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Friday, 25 October 2013

Lassie Come-Home - about the author, a Yorkshireman

Ground floor, Halifax Town Hall, built 1863
I’ve been getting behind. Not with the sci-fi book, but with the blog. It’s over a week now since I went over to Halifax to watch my pal Greg Christie give a talk on Eric Knight (the man who wrote Lassie) to the town’s Civic Trust. I went, not so much to hear a story I’ve heard before, rather to support him and give him a ride back to his home in Malton. While he was able to get to Halifax okay by train, he had little or no chance of getting back late in the evening.

It was a very pleasing trip on two accounts: firstly, I enjoyed the talk immensely. Since I watched him deliver it in San Patricio, New Mexico, about four years ago (this was in the Peter Hurd ranch, where Eric was a frequent guest back in the 1930s), he has brilliantly integrated the man’s biography with the remarkable story of how he, Greg, came to discover Knight - and subsequently, over sixteen years, piece together a fascinating and hitherto untold story.

Having been Greg’s friend during most of this period – I first got to know him when he attended a writing class I ran, back in 1999 – I could probably tell the Eric Knight story, in brief, here and now; instead I would refer any readers to the website at

The other delight was that fact that the talk took place in Halifax’s Town Hall, currently celebrating the 150th anniversary of its completion. I’d arrived early, as I like to, and was planning to find a seat, do my Independent cryptic crossword, and await kick-off. As it happened, I never opened the paper, so enchanted was I by the wonderfully ornate architecture bequeathed to us by our Victorian ancestors.

Ceiling above lift, main entrance, Halifax Town Hall
Now, the sci-fi project. I have sustained my 1000-words-a-day schedule for another week and am approaching the 60,000 mark. I am more and more convinced that I can complete this in the time allotted, also that it will read a little like a story. This week I dispatched a couple more characters, planted a traitor amidst my anarchists, and finally worked out what bit of technology it was that our hero possesses and why, therefore, the forces of good and evil are closing in on him. Yes, I am making heavy weather of constructing a plot, but this is my first serious attempt at fiction. I can’t rule out the possibility that I may, by the time I finish, have enjoyed it.



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