Life has been quite interesting recently. Some of it has been gloriously interesting and some of it has been interesting in ways that take a fair amount of dealing with. That’s why I’ve not updated. I hadn’t even quite finished Women’s History Month. I plan to do that this week. The last posts, including the links to all the posts, will all appear. Not that there are many of them – I was so close before life started interfering!

The not-so-good can wait, but my news right now is that The Time of the Ghosts has now been published by Book View Cafe and I’m dealing with hiccups in accessibility this week, but it should be orderable online in paper form any time now. It’s already orderable in e-book from here. What’s more, there’s a sample of the novel there – you can read a bit and run screaming if that’s your preference.

My next publication is a collection of my short stories and is only a few weeks away. Lost short stories, known short stories, new short stories: all and more. Also an introduction by the amazing and generous Sherwood Smith. And a cover by one of my favourite cover artists of all time. There will be a launch at Continuum in June, among other things. There may be feminist biscuits, for Judith’s story (the sequel to The Wizardry of Jewish Women) is in the volume.

That’s not until next month though. This month, nay, this week, I’m giving a keynote address at a conference. I like giving keynote addresses. I get to talk seriously and about stuff I care about very much. This one will have controversial elements, but they will all lead to some biting conclusions and… I am writing notes again, in case anyone wants this one to be published. I was quoted the last one at myself recently, which made me feel as if I’d crossed into a strange universe where people knew who I was.

I’ll be at Continuum in June, and a Canberra conference (for literature experts) in early July. At the Canberra conference I get to give an ordinary academic paper … about myself. The topic of the conference happened to describe my life exactly. It’s not precisely about myself. It’s more about how the research I do provides bridges from one world to another. The oddity of this is that it’s about my new research and about my fiction and about my history and examines what they do (sort of) and is in my own university. The only two other givers of papers who know me are both in my position ie fiction writers who do academic research. Except that they’re far more establishment than I am and way more respectable.

I may be out on a lonely limb at my own university right now (it’s a long story) but at Eurcon (Nemo, in Amiens in July) it’s going to be quite different. I needed to go to Amiens for research, can’t really afford it but wanted to counterbalance all the things I’m not talking about in this post, and have always wanted to attend a French SF convention and… I’m on the programme. Right now I’m in four items, but I’m sure that will diminish. I’ll find out if I’m speaking/panelling/being interviewed in French or English or both closer to the date.

I’m researching for two novels there, because it’s what I needed for both. For the 17th century novel I need Amiens proper, the other I need the bus route between Arras and Lievin, and a few streets from Lievin itself. If I have time, I also want to visit Arras, for it’s been too long and it has an underground. Almost everywhere in that part of France has an underground, but I know where the entrance is in Arras (or I used to) and I want to see the rocks again. Bookish reasons, of course. And everywhere it’s the Middle Ages, of course. Everywhere except Lievin, which was flattened by war and is oddly new.

If friends turn up the week of research, and if one of them has car and a wish to do things, my dream is to pay my respects at the new war memorial and then do some exploration of the places near it. Or to go to Cambrai and Bethune and other places with epic legend links. If there are no friends with cars, then I am limited physically, but there is so much to do that I doubt this will be a problem. In fact, I know it won’t be. Why do I think this? Because today when I was madly busy, I stopped and perused a document of dialects of certain key works written in a fifty year period and noted all the ones written in Picard… This is one of the regions that gave France its epic and legendary self.

I shall have finished the current novel by Continuum. It’s not as easy to write with all the stuff happening. One thing I didn’t realise was quite how hard it is to write a novel where I’m giving someone with illness one kind of life and then find that what I give her is not being given to me. This very obscure statement will make sense one day, in a sad way.

My roller coaster life has bigger highs and lower lows this year. I was trying to explain why I needed something yesterday and got a very blank look from someone when I mentioned – in passing, the way one does when one mentions past events – a couple of the bad things of recent years. What this means is that my life is no longer credible. It’s just as well I don’t want to write an autobiography.

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