Short stories read in May

A neighbour agreed to cut back their weeping willow because it was affecting another neighbour’s fish pond. We now have a rather strange view…

Short stories, of course, are not cut back novels but are works in their own right, or should be.

Contemporary Romance Collection Vol 2**** Mixed, as is usual for anthologies. I liked Fiona Glass’ Heat Haze (a clever ficlet about a young man’s fantasies), Jamie Miller’s His Fragile Heart, Emma Alcott’s YA The Asshole Next Door and The Art of Christmas by Louisa Masters. I didn’t read a couple that were clearly about ‘kinks’ that don’t appeal to me, and I found Sophia Soames’ Honest depressing though well written. Some of the contributions were novellas rather than short stories and I thought the collection as a whole was well chosen and guaranteed to have something to appeal to most readers but nothing truly outstanding.

Come in out of the rain by Clare London**** This was a sweet mm ficlet in Clare’s newsletter. I could feel the rain!

Boys in Brief by Clare London**** – a group of short stories by the same author, well written and entertaining, as usual.

Trials and Tribulations of Online Dating by Louisa Masters*** An mf story – competent but boring and predictable.

Cascades by Charley Descoteaux*** A story about two older men and a second chance at love. I would have liked more back story to develop the characters.

A Picture Perfect Holiday by ZA Maxfield*** An unmemorable holiday story, well written but with nothing particular to recommend it.

Always for you by Becca Seymour*** This turned out to be a glimpse of characters from another series which I don’t know. If you follow this author you might like the story.

What I read in May

Our neighbour’s lilac from our landing window. Glorious while it lasts but it’s fragile stuff and doesn’t last long!

The excellent:

The Marriage of Likeness: same sex unions in pre-modern Europe by John Boswell***** I’d been wanting to read this for ages and finally got a cheap ‘used’ copy. It’s fascinating. However, it’s very academic and took me a long time. Also, as I have never learnt Greek I had to take the footnotes and the appendix on trust. The book sheds a lot of light on early Western European attitudes to same sex unions, and to the Church’s way of dealing with them too. It should probably be required reading in the ‘bible belt’.

Deefur Dog by RJ Scott***** A lovely mm romance. A harassed single dad needs a nanny for his daughter but also one that can cope with the Great Dane cross (the dog of the title).

Comfort Zone by Alexa Milne***** A sort of sequel to A Sporting Chance. We find some of the same characters. A lovely story and beautifully written as usual.

And the very good:

Darkness Falls by Jamie Lynn Miller**** An mm romance with the angst of blindness for one of the partners.

Dream by Garrett Leigh**** An mm romance between an ex-dancer and a CAB manager. The plot explores the problems brought about by ME

Mr Warren’s Profession by Sebastian Nothwell**** This would have been a five star read except for the author’s grasp of UK geography. It was a really good story about a mill owner and a clerk in late Victorian times, with a gripping plot and an angst ridden romance. However, even in the twenty first century, it simply isn’t possible to travel rapidly between Manchester, London and Wiltshire. I think American writers and others from outside UK look at our maps and think ‘oh, that’s not far…’ There were other non-Brit flaws, too, but they didn’t stop me devouring the book.

And also the abandoned:

The Elvish Deal by Paul Lockman. An ancient Middle Earth elf in NewYork in 2019 saves a suicidal veteran, Alicia. Not for me.

A few things watched in May

Close-up of the ornamental quince outside our front door. Over now, but glorious in May.

The Killing: Seasons 1 and 2*****We missed this first time it aired (maybe we were in Portugal) so thought we’d try it and ended up binge watching just in case they took it down from iPlayer. Great drama with convoluted plots and good acting and direction. The ending, plus the fact that it was made in 2012 (for the native Danish market) suggest there will be no more but at least it helped fuel Scandi-noir.

Second Wave: Did the government get it wrong? Dispatches.**** (UK: Channel 4)

Excellent drawing together of all the government mishaps and errors starting at the beginning of 2020. Of course it’s easy to criticise with hindsight, but this current crop of politicians doesn’t seem to learn from its mistakes. As usual with Dispatches, I wanted slightly more information.

Schitt’s Creek. Abandoned. (During ep 2)

I’d been told so much about this and had recommendations from all and sundry. It just wasn’t for me. It’s not that I dislike comedy/drama or the basic concept. I just can’t cope with what for me is over-acted American humour. Disappointed. I can sort of see why a lot of people love it, but I’m not among them..

