January Blues? Life, the Universe and The Book

I don’t know about you, but I tend to leap into every new year with wild abandon, charged with purpose, packed with ideas, and fuelled by ALL OF THE CALORIES I ingested over Christmas.

Taken this morning 🙂

Unfortunately, January 2016 brought with it a hideous viral cold chesty thing that made me cough for two weeks. I didn’t even have the energy to blog, never mind take my long walks around Clapham Common. Anyway, you can put your tiny violins away, because I’m almost back to my best, and am looking forward to what’s lining up to be an exciting (read: terrifying) year of change and adventure. I also thought this would be the perfect time to do a long “Life, the Universe and The Book” post (the last one way WAY back in August).


*The Book

Draft #1 of Science and the City (SATC) went in (on time!) before Christmas, and I’ll get my editor’s comments back this week. So far, all I know is that she liked it, so I’m taking that as a win. Once I’ve digested her comments, the edit will begin. I’m hoping to get rid of some stuff – think the whole book needs ‘tightening up’. I’m (weirdly) very excited about getting back into it. Next stage after that is the copy edit and development of illustrations. I can’t think beyond that point for now.

I’ve been a bit busier on the SATC twitter account too. My plan is to get some content up there, so I’ll be tweeting little factoids from each chapter. January’s been focused on Chapter 1: UP, so it’s all about skyscrapers. February tweets will come from Chapter 2: SWITCH, so expect to learn all about electricity (and Nikola Telsa). All the chapters are listed here, so have a look and you’ll know what to expect. And please follow the account!

I will definitely be having a bit of a ‘do’ to launch the book. I’m developing an idea on what form it could take, and where we could have it. I’ll keep you informed. And finally, we’re getting rather close to agreeing on a cover design for SATC. I can’t wait to show it to you 🙂

*The Universe (a few interesting science stories)

-Blue Monday: Despite being created a decade ago by a British holiday company, people still put credence in the idea that the third Monday in January is the most “depressing” day of the year. I could get annoyed about the misuse of a clinical term, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll share a classic piece from Guardian blogger Dean Burnett

-Eyes: this may be the best piece that science-writing master, Ed Yong has ever written. And he writes some bloody brilliant stuff – check him out on The Atlantic. This story is all about the evolution of eyes. And it comes with awesome pictures. A must-read.

-Flowers in space: Last week, Twitter was awash with photos of a bright orange flower, grown by astronaut Scott Kelly in the International Space station. However, it wasn’t the first flower grown in space, as this article from Gizmodo shows.

-New elements: Four new elements, with atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118, have been confirmed. Actual names still to be agreed upon, but I quite like this suggestion.


I’ve been working as a freelance science writer since the start of January – one project has been focused on coral reefs, and it has been fascinating! I’ll write a separate post on it at some point soon. I have a couple of other exciting things on the horizon, so I should be able to pay my rent for the first few months of 2016 – yippee!

Star Wars. I loved it. I enjoyed it so much, I felt emotional. Every time the Millennium Falcon was on screen I reverted back to 5yr-old me. And it looked amazing – even more authentic than the trailers had suggested. BUT….. It’s not perfect. I feel like we all went a bit easy on it because we were all just SO RELIEVED that it was 50 million times better than Eps 1-3, and I some of the acting was…. questionable. Of course, J.J. Abrams had a very difficult task – he had to keep all us nerds happy, while introducing the SW universe to a brand new audience. And on that, he did phenomenally well. I also want to hug him for including a strong female character into the main role. Rey is an instinctive engineer. She can fix, make or fly anything, and she’s not part of a romantic narrative. Halle-frickin-lujah. You can, therefore, imagine my annoyance when Hasbro/Disney didn’t think to include her, THE HERO, in every single piece of merchandising – read this and this to learn more. The decision was made either to protect the plot or for marketing reasons…. choose your own flavour of bullshit. I’ve ranted about girls / boys toys before, and you can read it here.

Speaking about awesome women, Kat Arney has published her first book, Herding Hemingway’s Cats, which is all about how our genes work. It’s been getting BRILLIANT reviews, so I’m delighted for her. I’ve just downloaded it, so I can’t wait to get started. I’ve also convinced Kat to let me interview her next week …. keep your eyes peeled for the result!

Oh, and I think I have a good idea for another book. Yep, I am a glutton for punishment This one would be rather different from SATC, but I think you physics fans will like it. And if (and its a big IF) I manage to get commissioned to write it, you guys will be the first to know.

Right, that’s more than enough from me for now. How’s your 2016 been so far?

L x