Jon Dixon

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Coming back to writing after a long sabbatical. Back when dinosaurs and disco ruled the world I had several short stories published. I'm currently working on the first draft of a fantasy novel influenced by the connected Japanese philosophies of wabi-sabi and kintsugi - the embracing of the flawed or imperfect and the incorporation of visible breakages as an integral part of something of great value. The novel's theme and characters have been lurking in my head for decades and now seem to want to emerge into the light of day. I'm finding the process both exhilarating and terrifying.

I earned my living with an earring and a sword mostly as a professional actor for the first 20 years of my career, and then worked in the far less swashbuckling field of user experience design for the following two decades (no swordplay required). While acting I also worked as a freelance illustrator for paperbacks, role playing games and magazines, and I still keep my hand in with canvas and brushes (or more often now tablet and screen) though nowadays just for my own pleasure. So at least I have accurate reference for my characters' physical appearance!

I live in Derby (UK).

Jon Dixon Discussions
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I found this interesting, in that it's probably something we all do unconsciously, but I'd never see…
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  •  · Looking at you, Cormac McCarthy. 😂 
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Hi all,Sorry for the radio silence in the last week or two. I've not been very well, and energy leve…
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  •  · Thanks Jaye! 😊 I'm still teasing out Membra's story. Hit a few plot issues which I'm still grappling…
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Contractions aren't a problem unless they're.
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  •  · Or as Popeye used to say, I'm what I'm!
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A friend shared these with me the other day, since I don't do Twitter, where they originally appeare…
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  •  · Definitely no. 1 and 3, and definitely the internet one, but with the excuse proviso that 'it's for …
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Woke up this morning to an email saying that a little piece of micro-fiction I wrote a few months ag…
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  •  · Thank you! :)
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Thought people might be amused by this website. You can upload a piece of your writing for analysis …
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  •  · As Vin says, it seems to go for type. I think it may even go a level of detail lower than that and p…

The TV show ‘Legion’ did exactly that brilliantly in my opinion. It dealt with a central protagonist who may or may not be experiencing psychosis, and just simply depicted reality and the perceived reality inside his head in precisely the same way. No differentiation between them. And no immediate explanation of any discontinuities and illogic. It was left up to the audience to make their own determination as to what was really going on from clues and connections that were dropped along the way. Very clever, and a demanding and therefore highly enjoyable experience.

What everyone else has said. I loved this story with all my heart. And a beautifully expressed and valuable lesson to be taken from it too. Thanks, Harry!

Oh gosh. Too many and too various to enumerate! 😁 

But certainly (off the top of my head) 'Winnie the Pooh' and 'The House at Pooh Corner' (and the AA Milne poetry anthologies 'When We Were Very Young' and 'Now We Are Six'). Dr Seuss. 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Through The Looking Glass'. The nonsense poetry of Edward Lear. Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. 'The Water Babies' by Charles Kingsley. Babar. Orlando the Marmalade Cat. Obviously 'Peter Pan and Wendy'. 'Stig of the Dump' by Clive King. 'The Midnight Folk' and 'The Box of Delights' by John Masefield. 'Charlotte's Web'. 'Little Grey Men' and 'Down The Bright Stream' by 'B.B.' All Tove Jansson's 'Moomin' books. John Reade Falkner's 'Moonfleet'. 'Treasure Island', 'Gulliver's Travels', 'Robinson Crusoe', 'Little Women', 'The Secret Garden'. 'A Wrinkle in Time'. 'True Grit'. 'Swallows and Amazons'. The 'Jennings and Derbishire' books... The 'Just William' books... Herges' 'TinTin' books... should I go on! 😂 

Authors whose work I've particularly enjoyed in the last year have included...

Tamsyn Muir (Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth). Josiah Bancroft (Arm of the Sphinx, The Hod King and The Fall of Babel). Sarah Moss (The Fell and Ghost Wall). Mark Lawrence (The Girl and the Stars). Rachel Joyce (Miss Benson's Beetle). Menna van Praag (The Sisters Grimm). Ann Leckie (Ancilliary Justice). Patricia McKillip (Heir of Sea and Fire and Harpist in the Wind). Eva Dundas (Goblin). Elizabeth Moon (The Deed of Paksenarrion). Sosuke Natsukawa (The Cat Who Saved Books)...

...and our very own Holly Seddon (The Hit List).

Not sure exactly how many exactly (I don't really keep count) but nowhere near as many as your impressive and admirable total! Probably in the region of 20 or so novels - mostly SF/F but a few contemporary and literary as well. And roughly the same number of non-fiction books too.