A meme for the end of May

Kingcups, or marsh marigolds. We used to have a pond but they seem happy with a lot of watering.

To round off May, and celebrate the UK bank holiday, a meme that looks at the past year and the present effects.

1) What are you doing this spring that you weren’t doing 1 year ago?

That’s hard, because everything I’m doing now was new, last spring, but second nature today. I’m currently ‘home alone’ while husband is away dealing with our land in Portugal and that wasn’t the case last year. I’m luxuriating in having no real agenda, no meals to plan, and good weather to go with it! If we take spring as meaning before the pandemic took hold, I’m doing all my shopping online, I have a milkman (who delivers juice, cream, etc. too) and I’m making more bread in the machine.

2) What pandemic precautions are you still taking?

I would still wear a mask if I went out, but I have no plans to go anywhere at the moment. I had friends over (first time in what seemed like forever) but we didn’t hug. I disinfect anything with a hard surface that comes into the house (including plastic wrapped post, groceries, and milk bottles). I reckon this will protect us from colds, flu and things like norovirus as well as Covid.I socially distance from e.g. couriers, and from friends and family. I have had both vaccination jabs.


3) What’s a safety rule that’s very important to you?

Consider other people’s safety as well as your own. (You could be unwittingly passing something on.) Also, considering wider safety implications will usually benefit you too.

4) What plants are blooming where you live?

We have a wild flower garden. At the moment: bluebells, forgetmenots, columbines, shirley poppies, violets,buttercups, dead nettles, periwinkles and ivy leaved toadflax – none of them planted by us. Also kingcups. arabis, ornamental quince and peonies, which we did put in deliberately! The ferns are at that gorgeous unrolling stage, the may is out and today I saw some blooms on the raspberry canes. Most of the blossom is over, and our neighbour’s lilac only lasted a short time because of all the rain.

5) What was your most memorable summer job?

I worked for a stately home (Castle Howard) and guided groups of visitors round. We had to learn a lot about furniture, paintings, etc. and it was incredibly interesting.I imagine it has been closed for the last year or so but I hope it’s opening again. I would not like to guide tours wearing a mask!

Anyone who wants to play is welcome – but I usually find these memes late so I’m not tagging anyone!

Short stories read in April

Periwinkle blue or blue periwinkle – a sure sign of spring!

Quite a good ‘crop’ of short stories in April – perhaps because I stuck to authors I know and like!

Here for you by Jackie Keswick**** A lovely short story for Rock and Art., but probably not accessible to anyone who hasn’t read the first novel in the series.

Good Breeding and Hairy, Horny and Over Here, both by JL Merrow**** Stories with the subtle humour I’ve come to expect of this author. And a jackalope! I can assure everyone I have seen a horned hare, stuffed, mounted and displayed in a German restaurant…

A Sparks Gift and Just Like in the Movies, both by Clare London **** The first was an ‘extra’ for readers of Sparks Fly so it wouldn’t make sense to anyone who hadn’t read that. The other story is a stand-alone and is lovely.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It by Louisa Masters*** A competent but not very memorable.romance set in Melbourne.

Easy Pasta

I was cooking pasta last night and thought how easy it makes meals so decided to share my musings!

If you keep pasta and a few other ingredients in your store cupboard, you always have interesting and tasty meals at hand and here are my favourites.

Vary the pasta shapes. The twisted ones actually hold sauce better than the long ones but experiment and find your favourites. Fresh or home made pasta is lovely but not necessary. It’s for special occasions. Serve any of the dishes with side salad.

As usual, the quantities will depend on what you have and how hungry your family tends to be. Never abandon a recipe because you haven’t got the exact amount of anything. You can always serve extra salad, bread, whatever, and you can substitute favourite ingredients to your heart’s content.

Pasta Putanesca

Finely chop onion and garlic. Fry gently till soft then add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a jar of putanesca sauce, and a packet of ready-to-use black lentils. Incredibly easy and delicious. You can just spoon it onto the pasta (I use fusilli) or mix the pasta in the pan. You can add grated cheese at table or you can put the mixture in the oven with a grated cheese topping. And yes, the putanesca name refers to the prostitutes of Naples who apparently needed a quick dinner at times. Freezes well and is vegetarian.

