Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 8 December 2016

Clothes Maketh the Man… Or Woman

First let me state loudly and clearly that I do not like Theresa May… OK, I don’t actually know her, so this sounds like a hell of a judgement call. Let’s just say that I’m absolutely not in her camp, politically, and, ethically, I’m not thrilled that we have an unelected Prime Minister. We were asked if we wanted out of Europe, but not who would represent us if we decided to withdraw.

This post isn’t about politics, though. Generally, I’m either preaching to the choir or I’m surrounded by hatred, so politics is taking a bit of a back seat on the blog.

Today, I am standing in defence of Ms May.
Theresa May, leather trousers and The Sun's response

Yesterday, I saw a number of articles about Theresa May’s clothes, in particular a pair of leather trousers that she wore to have her photograph taken for a newspaper.

The trousers were leather. They looked good to me, but the point of the piece was that the trousers were very expensive. People don’t like that our Prime Minister is wearing trousers that might have cost close to a thousand pounds.

Would I spend a thousand pounds on a single item of clothing? Well, I haven’t, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t. I know for a fact that my husband has spent that kind of money on very special items of clothing as gifts for me. Yes, it sounds preposterous, but I love clothes, and I keep them for decades; I’d never class myself as any kind of fashion victim.

That’s me though, or it’s you, or it’s dozens of women that I know who have the money and like to look good.

Of course, I’m not the Prime Minister.

It’s all about appearances, and it seems to me that there’s a terrible double standard at play.

Apparently, the majority of this nation wanted Brexit, and one of the reasons they wanted it was so that we could take a bigger role globally, stand on a larger stage, and be taken seriously as an international power.

The heroes of the Brexit movement, such as they were, were Messrs Johnson, Gove and Farage. 

Where do you suppose those gentlemen shop for their clothes? Where do you suppose that Tony Blair bought his suits? or Nick Clegg? who always seems to look better in formal wear than any of his contemporaries and colleagues.

An entry level, off the rack suit costs around a thousand pounds at Gieves and Hawkes, via their internet shop. An entry level bespoke suit starts at four and a half grand, and the skies the limit. Theresa May’s colleague, Boris Johnson might not be known for his sartorial elegance, but do you imagine for a moment that he doesn’t use a good Saville Row tailor to make his suits?

The difference is, of course, that we don’t judge men by the way they look… Or do we? Michael Foot might have been the most accomplished politician of his generation, but that Donkey Jacket did him no favours. Jeremy Corbyn’s casual approach to dressing has also been talked about. Can we take him seriously if he’s scruffy?

Tony Blair might be the epitome of this standard: a good-looking, elegantly dressed man who brought New Labour to power. We didn't talk about his suits, though, did we?

Men, and definitely male politicians have a uniform that they can rely on. They stick to the dark suit, light shirt and tie, and nobody thinks twice about it. Some of those suits cost five or six… or ten grand, but we don’t talk about that.
Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister modified the male approach, but stuck to a uniform of a two-piece suit in dark colours. She was already an expensive dresser when she became an MP; thanks to her wealthy husband she could afford to shop wherever she wanted to. She had numerous hats and expensive handbags, and then there were those pearls, of course. Do you know what a string of pearls costs? We’re talking thousands.

Margaret Thatcher was never ostentatious, though. She wore the same uniform as her male counterparts, her hair was coiffed, and kept in the same style for decades, and she was not beautiful, unless you happened to think like Francois Mitterand.

It’s all about sex, in the end, as it so often is with women. Thatcher wasn’t sexy, but she spent a lot of money on clothes. She was of her time, and she could be taken seriously, because she wasn’t pretty.

We can all imagine Theresa May having sex. She wore those leopard skin ‘fuck me’ shoes way back in 2002 at the Conservative party conference, and got noticed for them. 

Margaret Thatcher was taken seriously despite being a woman, but it was because she played the game like a man. It’s also because we were actually more respectful thirty years ago;  more respectful of achievement, and of authority.

Theresa May is lambasted, because she is a woman. We live in different times. If Theresa May made the same sartorial choices now that Margaret Thatcher made more than thirty years ago, she’d be laughed out of existence. If she dressed like Mhairi Black (whom I not-so-secretly adore) she wouldn’t be taken seriously on the International Stage that we’re all so keen for her to inhabit.

Do we really want our leaders, those who represent us in the World, to shop on the High Street? Don’t we want them to be impressive? Don’t we want them to be taken seriously? Isn’t image part of that? Isn’t image, increasingly part of that in our celebratory obsessed culture?

