The history of fictional worlds

The history of fictional worlds

In 2016, I wrote the following blog post for my history blog, The Small Histories. I was thinking about it again recently and wanted to share it here as well – book lovers will appreciate it! Also, I had to actually laugh out loud when I read “I’m not a worldbuilding sort of writer” – Oh if only the me of 2016 knew that worldbuilding would be ALL she’d do just two years later! June 27, 2016: I was about 13 years old the first time… (READ MORE)

“Freedom is the best thing” – Reading ‘Tove Jansson: Work and Love’

“Freedom is the best thing” – Reading ‘Tove Jansson: Work and Love’

Written by art historian Tuula Karjalainen, Tove Jansson: Work and Love, as the title suggests, focuses on Jansson’s life as it relates to her work and her relationships. I knew a bit about her life, and I knew that she did more than create the Moomins (I own a few of her non-Moomin books and love them dearly), but her level of dedication to her work was new to me. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be an artist. She worked at it diligently, and was prolific across many creative fields. (READ MORE)

Doris Lessing and wool-gathering

Doris Lessing and wool-gathering

I found an old post from a different blog (called “Wordscience” – not to be confused with another, more talented Samantha!), written in 2010 as I was reading the second volume of Doris Lessing’s autobiography. This excerpt has always stuck with me, and I thought it worthy to share here too: Impossible to describe a writer’s life, for the real part of it cannot be written down. How did my day go in those early days in London, in Church Street? I woke at five,… (READ MORE)

Masters of Doom

Masters of Doom

The early days of home computers and video games has always been a particular interest of mine. In fact, it’s my stock answer for the “if you had a time machine” question – while I would love to visit all sorts of historical periods, I’d probably fare a bit better in the early ’80s as a very liberal, non-religious, mixed-race woman than I would in the Tudor era, for example! Masters of Doom isn’t a new book by any means, but when I saw that… (READ MORE)

I read Big Magic.

I’d been hearing about Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic for a long time, about how wonderful and inspiring it was for creatively-driven people. I’d even heard that it was life-changing. And, I admit, when I hear something is life-changing, I tend to shy away. I have a natural distrust of things that make that claim*. However, I was talking with an artist and photographer friend of mine, who had recently read the book, and told me the exact ways in which it had helped her. I paid… (READ MORE)

Etiquette of morning calls and visits of ceremony

Etiquette of morning calls and visits of ceremony

One of the reasons I love reading Victorian/Regency novels is that I get a glimpse of the everyday rituals, strange to us now, that were so important to the people performing them. One of those rituals that always seemed at once charming and terrifying to me was the obligation of the morning call 0r social visit. So much seemed to hinge on those visits! For example, from Jane Austen’s Persuasion: “Where shall we go?” said [Mary], when they were ready. “I suppose you will not like to… (READ MORE)