Gone Bananas – Day 6

Today was the last day of the GoBananas challange. I’m pleased to say that I reached my target of raising £350 for One25, but they can always do with more and the donation page will remain open for a few days if you are so inclined.

Here’s today’s menu.

Brunch – French Toast

One of the things I love about Canada is getting breakfast at Eggspectation. Here’s my version of their French Toast. Spread cream cheese on one side of your brioche. Make a sandwich with chopped strawberries and banana, with the cheese outside. Dip the sandwich into a mix of egg, cream, vanilla & cinnamon. Fry in butter. Top with remaining fruit, walnuts, whipped cream, maple syrup. It is fantastically yummy.

Smoothie – Banana & Blueberry

Banana, frozen blueberries, coconut milk, and surprisingly a little cocoa powder. Not sure why the cocoa is there, or whether it has any benefit. Lovely colour though.

Dinner – Nachos with Banana Guacamole

Somewhat to my surprise, avocado and banana go very well together. Also this was an excuse to end the challenge with something nice and spicy. Basically just substitute ripe banana for half of the avocado in your guacamole recipe. Enjoy, and thank you for staying with me though this.

Gone Bananas – Day 5

Almost there now. Just one day to go.

I’m currently up to 79% of my target for the One25 fundraiser. Hopefully I can make it to 100% by 5:00pm tomorrow. You can help.

Breakfast – Pancakes Revisited

This is a more traditional pancake dish: just topped with banana, caramel and cream. Why not maple syrup, I hear you ask? Well partly as I have a lot of caramel to use up after making the banoffee pie, and partly because I am saving the best to last. Tomorrow we pull out all the stops.

Smoothie – Banana & Orange Revisited

As I stuffed up the breakfast smoothie yesterday I decided to get an orange and try again. It didn’t change the taste much, and it definitely doesn’t produce the bright yellow colour in the recipe book. I suspect yellow food colouring.

Lunch – Bread Machine Banana Bread & Sweet Plantain Chips

Having done banana bread in my cake maker, I decided to try doing it in the bread machine instead. I found a recipe online that was supposedly for my make of machine. Reader, it did not work. I ended up with a crust full of liquid banana mash. Clearly an issue with the balance of ingredients. Still, can’t win ‘em all. I have plenty of banana-based food I can be eating up for lunch.

That included the sweet variety of the plantain chips. No salted, obviously, and actually sweet. Unusual. Maybe needs chili.

Smoothie – Banana & Cucumber

Cucumbers are just water in a green coat, right? Well maybe not. This smoothie has banana, cucumber, pineapple and lime, plus ice. It is the pineapple and cucumber tastes that are the most obvious. Surprisingly delicious, and green.

Dinner – Banana Peel Curry

It would be wrong to do this challenge without using a recipe by Nigella, and to my delight the Domestic Goddess came through spectacularly. Yes, you can eat banana peel. The recipe is in the Cook, Eat Repeat book. It uses cauliflower for bulk, and like all curries the paste makes a huge difference.

Verdict: absolutely amazing. Best meal I have cooked all week.

Banana Beer

Is there such a thing as banana beer? Yes! You can find it in Asda. It is nothing particularly spectacular as far as beer goes, but it is made with bananas and that does not stop it tasting of beer. And of bananas.

Banana Splits

Banana splits are dead easy, right? Just slice some bananas, top with ice cream, and slather with chocolate sauce and cream. But this is Eurovision night, so I needed to go a bit over the top. Hence this recipe, courtesy of the Hairy Bikers.

Bananas lightly fried in butter and brown sugar. Ice cream, whipped cream and hazelnuts toasted in sugar and butter to top, and a sauce made from chocolate, whipping cream, golden syrup and rum.

The presentation is harder. The bananas tend to break when being fried, and they brown a little, but the taste is so much better.

Gone Bananas – Day 4

Only two days to go now and I can stop eating bananas for a while. Today was a bit intense. Here’s the menu.

Also the usual reminder that I am raising money for One25, by using bananas in all my meals until Sunday. I’m delighted to see that I’m up to 76% of my target, but there’s still a way to go. You can donate here.

Breakfast – Banana Yoghurt

Yoghurt is a regular part of many people’s breakfasts, but I make my own. I have an EasiYo yoghurt maker, which makes the process very simple. Just add water to the packet mix, follow the instructions, and leave overnight. A 1 kg batch lasts me about a week. They have loads of flavours, including banana.