In my mind, Theresa May can do no good, politically, but I have no problem with her dressing for her role. She always looks good, and she clearly enjoys clothes. A stylist might want to adjust her look a little, calm it down, make it a little more ‘conservative’, but at least they’ve got a great canvas to work with, and, if she’s still dressing herself, she's saving us money on a stylist and a whole new wardrobe. We talk about Theresa May’s clothes because we notice them. I don’t have a problem with that, but clearly others do. It’s much harder to notice men’s clothes.

Those who wanted Brexit, those who still believe we can wield significant power on the World Stage can’t have it both ways. In a World where status matters, Theresa May can’t pop to her local Debenhams and shop for bits and pieces in the sale. The men don’t do it, and it’s a double standard to expect May to do it. 

Tuesday 6 December 2016

The Pirelli Calendar 2017

The Naked Selfie
I’ve been woefully absent from this blog for a little while, now.

You can, if you’re interested, check out my antidote to fashion blog, where I do offer the odd opinion among the stuff about what I’m wearing, but I haven’t been here much, lately.

When I began this blog it was intended to be about ‘writing and other stuff’. At some point, the other stuff took over. I’m a woman with opinions, and I have aired them long and loudly, here, over the past few years.

This year has been extraordinary, and, yes, I’ve had a lot of of opinions about what’s been going on in the World… Of course I have. Just for once, I think that virtually everybody has… And that might be the only good thing that’s come out of all the political shenanigans that have been happening, globally, over the past year.

There’s been upset and anger, sadness and even grief over the political courses that we have taken recently, but it’s virtually impossible to talk about without becoming incandescent or attracting hatred… Or, in my case, very probably both.

I am a socialist and a European.

I think that’s enough said.

Today, I thought I’d get back to the kind of post that I used to write… A post about the small stuff that informs the bigger stuff, and affects our lives, how we feel about and respond to each other, and how the World turns.

I had a pop at the Pirelli calendar around this time last year, and here I am again, to talk about the 2017 version.

This will be the 44th incarnation of this iconic corporate ad, but I doubt it will be the last. The calendar has been shot by German photographer Peter Lindbergh, known for his fondness for realism in photography. He prefers his models to be wearing less make-up rather than more, and he keeps retouching to a minimum.

This all sounds great, but it can only go so far. His notions are romantic, but hardly realistic. He has said,

"This should be the responsibility of photographers today to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.”

Well, OK, then, but not everyone isn’t affected by the terror of youth and perfection; this kind of pressure effects woman vastly more than it does men. No one cares that Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood were never handsome, or that George Clooney is ageing. The same can’t be said for their female counterparts.

He has also said,

"A fashion photographer should contribute to defining the image of the contemporary woman or man in their time, to reflect a certain social or human reality. How surrealistic is today’s commercial agenda to retouch all signs of life and of experience, to retouch the very personal truth of the face itself?”

Well, he can feel that way, if he likes, but the truth is that a fashion photographer’s job is to sell clothes. Most of high end fashion has very little to do with this contemporary woman in her time. And, the kind of social and human reality that fashion reflects is tied up in class and status, in the difference between the haves and the have-nots. This bloke isn’t shooting for Marks and Spencer or Primark, after all.

The 2017 Pirelli calendar is a collection of black and white photographs of extraordinarily beautiful women. The line-up of actresses who took part is nothing if not impressive, as you can see: Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong'o, Charlotte Rampling, Lea Seydoux, Uma Thurman, Alicia Vikander, Kate Winslet, Robin Wright, and Zhang Ziyi. 

There is a range of ages and body types here, but all of these women are physically perfect in their own ways, and all but two are white.

Lindbergh claims not to retouch, but you can bet these women have been lit to within an inch of their existences. I imagine there’s also a burden on the make-up artist to produce a flawless no-make-up make-up to show these women, all of them actresses, at their very best, and then, of course, there’s the bevy of hairdressers and stylist, who work their own particular magic.

Just as we saw with Annie Leibovitz’s photographs last year, everything is in ‘classy’ black and white, everything is posed and calculated, clothes appear to be optional at best, and there’s that bloody wind machine again.

Pirelli has done a wonderful job over the 44 editions of the calendar getting itself an awful lot of coverage that, had they decided to rely on advertising, would have cost them a small fortune. It’s a colossal con perpetrated by industry on the masses, and it’s nasty. Sex sells… always. It’s one thing buying ad slots, it’s entirely another being given thousands of column inches in editorial for free. The Pirelli press release comes out each year, and the media responds. Let’s not forget that the calendar is exclusively a gift from Pirelli to its clients; we won’t ever get to see it in its original form. We’ll get to see the photos through the media.