Pasta Creme

Finely chop red onion, red pepper and garlic – fry gently then add halved cherry tomatoes and continue to fry on a very low heat till the tomatoes are soft. Add a good tablespoon of cream or plain yoghurt (or creme fraiche) then add to pasta as with the putanesca recipe. This also freezes well and is vegetarian.

Mock Carbonara

Fry finely chopped onion, garlic and bacon or pancetta lardons. Add a small amount of tomato puree for colour unless you are using chorizo lardons which will add colour anyway. Add cream or yoghurt (as in the pasta creme recipe) and mix well with tagliatelle though other pasta would work. Sprinkle with black pepper and grated parmesan at table. This lacks the egg component of true carbonara but you can add an egg which will cook whilst being mixed with the hot pasta and sauce. I’m not sure there’s a vegetarian version but I imagine you could use fake ham or bacon. .

Lasagne

Buy lasagne sheets that are ready to cook but be careful. Break them to fit your dish – if they overlap they tend to be tough. Layer lasagne, cooked mince (any recipe including vegetarian) and lasagne sauce (from a jar) finishing with a sauce layer and a topping of grated cheese (a mix of parmesan and cheddar is good). Put in a hot oven for half an hour.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Note that this recipe references the Italian Bologna rather than the French Boulogne… I’ve seen people spell it incorrectly and wonder aloud what it has to do with the French coast. Answer: nothing. Do anything you like to cook the mince, adding mushrooms, carrots, peppers, herbs or whatever you have handy. Use spaghetti to be traditional but this works well with e.g. fusilli because the spirals catch the sauce. Serve with black pepper and grated cheese. Traditionally, this should be parmesan but personally I prefer a mix of parmesan and a hard cheese such as cheddar. Vegetarians can use vegetarian mince which is easily available in UK but I don’t know about anywhere else.

Spaghetti a la mama mia.

The title: the original recipe was one my mother-in-law got from an Italian mother when she did an au pair plus cookery stint in Italy (pre war). The name stuck. Again, spaghetti is in the title but other pasta shapes work well.

Cook chopped bacon and cook (but don’t overcook) pasta. Mix half a pint of milk with two beaten eggs and season but go easy on the salt if you suspect your bacon is salty. Layer the bacon and pasta plus some tomato puree. Pour the milk mixture over, slowly so that it seeps into all the spaces and spreads the puree, then grate a lot of cheese on top and put it in a hot oven for about 45 minutes.

This is great the next day if you have leftovers – fry it to reheat it.

A variation is to add kidney beans in chili sauce which gives it a nice kick. If you have vegetarians around add the beans, with or without chili, instead of bacon anyway.

Pasta news

I have just read in this week’s New Scientist that a firm has developed pasta shapes that are flat (needing less packaging) which then swell to normal pasta shapes when cooked. I don’t suppose they’ll be in a store near you next week but look out for them!

The header pic is a somewhat photoshopped version of last night’s mock carbonara.

Books I read in April (and some I abandoned)

I have no idea why these pretty spring flowers are called dead nettles. Because they don’t sting? Anyway, they’re currently all over the garden and the bees seem to like them.

The ones I read:

Excellent fiction:

Once upon a river by Diane Setterfield***** A haunting story of disappearing children in a river community in Victorian middle England. Gripping, satisfying and beautifully written.

Restored (and the prequel short Seasons Pass)***** The Bequest all by Joanna Chambers***** A delightful end to the story of David and Murdo, and a chance to find out about a couple of people who were mere minor vharacters in the first Enlightenment series. I can thoroughly recommend the series but if you haven’t read it, these later stories might be hard to follow.

Requiem Moon by CT Rwizi***** I just hope there’s another in the series… As good as the first (Scarlet Odyssey). High fantasy set in a world that uses African history and mythology as a starting point. This South African writer is brilliant.

Back in Black by Rhys Ford***** Another case of being hard to follow if you haven’t read the earlier books. This is purportedly a new series (McGinnis Investigations 1) but the various family members need their back stories. I love all of them and the mix of different cultures and attitudes in the books is superb.

The Well by Marie Sexton***** Ghosts, murder and mm romance. Dinner was late because I couldn’t stop reading.

Excellent non-fiction:

Tribes by David Lammy***** Excellent account of growing up with a foot in the ethnic minority south London community and another in the English public school. Really interesting and well written and gives a lot of thought provoking suggestions for political change.

