‘I will survive’ – G. Gaynor

Seriously?‘ – J. Taylor

I’ve had a bit of an unfortunate experience. This sort of thing never happened to me when I sat quietly at home, eating chocolate, drinking tea and scribbling the occasional paragraph.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but my lifestyle came in for a bit of criticism recently – and not just the normal stuff from my nearest and dearest. I was strolling through town one day when I was ambushed by one of those Healthy Lifestyle info vans the council leaves lying around to ruin people’s day.

Obviously, I did my best to avoid eye contact but the buggers ran me down in the doorway of Thornton’s Chocolate Cabin. I filled in a questionnaire and things weren’t too bad until we got to the section on physical activity. Apparently, you’re supposed to take 150 minutes of exercise a week. Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure. Questioned closely about the amount of exercise I took every day, and working it out on my fingers, the total was four and a half seconds. About the time it takes me to walk from bedroom to desk. Obviously, this was unacceptable – as was my offer to spin it out to thirty minutes by walking very, very slowly. Anyway, in a moment of weakness – and to secure my release – I signed up for Aqua Aerobics and that’s where I’ve just been.

I scrambled into my cossy with my eyes closed because there’s only so much I can handle at that time of the morning, underwent locker trauma – happily resolved by the lady next to me hitting it with her shoe – and the next thing I was up to my neck in pleasantly warm water. I waved a few arms and legs around, decided this wasn’t too bad after all and then the instructor turned up. With music. And a microphone. And my day darkened.

The first thing I discovered is that I have no coordination. Of any kind. Fortunately, most of the action was taking place underwater so I reckoned I could fake most of it.

Fake Aerobics – there’s a thought!

Paddling back to the point – the next part was a little bit of a disaster. Good old Gloria was belting out I Will Survive – not a statement with which I felt I could concur – when we were commanded to assume a horizontal position and kick.

Well – I assumed and kicked – and shot smoothly backwards. I think we were all surprised by that. Not least the very pleasant but slightly surprised lady behind me. I couldn’t believe it. It’s a universal constant. You kick – you go forwards. Not me, it would seem.

There’s worse. It was noodle time. Before anyone asks, I’m talking about those long tube things that keep you afloat. I don’t know what the world calls them – to me they’re noodles. Anyway, I seized my noddle, thrust it into position as instructed and the bloody thing promptly upended me and there I was, upside down, legs waving in the air, and seriously considering suing Gloria who obviously hasn’t got a clue what she’s singing about.

I’m sorry, but I can’t resist. Look away now. Never was the expression ‘tit’s up’ more appropriate.

It gets even more worser. Completely out of control by now, my noodle and I, battling for supremacy, floated, wildly flailing across shipping lanes of perfectly performing ladies, causing consternation and chaos wherever we went. People were upset. I could hear the occasional, ‘Oh, I say …’

Eventually, one end sprang free and caught me in the eye. I fell backwards and once again I’m upside down and taking in water and wondering if I should have written my name on the soles of my feet because that’s the only bit of me currently visible.

So – a bit of an ordeal, I think everyone will agree. I’m damp, bruised, blinded, heavily chlorinated and been tricked – tricked, I tell you – into doing it all again.

And before anyone asks – no, there are no photos.


Is It Legal To Sell Your Brothers?

So … in the interests of a future short story, I’ve been out in the cold with the bro, doing a spot of historical research. There were the usual vigorous sibling discussions, which stopped just short of violence because it was so cold we couldn’t feel our hands, and of course neither of us was wearing gloves because gloves are for wimps.

Armed with google printouts, guide books, and hand-drawn notes we prowled around, pointing and pacing, enthusiastically not listening to each other until other visitors began to edge away. Only when we were virtually the only people left did we eventually reach a bloodless consensus. And we were freezing to death as well.

Obviously, lunch was called for – not least because we knew the pub would have a roaring fire. There was a great deal of cruet and cutlery manipulation as we demonstrated our conflicting arguments and then the food turned up and we lost interest.

There was further discussion in the car on the way home – although we were too stuffed to come to blows – and eventually we reached to a kind of conclusion and parted, more or less amicably, all ready to do it again the next time.

On reaching home, I made myself a cup of tea, fired up the laptop to do some further research, and the first thing I found was a site demonstrating, without any shadow of a doubt, that we’d both been completely, utterly, and totally wrong. I sent the bro the link so he could check it out for himself – and, obviously, to rub salt into any gaping wounds he might still be suffering.