There’s little doubt that these actresses look glorious in the photographs taken for Pirelli by Lindbergh. For some of them, it would be tough to look anything but radiant. For them, it’s just another job, and one that gives them more exposure, but can we stop pretending that the Pirelli calendar is about anything but sex.

Lindbergh is a photographer of beautiful clothes and beautiful women, and that’s fine by me, but he is not a philosopher; he can’t pretend that he is photographing the soul. If that ever happens at all, and I doubt that it does, it doesn’t happen in a studio with the World’s most beautiful, most famous actresses.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Another Political Notion

I didn't want That Man Trump to adorn this blog again,
so, here's a picture of a white, middle-class, privileged
woman, who's starting to feel quite strongly about some stuff
I was chatting with a friend today about her plans to leave the country. She has a ten year plan to take up residence in Spain.

Well… Good for her.

I just wonder what her chances are of fulfilling that plan.

Of course, plans are made for changing, and they change all the time, but what if she doesn’t want this plan to change? Will she still have a say in where she lives in a decade’s time?

We voted for Brexit… At least, I didn’t, but enough people did to make our break with the EU and our European cousins a very real possibility; some would call it a foregone conclusion.

We’re right at the very beginning of the exiting process, and, so far, I’m tempted to think that we’re making a pig’s ear of it. I have a feeling that a great many Europeans feel that way too. Of course, many of them are seeking their own moves to the right of politics, and, perhaps, even their own ways of leaving the Union.

America has moved dramatically to the right of the political spectrum, too, with the election of That Man Trump.

So, could it be that globalisation is on the way out? And if that’s the case, what could it mean for all of us?

Will the Liberal Elite in the United States seek to abandon what they might consider to be the sinking ship of their homeland… And, if they don’t abandon it now, for just how long will they be prepared to grit their teeth and hang on for grim death? Will one Trump term be enough to motivate them to leave? Will two?

The thing is, if Trump goes through with his xenophobic plans and closes America’s borders, and if the EU breaks up and more stringent border controls are implemented, will anybody be able to move freely around the globe, or choose where in the World they live?

We saw this in the second half of the century with China and Russia. Movement in or out was difficult and often impossible for dissidents.

It’s a strong word, isn’t it? Dissident! But these are strange times, and our language is bound to react to the changes that are taking place in the World.

If movement is possible, if the Liberal Elite in America, who now have a colossal fight on their hands to live out their principles, decide to quit their country, where will they go?

Well, I guess they’ll come here. They’ll come to the UK and to Europe, and it will be the kind of Brain Drain that the UK talked about in the second half of the last century, when so many young, educated people emigrated to America, Canada and Australia for a better standard of living. We call it the Talent Drain, now, because some still believe the UK is losing too many of its best and brightest.

It used to be about money. Perhaps, in the not too distant future the Brain Drain will become about ideologies.

Here’s the thing, though, with Brexit and a move to the right, the UK is also talking about clamping down on immigration. Will we allow American migrants into the UK? Well, we just might, because it appears to me that the stance against immigration is actually a reaction against particular kinds of immigrants: those who fall into the categories of having a native foreign language or a different religion or complexion from the majority of Britons.

We seemed to have a great many more problems with immigrants from our Indian and West Indian commonwealth countries in the second half of the last century than we ever did with the Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans, who also chose to make the UK their home.

So, if we all become less tolerant of foreigners, it won’t only be the needy who miss the boat (as it were). My native English speaking friend might find that she’s not very welcome in Spain.

Conversely, a friend of mine in America, whose politics are Liberal and whose calling is academic, has children who can claim dual nationality. What will their situation be in a couple of decades time? That Man Trump is claiming America for the Americans right now. He plans to close America’s borders. He was cheered long and loudly for proposing That Wall. 

What concerns me is what happens after he closes America’s borders. If life doesn’t improve for white middle America, who will they turn on next? It won’t be undocumented aliens, because they will have been banished already. Will they turn on Hispanic Americans or the black population? And when they’ve done their worst with them, will it be the Jews? Will religious intolerance take over? And when that phase is complete, will America turn on its citizens of dual nationality.

OK… I’ve taken this thought a long way down a very rough path, but you get my drift.

