Low-frequency newsletter about stuff I'm writing

The Silk Mind – What the fuck was I thinking? ====================================

This is a little promo/apology for my first novel, The Silk Mind which was born from the combination of a few accidents and personality defects.

I felt like having a go at NaNoWriMo. I'd written some shit short stories and taken a stab at the start of a longer one with no real idea where it was going. But there was something I specifically wanted to write, for the sake of it existing outside my head.

You see, I'm kind of lazy about following through on projects, and there were two hanging around unfinished (barely started really, in retrospect) that were never going to get done in their original form.

I had long ago been running an AD&D game, which was a lot of fun, but the party ran into a carelessly-rolled phase spider and not enough of them survived to pursue the campaign all the way through to the story reveal, or get to the place I wanted them to reach for the next thing to happen. Disappointing, but there was no enthusiasm to get back to it with another party right away. Other friends DMed other games and eventually that tailed off.

But I had a deadly forest to explore in my imagination, and a dangerously clever empress to put my friends in harm's way.

The other project was apparently unrelated: I was trying to write a computer game in Python. It was going to be a simple 3D RPG with an adventuring story line and some humour. This was back before most of the convenient 3D graphics libraries for Python were available, so I spent a ridiculously long time teaching myself OpenGL 2 and writing my own scene graph wrapper around it. Blender wouldn't write any formats I could read and render with my limited understanding, so I wrote my own really stupid 3D modelling tool called skeled. It was not great.

Eventually I realised progress was way too slow and I'd never get the game itself written, and now OpenGL 3 was out and all the code I'd written so far was now the Wrong Way To Do It™. I used the library for 2 or 3 PyWeek game jams, and then kind of gave up.

But I had an imaginary adventuring party needing put in harms way, an empress needing a very dangerous job done in a very dangerous forest, and a giant badger. I wasn't going to just throw all that away.

Hence, NaNoWriMo.

I sat down, and I wrote a little over 50,000 words of utter nonsense. It was the best fun, and I've been hooked since. I knew in my heart, in my bones this was never going to be published by or for anyone else, so I knocked it approximately into shape and put it up on the internet. By me, for me.

Then when I got slightly better at writing, I looked at it again, shrieked in horror, took it down again and made it at least mostly OK. And put it back up.

It is in this form ( that The Silk Mind is now available. I made the paperback later because I'd learned how to do that for my 2nd book Miasma and I needed to provide a reward for the kickstarter for the Shadows at the Door horror anthology.

What can I say about this, my stupid first book? It's fairly cosy, it steered away from fantasy tropes whenever I saw them looming ahead, and I like the characters. There are a few non-canon chapters in the middle that were just me being daft, so if you happen to read it, it's OK to skip them. You will know which they are. You can read it for free on, and you can get the EPUB from Smashwords for “name your own price” which in practice means 0.00 (

It's entirely possible this was just me transferring my skill at doing computer graphics The Wrong Way to the field of novel writing. It is life's most transferable skill, I find. No regrets, though.

This anthology, which has my story Under Shiel Croft, is now reduced to £9.99, which is great value for a quality hardcover containing 13 spooky, creepy and dark tales each with an atmospheric illustration.

This is my first post on, so it's not going to be very interesting.

I discovered the site via their mastodon group, and decided it'd be worth taking out a year of (on the lowest non-free tier) as a way of throwing a few quid in the tip-jar to help keep that running.

I think the most likely use of this blog is going to be news about what I'm writing and if I should be lucky, when and where it's being published.

For now, just about everything I've done that's worth mentioning can be found linked from my equally-low-budget author website