Meet the Author: September 2014

The author as a very different kind of mid-1990s trance lecturer!

The author as a very different kind of mid-1990s trance lecturer!

It’s September, and here in London our fabulous and long overdue summer died a few weeks ago on the tail end of hurricane Bertha. Only yesterday, however, I saw a family of tiny baby coot chicks on Canada Water, which makes me think we may be in for an extended Indian summer.

Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts

This month’s article from Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts – An Illustrated Guide to 19th Century Spiritualism is about the American phenomenon of trance lecturers, men and women who would give talks and demonstrations on spiritualism from the very early 1850s onwards. You can still download the book, which retails for US$2.99 in most online stores, for free from When it comes time to pay, just use coupon code: TD22X.

Next week I go back to work after my long summer break. It’s always unnerving returning to teaching after such a long time off. I always feel de-skilled, as if the weeks have stripped away my twenty-odd years of experience. Luckily I have always managed to fall back into it with relative ease. I think it helps that I really like my students.

One of the projects I was working on before the break was helping them set up their own blogs. A young woman who sporadically attends the same reading group as me recently asked why I was doing this rather than concentrating on the practical skills that adults with learning disabilities so desperately need. It’s a good question.

From the very start, my blogging group faced nothing but problems, mostly due to the incompatibility of our computers’ browsers with Blogger, which is a fantastic service that I adore. We spent ten or more excruciatingly frustrating two-hour sessions simply trying to put a post up on everyone’s blog. I expected my students to lose heart. In fact, only one person did. The rest took the problems in their stride, and were so proud when they eventually managed to post for the first time. In a sense, the problems we faced made the success so much sweeter.

So why a blogging group and not basic skills? I still teach literacy and numeracy, and I think they’re important. But when I see the same pay-offs (for example, the acquisition of skills, the increase of self-esteem) that should come from any learning situation, it makes me think the group is extremely worthwhile.

Gooseberry prototype cover

On the Gooseberry front, the ninth chapter is now posted on Goodreads. It’s weird to think that next month I’ll be offering the finished novel to LibraryThing Early Reviewers!

Remember, you can always message me using the Contact Me form or send me an email. Both Malane, who designs this website for me, and I really look forward to hearing from you, and I will always try to respond if I can.

Happy reading!