Martin Niemoller made a good point well, and he made it more than sixty years ago. I think it might be time to take another look at what he said. And, not for nothing, this is quoted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Why Trump Won

So… This is what happens.
The Guardian Reports on Donald Trumps Election

When politicians lack humility, when their compassion doesn’t spread far and wide enough, and when they appeal to the nasty side of human nature… This is what happens.

There are a great many theories about why and how Donald Trump was able to get elected as President of the United States of America, but, in the end, I think it’s all rather simple.

I called this election on Monday, and I think that in some ways I was spot on.

The majority of Americans are white, the majority of them are blue-colour or labouring, many do not have college degrees. They have been the in the majority since North America was colonised, and they remain in the majority.

The biggest single problem is pride.

Everyone should be able to take some pride in some aspects of their lives, and in small ways, many of us can. The Liberal intellectual minority certainly can.

What does the average white man have to take pride in? They are not compensated adequately for their labours, and they feel that they are not respected, or even recognised by their political representatives, by the very Liberal elite that took such a trouncing in yesterday’s election.

The fact is, Donald Trump doesn’t see these people either, he simply had the wit to appeal to their sense of pride, and it paid off.

In middle America, in the first half of the last century, electricity came late, and much of the population lived without power and had to collect water, but they had their pride. 

Pride can be based on many things. Sadly, in middle American in the first half of the last century, that pride was based on a pecking order. A man might have to labour ten or twelve hours a day, he might have no power in his home or workplace, and he might have to collect the water he used, but he could still feel superior to more than half of the population. He could still feel superior to women, and he could still feel superior to the black population.

It’s not pretty, is it?

With the introduction of human rights, with the Liberal elite’s efforts to further the causes of women and ethnic minorities, the standing of white men fell. It has been falling ever since.

In a fair and just world, we should all be treated equally, and I’m a huge advocate for that, but when you’re in the majority and your standing in society appears to be falling all the time, eventually you will revolt.

Donald Trump gave white, middle American men someone to stand behind.

We talk about black lives mattering, and we talk about equal rights for women. The Liberal elite is on the side of the Hispanics and the Muslims, and rightly so, but each step towards equal rights for all, drives the average white man deeper into the mire. Their self-esteem is shattered.

Pride can be a destructive emotion, particularly on this scale. It can be frighteningly damaging, and, as the old saying goes, it often comes before a fall.

Will America fall? Can the clock be turned back?

The fact is that turning the clock back is what Trump is trying to do, but women and black America, and many other minorities have had to fight their corners, and fight hard. Progress is a wonderful thing, if only we could all see it. White middle America isn’t being talked about, and they resent it.

When minorities fight, progress is incredibly slow.

When the majority fights back, change can be ugly and it can happen very fast.

Trump took the pin out of the grenade.

Perhaps the Liberal elite should have taken notice sooner, rather than thinking that men who simply want to feel safer, richer and more important are stupid. They aren’t stupid, they’re angry… And that never ends well.

Monday 7 November 2016

Thoughts on the Presidential Election

The Candidates Debate, reported by the Guardian
So, tomorrow marks the end of the latest American Presidential campaign as the voters go to the polls… I can’t help saying Huzzah! that the campaign is over. But, what the hell is coming next? 

I’m interested in politics, so I tend to follow elections, and I’ve never seen one fought quite like this in America. The Republican candidate appears to be popular with the disaffected, and the Democratic candidate doesn’t appear to be popular with anyone, including a great many Democrat voters.

The campaign hasn’t been interesting in terms of policy debates, it’s been a kind of freak show, not because Hilary Clinton is a freak, but because it’s almost impossible to stand on a stage with Trump and actually manage to look good. It’s like wrestling a jellyfish.

This would all be pretty amusing if it wasn’t a terrible combination of tragic and dangerous.

I’m not sure American politics will ever be the same again.

I wrote a couple of blogs about the British referendum to leave the EU, earlier in the year. (you can read them here and here, here, here and here). It was all very uncomfortable, depressing and bizarre, and it seems like politics everywhere are looking more and more like this. 

I wondered whether the Americans would look at what we did, with regard to Brexit, and take it as a cautionary tale. On the liberal left, they appear to be saying, ‘What the hell did you do?’, but the liberal left is a pretty small minority in America, based around the most international cities of New York and LA. The rest of America seems to be saying, ‘Bravo for taking back your country!’

Hilary Clinton might be unpopular, and for several good reasons. She’s also a seasoned politician, she’s extraordinarily clever and driven, and she has an understanding of what the job she’s running for entails.

