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Guile and Graffiti in Gravesend

By four o’clock I’d wound up taking photos of a 1950s power station in a town on the Kent coast where I had no sane reason to be. I was down on travel options, I was out of daylight, and the only constructive thing I’d done in half an hour was buy a fifty-year-old coin commemorating the death of Winston Churchill. I was going crazy. I was probably crazy already. I was doing that thing writers call research.

Gynapoda is a London biopunk tale with uplifted parrots, biological sex bots and a modified human called a ‘sniffer knit’ who narrates first person in MLE . I wrote the first 5,000 words during my MFA and never finished the darned thing.

The story starts in Canning Town, east London, but – by the 5,000 word point – the unnamed heroine has found a dead body in Rainham Marshes and a critical clue…

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Rainham Marshes, east of London, looking across the Thames Estuary

Will she reach the airport in time? Will I be able to write the remaining 1,500 words in the same style as the first few thousand? The MLE dialect wasn’t my idea.

‘King William V’ airport – image from the Times.

My fictional airport – King William V on the Isle of Grain in Kent – is based on real proposals. Never been to that part of London. No clue what it looked like. So I took the High Speed train from east London and went as far as I could… which turned out to be Gravesend. Apt name. Nice town. Great graffiti.

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Gravesend graffiti. I should write a book,’The Tourism of Obscure Places’

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