I can't read more than one book at a time as I find I usually get so immersed in the one I'm reading that swapping to another distracts me. And I tend to alternate fiction with non-fiction. So I can process and wind down from the fictional story I've just read while reading (and learning) something about one of my multiple interests (the problem with a 'butterfly mind') - some of which information may or may not come in useful in my own writing at some point!

I tend not to buy hardbacks for 'every day' reading, to be honest, for many of the reasons stated above, although I do love the look and feel of a really nicely produced 'proper' bound book, so I will treat myself to a hardback occasionally - usually a landmark or special edition. Most of the non-fiction books I buy tend to be hardbacks, though, as they are often large format.

At the other end of the scale, I don't much like the experience of reading on a Kindle (or Kindle app). I used to read books on the Kindle when I was travelling a lot and commuting every day, just for convenience, but since retiring I rarely if ever buy books in that format. I'm old enough to still want the 'real thing' in my hand, too. I don't like (or trust) having a 'virtual' copy of anything - book, movie or music album - which I've paid for but don't really own.

So I mostly buy paperbacks for my fiction reading, and in the SF and Fantasy genre that I tend to read those are quite often the slightly larger trade paperbacks. I can also be a bit obsessive about having all the books by a particular author or especially in an ongoing series being of the same format (and edition) which means I sometimes have to hunt for older second-hand copies - especially those which are older or may have had a limited print run to begin with! It took me ages to collect all the Iain M. Banks novels in the 'right' editions! 😝 

The big downside of sticking with paperbacks for me is having to wait longer for 'follow up' books to become available in the preferred format; for example, I'm hugely anticipating the next volume in Tamsyn Muir's fantastic 'Locked Tomb' series, which will be published later this year in hardback... but won't be available in paperback until 2023! 😫 

I wonder if you might find something useful in the contemporary content at the following links - both around the social mores of the time and the 'tone of voice' that was used in correspondence and general interaction between people?

I've always found the National Archives a treasure trove of incidental information and background detail, although I tend to be looking a bit further back.

If you were feeling really motivated, you could also consider a four-week free trial of the online archives of the Mass Observation project! It's a huge resource of first-hand social reporting (diaries, day-to-day surveys etc.) by ordinary people that runs from the 1930s to the late1960s.

That would definitely have people talking about that time in their own voices. There's a nice flavour of that here:

Just a thought.

No advice to give, I'm afraid, other than just a general 'network like hell'. But huge congratulations on your win. Well done! 👏 

The short story 'Hidden' that I posted here a while ago, after it was published, was sparked by real life.

In the real world, my very elderly aunt had moved into care accomodation rather than died, but my sister and I, as her attorneys, were indeed tasked with dealing with her flat and those posessions that hadn't gone with her.

Just as in the story, we discovered an old suitcase under the guest room bed. And, just as in the story, it contained old passports dated over several decades, all stamped with dozens of visas and entry/exit stamps from countries across the globe, including many that at the time the stamp was made would not have been common tourist destinations (countries behind the Iron Curtain or in areas of the world where there was conflict).

There wasn't a gun, though. 😂 

My aunt had never once told anyone in the family about these travels, not a mention at any family get-together, and there was absolutely no other sign of her globe-trotting among her other possessions. Like her fictional counterpart, she'd never married, and had been a teacher of what she called 'business skills' (though no-one in the family quite knew what those were exactly) all her life until her retirement. So these passports were a complete mystery.

A mystery that, sadly, was never solved, since by the time we stumbled upon this cryptic find, her advanced age and growing dementia meant that it wasn't really possible to have a meaningful conversation about them.

She died a few years later at the grand old age of 96. And ever since my sister and I have always joked about 'Auntie Kathleen the spy'. Always with a slight niggle at the backs of our minds. Could she actually have been... what?

Looking at you, Cormac McCarthy. 😂 

All good points, Rick, particularly the one about the 'adjective-noun' pairing and its preceding adjective, and the different meanings that can ensue depending on which of the adjectives forms part of the pairing. Perhaps I should have specified that the 'rule' (it's not really a rule but an evolved group consensus I suppose) seems to apply in most but not all cases, and where the adjectives are all equal in their importance to the final descriptive phrase. 😁 

Reading from left to right each column is the order in which those types of adjectives are used. So the 'determiner' will always be first. The 'observation' will always come before the 'description', and that will always come before any 'origin' or 'material' or 'qualifier', and so on.

Putting them in a different order just sounds wrong, even though it's just as accurate in terms of description.

  A beautiful old Italian touring car. 

  A touring Italian old beautiful car. 

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