Smoothie – Banana & Orange

You are getting two smoothies today, because this one is very much a breakfast drink. The recipe calls it “Top o’ the morning”. It contains banana, an orange, almond milk, cinnamon and ice. Except that I mis-read the recipe and don’t have an orange to hand so I used orange juice, which makes it rather more liquid.

Lunch – Plantain Chips

One thing I wanted to do this week was feature the banana’s lesser-known cousin, the plantain. However, I couldn’t manage to find any in the local shops, so I’ve had to settle for chips. Sadly, once they have been fried and salted, they don’t taste much different to bananas.

Smoothie – Banana & Mocha

This one has banana, chilled coffee, almond milk, almond butter, cocoa powder, ice and agave nectar. I was disappointed to discover that having agave in it did not involve actual tequila.

I’m not a big fan of iced tea/coffee, but the cocoa powder makes this. Yum.

Dinner – Orange Pecan Shrimp

We’ve done risotto, we’ve done Latin American, we’ve done curry, now it is time for something with an Asian theme to it. There’s a sauce made from orange juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce and cornflour, plus orange marmalade and ginger. Cook some frozen peas separately (I put them in with the rice part way through). Fry the shrimp until just pink, then reduce the heat, add the sauce, cover and cook for a few minutes. Then add the peas and banana pieces. Serve with rice and toasted chopped pecans.

Cocktail – Banana Daiquiri

Fortuitously today is International Cocktail Day. And it is Friday, so a little alcohol won’t go amiss. The classic banana cocktail is, of course, the banana daiquiri. This is made with ice, banana, rum, an orange liqueur, lime juice and sugar. Mine got made with what I had in the cupboard, which meant Kraken rum (obviously) and Cointreau Blood Orange.

Dessert – Banoffee Pie

The great thing about banoffee pie is that you can make it without cooking. The base is crushed digestive biscuits and melted butter, which needs a few hours in the fridge to set. Then cover the base with caramel, set the banana pieces into it, and cover with whipped double cream. I added some grated chocolate on the top.

It’s not the greatest looking slice in the world, but that was amazing.

Gone Bananas – Day 3

I’m back with another day’s worth of banana-themed food.

As a reminder, I am raising money for One25, by using bananas in all my meals until Sunday. I’m only at 57% of my target, so I would appreciate some donations.

Breakfast – Pancakes with Banana Butter

I promised you something different with the pancakes. There are all sorts of things you can put on them, but browsing recipe sites I found mention of banana butter. I’m not a big fan of peanut butter, but surely it can be improved upon. And perhaps banana and cinnamon are just the tools I need.

So, one banana, 4 tbsps of peanut butter, and cinnamon to takes. Whiz, and stick in the fridge overnight for the flavours to develop.

Reader, my blender did not want to whiz. I guess I should have used more ripe bananas. I ended up adding a little almond milk to loosen things up.

Lunch – Banana & Mango Fruit Bar

Since the pandemic I’ve been paying more attention to the dried fruit section in Tesco because I’ve been shopping less often and don’t want to run out of fruit. This lead me to notice their fruit bars, which are something like Nakd bars. They do one in mango & banana. They also do banana bites in a yoghurt coating. Both are yummy, and very good for packed lunches. Not just for kids either.

Smoothie – Banana, Mango, Pineapple & Spinach

Here I am using up the rest of the mango from last night’s dinner, a banana, and some pineapple chunks, plus water and ice. There is a smoothie recipe in my book. It also suggests WHAT? Yes, spinach. The recipe also suggested Kale, but there are depths of hipsterness that I will not plumb.

It tastes fine, and the spinach gives it a lovely colour.

Dinner – Banana & Coconut Curry

As curries go, this is dead easy. Fry some (red) onion and garlic until brown. Add your favourite curry paste (the recipe recommended using chili, cumin, coriander, cardamon and turmeric) and fry a little more. Add cubed potato and banana chunks. Coat them in the spice mix, then add coconut milk. Cover and simmer until the potato is soft (15-20 mins). I topped it off with some desiccated coconut for effect.

This is cheap, fast and delicious. It is also, I think, vegan. I feel like I’m channelling my inner Jack Munroe here.

Dessert – Banana Fritters

Having made a very easy main course, I decided to experiment with dessert. I had to try banana fritters, right? But I don’t have a deep-far fryer, and my air fryer is not ideal for the job.

