To the waffle born

Why I write

Trite, I know, but actually true: I write because that’s what I seem to be hardwired to do. There’s always writing going on, even if it’s just in my mind.

I was five when I wrote my first story. This masterpiece involved children wrongfully accused of stealing apples, when these had actually just rolled away on a sloping pavement. Sadly, this glittering gem is lost to posterity. Ice cream stains on much-handled paper, apparently, at a time before readily accessible copy machines, never mind scanners. But hey.

Read more…

I haven’t stopped writing since. It came to be my day job, albeit in a line leveraging my fascination with actual facts rather than my flights of fancy.

Recently, the fiction part has moved centre stage. It had been clamouring for attention.

“Hard facts are a fabulous thing,” it’s been arguing, “but what makes us human is best explored through fiction.”

I’m not sure I agree – there’s plenty of extremely rigourous research into topics such as compassion, kindness and empathy as well. But my fictional side and I aren’t scientists, so stories are what we turn to.

What I write

I like a good laugh. If something weird occurs to me, I’ll probably want to build a story around it.

And I like to think about people. What they’ll make of situations that challenge their perceptions and convictions. About the way emerging technologies, mind-boggling discoveries or shifting realities might affect them.

Read more…

Turns out that my characters are easily befuddled. Very few of them seem to have great coping skills, but they’re mostly willing to give changes the benefit of the doubt if they do actually have to engage with them.

Which, on the whole, they’d rather not. It’s surprising how many of my protagonists share my preference for just curling up with a good book rather than heading out into the unknown. At some point, I’ll have to write a confident, unflappable adventurer who feels at home in any situation. Don’t hold your breath, though.

Meanwhile, the people in my stories are all a little bit flawed. Any new-fangled gadgets will inevitably be glitchy. My magicians tend to be incompetent. My talking frogs are prone to sarcasm; my angels are despondent, my robots all outdated. You’ve been warned.

And for whom

I write for my imaginary readers… As an unpublished author, I have no real ones to talk about.

So at the moment, I’m mostly talking to myself. But I’m hoping that will change.

My imaginary readers are all very different people. But they do have a few things in common: they’re interested in other worlds – future or imaginary; they feel a kinship with other people despite any superficial differences; and they enjoy stories that leave at least some hope the future might be bearable.

They probably also enjoy their fiction slightly tongue-in-cheek, if occasionally a bit melancholy. And they’ll be willing to put up with my geeky sci-fi/fantasy references!

I so look forward to meeting you.

Waffle tasting menu

Here are excerpts from three of my as-yet unpublished stories.
Just to give you an idea.


“There has to be some mistake. I’m meant to be immortal.”

“Not according to this, sir.”

“Let me see that.”

True enough. Henry was listed for ‘collection’ at 23:37. It was now 23:35.

“This is an outrage. I demand to speak to your supervisor.”

The youth with the plastic scythe hesitated, then shrugged. He pressed a button on his headset and turned aside for the call.

“Yeah, Kyle? Shane. I have an EDM here. … Code three. Yeah. PLS. … Can you come over? … Yeah. Cheers, mate. … Hang on. You’ll need the job number.”

Under normal circumstances, Henry supposed, there would have been hell to pay for a collection operative bothering management with a simple Expiry Date Mismatch.

But maybe young Shane was sharper than he looked. Referring a Potential Liability Situation back to base might even earn him a pat on the back.


A few sleepless nights and far too many drinks later, I’d mind-wrestled the story out of my new protégée. Who was now also known as Izzy. First things first, I’d asked for a name.

“I don’t think you’d be able to pronounce it. But I’ve always liked the name Izzy.”

“Try me. I speak three languages and understand two more.”

A pause, then a short sequence of shrieks and howls punctuated by bursts of various offensive odours. I wasn’t sure if the agonised grimacing was part of the name, but it seemed rude to ask.

“I see. Izzy, so.”

“It means Radiant Pestilence in modern fifth-circle Demonic. The vilificator who prepped us picked it for me.”

A well-intentioned choice, no doubt. Someone had clearly held high hopes for this one before it all went pear-shaped.

“I’ve really let her down…” Izzy was sobbing.

I had to stop myself commiserating with such distress. After all, the last thing the world needed was another well-adjusted, successful demon.


The Sagroak claimed they’d noticed no signs of life on Tzy as part of their pre-settlement surveys.

And, in truth, they probably hadn’t, as they were unlikely to have tried very hard. Their procedures for the detection of species with older claims to enticing assets were perfunctory at best, despite their brazen protestations to the contrary.

Their whole approach had been a diplomatic incident waiting to happen. With their arrival on Tzy, the wait had come to an end.

The Tzy’ell simply didn’t understand dishonesty.

They didn’t even understand devices such as metaphore or hyperbole, as evidenced by the painfully litteral poetry that constituted their favourite pastime. So many detailed descriptions of so very many fine grains combining into the countless shifting dunescapes shaped by their world’s scorching winds… So many odes to the swish of silica through cilia as entire Tzy’ell collectives were swept along by clouds of wind-borne sand.