Friday, December 31, 2010


Chin Chin!

Happy New Year from The Chin Monsters! Let's face it, 2010 wasn't the greatest year in the history of the world, but isn't that true of every year? I know that observation doesn't actually make much sense... but neither does drawing eyes on chins and photographing them upside down! Here's to a superb 2011 for everyone who deserves it!

The year began with freezing weather and it ended the same way. Brrr! I just don't cope with the cold very well. This time, however, I gritted my teeth and forced myself to enjoy the snow. It may be truthfully said that old-fashioned winters are back! Unfortunately the same isn't true of the summers. The summer of 2010 was a disappointment, though we did manage to enjoy some hiking and wild camping on the handful of nice days. Highlight of the year in this regard were the camping trips to the dunes near the town of my upbringing, Porthcawl. It was fascinating to go back again after so many years!

Lowlight of the year was being stranded in Heathrow for a weekend... No, this has nothing to do with the recent airport disruption because of bad weather, but refers to the Odyssey convention back in April. A waste of time and money in a grim environment (no offence to the nice people I did meet there!). But at least the experience has helped me to make a firm resolution: no more conventions -- unless I have been specifically invited to do a panel or a reading or whatever...

Talking about reading, I did a heck of a lot of that in 2010! I read plenty of Calvino, as always; and I was delighted to reacquaint myself with Samuel Beckett after a couple of decades: a writer of immense power and wit and never as nihilistic as his reputation would suggest. The finest novel I read all year was undoubtedly Hothouse by Brian Aldiss. And my two finest discoveries were Primo Levi and Cordwainer Smith, both of whom staggered me with their excellence. Indeed, my 'book of the year' is Smith's The Rediscovery of Man, a truly incredible sequence of linked stories with the galactic span of a Stapledon, the humanity of an Aldiss and the weirdness of a Zelazny all rolled into one. Every year I find at least one writer new to me who is impressive to a degree most humbling!

Writing. 2010 was my most productive year ever! I never thought I would manage to exceed 2009 in terms of productivity, but I did! My brain kept overflowing with ideas! I wrote 54 stories, averaging more than one a week! Total wordage of fiction produced was more than 240,000 words! It seems that in the past two years I have written exactly 99 stories. Not bad! I put together a great many books and sold quite a few of them. I'll create a list soon of what might be reasonably expected to come out in 2011 (for example Tallest Stories, Link Arms With Toads!, Tucked Away in Aragon, etc). As for published works in 2010: many short stories in anthologies, and two books (a novel and a novella). So now, all that remains for me to say is: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

You know, I thought my reading of Rhys stories would eventually catch up with your writing of Rhys stories, but now I'm beginning to seriously doubt that. Nevertheless, keep them coming. I will keep reading them until my eyes fall out.
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