The recipe I used recommended chopping the banana and dipping the pieces consecutively into bowls containing flour, whisked egg, and a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and coconut. This quickly gets very messy. Then you fry.

My air fryer slowly moves the food around during cooking. This makes for amazing chips, but for the fritters it tended to shake off the coating.

Ah well, it tasted good, and I added some cream for effect.

Gone Bananas – Day 2

Once again, here’s the full list of today’s banana-themed menu for easy digestion.

As a reminder, I am raising money for One25, by using bananas in all my meals until Sunday. They are a very wonderful charity, and I very much hope that some of you can spare some cash to help me reach my target.

Breakfast – Banana Pancakes

Pancakes are an obvious thing to have with some fruit for breakfast, but while I was gazing at the shelves in Tesco I noticed that they had banana pancakes. Clearly I had to get some. They do taste of banana, but they are a bit bland on their own so I’ll be spicing them up a bit over the week.

Lunch – Banana Chips

Who needs potatoes when you can have bananas? Yes, fried banana chips are a thing, especially in the Caribbean. You can get all sorts of flavours. I should probably have gone for the chili variety, but for today we’re doing good old ready salted.

I’m assuming that they use green bananas because they are less sweet.

Smoothie – Apple and Almond

Something a little off the wall today. This one has a banana, a green apple (peeled), almond butter (tbsp), almond milk (250 ml), and ice. Very different. Not sure I’d recommend this one, but that’s not the fault of the banana.

Dinner – Fried Fish with Mango & Banana Salsa

We’re going a little Latin American tonight. The salsa contains mango, banana, red pepper, red chili, red onion, coriander and lime juice. Maybe a little salt. The recipe was for tilapia, but I couldn’t get one so I’m making do with sea bass and hoping it is from Chile. Dust it with flour and pan fry until done. Serve with lime wedges.

Dessert – Banoffee Ice Cream

I’ll be trying my hand at a proper banoffee pie later in the week. In the meantime, whet your appetites on Ben & Jerry’s Oh My Banoffee Pie ice cream.

What She Said

I am, for “reasons”, doing a bit of re-reading of Tiptree, and of the Sheldon biography. I came across this:

Women have no rights, Don, except what men allow us. Men are more aggressive and powerful, and they run the world. When the next real crisis upsets them, our so-called rights will vanish — like that smoke. We’ll be back where we always were: property. And whatever has gone wrong will be blamed on our freedom, like the fall of Rome was. You’ll see.

That was Ruth Parsons, towards the end of “The Women Men Don’t See”.

Gone Bananas – Day 1

I wasn’t planning on blogging about the Go Bananas! fundraiser, but it turns out that individual updates on the JustGiving site are limited to 550 characters, which will be a pain when I want to get into detail about recipes, so here I am.

As a reminder, I am raising money for One25, by using bananas in all my meals until Sunday, and I would be very grateful if you could chip in a few quid.

So, day 1, and the fundraiser officially started at Noon. What have I been eating?

Lunch – Banana Bread

One of the limitations that I have in this project is that I don’t have a functional oven. I do, however, have a ridiculous collection of kitchen gadgets, including a Tefal Cake Factory. It has a recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, so I gave it a try.

There’s not a lot of point giving you a detailed recipe as it will only work with the machine in question. And if you have one, you’ll already have the recipe. I will note that it is made with buckwheat flour, presumably for the slightly nutty taste.

But wait, Cheryl, why are you making bread in a cake machine? Well, because what we call banana bread isn’t really bread. At least not in the recipes I have been looking at. One of the ways in which people distinguish bread and cake is that bread is leavened with yeast, whereas cake uses baking powder. Having said that, my bread machine has a “cake” programme, so I’ll be trying a different banana bread recipe later in the week.

The Cake Factory makes cute little finger cakes as per the photo. And they have chocolate in them, which is a fine start to the week.

Smoothie – Banana & Raspberry

Bananas are a regular feature of smoothies, and now that the weather is improving I’ll be making a lot of them. Yes, of course I have a smoothie maker. Did you have to ask? It is a Nutri Ninja, for those who are interested in such things.

Normally I just throw stuff in and see how the mixture works, and that’s how I’m going to start. Banana, some frozen raspberries, plain yoghurt, and some milk, and perhaps a little honey as the raspberries can be quite tart. Blitz and drink. Yum.

