How Do I Fit It All In? Six-Month Roundup

A few months ago, tired of people going “How do you fit it all in?!”, I started a blog series to answer that exact question. It was partly for other people but also partly for me; I wasn’t sure how I fitted it all in either. The answer used to be “I barely sleep” but these days I’m often in bed by 8pm, sometimes significantly earlier, so I knew it wasn’t that.

But apparently I still manage to live many lives and do loads of things. So how do I do it? This week marks week 21 of my ‘How Do You Fit It All In?’ series so I thought I’d go back through them and work out if there’s a direct answer to that question.  Read more

Why You Might Want A Co-Author, And How To Find One

Cropped image of two people's hands at a table with coffees and pastry snacks, one person picking up their espresso while the other is writing in a notebook, possibly taking down an interview

The other day someone on Twitter asked me how I’d found a co-author for Windows Forensics Cookbook and I realised it might make a good blog post.

I hadn’t planned on co-writing a book. I hadn’t even planned on writing a book about digital forensics, but the publishers who approached me really wanted me to. I said no several times before eventually saying yes on the condition that I could have a co-author to write it with me.  Read more

How I Plan My Books

The thing about writing advice is that I don’t want to give it. Partly because I only have one book out so far, and partly because I think the process is probably different for everyone. What I do know though is that when I started writing my first book, I looked around for ages trying to find ideas.

I’d never been much of planner when it came to essays or books or papers. I was much more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type. But last year was tumultuous and I needed some kind of plan or the book would never have been written. So I thought I’d show it to you in case it’s of use.  Read more

First Steps In Digital Forensics – What Would You Like To See?

Last year I wrote a book. It’s called Windows Forensics Cookbook and I didn’t really want to write it, but I’m glad I did because now I know I can. It was a little too technical for my liking, really: I would have liked to have written something meatier in terms of text, and less screenshotty.

So this year I’m writing another book. With a working title of First Steps In Digital Forensics, it will be aimed at people who want to get into the industry. Whether you’re a student of a related discipline, a professional looking to switch industries, or just someone who’s intrigued by the field and wants to know what it’s really like, this book will have something for you.

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Interview With Oleg Skulkin, Author, Windows Forensics Cookbook

A while ago I published a book. It’s a digital forensics textbook, and the guys over at Forensic Focus, where I normally write digital forensics related stuff, wanted me to promote it there. I couldn’t work out how to do that though: normally we either review books or interview the authors, but I couldn’t review my own book and I didn’t want to interview myself.

Enter Oleg, my co-author and very useful person, who took on more of the book than he’d originally agreed to when I got ill halfway through the process. Today I interviewed him on Forensic Focus about what he does as a day job, how he came to write the book, and what he thinks the most important current challenges are in digital forensics.

Take a look at the interview on Forensic Focus

“How Do You Fit It All In?” Like This.

People have always asked me how I manage to fit all the various things I do into my life. In the past, the answer was that I was a workaholic who could get by on four hours’ sleep a night.

Nowadays, however, I’m in my late twenties, and while that means I’m still young (right? RIGHT?!), it also means I’ve started making those little noises when I get out of chairs or bend to pick something up, and also that going to bed at a reasonable hour instead of stumbling drunkenly through the streets of Dalston at 3am seems like a perfectly good nighttime pursuit.

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Book Review: Rooms

Rooms(Not to be confused with Room, which is also good.)

The other day I hopped on a bus and went to meet a friend for dinner. Unfortunately she texted at the last minute to say she couldn’t make it, but being a true introvert this didn’t particularly bother me.

This meant that I had both (a) spare time and (b) spare money, which I’d budgeted for dinner. What did I do? Naturally, I took myself along to Waterstones.

I spent an hour and a half browsing the shelves, telling myself I was only allowed two books (the price of books these days almost equals the price of dinner, but books > food, so it’s fine). I went through several, starting with Eco’s The Prague Cemetery and Joanne Harris’ The Lollipop Shoes, both of which I inexplicably still haven’t read.

I realised whilst wandering though that Eco and Harris are both authors whose books seem to drop into my life of their own accord from time to time, and therefore maybe I should buy something I wouldn’t normally read. Something from an author I hadn’t heard of, for example, I thought as I absent-mindedly turned all the copies of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect to face forwards so that people would buy them (do it. They’re great.).

My eyes flicked over the shelves and alighted on Rooms. It had an intriguing cover, nice and dark, so I wandered over and read the blurb.

A compulsive and dazzling novel narrated by two ghosts that inhabit the walls of an old house. This isn’t your traditional ghost story, though. It’s about the living as much as the dead – and the secrets that haunt them both.

Hmm. Interesting. But it didn’t really give much away. It sounded good, though, or at least unusual; I often think that the ‘story told by someone who’s dead’ trope is a bit overdone, but this one seemed like it might be a bit different. And it was.

The Story 

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the belongings of a lifetime. His estranged family – bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton and unforgiving daughter Minna – have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself – in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The Review 

I like any book that opens with a poem. This one opens with two: a good start.

There were lots of things I liked about it and I’m not quite sure where to begin. I suppose one of the main things was that it didn’t try to be more than it was. It could have gone down the flouncy-writing route (not necessarily a bad thing) and been all descriptive and haunting, but it didn’t. It remained as down-to-earth as a ghost story can be: telling the reader about the family who’d come to collect their inheritance, running through a fairly generic family-in-a-novel plot. Ex-wife who’s angry that ex-husband slept with other women, career-minded nymphomaniac daughter whose sexual escapades ruin her professional life, troubled teenage son who has no friends and wants to end it all. And of course, there’s Amy, the granddaughter, who watches everything that’s going on and applies to it her childish logic.

Then there were the ghosts. Again, these were nicely written because they were more like people than spirits; getting angry with each other, trying to keep secrets but also wanting to let them into the open. What I particularly liked, though, was the description of how being a ghost worked. They weren’t corporeal in any sense of the word, and some of the passages about how they drifted through the house, in some ways becoming it briefly before scattering again, were really well done. It’s how I’d imagine ghosts would actually be, if they existed.

On the whole, it’s a good solid novel that’s somehow more than the sum of its parts. I think because it’s sensitively written without being cloying, and Lauren Oliver spends just enough time on descriptions to make them interesting, but not so much time that you end up skipping pages of text (*ahem* Victor Hugo *ahem*).

Definitely recommended; dinner budget money well spent!