Jew(ish) by Matt Greene***** This was a fascinating read in the light of Tribes! Matt is a non-observant Jew growing up in London, and he makes some hard hitting observations about how Jews are treated in UK as well as some enlightening commentary on anti-semitism in the Labour party.

Also The Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community by Stephen Bush who is one of my favourite New Statesman journalists. I learnt from this that he is a member of the Jewish community as well as being ‘black British’.

And The State of Hate 2021 – Hope Not Hate. A really good reference work to accompany the other books just mentioned about race in UK.

I’m not sure whether you can get those last two if you don’t subscribe to the relevant organisations but they’re well worth reading.

Good Fiction.

The Seattle Stories by Con Riley**** After Ben; Saving Sean; Aiden’s Luck. The constant use of the same theme (loss, comfort, etc.) began to irritate me but the series is interesting, dealing with the stories of a group of friends, and is well written.

Code Name: Liberty by Marshall Thornton**** Who is, and who is not a spy? And why? Lighthearted romance with thriller overtones.

Smailholm by C.L.Williams**** A story written as a kind of fairy tale set on the Scottish border during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. The book is not only interesting and well written; it comes beautifully presented with a lovely cover and bookmarks though I don’t know if that was just because I took advantage of a special introductory offer. Wynn is an interesting heroine.

Tenacious by Blake Allwood.**** The main couple have to deal with a stalker from a previous relationship. Well written and quite gripping. The fact that each chapter repeats some of the events from different points of view makes the story feel ‘padded’ so that I thought of it as a novella rather than a novel but as it was free I didn’t feel cheated.

The artist and his billionaire by CJ Turner**** Lovely detail at the start, with the main character as both a florist and an artist. Then the story peters out and the ending, although satisfactory, feels rushed. Definitely a novella, not a novel.

Acceptable fiction:

Red Heir by Lisa Henry*** Amusing rescue of a prince – but which redhead is the royal heit? A great concept but a lot of the characters could have done with much more detailed exploration.

Secret Admirer by DJ Jamison*** Nicely written but very predictable mm college romance.

Adore by JD Ellis *** Cooper gets a summer job as nanny for Ellis’ grandaughter.- the story is full of tired tropes but is nicely written

The Cipher by Isabella Maldonado*** The author is ex FBI and this is a competent thriller. It just isn’t wildly exciting.

Little Boy Dead by Marshall Thornton*** Another competent PI story in the Boystown series but again, ultimately boring, because I didn’t really develop any concern about the main character. Maybe you have to read the series, though I’ve read one other which struck me the same way. The author’s Pinx Video series catapults the reader into the lives of the amateur detectives and is much more satisfying.

And poor fiction, which I don’t recommend:

The Planter’s Wife by Ann Bennett** Take an unlikely plot and add an irritating structure. The narrative switches from 1st person to 3rd and swings between different times. It felt a bit like being on a see saw… I also found it hard to sympathise with the heroine whose life choices were strange.

Murderous Profession by DJ Small** Another unlikely plot pairing a female detective with a male sex worker. The villain was predictable and two dimensional.

Also, the ones I abandoned:

The Leadminer’s Daughter by Margaret Manchester. I thought this story set in the Yorkshire Dales would be interesting with its combination of historical romance and mystery in a familiar location but I got bored quite quickly.

The Complete Kate Hamblyn Detective Mysteries by David Hodges. There are 7 books in the box set. I gave up the first after just a few chapters. So much happened to the heroine from all sides (villains, family, colleagues) before we even really knew her, that I suspended all belief in the plot, plus she was clearly going to survive for another seven tales…

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. A novel about transgender experience. It sounded interesting but was very American with almost impenetrable family, school and social norms. I’d like to read the same thing set in UK. Probably good for American readers.

Without Magic by Tye Tivillus. A boring account that began with a teen sold into slavery. I gathered he would later learn he could be a magician but it was taking its time…

The Wide Night Sky by Matt Dean. A novel about a dysfunctional family. I didn’t much like any of them so stopped caring.

Miss Mabel’s School for Girls by Katie Cross. I suppose I should have expected this to be a bit HP derivative but it was also very boring. I didn’t really care what Bianca was up to.

Five things – lockdown style

I liked this meme from a friend’s blog. Travel has not been easy for any of us this past year. Anybody who wants to play is more than welcome and I look forward to hearing about some of your own areas.