Dinner – Banana Risotto

When I went looking for main course recipes I expected to find curries. I did not expect to find risottos. But Banana Risotto is apparently a thing. The recipe is standard risotto stuff. Fry some onion (or in this case shallots are better) until golden. Add some arborio rice and fry for a few more minutes. Then slowly add liquid while simmering until the rice is soft, which takes about half an hour. The liquid in this case is white wine and vegetable stock.

The recipe I used suggested adding one mashed banana half way through, and one near the end. Also added at the end was grated parmesan, which surprised me a little. Some recipes also suggested peas or mange tout, which I went for because it added much needed colour.

The banana makes the risotto quite sweet, but I was very pleased with how well it worked, especially as I’d been a bit nervous about the parmesan.

Dessert – Foam Bananas & Monkeys

I can remember from when I was much younger, that you could get weird banana-shaped and flavoured sweets. We’ll be going a bit mad with banana desserts later in the week, but for now I’m keeping it simple. Marks & Spencer provided a decent facsimile of my childhood memory. I have no idea why they are called “foam”. Farah suggested on Twitter that is is because they have the consistency of foam cushions, which I find distinctly unappetising. Thankfully the sweets did not taste of that sort of foam.

Going Bananas in May

Regular readers will remember that each May I do something stupid to raise money for the wonderful folks at One25, a Bristol-based charity that helps women so badly down on their luck that they feel they have no option but to go on the street. The challnege this year is to “go bananas”, which is a reference to something lovely that Meghan Markle did when she visited the One25 HQ a few years back.

Most of the folks at One25 are dressing as bananas for a week. It sure gets people’s attention when you are on your way to work. However, I don’t get out much. Once a week to Tesco is usually my limit. So I’m doing something different. I’m going to be cooking and eating bananas for the duration of the fund-raiser, which is May 10-15.

There will be banana splits, banana smoothies, banana yoghurt, banana bread, banana curry, banoffee pie, banana chips and anything else banana based that I can think of. I will try to get bananas into every mealtime. If you have ideas for weird banana-based food that you would like me to try, do let me know. This is supposed to be a challenge, after all.

And of course the whole point is raising money. Which means I’m hoping that some of you folks will donate. You can do so here.

Farewell to Twitter?

As most of you will know, Twitter has been sold to a private investor for an eye-popping amount of money. Again for most of you this will make very little difference, at least in the short term. However, the new owner, Elon Musk, has made it clear that one of his priorities is to restore “free speech” to the platform. This is, of course, the Libertarian version of free speech which is defined as, “I have the right to say whatever I want, you are obliged to listen to me, and you are not allowed to answer back.”

Again, in most cases, this will not affect you, because you are not in one of the minority groups to which Musk takes exception. I, however, am. Notorious transphobes have been rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of being let back onto Twitter, and the moderation system, which is already heavily biased against trans folk, will become more so. I need to have somewhere to go, because Twitter is going to become deeply hostile to the likes of me.

I note also that Musk is not the sort of person who should be in charge of a popular social media network. He likes to think that he’s Tony Stark, but actually he’s what Lex Luthor would be if Lex had to employ other people to do all the thinking for him. I think it behooves us all to make Musk’s time in charge of Twitter as unpleasant as possible. Making his purchase worthless would help a lot with that.

I won’t be going immediately because I want to download all of my tweets and delete them. That will take a while, especially as so many other people are trying to do the same thing. But I have stopped posting, and this will be the last blog post that cross-posts.

I’m not sure where I will end up. I do have a Tumblr account, but I never use it. I’ve signed up for Mastodon (same @CherylMorgan) user name, but it is horribly slow right now because the service has been deluged with new users and needs time to adapt. I am in several Discord servers, but they are all very niche. I loathe Farcebook. Instagram is owned by them, and is very much for visual people whereas I’m a words person.

I will, of course, still be here. Also not spending so much time on social media will probably be good for me.

Thank You, BSFA

The BSFA Awards were given out at Eastercon this evening. The winners are as follows:

  • Best Novel: Shards of Earth, by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor
  • Best Shorter Fiction: Fireheart Tiger, by Aliette de Bodard, Tor.com
  • Best Book for Younger Readers: Iron Widow, by Xiran Jay Zhao, Rock the Boat
  • Best Non-Fiction: Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Francesca T. Barbini, Luna Press Publishing
  • Best Artwork: Glasgow Green Woman, by Iain Clark, Glasgow2024

As you may recall, The Green Man’s Challenge by Juliet McKenna was a finalist in Best Novel. We are not disappointed. It was an incredibly strong field and we both loved Adrian’s book. Seeing the cover of one of my books up there on the screen list of best novels was a tremendous buzz.