I think the moral of the story is – stay in the warm and just google any information required.

It’s not all work and no play, though. I spent Saturday afternoon learning a new skill – dirty pouring. It’s great fun. Although, I did manage to get paint over everything – me, anyone within a twenty-foot radius, the tables, the chairs, the floor, and – somehow – my brother’s car, which was parked about fifty yards away. I have no idea how that happened. I was wearing a hazmat suit for most of the afternoon, so as I say – a bit of a mystery. I do recommend it, however. The dirty pouring – not the hazmat suit. Messy but therapeutic.

PS – For anyone concerned about my worryingly abusive sibling relationships – the paint-covered car belongs to a different brother than the one currently recovering from this morning’s hypothermia. And before anyone feels too sorry for them, they were both supposed to support me at my recent Waterstones book signing, and whenever I looked up there was no sign of them. As one of them attempted to explain afterwards – ‘You seemed to be doing OK so we pushed off upstairs to have a coffee.’

I am aware that, in principle, selling people is a Bad Thing, but surely

 there must be instances where exceptions can be made.

The Chocolate Has Gone – But the Guilt Lingers On …

I’ve been reading an article on the evils of dieting. Apparently, dieting is not the way to go – built-in failure – promoting unhealthy attitudes to food – dangerous food fads, etc. Well, all of those reasons floated straight into my wheelhouse. (Little bit of a mixed metaphor thingy there, but what the hell).

Speaking from my unassailable position as World’s Most Unsuccessful Dieter, I’m bang alongside this. Apparently, as soon as your brain hears the word diet, it kicks in with overwhelming urges to eat everything in sight – including your nearest and dearest – so as to stave off the imminent starvation it knows is on the way. Although, to be fair, my brain does that even when not dieting.

Dieting can – it says – lead to faddy eating – I hate cabbage, sprouts, broccoli and milk, so I’m obviously well on the way to becoming an unbalanced, vitamin-deficient, soft-boned neurotic. It’s taken years of dedicated hard work, but I can finally proudly declare I’m nearly there.

Eat when you’re hungry, they announce – because none of us would ever have thought of that, would we?

Stop eating when you’re full, they cry, and all right, for me that one might need a little work, but how difficult could it be?

I don’t own a pair of bathroom scales. I have no idea what I weigh. Somewhere between a hundredweight and a ton, I suspect. I know that as a female I’m supposed to be obsessed about my weight and cultivate an unhealthy relationship with food, but I really can’t be bothered. I monitor my weight using my favourite pair of jeans. When they begin to feel, shall we say … snug, I know I should cut back a little, but mostly I go out and buy a new pair, stopping off at Thornton’s Chocolate Cabin on the way home. Problem solved.

All things considered, I actually think I’m a naturally skinny person. I know you wouldn’t think it to look at me, but when I think of the vast amounts of chocolate I do consume, it’s a miracle I’m not the size of a house. I really do see a lot of the stuff go by. Every day! But – I argue – if I stop eating chocolate, I might completely disappear. And before I’ve finished my next book. That would be a bit of a disaster.

So, I reason thusly: it’s probably only chocolate that’s keeping me in this world. It is, therefore, my duty to eat as much of it as possible. I write – therefore I eat chocolate.

Right – that’s that sorted. My conscience is clear for another year. What else?

Yes – An Argumentation of Historians is available for pre-order. Note to self – write books with shorter titles. Yes, I know I’ve said that before. And I’ve discovered that Argumentation is a word I can’t type. Along with manoerverable. I know there’s a ‘u’ in there somewhere, but it’s a word I just can’t get to grips with. I shall send this blog to Accent Press and the clever people there will include the link to the book. Thank you very much, Accent Press.

I’m just editing The Battersea Barricades now and that should be available for pre-order quite soon as well. I’ve just seen the cover and it’s pretty good.

We had a lovely day at Octavo’s yesterday. I chatted about White Silence for a little while and then about everything else for a lot longer. It was lovely to meet everyone who turned up. I hope you enjoyed yourselves.

I’m on Radio Gloucester on Tuesday, with Anna King. I’m alternately excited and terrified. In times of crisis I do tend to suffer from an absence of any sort of coherent thought. Like remembering my own name. I recently gave a talk to the Daisy Chain Group and I kid you not, the first line read, ‘Hello. My name is Jodi Taylor.’

