To Odaiba, to visit Japan’s “Future Museum,” the Miraikan. The trip across Tokyo Bay on the (driverless, rail-less) Yurikamome Line made me feel like I was in the future already…

…so when I arrived I was delighted but strangely unsurprised to find what appeared to be a real giant mech under construction.

The Miraikan’s exhibits were beautiful and inspiring. By the time I took this shot, looking up at the Fuji TV Building…

…my imagination was reeling.

The book I’m currently writing is set in the future. I came to the right place. 😀

What Am I Doing Here in Tokyo? It’s ok, sometimes I ask myself that, too. ;D The answer is, I’m writing a book.

I’ve been researching and planning this story since May (and before, but that’s when I got serious). It’s wildly ambitious, thoroughly outrageous and occasionally I’m not sure if I’m good enough to manage it. [BTW: I think that’s the proper attitude to have going into a new project. I mean, how could it have a chance of being truly awesome, otherwise?]

Also? I just passed the ten thousand words mark on the very first draft.

One of the great things about being a writer is that you can take your work anywhere. I’ve always known this in theory, but now I’m happy to be able to confirm that it works in practice too – even for a creature of habit like me. 😀

In other news, the time is coming once more for my blogging arrangements to move to a brand new website, created especially for my forthcoming novella for Barrington Stoke, MY NAME IS O. Major works are going on behind the scenes as I’m typing this: The Mighty WebSphinx rides again! Watch this space.

Absolutely delighted to have just discovered that the magnificent Mr H. of brilliant blog The Book Zone has chosen the first paragraphs of The Black Tattoo as this week’s Attention Grabber: “my new weekly feature where I post what I think is a great opening paragraph to a book, the sort of opening that pulls young readers in and hooks them from the start.”

But I was particularly touched by the following: “Having just started my first ever attempt at NaNoWriMo I am all of a sudden feeling a small amount of hate for Sam, and many others – I wish I could write this well!”

The opening paragraphs of The Black Tattoo – and anything in any of my books – did not come out like that the first time I wrote them. What you read in my books is the result of a lot of redrafting and polishing. For my thoughts on that, and some glimpses of what the opening of Black Tat might have been, click through to the post on The Book Zone and check the comments.

I’m here! I’m actually here! Bwaha! BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Um, sorry. On Trapped By Monsters, while I continue to try to adjust: hang on to your intestines (or at least know who’s stealing them) with The Right Guidebook.

This week on TBM, a new edition of a genuine comics classic: THE INCAL is INCREDIBLE!

As the start of my upcoming Japanese adventure draws closer there are various bits and pieces that need taking care of before I go. But I’m delighted to say that I’ve now sorted out what was one of the biggest worries for me, namely finding a new and suitable WRITING HAT.

This isn’t a superstitious thing; there’s nothing magic about a good writing hat. It’s simply that I like to write near a window that I can look out of once in a while – the drawback being that this means I also need some kind of hat with a brim, to shade my eyes so I can see my computer screen.

Behold my old writing hat, as kindly modelled by a friend of mine:

If you click here and scroll down you can see some pics of this hat in action while I was writing Tim, Defender of the Earth. It’s most often worn low over the eyes, like this:

I got this hat from a charity shop for a fancy dress party when I was thirteen. As you can see, it’s not wearing the years since lightly. Fond of it as I am, I have to admit it’s looking pretty manky these days – besides which, putting it in a suitcase would destroy it. What to do?

Problem: I needed not ‘just’ a new writing hat, but one that wouldn’t mind being squashed flat.

Answer: …EUREKA!

This is a brand new, genuine Yorkshire flat cap, which I bought at the recent (and excellent) Nidderdale Agricultural Show.

As you can see above, the brim is just right. It’s warm for the winter, and it will be fine in a suitcase – after all, what hat could be flatter than a flat cap?

But as if those attributes weren’t enough on their own, I’m thrilled to find this hat is also surprisingly versatile. As well as the traditional face-on position…

…there’s also the back-to-front look or, as I call it, ‘The Samuel L.‘:

You can even wear it sideways like a beret, ‘A La Francaise‘:

What a comfort it is to know that however my travels turn out, I’ll have a good writing hat with me.



OK, I can’t wait any longer, I’ve just got to show you the cover art of my forthcoming Barrington Stoke book, My Name is O.

Here’s O’s own description of the mirror, from the book:

The frame is made of black wood, carved into the shape of four giant scorpions. The scorpions face each other – two at the bottom of the mirror, two at the top. They are locked in combat, their claws crossed. Their long tails curl around the mirror’s corners until the stingers of the high and low scorpions meet, at the very middle of each of the mirror’s sides.

The mirror is a horrible thing. To a normal person, everything about it says “Don’t touch.”

…But my masters are not normal people.

Thanks and awed respect to artist Dan Chernett for the terrific job he did on the frame, to Rich for the fonts, and to Vicki for involving me so much throughout the design process. The book is about to go off to press right now. I can’t wait to see how it turns out! 😀

Meanwhile on TBM: Quick! Go see my new favourite monster film!

The tickets are booked. The dates are set. This winter I’m spending three months in Japan.

This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time – ever since I was little, in fact, when my godfather came back from a long spell there and I asked him what it was like. ‘It’s the closest you can get to visiting another planet,’ he replied, ‘without leaving this one.’ I’ve been fascinated by Japan and Japanese culture ever since. I mean, how could I not be? ;D

A big thank you to James N. for the guidebooks above, and for telling Laura and I to stop talking about it and make it happen. To anyone reading this with dreams and ambitions of your own, whatever they are, take the same advice.

Hee hee hee!


This week on Trapped By Monsters: Are you in or near London? You’ve only a few weeks left to See The Universe For Free.

My latest TBM manga tip is the joyous, thrilling and thoroughly awesome One Piece, by Eiichiro Oda.

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