You may not be aware that I had an essay in the Luna Press book that won the Non-Fiction catergory. I was one of only two contribuitors present at the ceremony (the other was Allen Stroud) so Francesca kindly made a fuss of us in her speech. All of the other contributors are awesome too, and we are sad that you could not be there. My essay was the one on queer animals, which grew out of my keynote address at the University Of Graz worldbuilding conference back in 2019. So in addition to thanking Francesca, my fellow contributors, and the voters, I should also thank the folks in Graz who first inspired me to do this work.

Here is my tip for the day. If you are going to win an award, do so in the company of someone who gets as excited about it as Francesa. She’s wonderful, and thoroughly deserves all of the success that her litle company is getting.

My Eastercon Schedule

Just a couple of days to go now. The full programme for Eastercon has been released. I will be in the Dealers’ Room for most of the convention, but I am doing two panels (and moderating both of them). Here’s the details:

Publishing in the Pandemic
Saturday 16th; 10:30; Bleriot
The Covid-19 pandemic proved tough for publishing. Paper shortages, distribution issues, and alterations to working patterns all brought massive change to the industry. The panel discusses the good and bad, and what might last. With Tiffani Angus, Francesca Barbini, Marcus Gipps & Joanne Hall.

Reclaiming Ourselves: What Does It Mean To Reclaim Our Physical Bodies?
Sunday 17th; 10:30; Endeavour
Lockdown living meant seeing far fewer people face-to-face – which for some of us meant the opportunity to change how we dress, look, or otherwise engage with our bodies, relatively free from external judgement. (Plus, unable to get a haircut.) What can our responses to lockdown living tell us about our attitudes to our bodies and what we are ‘allowed’ to do with them? What about those of us who were already constrained in how we engaged with the physical world, eg through disability? With FD Lee, Stewart Hotston, Juliet E McKenna & Lee Swift.

Trans at the Hugos


The Finalists for the 2022 Hugo Awards were announced today. Given the amount of shit being heaped upon the trans communities in the UK and USA right now, I figured a post about how well we have done (again) is appropriate.

Best Novel – Ryka Aoki’s wonderful Light from Uncommon Stars is a finalist, which makes me very happy indeed. Shelley Parker-Chan lists she/they pronouns on their website. I note also that Arkady Martine and Becky Chambers are married to women.

Best Short Story – José Pablo Iriarte is non-binary and Cuban. I know nothing about Blue Neustifter, but they have a story in an anthology of trans SF&F so… [confirmed as per comment below]

Best Graphic StoryOnce & Future, vol. 3 is coloured by Tamra Bonvillain.

Best Related Work – Charlie Jane adding to her collection.

Best Semiprozine – There are probably several trans folks on the Strange Horizons team, because they are good like that.

Best Fancast – Charlie Jane & Annalee both.

Best Fan Writer – Alex Brown is non-binary. Bitter Karella’s Twitter bio says, “Genderfluid transvestite goblin”.

Lodestar – Charlie Jane again.

Astounding – Shelley Parker-Chan again.

And there are probably a few I have missed because I don’t know everyone in fandom these days. It is a far cry from 2003 when there was just me.

Oh, and Jesi Lipp, who is one of the Hugo Administrators this year, is non-binary.

Officially SFWA

I have done a thing and signed up for SFWA. That may seem weird given that I am banned from entering the USA, but the organisation is looking to become more international. They’ve also made significant changes to their eligibility requirements of late. Technically I’m eligible for full membership, but most of that income happened decades ago under my deadname and I have no proof of how much I was paid. I might also be eligible for Associate, except a significant part of my fiction income has come from Wizard’s Tower anthologies and I’m not going to count that even though I am sure Jo & Roz would have told me if my stories were not good enough. Non-fiction sales don’t count. But with one or two more fiction sales I’ll be able to upgrade to Associate and then you can all pester me to vote for you in the Nebulas.

It’s Nominatin’ Time


The deadline for noinating ballots for the 2022 Hugo Awards is the end of tomorrow (US East West Coast time, and be aware that they’ve just put their clocks forward an hour). This is therefore the point where people will be searching around for something to fill a few slots on their ballot. Here are some suggestions.

