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Welcome - The International Writers Magazine - May 2009
writing from across the globe.

May 30th:
The sun came out. New June issue now on-line and I am going cycling. A new editorial can wait.
European elections this coming week on June 4th and very likely the fascists will win some MEP seats. This is just too depressing. British politics has reached a nadir and head of the pile of poop is Gordon Brown sheilding his corrupt politicians from scrutiny. The British public will not forget this time around I think. But it is a bad time for integrity.

May 23rd: Still marking
: Caught Synecdoche on the weekend written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. Was looking forward to this for a long time but it was desperately hard work and all the great promise that Kaufman delivered with 'Being John Malkovitch' in 1990 has now become self-indulgence and it was just too harrowing to be entertainment, even if the idea was a good one. Philip Seymour Hoffman was brilliant as always but I just didn't care in the end. Greg Mosse has texted me to say he has just seen the Swedish film 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' I am deeply jealous as I really want to see this. Loved the book. He says it was terrific so I will try to wait.
Now ploughing through the Masters in Creative Writing material. It's about this time you realise that teaching is fine, tutorials are fine, marking is hell. Should be easy but it isn't. Worse now I get emails saying there's late work in. What is the exact point of handing work in late? Try doing that in a job I tell students. It's a long weekend in the UK. Scandals abound in parliament, everyone is sick and tired of MPs living high on the hogg... We should be thinking about
Aung San Suu Kyi and her trial in hell in Burma. All these years Burma has been denied democracy and still our major companies trade with the Dictators... that is what we should be angry about.

Oh yes: Whilst I am avoiding marking - a reminder. I am speaking at the Winchester's Writers Conference again this year. Why or why do I say yes to these things. Come and see Michael Morporgo by all means but I shall be speaking on literary landscapes - why oh why do I make a rod for my own back and agree to such a crazy stupid topic... Argghhh. I will have to read up on it. Anyway, still time to book and Winchester is nice in summer. (One of my MA students is in fact writing a novel set in Winchester a 1000 years ago. 'Can't get a latté here, Norman...' or some such). Anyway here's the link if you want to come. Around 600 writers will be there, agents, authors...hosted by Barbara Large MBE

May 9th: 2009
Ok; Right now in marking hell. For me that means: 18 x 90 minute screenplays plus 18 x 3000 word essays, 18 Writing Projects x 10,000 words each plus 18 x1500 word essays. 56 x Second Year 30 minute screenplays plus essays, 20 x 4000 word Kids stories, 6 x 5000 word essays and probably other second marking as well. So If I don't answer emails, seem grumpy most of the time and generally out of sorts... then there are 18 Masters Final Projects as well x 10,000 words each, due in on Wednesday. We have four weeks to turn these around including discussions on marks and second marking. Not all lecturers have this kind of work load but for some reason I do. Sanity may be restored in June - ish.

Meanwhile: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -
Is this swine flu virus contagious? CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. - UN WHO has raised the alert to level five - 'a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent' but hovers over the six button as the disease is downgraded in Mexico

Don't want to say 'told you so' but there's a flu virus kicking up a fuss in Mexico right now affecting people both sides of the border. In revised figures today only 26 have died in Mexico with 727 cases of the virus. But it has already spread all around the world. 350 people quarantined in a hotel in Hong Kong, 245 confirmed cases in the USA. But so few are dying it is certainly no worse than normal winter flu and there seems to be a lot of unecessary panic. Schools are closing in the UK and Canada and no one is acutally ill. Health and Safety gone mad I think. But the panic is real.
If you want to know what can really happen in a genuine flu pandemic read my book 'Another Place to Die' Order it now. Sure they'll fix this one with anti-virals but the next? Will you be ready for it?

Of course there is no real need to become too alarmed. Sure I want you to read my book, but that was written for a H5NI pandemic and Swine Flu may be killing a relative few in Mexico, but this is by no means the 'big one'. I think the media is stirring it up because, let's face it, we are sick of the bad news stories about the economy, so if we can be frightened of something else perhaps we won't think about it. The trouble is every little ratchet up of this small scale pandemic means that airlines suffer and all the travel industry, feeding the deflationary aspect of the recession still further.

Frankly I am surprised anyone goes to Mexico given that they are at war with the drug lords and people are dying not so much of flu but large bullet holes. Does no one read the news? Mexico is in big trouble and this scare will sink them further into debt. There is another reason to be alarmed. This pandemic can easily be contained by all the anti-viral drugs we have stockpiled in the west. (33 million doses in the UK alone) The illness is horrible, but not normally life-threatening if you get the drugs. Indeed the first couple to get in the west have just been released from hospital in Scotland. If they had the H5 virus it would be a completely different story and this is my concern. The next time they go to level five we may not take it seriously and this might be fatal. * There is some speculation that the Mexican government have exaggerated this virus to show the President acting decisively, but I am not sure anyone would jeopardise their whole economy for such paranoid machinations, would they?

It is this aspect I deal with in my book. We are so reguarly scared by the media about so many issues we are becoming blase about everything. Swine flu may go around the world and it may blossom in some third world situations but in the Northern hemisphere it is almost summer, not an ideal time for flu to progress. It is a different matter in the south and this is where we should watch with care. Overall though, it is my belief that this is not the big test and that will come another day.
Perhaps rent 'Twelve Monkeys' tonight and see what's the worst that could happen.

We shall see. Now wash your hands! Will keep this thing monitored.

Meanwhile just reviewed Parick Ness's sequel to Knife of Letter Go. Ask and the Answer is brilliant and tough. Order it as well now! I am staggered at the power of his writing and how skilfully he keeps Todd and Viola apart.

Meanwhile Vancouver was a tad wet and chilly but hey what did I expect. Oh yeah and they seem to have dug up every major route through the city getting ready for the winter Olympics. Boy will they be happy when that's over. Was good walking the dog Koko though, slipping and sliding over the rocks on Kits beach and having hot lattes at the Bean or Epicurian. Damn miss it all already.

Enjoy the May edition of Hackwriters. Lots to catch up on.
*Soundtrack whilst putting together this issue 'Bat for Lashes', of course. Can't get 'Daniel' out of my head.Catch Natasha Khan in Toronto, Seattle, everywhere in North America over the next few weeks.

May 2009 - Check out this months issue now- lots of good features If you want to help Hackwriters keep going, buy my new book Mean Tide. A young adult ghost story set in Greenwhich, London. All profits 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 spooky 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.
Age range 12-16 and adult

Meanwhile, are you worried about your health? Read my book 'Another Place to Die'' . If you have the slightest worry about how to survive the coming flu pandemic, you need this book and all the proceeds go to keep Hackwriters going. See the review from Calvin Hussey

The Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
by Sam North

ISBN 1-4116-3748-8
$19.98 Retail - 300 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

Diamonds - The Rush of '72
By Sam North
ISBN: 1-4116-1088-1

Buy now from
'a terrific piece of storytelling' Historical Novel Society Review

Also printed in the UK and available from
& Waterstones

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