Why haven't I made the rapid progress with the next Lake District Mystery that I intended a few months ago? Well, my tardiness is a cause for regret, of course, but I can come up with a few excuses. Among them are a number of other writing projects that I've felt the urge to squeeze in. These include writing two more book introductions - more details of these soon.
I was also pleased to be asked to contribute to a collection of essays called Morphologies. The sub-title is "short story writers on short stories", though it's fair to say that most if not all of the contributors are best known for their novels. A large part of the attraction of accepting the commission was the glittering list of fellow contributors - it includes notable writers such as Frank Cottrell Boyce, Ramsey Campbell, Toby Litt, Sara Maitland, and Jane Rogers Who would not want to be in such company? .
One of the other contributors was Brian Aldiss. Now I've never met him, but I have a vivid memory of attending a talk about writing given at the Oxford Union almost forty years ago, when I was a student, dreaming of one day publishing a novel. The other speakers, if memory serves, included Kingsley Amis, John Braine, Angus Wilson and Thomas Hinde. However, to be brutally honest, the only one who struck me as a remotely viable role model was Brian Aldiss. The others were not, I felt, at their best - which was disappointing as this was the first event featuring a number of leading novelists that I'd ever attended in my life. So I'm glad to have this slender literary connection with Mr Aldiss. If you'd told me it would happen when I was a student, I would have been absolutely thrilled.
Anyway, I digress. The (very nicely produced) book is published by Comma Press, and edited by Ra Page, who provides a good introduction.. Authors covered include Kafka, D.H. Lawrence, Kipling, Poe, Hawthorne and Dostoyevsky. My subject was Conan Doyle's short stories, but I did not by any means confine myself to Sherlock. Conan Doyle wrote some excellent stories about other characters, and I find some of his horror stories highly effective - for instance, "The Case of Lady Sannox." It was, admittedly, time-consuming researching and writing the essay, but I'm proud to be part of this fascinatinag project.