The header picture is a vastly photoshopped and cropped picture of the centre of Chester. I can’t find the original (taken by me) and had to wrestle with this version which I’d turned into an online birthday card…

1) What’s the furthest place you’ve traveled to in the last 12 months?
Dorset, which is on the south coast, from Manchester in the north west. We managed a week in a self catering cottage just before Manchester locked down again.

2) What’s the most interesting small town within driving distance?

I think Chester though I’m not sure it counts as small. (Think cathedral, mediaeval buildingings, Roman stuff, river). If it doesn’t count, then Buxton: Georgian spa town in the Peak District.

3) What’s the coolest tourist attraction in your city?
Depends on you! Roman stuff, canals, Gay Village, neo-gothic town hall, museums and art galleries including The Lowry and the Northern Imperial War Museum though I think they’re on the Salford side of the river. Still, Salford and Manchester are intertwined.

4) What was your favorite road trip you took as a kid?

We used to spend days getting from Newcastle upon Tyne down to Newport, Gwent, (to visit relatives) and we’d stay in various places like York and explore on the way.

5) How often do you feel like you’ve got to get away?

I used to feel desperate to get away when I was working full time. Now I just feel desperate for decent weather so that I can spend time in the garden.

What I watched in April

First of all, before the weather turned wintry again, I watched the pear blossom coming out fully. I’m hoping the dearth of insects due to the cold spell won’t affect our crop too much. I love our pears: raw, poached, pickled or baked. A pear version of tarte tatin is wonderful.

But the weather drove me indoors so I watched TV instead.

The excellent:

Dogs behaving very badly***** We watched in awe as Graham politely and efficiently trained the owners…

Line of Duty***** I loved it, despite a lot of critical reviews of this season. I love the filming, the direction, and the main actors. It was fascinating, in the same week as the finale, to watch a programme (the name escapes me) about the very real corruption investigation in the Met. I suspect this was the last season, but some of the issues have been left open for another.

The Looming Tower ***** A very well executed (and acted) account of the events leading up to 9/11 and the lack of trust and co-operation between the CIA and the FBI which probably contributed to the general chaos.

The Truth about Franco: Spain’s forgotten dictatorship **** We saw most of episodes 1 – 4 (in the wrong order). It was interesting and it was good to see Paul Preston, author of The Spanish Holocaust, taking us beyond the end of that book to what came after.

And the abandoned.

BlacKkKlansman – This was a sad and unintended abandonment. I saw half then needed to stop (I think it was bedtime) and it wasn’t on a catch-up service. I will definitely watch the second half if it comes round again. The basic plot centres round the true story of an ethnic minority journalist who manages to infiltrate the KKK online then has to persuade his (Jewish) friend and colleague to do the in-person stuff.

Luther – I sort of abandoned this but as husband binge watched it I inevitably saw a number of episodes. I like Idris Elba but I don’t like the amount of bloodshed involved in the very convoluted crimes, and nor do I like frequent episodes where people stand on the edge of roof tops, etc.

Ice Cold Murders – Italian noir. We watched one episode but won’t bother with more. It tried to be Montalbano without the scenic attraction and the crime was not particularly interesting.

Writing fanfic v writing original fic: some thoughts

As you know from my March reviews, I read virtually no fanfic last month but that didn’t stop me from thinking about it, and about my own tendency to write both fanfic and original work.

Over the last twelve months I’ve published two novels, a couple of short stories and three fanfics. (For details, see previous posts.) The fanfics were longer than the original short stories, and took more research. It occurred to me you might like to know some of the differences between original and fanfic writing from the point of view of the author.

First of all, when writing fanfic, it’s important to know the ‘canon’ or original book, show or film. There’s no need to stick to it. As soon as my story starts, I’m veering away from the original, whether my tale takes place during the canon, before or after, or in an alternate universe. However, it’s important to know what the characters were originally up to. If, for example, one of them died in canon but I want them alive in my story (my The Paths of the Living which is LotR fanfic)has Boromir survive the attack of the orcs) I have to explain, credibly, why my version differs. Other fans are unlikely to read or enjoy something that ignores canon and drives a coach and horses through it. My novel SGX has original characters set against the concept of the Stargate – it has failed to attract any attention from SG fans and cannot, of course, be published as anything other than fanfiction. I’m still quite proud of it but I can understand that fans of SG1 want ‘their’ heroes. In a completely alternate universe (The Morning Gift has Bodie and Doyle of The Professionals in eleventh century Oxfordshire) the core character traits need to be maintained or there is no point using the character or trying to appeal to other fans.

