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Welcome - The International Writers Magazine - January Editorial 2010

This was the year when we all got our jet-packs right?

Welcome to 2010 - Jan 12th Catch-up

Reality is slowly dawning on us all in the UK that this is only mid-winter and there's more bad weather to come. Worse, for all those planning to go to Vancouver for the Olympics it may need to be transferred to Scotland since they have no snow over there right now. Meanwhile economic news in the UK grows more grim. But hey, I've got a good book to read and potatoes baking in the oven - what me worry?


Jan 8th: It has warmed up from -6c of two days ago, only -2 c today, unfortunately it has brought us the worst snow for thirty years. I have just come in from the garden where I have been trying to rescue my bushes and trees. The heavy snow has snapped branches and I have lost half the garden. Meanwhile 1000 people slept in their cars the other night on the highway just outside Petersfield on the A3.

I went to see how bad it was and help push a few vehicles and even the gritter truck was stuck. The snow was so thick it was falling like pancakes out of the sky. Never seen this kind of snow before. The motel stayed open so people could get hot drinks, but I was amazed that people even got into their cars, let alone queued to get on to a highway that was clearly going to be closed. The morning after found cars littered all the way up the A3 to Hindhead and several upside down in ditches.

Yesterday, with the help of a neighbour I dug my car out and the snow behind it and slowly drove to London. England never looked so beautiful. My Fiat Bravo is very reliable but the low profile tyres are useless in snow and the snow gathers around the brake discs - as I discovered as I slid over a crossroads unable to stop. Luckily no one was coming the other way. My only regret is not being able to stop anywhere to take pictures of Hindhead with around 3 foot of snow. In Guildford and Box Hill area it was great to see people out there on sledges enjoying it all. Reminds me of childhood and tobogganing in Hubbards Hills in Lincolnshire and being towed behind my father's VW (until I hit a tree and the inevitable tears). Everyone complains but to be honest it's refreshing. Just remember to feed the birds some scraps please.

The UK is not used to such thick snow and the fact that one foot of snow fell in just an hour is quite a surprise for most of us. The Automobile Association was saying that drivers have to be 47 to have any real experience of driving in snow here. I guess they are right. But I remember a teenage me driving my Hillman Imp in deep snow and having no trouble on my Goodyear G8 tyres. We have the wrong sort of tyres on our cars now. Wouldn't even know where to buy a snow tyre in the UK. I think back to driving hundreds of miles in Finland in deep snow and everything moved well. Canada too. The weather is always such a surprise in the UK. Worse, I went to the supermarket last night and it like something out of 28 Days later. All the shelves had been stripped bare, the staff were dazed. I came home with four potatoes and two pints of milk, then did a pratful on the snow I had cleared which had turned to sheet ice. I know have a very bruised arm. The English would adapt well in the Apocalypse I think. But I don't think I'll go see 'The Road' in the cinema. It's too close to home right now. I'm going to drink my coffee and read a book. This is what writers are supposed to do.
It’s an important year. Will we really emerge from economic gloom?  There are positive signs, but then again in the UK whichever government takes over and I sincerely hope it is David Cameron’s team that forms the government – we will face a huge and painful squeeze on public sector jobs. When they get into office they will discover just how bad the UK economy is and how much has been hidden by Gordon Brown. The test will be if the new government dare tell us the truth of the deception. The incoming government of Greece discovered the hard way what truth telling gets you and their financial rating suffered as a consequence.

There will be strikes; there will be all kinds of troubles as the UK adjusts to being a minor power with less and less influence in the world. I hope the new government bites the bullet on Afghanistan and brings our soldiers home. The situation there is not one that can be ‘won’. The Soviets discovered that twenty years ago.

On a positive note we have the Vancouver Olympics in February and the World Cup in South Africa in July. Both these events will boost air travel, and the respective economies of those countries. I just hope the security will be in place and vigilant (no matter how irritating it will be. The incident on Christmas Day in ’09 with a Nigerian terrorist trying to blow up a plane to Detroit is a timely reminder that we need to protect ourselves from extremists all the time. On a personal note I am flying to Cape Town for weddings at Easter and Montreal in the summer. So I have a vested interest in seeing we all fly safe.

Never mind the jet pack. I have to say that I never really thought I’d see 2010. Growing up with the ‘bomb’ I always thought (as did many of my generation) that I’d never have to plan for old age, as there wouldn’t be one. Well, darn it, wouldn’t you know the worst didn’t happen and now I’ll have to work till I drop. (Assuming I can stay employed – redundancies loom in Higher Education as I write this and I think the number of staff ‘let go’ will be much larger than anyone thinks).

