January 15th, 2015

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Philling station

One of my favourite authors is Phil Rickman.

I'm quite a fan of his hard-boiled, noir-ish, slightly-supernatural thrillers, mostly set in the Welsh border country. He does contemporary settings and characters very well, while also being very good at the edge-of-your seat stuff.

Apparently his Merrily Watkins stories are going to be on telly soon, which is a bit like one of your favourite obscure indie bands signing a major record deal. You're glad for the band, obviously...while at the same time being slightly miffed that they won't be your own supercool secret any more.

It seems he's written a new book set around Winchcombe, Gloucestershire - which I know well, what with it being just over the hill from where I grew up, not to mention being on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway (which I hope will get a mention in the book - I mean, Greet tunnel is supposed to be haunted, you know).

"St Peter’s at nearby Winchcombe has, on its walls and tower, probably a larger collection of grotesque demonic carved faces than any church in England. Some are said to be medieval caricatures of real people. What were they for?"

Frightening the children, I expect. But I bet Phil has another explanation...

The trouble is, Phil also says: "For some reason, I felt it needed to be told in the present tense."

Oh, balls. I can't stand books written in the present tense, as if a lengthy series of events all happens in one big unbelievable pile-up of nowness. It's become a trendy thing to go all present-tensey in recent years, but I can't be doing with it. I mean, did Captain W. E. Johns write his Biggles books in the present tense? No, he did not.

This may be the one Phil Rickman book I don't read, then. Unless someone has invented an app that can filter digital text and change all the tenses? It should be possible to do that, surely?