Obviously when writing original fiction there’s a need to know the ‘backstory’ of each character but at least I’m responsible for that backstory and readers can’t contradict me. I do, however, have to be careful not to contradict myself!

Most of us don’t recall every detail of the shows we have seen. Books are easy, because it’s always possible to re-read. Happily, TV shows are easy, too, because the episode scripts are online and can be read and referred to. In this way, if I missed an episode I can still get its full impact provided I know the context, and if I can’t remember e.g. a minor character’s name, well, there it is on iMDB. There are also trailers and so on (on YouTube) to help the writer become reacquainted with movements, voices, etc. Sometimes, as with two of the auction fics I wrote, there’s a need to binge watch a new show. For The ballad of o guerreiro I had to watch Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard and for The fault…is not in our stars I had to finish watching the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. The watching is not pure pleasure; it’s important to concentrate and notice details that can be incorporated into a story. Having said that there has to be some pleasure involved or the stories won’t arrive in the author’s brain.

When writing original fiction, once I have created the characters I feel as though I know them in much the same way as I ‘know’ characters in books or on screen.

Most fans talk about needing to get the voices right. It’s essential to listen carefully to characters in a show. Listening gets the writer closer to their patterns of speech, vocabulary they frequently use, mannerisms such as pauses, and so on. I try to use a beta reader who is also familiar with the canon so that they can spot where I’ve deviated from any particular character’s norm. I usually write Brit characters but if I ever write e.g. American ones, I look for a beta who is also familiar with the speech patterns and vocabulary of the country. I once wrote a story in The West Wing (Campaign) and my beta saved me from calling a sweater a jumper…

In much the same way it’s important to keep original characters ‘in character’. Many writers (I’m one of them) use extensive notes and glossaries, some of which they share with their readers but the primary purpose is to keep the writing consistent. Not to mention details like eye colour or favourite drinks!

Some critics and authors sneer at fanfiction, calling it derivative and lacking in imagination. This should not need to be countered, but here we go.

All art is in some sense derivative. The creator is inspired by other art or by events in real life. Many artists begin by trying to recreate well known works. An original writer who is using historical fact or current scientific research to underpin their story is no less derivative. Similarly, much original work relies on traditional tropes and we all know there are very few original plots. A book or show introduces characters to readers and viewers. If these characters are sufficiently well developed and likeable fans will inevitably weave further stories about them. Writers create new stories about Arthur and his knights, about vampires and about elves; artists and architects such as Gaudi (see header picture) are inspired by the natural world. When I wrote Lord of Shalott I had to be careful about ‘canon’, particularly Tennyson’s poem, and the only reason my work could be published was that the ‘canon’ was out of copyright.

All writing requires imagination. (Even the writer of non-fiction has to imagine how their words will come across to the reader.) Imagining a story or scene involving someone else’s characters is not much different from imagining a story or scene involving invented characters. Nobody accuses the creators of the modern BBC Sherlock of lacking imagination but this is fanfiction all through.

Another common misconception about fanfiction is that it inevitably revolves around sex. Admittedly there is some erotica. After all, readers like it! But a great deal of fanfiction is either ‘gen’ or only brings in erotic elements as part of a complex plot whereas I have read a great deal of original fiction that is more sex than story. Obviously, mainstream commentary will highlight anything that titillates the public. I have personally included explicit sex in some of my work, such as The Paths of the Living, and The Morning Gift, but I have written other fanfiction where sex barely rates a mention. As with original work it really does depend on the story.

Some people seem to regard writing fanfiction as a kind of apprenticeship to what they call proper writing. As I began writing both at about the same time I have never subscribed to this idea. Also, the words ‘proper writing’ tend to assign a higher value to things that are made for sale rather than given out of love. Much fanfiction is written and posted freely for the pleasure of other fans and the resultant fan community is itself a reward.

I enjoy the fanfic community and I enjoy the company of other original writers. Sometimes the two sets overlap, possibly more often than people think. I don’t feel my writing is really different in either genre. I do know both give me pleasure and I hope they offer something to my readers too.

For anyone who wants to find my fanfiction, it’s all (96 works) on AO3 (Archive Of Our Own) under the pseudonym moth2fic. You don’t have to be a member to read, to download, or to comment. And most of it is, I hope, accessible to non-fans who have no idea of the canon.

The picture shows details on Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. We visited before construction was finished.