And then next Saturday, the 20th January, I’m at Waterstone in Gloucester. They’re lovely folk there and their toasted tea-cake and hot chocolate combo is the breakfast of authors everywhere. I shall be signing books and chatting to anyone kind enough to turn up, so if you fancy a St Mary’s gossip – do come along.

We’ll be at Cardiff Comicon again this year, in May. I don’t have any details yet, but there were a good number of Disaster Magnets there last year and it would be lovely to see you all again.

I’m finishing now because from where I’m typing, I can see the remains of last night’s chocolate pushed under the sofa and it’s such a sad sight. Someone should do something …

Happy New Year

I’m not a big fan of New Year Celebrations. I’ve had more than my share of seeing out the old year – usually with a huge sigh of relief – and dancing into the new one shouting, ‘Well, it can’t possibly be any worse that the last one,’ and the universe takes enormous pleasure in proving me wrong. Usually round about lunchtime on January 3rd.

So I tend not to bother very much. These days I’m usually in bed with a good book by midnight. Not one of mine, I hasten to add. And this is a Big Thing for me. I don’t know if other authors have this problem – if there are any out there who are still coherent – or even conscious – after their probably very lively celebrations last night, do let me know – but does anyone else find it impossible to read their own work? I don’t mean grabbing a copy off the shelf because you can’t remember how you described a particular character or place, but a real, toe-curling, can’t read your own work personality disorder. I tell myself it’s because if I’ve made a mistake or got something really wrong then it’s too late to do anything about it so it’s better not to know, but I don’t think it’s that. I just can’t read my own stuff.

I have a copy of all my stuff, obviously, because I need the sales, but it all sits, either on my kindle or my bookshelves, untouched and unread. Am I weird?

Well, I think we all know the answer to that one, so moving swiftly along – my new year is taking shape already and I have a few dates for your calendars. I had a fit of efficiency in November and bought my 2018 calendar in good time. Obviously, I’ve lost it since then – I think it’s gone down the back of my wonderful duck-egg blue filing cabinet. And yes, I’m having a relationship with a piece of office equipment, but it keeps my papers in order, doesn’t talk during The Big Bang Theory, doesn’t eat my chocolate and never wants to watch the football, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s damned near perfect. Anyway, I think that’s where my calendar has gone, leaving me with the decision – put my back out shifting the cabinet or just buy another.

Why am I maundering on about filing cabinets and calendars? Yes. Dates. Here we go.

13th January – I’m at Octavo’s Cafe in Cardiff Bay, reading an extract from White Silence, and hanging around for a chat afterwards.

16th January – I’m on Radio Gloucester with Anna King. I think the programme starts at noon. I must check – but I’m actually being interviewed, just like a proper author.

20th January – I’m at Waterstones in Gloucester, signing books, if anyone wants to pop along for a bit of a chat.

I think White Silence comes out in official paperback this month. Previously, it’s only been available as Print on Demand, but now it’s out in its dramatic new cover.

April’s a busy month. There’s a short story, provisionally entitled The Battersea Barricades, which should be out on St George’s Day, April 23rd.

And I’m at the Llandeilo Litfest as well. I went last year and appeared with Jasper Fforde, which was a huge treat for me – probably slightly less so for him, but he was quite charming so we’ll never know – and surprisingly, they’ve asked me back this year. If anyone gets the chance, you should go – to the Litfest, I mean. The whole town is given over to the festival and the atmosphere is great.

And, yes, I’m teasing you, because after the New Year festivities, you’re all in such a sunny, fun-filled mood (!) aren’t you? Yes, the next St Mary’s full length novel is published this month. An Argumentation of Historians. Both it and the short story should be available for pre-order on Amazon some time in February.

May – always assuming we get that far – I’m at Cardiff Comicon again. This is always great fun. We turn up with a ton of books, admire the costumes, meet some really interesting people, drink oceans of tea, and laugh and gossip the day away. Accent Press usually have some sort of collective neural event and reduce the prices and the world does not end.

In July (I think – but as I said, my calendar’s down the back of the filing cabinet) we have the sequel to White Silence – provisionally entitled Black Light. It’s not quite finished yet, but I’m getting there.

