Very Inspiring Blogger Award: Part 1, or The Autobiography of Sue Blake

Leiliana and Morrigan, disguised as Chantry priests and about to rescue me after I’d been captured…

Leiliana and Morrigan, disguised as Chantry priests and about to rescue me after I’d been captured…


The very wonderful Oyinkan Braithwaite (poet, prose writer and, latterly, TV personality) has been kind and deluded enough to nominate me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. The Award Guidelines are as follows:

1.Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.


2.List the rules and display the award.

Which is what’s happening here…

3.Share seven facts about yourself.


i. Sue Blake is the name of a fictional character who originally appeared in the dark fantasy novel Feline Alchemy.

ii. Sue Blake is a man’s name.

iii. In Feline Alchemy Sue Blake explains that he was given the name Sue because “My parents were both huge Johnny Cash fans, although they chose to ignore his advice about naming a son, obviously.” But I’ll let Johnny himself explain –


iv. While I was proofreading Feline Alchemy I realised it might be wise to adopt a pen-name because a number of scenes in the book take place within the office of a company called LoreLei Media; these scenes are played mainly for satirical purposes but are based on characters and situations from life. Basically, when I wrote Feline Alchemy I, like the central character, was working at LoreLei Media.

v. I like the name Sue Blake for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I tend to think of it as being like a band name in the mould of Alice Cooper, i.e. there never was any person named “Alice”, only a band of that name. It also works as an ironic nod to the time when women writers were usually forced to adopt men’s names in order to publish their books.

vi. Two of the central characters in Feline Alchemy are named Morrigan and Leiliana, in homage to the Xbox game Dragon Age: Origins (see the image at top of this post). The reason for this is that a few years ago, whilst looking to treat myself to a Christmas present, I decided to buy an Xbox. The first game I played was DA: Origins, which I started by quite enjoying and then became hooked on, not due to the gameplay so much as the storyline and characters. Essentially, it became a matter of honour that I and my trusty comrades (Alistair, Morrigan, Leiliana, Win, etc) should defeat the horrors that threatened the kingdom of Ferelden. And so it was that, auspiciously, on New Year’s Day we were finally victorious and killed the detested dragon after numerous shambolic failed attempts. It was a beautiful moment for my comrades and I.

Well, the imagination is a weird and powerful force and, as I raised my heroic arms aloft in celebration (ahem), a moment of epiphany flashed across my mind – I realised that for the Hero of Ferelden (i.e. myself) the prospect of starting another year with nothing better to maintain my interest than a job I heartily despised (see point iv) was never going to be an option if I hoped to get to December with my mental faculties intact. Instead I felt the need to try to make a positive contribution of some sort, according to whatever abilities I might have. Dragon slaying was sadly out. But I realised I could return to writing fiction, which I’d set aside a few years previously. So I did.

vii. Besides the Xbox game, the main influences in creating the characters of Morrigan and Leiliana in the novel were my cats, George and Bootsy. They were named, of course, after George Clinton and Bootsy Collins of Parliament/Funkadelic fame –


There’s no particular reason for including the clip except that the day always feels better for having a little funk in it, I think.

Now, since this post is getting rather long, I will be returning at a later date for Part 2 of the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, when I will complete the tasks set out in the guidelines as follows (drumroll….)

4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

5. Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

And the awards keep flooding in…

Sweet FA was recently nominated for a Liebster Award by the wonderful Caro, who not only makes fantastic portraits of silent film stars and creepy cats, but is also the only person I know cool enough to have a T Rex emblazoned on her face 🙂

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who nominated you
2. Answer their questions
3. Nominate new blogs for the award
4. Ask them 10 new questions
5. Let the nominees know they have been nominated

Here are the questions given to me:
Why did you start your blog?
Only to connect.

Favourite food/meal you’ve ever had?
Garlic potatoes in Ireland – honestly, I was shocked by how irresistible potatoes can be!

Favourite hobby and/or craft?
Kung fu.

Favourite place/city you would live?
Tierra del Fuego. With such a wonderful name it must be fascinating.

Last book you read?
At the moment I’m reading a biography of Louise Brooks and Frank Miller’s Daredevil omnibus – the perfect combination for the silent movie/superhero fan in your life.

If you had to start a second blog what would it be about?
Ironmongery. I don’t think there are enough blogs about ironmongery.

Do you speak any other languages? If no, any you would be interested in learning?
Sadly, no. But I have Dutch, French and Slovak friends and the indignities I visit on their lovely languages in my attempts to broaden my linguistic horizons really don’t bear thinking about.

What blog do you follow the most?
Lately, I’ve been keeping regular tabs on manuscripts & marginalia because I enjoy Justice’s prose style, as well as finding her non-fiction pieces varied and insightful.

What is your dream job?
I tend to object to jobs, as a rule. Although maybe I could be a salesperson in a chapeau shop…? That’s something I think I could probably muster up.

What things can’t you leave the house without?
An air of bafflement.

My own nominees are:
Writing in Whispers
N.b. the latter nomination is for DragonSpark as well – I’m not sure how you guys divide your blogging, but I could only locate the one webpage for you both.

Which leads to my questions for my chosen bloggers –
What has been the most enjoyable or interesting aspect of writing your blog?
Which fictional character’s blog would you most like to follow?
If you were a superhero what special powers would you have and what would be your cool superhero name?
What makes you feel sentimental?
Pick a favourite lyric from a song?
What was the last movie or TV show that made you laugh out loud?
When was the last time you did a little dance of joy that probably looked a bit embarrassing?
What do you like most about where you’re living now?
Is there anything that you just don’t get? (E.g. “I just don’t get video games/Twitter/UGG boots… I mean what’s that all about?!”)
And finally…
With the 2014 football World Cup now in its knock-out stages, can you make a prediction of the result in the final? (N.b. it’s a perfectly acceptable answer to say “I’m really really really not interested in football!)