I’m eligible in Fan Writer and Salon Futura is eligible in Fanzine. You knew that, right?

More importantly, Ben Baldwin is eligible in Professional Artist, and the Green Man series by Juliet E McKenna is eligible in Series. Both of these, IMHO, are very worthy nominees. Of the four Green Man books, one has been a finalist for the Rob Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel from the British Fantasy Society, and two have been finalists for the Best Novel award from the British Science Fiction Association. That’s a pretty impressive record. They all have Ben Baldwin covers.

And finally, Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction, is eligible in Related Work. It is already a BSFA finalist, and I’d love to see it on the Hugo ballot too. (I won’t get any recognition, I’m just a contributor, but Francesca is doing amazing work and I’d love to see her rewarded for it again.)

A Weekend in Wales

Last weekend I finally managed to attend one of the writing retreats run by Jo Hall and Roz Clarke. It was held on what is basically a large farm near where Roz & Jo have their own farm. Details here.

The format of these retreats is very flexible, depending on who attends. Jo & Roz are very happy to do workshop type things if people want them, or they can do individual tuition, or they can just let us get on and write. This time turned out to be mostly the latter.

My own situation was that I had several story ideas that just needed time to turn into prose. I ended up writing two short stories, or at least producing first drafts thereof. Other attendees also seemed very busy and produced lots of words. I think we all went away happy.

I would have got more done had I not needed to spend part of Saturday in Carmarthen, but that was worthwhile too. That included a lovely run along the B4300 which follows the course of the River Tywi for much of its length. Sadly there are not many places to stop, and the one I did find had the view obscured by trees. (Sorry, Nicola).

The farm didn’t intrude much on us, though I will note that geese are indeed horrible (to everyone, but especially to large cats). Also the call of a peacock sounds very much like that of a cat in extreme pain.

Anyway, it was fun. Hopefully I can go again soon. Being away from the world for 4 days (wifi is very limited at the farm) was great.

Green Men Going Cheap


As I mentioned briefy yesterday, Amazon UK has decided to put The Green Man’s Heir on sale at £0.99 for the whole of March. Juliet and I are, of course, delighted to be able to bring the series to the attention of yet more readers. But equally we don’t see why people outside of the UK should miss out.

Ideally I’d simply match prices all over the world, but it isn’t quite that easy. Your best bet, wherever you live, is Kobo. The book is £0.99 in their UK store, and should be roughly the same price all over the world, subject to the whims of exchange rates.

Update: I’ve been informed by a friend in Europe that Kobo has not put the book on sale there. I’m guessing that’s because I’ve incorrectly understood the vague instructions on their store’s backend. I will try to fix it, but I may not be able to do that without cancelling the sale. Bah!

If you are in the USA you can get a copy from Barnes & Noble at $1.30.

Amazon is a bit weird. They wouldn’t let me reduce the price below $2.99 in the USA, but when I check the page it says the book is $1.33, so it looks like they have it on sale there too. In Europe the lowest I could set was €2.69, and that’s what I’m seeing in France. Amazon stores outside of Europe are probably basing their price on the $2.99 US price.

Sorry it is all so weird, but that’s the trouble with having to work through big, multi-national corporations. If it hadn’t been for Brexit, I would still be able to sell ebooks direct. Which is one of many reasons why I want to see Mr. Putin’s arse kicked.

The BSFA Awards

The finalists for this year’s BSFA Awards have been announced, and I am pleased to see that The Green Man’s Challenge is on the list for Best Novel. That’s the second time one of the Green Man books has had this honour. The Green Man’s Foe was also a finalist. And of course The Green Man’s Heir was a finalist for the Rob Holdstock Award from the British Fantasy Society. That’s award nominations for three out of the four books in the series, which is pretty spectacular. Go Juliet!

I’m also pleased to see Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction on the short list for Non-Fiction. That’s the latest Academia Lunare book, and it contains my essay on worldbuilding with sex and gender, a.k.a. the queer animals essay.

It seems unlikley that either book will win, given the nature of the competition, but it always an honour to be on these short lists and it gives one an excuse to wear a pretty frock to an award ceremony, which I haven’t done in a while.

The full lists, which also include a fiction for younger readers category, and an artwork category, can be found here.