And then there’s the traditional St Mary’s Christmas story which just might, this year, be a little different. I’m only half way through it at the moment, and frankly, I haven’t a clue what’s going on and anything could happen. I’m thinking of calling it, And Now for Something Completely Different, just to spread alarm and consternation.

That’s it – so far, anyway. I hope to be able to meet a good number of you over the coming months and I’d like to wish you all happy reading and a very Happy New Year.

Oh, and I almost forgot Just One Damned Thing After Another is getting a French release on February 8th!

To all Disaster Magnets everywhere

I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.

I’m supposed to be putting my notebooks away and shutting down my laptop but we all know that’s never going to happen. No sooner do I think – that’s it. No more work now until after the New Year – then an idea drills its way through my forebrain and I’m off again.

I had also planned to use the holiday period to sort out all my notes and scribblings. As anyone who’s ever met me has instantly realised, I have the memory capacity of a small block of wood. If I don’t get it scribbled down immediately then it’s gone forever, leaving nothing in its wake but an uneasy feeling that there was something important … somewhere …

Since everything’s spread over five or six notebooks and an entire blizzard of scrappy bits of paper, this will be an enormous job, and so I have equipped myself with a filing cabinet. In a very pretty shade of duck egg blue.

Yes, I do know that really the colour isn’t that important, but I think we’ve all realised I’m a very shallow and superficial person. And with a poor … what do they call it? … memory! Yes, that’s it.

Anyway, I’m feeling very virtuous. I’ve brought my long-neglected accounts up to date, all ready for the inevitable dispute with my lovely accountant. I have pointed out to her that I write fantasy and what does she expect?

I’ve written and posted all my Christmas cards.

I’ve wrapped my Christmas presents with only minimal damage to the fabric of the building.

And Sainsbury’s are delivering Christmas on Wednesday.

So that’s me done. Today is Put My Feet Up Day while I re-read the Rivers of London series.

I send my very best wishes to every one of you.

Good Morning from Jodi

Good morning everyone, I hope your day is going better than mine. I know the sun has barely crept over the horizon but I have already:

  1. Hit my head on my bedside table.
  2. Knocked over my bedside lamp – not unconnected with a) above
  3. Lost my internet connection, resulting in frantic key stabbing. I’ve got it back but can’t remember the series of keystrokes that led to its restoration.
  4. Spilled my tea – on second thoughts, that particular disaster should probably have come first.
  5. Trodden on my phone which, for some inexplicable reason, I had left on the floor.
  6. Pulled the toilet roll holder over, resulting in unrolling on a massive scale and a great deal of toilet roll chasing. I only needed a Labrador puppy and Andrex could have filmed their next advert in my bathroom.
  7. Run out of toothpaste. I knew there was something I needed from the shop yesterday but my mind went as I walked through the door and I came out with an enormous bar of Galaxy Salted Caramel instead.

Continue reading

Archivists and Anarchists

Well I’m all over the shop again. Someone’s messed with the clocks and I spent all yesterday in a completely different time zone to everyone else. I usually rely on the TV to put me right but my Sky box is sulking and I can only watch a programme if I’ve recorded it first. I’ve no idea what that’s all about but it does prove the theory that TV is death to all creation and productivity because I had a great day yesterday, staring out of the windows and having all sorts of thoughts. There was a slight hiccup when I couldn’t remember the word for anarchist. For some reason, my brain couldn’t get past ‘archivist’ – much to the dismay of both anarchists and archivists alike, I suspect.

In happier news, I’m wearing my new socks. These were knitted for me by Hazel at Accent Press in an attempt to combat the problems caused by those two blocks of ice otherwise known as my feet. In a further effort to smooth my stony path, she’s knitted one in blue and purple and the other in orange and red. How thoughtful. Distinguishing right from left need no longer be a problem.

Today’s task is to work on the talk I’m giving for the Daisy Chain Project at Yarm on 7th December. The Daisy Chain Project supports autistic children and their families and I’m thrilled to have been asked to speak. The tentative programme is that I chat on for a bit – the way I do – then there’ll be a reading from the new St Mary’s Book – An Argumentation of Historians – followed by a Q A session. Plus, I’ll sign anything put in front of me. Here’s the link to their website describing what they do:
And the link to the event

And for anyone unable to get to Yarm on 7th December, I’m at Northallerton Library on 8th December at 2.00pm, just chatting about my books in general and giving another reading. I do hope to see some of you at one of these events where you will be expected to admire my socks.