Donald Trump is all mouth and trousers. He doesn’t employ rhetoric, he scaremongers, and then he claims to be the only person who can fix the problems he’s generated or magnified.

And yet, the American people seem to have accepted him as a viable candidate for President of the USA.

I don’t know why we have reached this position, but it would seem that the First World’s peoples aren't very happy. They want to protest, and they want change. They protest and seek change in the strangest places, though.

The British haven’t been content with the government for a long time. David Cameron managed to blame everything on Clegg and the Liberal Democrats during the coalition. He put a Lib-Dem in front of every unpopular policy he rolled out. He sacrificed a party that might have moderated him for the sake of politics. The Liberal Democrats were seen as the fly in the ointment, and a second Conservative government ensued. When nothing got better, and a number of things appeared to get worse, the British public began to revolt.

David Cameron, one of the most hated politicians in the UK, was in favour of remaining in the EU, and if it wasn’t bad enough having to ally one's vote with the Prime Minister, no one wanted the status quo if it meant living with the mess we’ve been living with for the past two terms of government. Offer a disgruntled public change, and they’ll grab it with both hands. The change the British were offered might not have been understood by many, and it might not have been change in the best interests of the country, but since when did any of that matter when it came to protesting?

Despite President Obama’s rather good record as President, the Americans seem to be seeking change, too. They were offered change in the forms of Bernie Saunders and Donald Trump. The Democratic Party ran scared of electing someone who might be called a Socialist. The Republicans took the reactionary approach. They dug in their heels as all angry voters tend to do. They went to the right, because that’s where they feel safest, and Donald Trump has only reinforced this in his scare tactics.

It’s easy for the liberal intellectual elite to believe that those who disagree with them are stupid. They aren’t stupid. They know that they want to feel safer, richer and more important. People living from pay cheque to pay cheque don’t want to give anything away or have anything taken from them. The problem is, if you’ve never done it, it’s impossible to imagine the pressure that living on the breadline exerts on an individual or a family.

The Americans have a dream built into their very fabric: the American Dream. Donald Trump has persuaded many of them that if he’s in charge of law and order, if he closes America’s border, and if he negotiates trade agreements, all Americans will have the chance to live that dream. To many, Hillary Clinton is merely part of the establishment that Americans feel has let them down in the past. Of course, Donald Trump doesn’t mention how he’s going to achieve any of his goals, only that he is, but he says it clearly and fervently enough to be believed by many.

America is in a battle royal over its future, right now, and if enough people are scared enough, and if they dig their heels in, we could well see Donald Trump winning this election.

If Brexit taught us anything, it’s that the apparently impossible happens pretty easily.

Wednesday night is going to be a long one for me. I’ll be sitting up watching the results come in, hoping and praying that this dangerous man doesn’t take the top job. But, if he does, it will be the will of the people, and, in a democracy, there’s no sensible way to argue with that.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Black Mirror

I tend not to be an early adopter of new TV shows.

There’s quite a lot of pretty decent stuff happening in TV, theses days… Some of it superior to cinema, and with the advent of Netflix and Amazon, we rarely find ourselves short of something good to watch.

I tend to let others do the hard work, though. I wait for people I like, whose judgement I trust, to recommend the best of what’s on offer.

There are exceptions to the rule. I found Orange is the New Black before it was a huge hit, and it’s still odd to me that more people haven’t seen Last Chance U or Unreal, both of which I rate.

TV does tend to be a bit feast or famine, though, and, recently, we found ourselves wanting something new.

Lots of people had been recommending Black Mirror, so it seemed like a good time to try it.

I tend to prefer series, where stories can build over a period of time, so I’d ignored Black Mirror on the strength that these are discrete stories… There’s nothing wrong with an anthology, of course, it’s simply about preference.

Charlie Brooker talking about Black Mirror in the Guardian,way back in 2011
I am, however, a big fan of Charlie Brooker. I used to love his TV column in the Guardian. He always strikes me as quite a clever man, and he married a Blue Peter presenter… What’s not to like.

I watched the first episode of series one on my own, and then had a chat with the husband about it. He thought that the show had got better, so we sat down together to watch the first episode of series three.

Among the good, there is so much rubbish TV around that watching something a little more cerebral seemed like a nice choice. The stories are quite clever and the writing’s good.

