Kim Wilde is on Top of the Pops singing You Came in a little black dress and with the most uncomfortable backing band ever, as if they’re more happy to be in bank suits than in denim. It’s the year I really get going as a writer, I am thirteen and in the last few years in English classes I have cranked out pastiches of Douglas Adams and H. Rider Haggard under the guidance and support of some great teachers. The writers that I am reading I end up copying, learning by doing and dreaming of telling tall tales. I had a thing for Kim Wilde, being a teenage boy in the eighties it was hard not to. I had a thing for genre too but as I got older genre seemed like a dirty word. Leave it behind with eighties pop.
By the time I went away to university admitting I liked the music of Kim Wilde and adventure stories or SF was something that wasn’t done. My Kim Wilde tapes ended up being taken away by a woman I ended up infatuated with but like my writing during that time, came to nothing. I was studying literature but all the mechanics of telling stories were in the books I grew up with, no matter how much my lecturers told me about the layers and nuances in George Orwell and Charlotte Bronte, I saw the same nuances and layers in the colonialism of Alan Quatermain, in Arthur Dent’s dressing gown, all that stood between genre and literary writing was snobbery. It has always been a concern of mine that we often misunderstand genre, are snotty about it to the point where we become dismissive of it. Time to play some Kim and remember the year that I wrote my first fantasy story and then my first adventure tale. They were terrible but I learnt from them, learnt more by emulating than I did by pulling apart text to find things the writer probably never intended.