And talking of The Green Man’s Heir, Amazon UK has decided to put the Kindle edition on sale for the whole of March. That will hopefully net Juliet a nice chunk of cash. The book has already sold over 17,000 copies, which is absurdly successful for a small company like Wziard’s Tower. I have dreams of getting past 20,000. To help with that I will be reducing the ebook prices to match (as best I can) on other platforms and other Amazon sites. It takes a while for all of this to go live, and I can’t queue it up in advance because you never quite know whether Amazon will do what they say they will when it comes to special offers. But we have the whole month so hopefully tomorrow all will be in place. If you know of anyone who doesn’t yet have a copy of the book, do let them know.

Introducing Outremer

It is late in 2003 and I am in Stafford in Middle England for FantasyCon. It is an up and down event. On the downside, it takes place on the same weekend as the final of the Rugby World Cup. The English win. That chap Wilkinson. I am unhappy. But I am at the convention, at least in part, for the awards. China Miéville is busy finishing writing The Iron Council and has asked me if I will stand in for him at the award ceremony where The Scar is up for Best Novel. So I get to make a speech on China’s behalf, and I get given an ugly little Cthuloid statue to take back to him. Ah well, at least it wasn’t a bust of Lovecraft.

At the banquet I am sat next to a lad from Newcastle called Chaz. We bond over a number of things, including a shared devotion to the San Francisco 49ers. “What have you written?” I ask. “Well,” says Chaz, “I have this fantasy series set in an alternate version of the Crusades, and it has just started to come out in America…”

It is 2003, two years since 9/11 and two years into George W Bush’s quest for vengeance. Crusader rhetoric is the order of the day. The West is cast as Christian, Iran and Iraq are obviously Muslim. Tony Blair has recently deployed the Dodgy Dossier; David Kelly is dead; and the invasion of Iraq is well underway. This man wants me to read a fantasy series based on the Crusades? It had better be bloody good.

Of course it was.

Outremer is the collective name given to the four Crusader kingdoms founded after the First Crusade. Their actual history is deeply fascinating, and some great historical novels could doubtless be set in them. Brenchley, however, is doing that fantasy thing where a thinly disguised version of real history, with added magical seasoning, allows him to talk about the real world without the associated baggage that readers are likely to bring to it. He can’t have known, when he started writing the books, how appropriate they would become. The first one was published in the UK in 1998. But sometimes we luck into things.

What Chaz didn’t luck into was recognition for what he had created. I did my best with reviews in Emerald City, but the books didn’t capture the imagination in the way I’d hoped. Maybe they were too timely. Maybe there was too much queer stuff for the audience of 20 years ago. Regardless, I am absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity to bring them to a new audience.

I’m particularly pleased to have the first book nearing completion during LGBT+ History Month. The mediaeval world has been presented to us as relentlessly heterosexual for decades, but we now know that was far from the truth. Human beings have always been queer, and a lot of what actually happened in those days has been carefully excised from history. Slowly modern historians are undoing that erasure. There have even been questions asked of that most macho of men, Richard Couer de Lion. Brenchley is not writing about real people, so there can be no one to say that there is no proof they were queer. Having them in the book is simply portraying the period as it existed, which is a good thing to be doing.

There will be more publicity for Outremer in the coming weeks. I very much hope that the books manage to find a new audience.

One Night in Stratford #LGBTHM22

On Thursday evening I will once again be participating in the LGBT+ History Month event at the Shakepspeare’s Birthplace Trust in Stratford-on-Avon. Sadly I won’t be in Shakepeare’s birthplace this time, but a virtual event means that you folks can get to see me in action from all over the world.

The talk I’m doing for them is a short version of my “Girls on Stage” talk, focusing solely on the theatre of 16th and 17th Century England. So no Greeks or Kabuki in this one, but there is so much batshit genderqueer stuff in the plays of the period that there will be no trouble filling the time.

To give folks a flavour of what I’ll be talking about, I have done a blog post for the SBT website. You can find it here.

To book a free place for the entire programme, go here.

Girls On Stage: A Trailer #LGBTHM22

The fabulous Gigi from A New Normal asked me if I would mind doing a little chat for LGBT+ History Month. I suggested maybe a bit of a teaser to encourage people to attend my M Shed talk on cross-dressing in the theatre. So we did. Now it is online and you can watch it below.

And if that sparked your interest you can catch the whole talk here. It is on February 24th, and it starts at 7:00pm so it is convenient for some of you folks across the Pond too.