Showing posts from August, 2013

The Magic of Swanwick

Well, here I am on the last day of Swanwick Writers' Summer School.  If you know nothing about it, look it up.  []   It's the most brilliant week of courses, speakers, food, mad discos, meditative moments, networking, food, sleep deprivation...   Oh, and did I mention food?  I think this is my eighth year at the school, so by this stage I've been roped into doing all sorts of stuff to contribute to, as well as receive from, the week.  Maybe a bit too much this year...  But I have really enjoyed leading two chapel devotions and running a one-hour workshop on Scandinavian folk tale, Prince Lindworm.  It was amazing what wonderful re-tellings could be produced by people in two 10-minute slots.   As well as giving out, I have managed to take some things in!  I've especially enjoyed a talk by James Moran (who's written for Dr Who and Torchwood), a 4-part poetry course from Debjani Chatterjee, agent Meg Davis talking about how

The Sailing of the Hopewell

                                       5th August is an important date for Gulliver's Travels fans.  It is the date on which Gulliver embarks on his third voyage, aboard the good ship Hopewell.   This journey will take him to the flying island of Laputa, the Academy of Lagado, Luggnagg (home of the Struldbrugs), the necromancer's island of Glubbdubdrib, and the only real-life place Gulliver ever visits: Japan. I made use of this in Silver Hands , having Margaret embark on the same ship on the same day in chapter four, "The Sailing of the Hopewell ".  The name of the ship, Captain William Robinson and any dates I mention are all straight from Swift.  He was having a laugh at the expense of travellers's tales (and making some satirical points about matters closer to home) but I tried to re-imagine the Hopewell as a real ship in the context of the times, a context of the East India Company, the golden age of pirates, and scientific discovery. In common with many fant