I write about life, nature and technology. Right now, I’m working on ‘The Fault in Reality’, my first novel after twenty years of journalism, academic papers, and several nonfiction books.
It takes place in 2016 between the week of the EU Referendum and the week Trump was elected. It’s set in two seaside towns: Bournemouth, Dorset, where I live, and Santa Monica, California, where I often wish I lived. It’s about bookshops, friendships, odd happenings, mycelium, history, Silicon Valley, the brain, the beach, a weekend at Esalen and, inevitably, it’s about the future. There’s a guest appearance by Mary Shelley’s daughter-in-law, who lived close to my home. This book is a labour of pure love and speculation. Will I ever finish it? I’m hoping so.
Covid is slowing me down but I’m still working and on the final stretch. Interestingly, so much of what is happening now could have been foretold in 2016 – and perhaps was – that I’m beginning to see how today’s global distress can already be seen in the world of my novel. More faults in reality…
My nonfiction books to date include Nature and Wellbeing in the Digital Age (2017), a beginner’s guide to technobiophilia with practical activities; Technobiophilia: nature and cyberspace (2013), a study of nature metaphors in cyberculture; and Hello World: travels in virtuality (2004), a travelogue/memoir of life online. Also, ‘Creative Writing: A Handbook For Workshop Leaders’ (1995) and most recently I contributed to ’25: Celebrating 25 Years of Nottingham Trent University’s MA in Creative Writing‘, which I founded in 1994.
My fiction includes the novels Correspondence (1992), short-listed for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel and republished in 2019 by the SF Gateway, and ‘Water‘ (1994); plus an edited anthology ‘Wild Women: Contemporary Short Stories By Women Celebrating Women’ (1994), and various short stories. Of course, I also have the usual stash of unpublished novels which might yet see the light of day.
I’m a regular contributor to Orion Magazine, and have written for Aeon, Slate, Mashable, The Guardian, and others. I’ve also published extensively in both print and online, and initiated numerous online writing projects including The Noon Quilt, now an iconic image of the early days of the web.
In 2013 I took voluntary severance from my job as a Professor of New Media at De Montfort University, Leicester. I’m now a freelance writer and consultant, and a Visiting Fellow in The Media School at Bournemouth University.
I’ve been researching and thinking about computers and the internet since the late 1980s. I fell into cyberspace in 1995 when I discovered the virtual world of LambdaMOO and was inspired to found the trAce Online Writing Centre, an early global online community which ran for ten years. Since then I’ve spent much of every day online. I’ve written about digital life, lived it, and helped many others to join the wired world. Today I’m still in love with being wired, but I have questions. Where are we headed? What should we be doing to ensure that our digital lives are healthy, mindful and productive?
From 2005-2013 I was Professor of New Media in the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University, England, where I founded the field of transliteracy research, a unifying concept of literacy for before, during and after the digital age, and ran innovative projects like Amplified Leicester and the Transdisciplinary Common Room.
I’ve taught and presented in many countries, both offline and online, including the USA, Canada, Australia, China, France and others. In May 2017, I was invited to James Cook University, Singapore, as a Visiting Professor. I often speak at events and interviews.
I’ve received funding from Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Board, the British Academy, the British Council, the EU, the Higher Education Innovation Fund, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, NESTA and many others. My partners have included commercial companies, universities, arts organisations, local authorities and colleagues in Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Sweden, and the USA. Some of my early websites have been archived in The British Library Special Collection, E-publishing Trends, including Sue Thomas (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), Writing and the Digital Life (2007), and of course trAce (2005, 2008). You can also find many ancient pages of trAce (1998 onwards) at The Wayback Machine, and the main trAce Archive at Nottingham Trent University.
I was born in 1951 in Rearsby, a small village in Leicestershire, England, where my maternal grandparents owned a rose-growing business. My parents were both of Dutch nationality and during my growing up our family moved around England, from Newcastle to Corby, Epsom, and then Nottingham whilst my father worked at a number of jobs including photocopier salesman and life underwriter. After leaving school I, too, pursued a varied career, including fine art student, accounts clerk, life model, bookseller, and self-taught machine-knitter. I went back to college in 1985 as a mature student and single parent, after which my life changed and I became a professional author and academic.