The two episodes I’ve seen of Black Mirror reminded me of the old Plays for Today on the BBC, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It led me to think about what Black Mirror is and whether it fits any genre. I suppose it’s satire, of a kind, although, with politics in the world playing out the way they are, it’s pretty hard to be satirical. Black Mirror doesn’t seem to me to be SF in any meaningful way, and, while it can be pretty dark, it isn’t really horror.

I guess what Black Mirror might be is Literary Fiction for Television. That’s OK, too.

The problem is, I didn’t find the two episodes I watched terribly enthralling, and I did want to be enthralled. The writing was good and the ideas weren’t bad, either. The problem with the ideas was that they’re the kinds of ideas that have been floating around in SF for a couple of decades. The problem with the delivery wasn’t that it wasn’t slick, but that neither of the stories I watched seemed to go anywhere very interesting. Sadly, they were predictable.

The acting was great, the set-ups worked, production values were good… All of this should have resulted in something top notch.

I shall continue to watch Black Mirror, not to see what happens or where it goes, but to try to examine why something ostensibly this good didn’t satisfy me.

In the end, perhaps it was because these stories failed in the sympathy/empathy departments.

Yes, the two stories I watched could easily  happen in the real world in ten minutes flat, but that wasn’t enough to call this SF, or for me to feel sympathy with the set-up or empathy with the characters.

Clever is always good to see, and, no doubt, there will be stories that deliver more emotionally… It’s odd, because Brooker always seemed so very engaged to me… Angry, perhaps, and rightly so, but certainly engaged. I found these two stories rather cold.

On the whole, I can’t help thinking we probably need more television like this. In the end, I don’t know whether we’ll get it. This kind of television isn’t cheap to make, and it relies on a large and loyal audience. So far, so good. This falls between so many stools, however, that I’m not sure it can hit the mainstream hard enough to really last, and I’m not sure it can keep its audience, which seems to me to be made up of a lot of geeks and nerds who might begin to expect more satisfying stories that go further.

We shall see, but, for the moment, I think I’ll reserve judgement on this until I’ve seen more episodes, except to say that if Charlie Brooker intended to write Tales of the Unexpected for the twenty-first century, this is probably it.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Savant since the launch

Savant, by me... out now
So… Savant’s been out for a couple of weeks, now.

I don’t know what I expected from this book launch; it’s not as if I haven’t launched books before.

This was different, though, because this was all me… Just me. I wasn’t writing for a franchise; this was not a tie-in book. No one had any control over the writing of this novel, but me.

I wrote the boot seven years ago, and I sold it to Solaris over a year ago, so this has been a long time coming.

I do a lot of the husband’s publicity, and it’s me that checks his reviews. It was kinda weird doing the same thing for this book.

I was excited and fearful at the same time.

Of course, I had a bit of a head-start, because Pat Cadigan blurbed Savant. I love Pat, and I admire her work… Not for nothing, she’s won just about every SF/F award going, some of them more than once. Her approval made me feel a little more confident than I had when first I sold the book.

Around about the time of the launch Adam Roberts said some very nice things about Savant on Twitter. He didn’t have to, but I was very happy that he did. I always really enjoy Adam’s work, and I admire his intellect, so I was thrilled when he seemed to like the book.

By the time the novel launched, I didn’t really care what anyone thought of it, because two of the SF writers that I most admire gave it the thumb’s up. Who could possibly ask for more.

As it turns out, Savant has received more. SFX and Starburst magazines have both given it nice reviews, as have a number of book bloggers. There are even reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

I think, perhaps, my favourite comments came from my old friend Shane McElligott. He’s a dude, and I’m thrilled that he took the time to read the book and to review it. It’s very much appreciated.

I was invited by Chuck Wendig to write a guest blog on five things I learned while writing this novel. It might not be exactly what you’re expecting, but do feel free to pop over and read it.

I’ve done more publicity for this novel than I have ever had to do before. Since a lot of my work is written in collaboration with the husband, he tends to do interviews and appearances. I guess this is something that I’ll have to get used to. I did interviews for the Qwillery blogspot and SFX Magazine, and I’ve written blog posts for Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds and for Barnes and Noble.

Tomorrow night, I get to do my first solo Skype interview… So that’ll be fun, although I have no clue what I’m going to say, or how I’m going to fill an hour. Fortunately, I happen to know that the interviewer is a nice guy, so I’m hoping he’ll hold my hand through the whole thing.

I guess the one advantage I have over many first-time writers is that the husband has been doing this for a long time, and I’m often in the wings watching. 

How hard can it possibly be?