Good things to read.
I’m currently reading The Scar by China Miéville. I say ‘reading’, I should say I’m currently ‘madly in love with’ The Scar. I adored Perdido Street Station and this is just as immersive and imaginative.
I’m also reading the YA novel Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve which is damn good. The world-building is gorgeous and I find a new delight on practically every page. It’s the first part of a trilogy forming a prequel to the Mortal Engines books. Highly recommended.
I recently read The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It’s one of those books which is very simple on the surface but plumbs great depths at the same time. It’s also one of those books that you read as a writer and think, “damn, I may as well give up now”. Funnily enough, I felt exactly the same way when I read American Gods. Oops, that’s four.
Good things to watch.
I’ve started to watch Legend of Korra (about 7 episodes in) and I think it’s fabulous. I loved the Legend of Aang (don’t mention the film) and was concerned Korra would have too much to live up to. The writers have done a fantastic job on several fronts; the world is fascinating and feels wonderfully different to Aang’s setting. It’s more politically complex. But most importantly (for me anyway) is the fact that the lead character is female and doesn’t fall into so many of the traps we see in film and TV. She’s rounded. She’s strong and afraid. She’s not sexualised (hallelujah). In episode 6 there was a battle fought between two women and various attackers and my goodness, it made me so happy I nearly burst. The female fighters were tough, capable, proactive and worked together beautifully as men stood by and watched. There was no damsel rubbish, no “Oh please fight while I stand and watch with adoring doe eyes”. They just got on with it. I want more please.
I’ve recently binged on the first three seasons of Mad Men. I love it. I think the first season is the strongest – having such a mysterious protagonist at its centre really fascinated me. The acting is superb and I have a raging lady crush on Joanie.
I feel almost redundant saying this, seeing as practically everyone I know has been telling me this for years, but please, watch The Wire. It is simply the best television I’ve ever seen. It’s complex, elegant and beautifully constructed. Idris Elba is delicious in it too.
Good things to use.
I was tempted to talk about good manners online, but hell, I’d be pissing into the wind. Instead, I’ll talk about the three things I use when writing novels whilst travelling.
Scrivener is the best thing that happened to me since… since I learned how to use a computer. Seriously, it has removed all of the time-wasting agony of Word and is well worth the investment (small) of time to learn how to use it. Even though it provides templates for screenwriting and other things, I’ve only used it for novel writing, so I can only speak about that. The other things that are great about it? The man behind it is a lovely chap and the support is excellent. Oh and it’s very reasonably priced too.
Plaintext, a very simple app that I use on my iPad when I’m travelling, which I’ve done a lot of this year. It’s free with ads but such a tiny cost to remove them that I happily did so. Coupled with a ZAGG flex keyboard I can happily bash out a few thousand words without feeling irritated by not being at home in front of my PC.
Dropbox is the third pillar of splendid. Plaintext can sync directly with it, so when I get home it’s easy to bring the stuff I wrote on the road into my Scrivener project. That’s in addition to the back-up facility that I primarily use Dropbox for and it’s very easy to use.
Connect with Emma on Twitter, @emapocalyptic.