its cover, but should you judge a story by its title? If the recent success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is anything to go by, then for many readers today the answer is yes. Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestselling mash-up of Jane Austen and George A Romero became one of the most pre-ordered titles this side of The Lost Symbol, based solely on a zeitgeist-surfing title. And if those readers came to the story expecting an obvious joke stretched thin over 316 pages too many, they were not disappointed.

Read more on The Guardian book blog

Story McNuggets

Today I observed a pattern in my writing. I have been working on a story that goes by the working title of Clocks for some months now. It is one of those stories that emerges by accumulation. Every so often I add another paragraph, or a sentence, or even just a word. It is now 1800 words long, and into that small linguistic space I have condensed three point-of-view characters, at least a dozen scenes (some only a few words long) and enough angst to power a small work of literary fiction. Which gives me a choice. I can leave this dense narrative nugget as it is, or I can treat it like a seed from which, with care and attention,  might grow a real story. In the case of Clocks, I think I’ll take the second option. But I have realised that I produce these Story McNuggets quite frequently. I know at least one other writer who seems to work this way, but I’m wondering if there are any more of you out there?

Things that I like…

The Guardian interview Neil Gaiman about the experience of being buried alive under a huge pile of awards.

Electric Velocipede announce recent fiction purchases including me and my two Clarion friends Keffy R. M. Kehrli and Monica Byrne.