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Chaz writing at the Lit amp; Phil

Chaz Brenchley

Chaz Brenchley has been making a living as a writer since he was eighteen. He is the author of nine thrillers, most recently Shelter and two fantasy series, The Books of Outremer and Selling Water by the River. As Daniel Fox he has published a Chinese-based fantasy series, beginning with Dragon in Chains, as Ben Macallan, an urban fantasy, Desdæmona.

A British Fantasy Award winner, he has also published books for children and more than 500 short stories in various genres. His time as crimewriter-in-residence on a sculpture project in Sunderland resulted in the collection Blood Waters. His first play, A Cold Coming, was performed and then toured in 2007. He is a prizewinning ex-poet, and has been writer in residence at the University of Northumbria. He was Northern Writer of the Year 2000.

Chaz has recently married and moved from Newcastle to California, with two squabbling cats and a famous teddy bear.

News: Taipei Charlie Goes South! Listen out for new audio editions! Starry eyed: Bitter Waters adds an award to its rave reviews! Details on the News & Events page.

Below is a recent extract from Chaz'z blog:


A week ago, someone somewhere on the internets was asking about Scrivener, how people felt, how they used it, was it worth the learning-curve, etc; and I was poised on the verge of my regular response, which basically comes down to "I love that it exists, I love everything about it - and I would never use it, because its mindset is so entirely antithetical to the way I work."

Only I never actually made the comment, because All About Me and not actually helpful in context; but then I thought I might actually expand on that for a regular blog post, because thoughts about process are always interesting (for the thinker, at least, as well as hopefully some in the audience); and I have been thinking so much about Mars, and honestly this is such a tentacular project it really would be so helpful if I were the kind of writer who could usefully employ Scrivener, because really. Notes and short stories and novels shooting off in all directions, and background matter and a whole damn planet - nay, three planets and their moons - and a history at odds with our own and a calendar and...

Look. Let me show you the calendar.

The point is, the British Empire on Mars will follow its traditional Gregorian calendar, because Church of England, saints' days, everything traditional is built into that 365-day cycle. The Martian day is out of sync with the Terran day, but that doesn't matter so much; there's no simultaneous communication between planets, so no real sense of dislocation. The Martian year, though, is almost-but-not-quite twice as long as an Earth year; which means, as you will clearly see, that there are two Christmases most years.

Which led, of course, to Bishop Umber's infamous rhyme:

Christmas comes but twice a year
Once with ice and once with fire
God's blessing offers double grace
Once with fire and once with ice

There are, inevitably, alternative wordings and alternative readings; just as there are, inevitably, years - once in every child's life, if childhood is reckoned from birth to puberty - when First Christmas falls in the spring thaw and Second Christmas before the first frost.

And, yes, I can prove that. I did the math. I'm guessing that most writers these days would draw up a spreadsheet, but I still like to do sums with pen and paper (tho' I hate taking written notes, go figure), so behold, my traditional back-of-an-envelope:


Thus do we see how Christmases fall during the first 4K days of a child's life: Earth on the left, Mars on the right. Ignoring leap-years, because oy.

And I thought that was all I needed, because proof-of-concept was surely enough; but now suddenly I have this whole Crater School thing buzzing in my head, and I am actually going to need a proper Martian calendar, because I need to see how three terms - Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity, aye: and did you know all three are derived from the centre, from the feast-day of St Hilary? - will fit into an Anglican calendar in Martian seasons, and maybe I'll make that spreadsheet after all.

And yes, suddenly I am wondering whether it's actually time to change my process: whether one aspect of the Crater School project might not be learning to assemble and work with my material in a wholly different and less haphazard way, like f'rexample oh hullo Scrivener. I don't know, but I am seriously starting to wonder. Maybe I'll actually sit down and work my way through the tutorial in my, y'know, copious free time, just to see how it might feel. Maybe.

Posted on Sat, 15 Aug 2015 20:06:40 GMT

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Original site design © 1998 Chaz Brenchley / Squane's Journal;
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Site © 1998 / 2011 Chaz Brenchley & Jean Rogers; no part of this site may be reproduced without permission.

Author photograph: Chaz at the Lit & Phil © Karen Williams 2010

Last update: 29th July 2015 at 5:22pm.