The big changes in ’10 will be in technology – as ever. The e-book might finally take off. I know many publishers are scared of this – as are many bookshop chains. They are safe with the present generation of course – we prefer paper in our hands but the younger generation love their screens and have a strong relationship with them. If they read a book at all, I suspect it will be in e- format. By the time 2010 ends I think we shall see this beginning to shape up. I know from my own experience with books sales though that e-books only represent 10 percent of my sales so we aren’t there yet, but you can believe this is a transitional moment.

My friend Kit and I were discussing trends for 2010 and it is much harder I think to see what is coming over the hill. There is this incredible conflict over ‘global warming’ agendas and personal freedom. More than ever I think most people will see ‘climate’ as just another way to rip us off with higher taxes and not about personal responsibility for the planet. Especially as we shall not see this ‘tax’ money go into buildings walls around our coasts or finding effective alternatives to dirty energy. Try telling the people of Virginia to give up coal for example. Yet someone has to.

I think 2010 will be a better year for many than they expect, but the ticking clock of the rising tide of humanity goes on – the clash between the West’s way of life and Islam will gather momentum and all of this will be insignificant as China grows ever more important economically and politically in our lives with uncertain consequences that will bring. We saw some of that at the Danish Climate Change conference. China taking umbrage and blocking solutions. Increasingly we shall find China making decisions about our lives that we neither like nor can do anything about. They are slowly taking over much of the industries that historically started in the West. Volvo being the latest victim. We shall still drive Volvo’s but they will be made in China. Should we be worried? If you are Swedish most certainly.

Here at Hackwriters in 2010:
I am looking forward to a visit from the writer Marcus Sedgwick in March (The Book of Dead Days and Revolver) to speak with my students on Feb 25th. If you haven’t read any of his novels, order today; they are for young adults but really anyone can enjoy them as they filled with extraordinary intensity and suffering and beautifully crafted.

I read The Candle Man by Glenn Dakin over Christmas and it is extraordinarily close to Sedgwick’s Book of Dead Days. So I can say if you like one, you will certainly like the other.  I just finished Ian Beck’s Pastworld and am about to start The Rapture by Liz Jensen.  Then back to working on my own new novel. One thing you can guarantee is that creativity never stops and that if you slack off, there is always someone ready to take your place.  If there is any message to 2010, it is that.  It is an extremely competitive world and you cannot be passive. If you want to succeed as a writer you have to be part of the creative process not just the consumer. (Yet writing is also about reading and vice-versa, confusing no?).

I shall now strap on my jet-pack – swallow by lunch pill – hop to the Seychelles for dinner. ( I wish) Be well – be prosperous in 2010. Oh Yes and check out my friend and writer John Lewell's new photography websites. Pretty impressive stuff:
Try out these new
photographic web sites

© Sam North Jan 2010
Editor –
Previous Editorial

You probably need cheering up now, especially as headlines say that 2 Million people in the UK have probably had Swine Flu and two billion will have been exposed to it by next year in the world. 8 January 2010 -- As of 3 January 2010, worldwide more than 208 countries and overseas territories or communities have reported laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1 2009, including at least 12799 deaths (WHO figures). But what if it gets worse or mutates? What effect this cold winter on the virus? I have said before but say again, download my book Another Place to Die if you want to be ready for when the flu pandemic goes critical and mutates. They have announced that this variant of Swine Flu is resistant to Tamiflu, who is to say this vaccine they are now giving us will work on the next variant? Latest figures from the World Health Organization show the virus has now spread to more than 199 countries. There is plenty of milage in this virus yet. For most it is mild, for some it is a very painful assault on the respiritory system indeed. *Many thanks to those who have ordered my book recently. It is selling pretty well now. (Over 1100 copies sold to date- not too shabby for a book only available on-line. Thanks too to those who spread the word on it. I really appreciate that. Often being a writer, especially for one whose books are only mostly available on-line it is very isolating, but now I know it is selling every month it really feels as though the two years writing it were worth it.

If you want to help Hackwriters keep going, buy my children's novel Mean Tide. A young adult ghost story set in Greenwhich, London.
All receipts go into the magazine.
Mean Tide by Sam North
'Extraordinary novel about a child's psychic awakening'

Lulu Press - ISBN: 978-1-4092-0354-4
Review: 'An engaging, unusual and completely engrossing read'
- Beverly Birch author of 'Rift'

Sent to live with his psychic Grandma by the river in Greenwich, Oliver (12) discovers a whole world of disturbed people who are probably even crazier than the ones he left behind. When he finds a dog with its throat cut on the beach, everything changes.
The Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
by Sam North

ISBN: 13: 978-1-4116-3748-1
302 pages - Lulu Press USA
'Chocolate will never be the same again' - Sunday Express
Buy from your favourite on-line retailer

Amazon UK
Amazon USA
Barnes and Noble
& Waterstones
Book also available from The Nineveh Gallery, 11 The Pallant Havant, PO9 1BE. UK 

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