I’ve just finished doing edits on my new book - Ghosts of Shanghai -
and am feeling very excited about it. The story has been around in my head or notebooks for a good few years now, and it’s really gratifying to see it taking shape at last. To finish off work for the year I’ve been drawing…Ghosts
tells the story of Ruby Harkner, a girl stalked by fear and negotiating the troubled and exotic world of 1920s Shanghai. Chinese ghost stories, gangsters and a weird and beautiful slice of Chinese history combine as backdrop for Ruby’s struggle to overcome loss and work out whether ghosts exist only in the mind - or are very real indeed.
The book should be out in early July 2015, with the sequel Shadow of the Yangtze
to follow in early 2016...
Ah, anticipation - it’s never what you think it’s going to be…
Back in the day when I was studying philosophy (or, rather, reading dangerously off piste) I became very interested in the Presocratics. All those ancient fragments with their tiny pieces of aphoristic wisdom were so much more enticing than the work on Logic or Idealism I’d been set.
Of those thinkers, the one who drew me back time and time again was Heraclitus, who - amongst other gems - declared words to the effect: ‘You cannot step into the same river twice’.
It’s oft quoted, but it was only as I returned last week to my grammar school in Kent - after thirty years absence - that the full power of that statement hit me. I had had a traumatic first two or three years at the school, and though I knew things would be considerably better these days, I realise now that I was still expecting - at some deep level - to meet something of the past in the shape of the buildings, the surrounding town, the one or two remaining familiar faces. But the past, it seemed, had evaporated.
Even the buildings that remained unchanged seemed to have been swept clear by the intervening years and the tension and anxiety that had taken hold of me in the preceding days lifted from my shoulders as I was shown around the school in the bright March sunshine. The old gym, the assault course, my old form room still existed, but I could feel no trace of my vivid memories or feelings about the place. Time had flowed on…
Instead I had a fun time giving a talk on Mysterium to the assembled Year 8. And the emotional meeting with a former teacher - one of those who had help to improve my experience - was a wonderful, added bonus…
I tested the height of the new school hall with a high toss of a juggling knife, and got on with the business of being me, now.