Mr Pond is a pseudonym

I just wrote a somewhat light-hearted post about The Many Lives of Mr Galbraith over at the The Hog’s Head. Or rather, I wrote a post about how I was going to write a post, but there have been so many posts written about J. K. Rowling’s secret identity that I eventually found someone who’d already said all I wanted to say. You might want to read it if you’re interested in that sort of thing. Which, if you’re reading this, you probably are.

Also, have you been following Katherine Langrish’s Magical Classics series over at her blog? You should be. Follow it because it’s awesome, and it’s talking about all my favourite books. And as an added bonus, I’ll be contributing a post shortly about The King of Ireland’s Son, by Padraic Colum. I’ll post a link here once it’s written and live. This is a wonderful book, and I’m thrilled to have a professional excuse to reread it. You’ll love it too—listen:

Laheen the Eagle spread out her wings and flew away, and the King’s Son journeyed on, first with the sun before him and then with the sun at his back, until he came to the shore of a wide lake. He turned his horse away, rested himself on the ground, and as soon as the clear day came he began to watch for the three swans.

titles and Kipling: a correspondence


I recently enjoyed a lively email exchange with the remarkable Katherine Langrish, as she was kindly giving advice about the last stages of a YA manuscript I’ve been working on for rather a while. We started by talking about fish (it made sense at the time) and wound up discussing YA literature in general and Kipling in particular—and round about the time I was enthusiastically looking up quotations from The Jungle Book, it occurred to me that you all might like to get in on the conversation. Here it is, then, reproduced with Kath’s kind permission. Chime in the comments, or email me directly, or both. Enjoy.

The agent just said to send [her the manuscript] whenever it was ready—[…] One thing I have no clue about is a title–even a working title. But I’ve already drafted a short pitch for my second novel…yeah, I’m a nutter…. 🙂


Do try and come up with SOME title, even if something vague, before you send it out.  Anything!  What’s the river called?  ‘The Falls of Something?’  Doesn’t matter what it is, the poor woman is going to want some mental tag for it, and it looks feeble not to name it anything.


I wonder if eels is better than herring, for descriptive purposes.

The title is–gah. A few ideas floating round are ‘Once, Twice and Again’ (a line from Kipling), ‘The City on the Falls’, ‘The King’s Own Players’, and–less seriously, perhaps, but is shows the general desperation–’Fateful Shaman Saina’.

An intriguing idea I had today was ‘Bitter Karela’, again from Kipling, though that’s would be an oblique choice, and may make readers think they’re getting a book about someone named Karela. ‘Remember the Wolf is a Hunter’ was another possibility, the wolf being a main symbol throughout–but if I put the word ‘Wolf’ in the title then everyone and (especially) their aunt will expect paranormal romance. Perhaps a better title is ‘Wood and Water, Wind and Tree’.

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neglected to mention

I just discovered that my post for Subverting Laughter went live a few days ago. Here’s the link where you can go read it. And here’s what I wrote about SL over at Unsettling Wonder, if you’re wondering what this is all about.

Short version: I wrote an essay on chapter 2 of George MacDonald’s story The Light Princess, a story which shows just how hilarious esoteric fiction can (should?) be.  My essay is about evil old witches and literary critics. I’d already written about The Light Princess for that ASLS anthology I co-edited, which is, y’know, available for purchase.

But do keep an eye on Subverting Laughter. The next post will be by Dr Danny Gabelman, who knows more about The Light Princess than just about anybody, and Prof Bill Gray is writing something later. As is a former student who’s going on to great things, and who I’m terribly proud of. It’s quite a line-up.

Mr Pond in Print

(Well, Mr Pond and a bunch of more interesting people.)

I’m very, very happy to be able to announce that Rethinking George MacDonald: Contexts and Contemporaries was published today, and is available for purchase at this link. This is an anthology I co-edited with Christopher MacLachlan and Ginger Stelle, and was published by the Association for Scottish Literary Studies as Vol. 17 of their excellent Occasional Papers series.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may remember when I co-organised a conference on George MacDonald. Well, that conference turned into an anthology and now you can read it for yourself. It’s a book that looks at MacDonald as a Victorian writer, rather than a proto-Inkling, and there’re a lot more of his books and topics and perspectives covered than you’ll see most anywhere else. If you want to read about How the Fairies were not Invited to Court, or Divine Alchemy, or Speaking Matrilineally, or even
George MacDonald and the Grave Livers, look no further: read this anthology.

I’m really very proud of this book.


Publisher’s Description (with the wonderful word ‘hitherto’ in):

George MacDonald (1824–1905) is the acknowledged forefather of later fantasy writers such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien: however, his place in his own time is seldom examined. This omission does MacDonald a grave disservice. By ignoring a fundamental aspect of what made MacDonald the man he was, the critical habit of viewing MacDonald’s work only in terms of his followers reinforces the long-entrenched assessment that it has a limited value – one only for religious enthusiasts and fantasy lovers.

The sixteen essays in this anthology seek to correct that omission, by looking directly at MacDonald the Victorian – at his place in the Victorian literary scene, at his engagement with the works of his literary contemporaries and at his interest in the social, political, and theological movements of his age. The resulting portrait reveals a MacDonald who deserves a more prominent place in the rich literary history of the nineteenth century than he has hitherto been given.

virtuous procrastination

Here’s one for the Guinness Book of Excuses.

When I’m working on a big project—and I’ve got, by last count, four of those on just now, a full stove in other words—I obsess with it. Not so much that I’m losing sleep, or staying at the office till 2 a.m., but when I am working I’m engrossed. Colleagues have startled me out my wits by walking by and saying something unexpected and shocking, like “Hello.” When I’m writing, or editing, or researching, my concentration is almost impossible to break.

Unless I’m reading blog posts.

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