About Lloyd Shepherd

Lloyd is the author of The English Monster and The Poisoned Island. He lives in London, but dreams of Manchester.

‘I was the one who made you a parent’



A mother and her 12-year-old son engage in a candid, heartwarming conversation about animals, honesty and the challenges of motherhood

Source: Q&A – Aeon Video

Do more with less, already

I’ve just been reading a really interesting post about CGI effects in current movies, and why they have become so screamingly underwhelming. It’s a long piece, but worth your time, particularly if you’re in the business of telling stories, and what it comes down to is this: pacing, style and creativity will trump raw power, every single time. Here’s what he has to say about this scene, from the upcoming (and obnoxiously crap-sounding) Jurassic World.


Sure, that looks pretty awesome, but destruction on that scale should blow our fucking minds. The response to dinosaurs wrecking a helicopter should be nothing short of paralysis, but this scene has no sense of gravity or consequence. Theres no scale to it. Theres even going to be a scene where (minor spoilers) a Pteranodon picks up a woman and literally drops her into the mouth of the Mosasaurus. It doesnt matter how real the CGI looks, because that scene belongs in a fucking Sharknado movie. Its an absurd cartoon orgy.

via 6 Reasons Modern Movie CGI Looks Surprisingly Crappy | Cracked.com.

As I’m writing a thing at the moment which could, unless I’m very careful, degrade into an ‘absurd cartoon orgy’, I found this very relevant.

Stick or twist? The art of stretching yourself

I’ve just been reading a fascinating piece from the Guardian about Amorphous Androgynous and their experiences working with Noel Gallagher on new material. Gallagher brought AA in to stretch his sound, and it’s fair to say it didn’t end well.

We tried to force him to write new material. But he dragged his heels and failed to stretch himself. Eventually, we came up with two new backing tracks for The Right Stuff and The Mexican to justify it being “like Pink Floyd”, the two songs that ended up on Chasing Yesterday. We spent six months on them. Now people are citing The Right Stuff as one of the best things he has done, and proof of how good he can be when he explores.

via Amorphous Androgynous on Noel Gallagher: ‘He was too afraid to be weird’ | Music | The Guardian.

I’m listening to The Right Stuff as I type these words. It’s excellent – essentially Gallagher, but with a new and fascinating twist. It’s a shame he didn’t put more of this stuff out, but there’s a lesson in here. If you’re not stretching yourself, you’re turning in on yourself. And that can’t end well.

Amorphous Androgynous on Noel Gallagher: ‘He was too afraid to be weird’ | Music | The Guardian

The Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club


It’s been a while – for which, apologies. But my absence is at least partly explained by the project I’d like to tell you about now (I’ve also been working on a new book, which is finished and set for spring 2016, but I’ll tell you about that another time).

I’ve teamed up with my old friend Tim Wright to conduct an experiment in reading. We’re planning to have an adventure by means of a book. The book in question is The Riddle of the Sands, the first spy novel. It was written in 1903, and it takes place between the dates of September 23 and October 26 in an unspecified year.

It starts in London, it finishes in Amsterdam, and in between our two heroes, Carruthers and Davies, sail their way from the Baltic to the North Sea, via the Kiel Ship Canal, and uncover an extraordinary plot among the windswept and tide-drenched East Frisian Islands.

That’s their adventure. Our adventure is to follow in their footsteps: to visit the same places, in the same timeframe as they did, to try and experience the world through their eyes, to try and make this vivid, extraordinary, riveting book come alive again. We call it taking a book for a walk, and we’d like you to join us.

How? Well, to start with, you can visit our website, the Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club. There’ll you’ll discover the text of the book, and a whole range of stuff we’ve dug up about its background – the history, the literature, the methods of travel. You can read about Danish princesses, German champagne, Flushing steamers and northern anchorages. Each week, we move forward in the book by another day, and try and dig deeply into what’s going on.

Also on the Adventure Club website is our weekly podcast, in which we try smoking pipe tobacco, sample naval grog and interview people who know things we don’t – from spy novelists, to transatlantic sailors. Our sixth podcast went online this week (it’s available on SoundCloud and on iTunes), and includes a tasting of German Sekt (not from the bilge), everything you ever wanted to know about Danish princesses, and a possibility of us all heading off to re-enact the Battle of Als.

All this is leading up to September 23 this year, when we plan to start reliving the action of the book, in exactly the same timeframe. Yesterday, we announced that we’re working with Unbound, the innovative publisher of crowd-funded books, to raise the money to set out on the adventure for real in September, and ultimately publish the Handbook Edition of ‘The Riddle of the Sands’.

For full details of how you can support us on Unbound, please go to http://unbound.co.uk/books/riddle-of-the-sands.

£10-£25 ENTRY LEVEL: The Adventure Club will be free right up to the point we leave for Flensburg. But from September 23 2015, you’ll need to be a supporter of the Unbound project to get onto the site. For £10, we’ll give you access, so you can follow us live, day by day, as we take on the Adventure for real. For £25 you get the Handbook proper (including the text of the original novel). Other reward levels include a Field Audiobook and a deluxe ‘Navigator’ edition of the book.

SPREAD THE WORD: Please pledge what you can at http://unbound.co.uk/books/riddle-of-the-sands, but even more importantly do spread the word about the Unbound offer, and about all the good stuff we’re doing on riddleofthesands.net.

Tell your sailing chums, tell the lovers of this classic novel, tell history buffs, tell Childers fans, tell people interested in exploring northern Germany, tell people who are interested in new forms of digital storytelling. Please, spread the word.

And please sign up to be an active member of the Adventure Club online at riddleofthesands.net. We are so enjoying sharing this adventure with the people on there. I really hope you’ll join us.


A day on the London Underground

I love everything about Will Gallia’s animation A day on the London Underground on Vimeo – but the thing I love the most is when the day ends and London goes to sleep from the middle out to the edges.

Cover reveal: Savage Magic paperback

Hello! It’s been a while since I posted on here, for which apologies. But look! A gorgeous new cover for the Savage Magic paperback, out in June!


Oliver Sacks will be leaving us soon

For all sorts of reasons that I won’t go into here, I wanted to record this beautiful piece by Oliver Sacks, who has been diagnosed with secondary liver cancer:

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

via Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer – NYTimes.com.

Bloody Good Reads: All The Birds, Singing

I resisted reading this for a good long while, I’m not quite sure why. It was so enormously praised when it came out, I suppose I must have decided, in my miserly way, that it was over-hyped. Well, it wasn’t. It’s an elegantly-done thing, full of threat and beauty, but for me the best and most interesting thing about it was the structure, which flips between the now and the past, with the now stepping forward but the past receding, with each chapter moving further away until the last chapter reveals the past of the main character, Jake, with the strange scars on her back and her apparent flight from her family in Australia to a sheep farm on an unnamed British island.

It’s not a long book – barely more than 200 pages – and the story it tells is a simple one, but that just gives the story room to breathe and the words room to grow in your head after you’ve put it down, until you can almost hear those birds singing yourself. A lovely thing, and very recommended.

all the birds singing

My favourite music video of 2014: Liars — “Mess on a Mission”

All great art needs constraints