Sunday 30 May 2010

Coming very soon...

- edited by Gary Fry

Take an alternative tour of Great Britain…

Writers are often told to write about what they know best . . . and what do they know better than their own homes? In this anthology, 19 fine authors of dark fiction reveal some of the less palatable elements of their native environments.

There’s blood where the heart is.

Much blood.

Superb new stories by:
Stephen Volk, Rhys Hughes, Gary McMahon, Paul Finch, Joel Lane, Simon Bestwick, Gary Fry, D F Lewis, Andrew Hook, Allen Ashley, Stuart Young, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Carole Johnstone, Michelle James, Stephen Bacon, John Travis, Mark Patrick Lynch, Mark West and Mike O'Driscoll

Paperback: £8.99 / $16 (+p&p)

(features my story "The City In The Rain", revamped especially for this anthology)

I'm in marketing - or, at least, the 3 year old version of me is!

I got a copy of “Generations” in the post today, a new marketing booklet from FordDirect that collects together car-related memories and is illustrated throughout with old photographs. The reminisces make for a nice read – my favourite is the lady who fondly remembers “doing all the things I no longer approve of in my Escort XR3i” – and the pictures are, on the whole, wonderful reminders of family life that’s often decades old.

My interest – and the reason the copy arrived – is that there’s one image on the back cover and it’s of me, standing in front of my Dad’s (borrowed) Ford Anglia, on a family holiday to Chapel St Leonards in June 1972. The agency found the image on my Flickr account and I was more than happy for them to use it.

I’m really quite pleased to be associated with it.
There are more details on the campaign here.

Friday 28 May 2010

Me & Dad, at Kidsplay

We had Matthew's 5th birthday party at Kidsplay and, after the kids were done with the climbing wall, Dad & I decided to have a go.

We both got to the top easily enough but then we couldn’t figure out how to get back down. So I let go…

The video isn’t brilliant quality, but the ending’s funny

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Happy Birthday!

5 years ago today, my little Dude was born and the first time I saw him, I was struck by an intense feeling of love and protectiveness and a terrifying sense that I had no idea what to do. 5 years later, I have exactly the same feelings but we're both still here and loving life, so each of us is obviously doing something right!

He’s clever, funny as hell, has a wonderful laugh, cares about people and enjoys 80s music! Simply put, he’s the best thing I’ve ever done and even though he won’t be reading this, I wanted to mark the occasion in some way.
So, in the spirit of nostalgia, which I love, this is the first post I ever made about him, on my LiveJournal, which I put up when I got home from the hospital:This afternoon, at 3.15 and by c-section, Alison gave birth to our son, Matthew Edward. We had a great medical team, Alison was a star and Matthew himself is just wonderful.

He's 10lbs 5.5ozs (Alison's diabetic and we knew he was going to be big, but this was a surprise!) and currently in the Special Care Unit with a very low blood sugar reading, which they are treating. I got to do the first feed and stayed with him for most of the afternoon and early evening, taking plenty of digital pics and reporting his progress back to Mummy, who was laid up in bed.

Other than the blood sugar business (for both of them), each are fine and dandy and I'm super hyped up and happier than I can ever remember being. It's just before midnight here (I went over to Mum & Dad's to show them the digi-pics and they are as overjoyed as us) and I know I've got to get some sleep, but I really don't want this day to end.

Anyway, I'm sure there will be many more updates but this is number one and this is very proud Daddy signing off for now!

Matthew's first feed (in the SCU) with me in the scrubs I had to wear in the theatre and Matthew & I, on the train at Brampton, 3rd May 2010.

Sunday 23 May 2010

So, where're you from (and other cheesy chat-up lines)?

There’s a little freebie-web-counter attached to this page, which I check occasionally and it lists the location people are looking at the site from (not addresses, which’d be great, wouldn’t it? The last person who clicked lives at 123 Mornington Crescent, here’s a picture of his house on Google streetmap).

Anyway, I checked it this evening just to have a look and was quite surprised at what came out.

One reader is in New Delhi, which I assume is my old friend Richard Wright. Two different addresses in Tasmania (where my fan Jamie comes from), but three in Australia too (I think I only know one Aussie, so that’s interesting). Somebody in Malta is dropping by and so is someone else in Moscow. There’s a smattering from the UK (see you at Fcon!) and the same in the States (both coasts and the Midwest).

When I first started writing, it amazed me that people took my stuff to publish it. Then, even though I knew that somebody who wasn’t related or a friend liked my stuff, I was amazed when I saw letters in small press magazines which picked out my particular story for mention.

Then the Internet hit and suddenly having a website seemed like a good idea – nay, for a writer, it seemed like a very good idea. So I set one up with Homestead, then another using freespace I got from BT and now I have this one. Sometimes, it feels like I’m writing stuff down to get it out of my head but nobody else is looking. My stats, it would appear, suggest otherwise.

We take this for granted now, that we converse with people on the other side of the world and we laugh and joke and have arguments, but back in the day that wasn’t the case. Then, I used to wait for the post to see if a story had been accepted, or rejected, or if a new magazine had arrived – safe and secure in the knowledge that apart from my Mum, Dad, sisters and wife, not many other people knew I wrote. Now, I write things about my life, about Matthew, about writing and about Gene Genie and people on the other side of the world drop by to have a look.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you, for reading this – I hope that it makes you feel better to know that it makes me feel better to realise I’m not just shouting into the void with all of this.

And in writing news, “david and the clowns” might have a new title – “come see my house in the pretty town”. Clever, eh, the two titles don’t appear to have anything at all to do with each other, do they?

Friday 21 May 2010

Goodbye then, Gene Genie

"Ashes To Ashes" finished tonight, with a beautifully written, superbly played, poignant episode. I'd guessed, pretty much, what Gene's role was but it was so much more than I'd thought. As for Keats, both Alison & I cheered when Gene punched him (and I wondered if, for a moment or two, we were going to see horns sprout out of his temples).

Great to see Nelson and the pub again and the fate of the Quattro was very funny.

And so, I'll say goodbye to the characters with this sing-a-long from the series.

Friday 14 May 2010

The art of "unsee"-ing

I write horror, so I obviously enjoy the genre and I take a lot of enjoyment from it as a consumer - reading and films and some glorious soundtracks - and, in general, I don’t like censorship. I understand its importance, of course, because I have a little boy who’s almost five and very inquisitive and would love to read Daddy’s Fangoria. He knows about horror, because I’ve told him things that I’ve read and seen in a way that he might understand, but he’s never watched anything scary nor have I read anything particularly scary. He needs to be protected, but I’m an adult and I don’t want other adults telling me what I should and shouldn’t watch. So I have a little dilemma on that area.

I tend to self-censor, based on the concept that you can’t “unsee” something. I love horror in all its form - having said that, I’m not a big fan of the ‘torture-porn’ sub-genre, because I think it’s lazy and nasty to no purpose and Eli Roth is a rubbish film-maker - but I’m also very aware that it’s not real. Stephen King once wrote about the zipper on the monsters back and though we don’t get that so much anymore, I can tell latex and most people can spot CGI without too much trouble at all. Horror is about taking you away - certainly, it points you at things you find uncomfortable and, especially with books, prods at it until either you or the character breaks - and in films, it’s make-believe. It can scare you, often it can terrify you, a lot of the time it’ll make you groan with its ineptness but at the end of the day, the actors washed themselves off, Rick Baker packed away his make-up bag and everyone went home.

“Unsee”-ing is much harder if what you’re watching is actually happening and to real people. When I was at school, I loved history in the 5th year because it was ‘modern’ and focussed from about 1939 onwards. I vividly remember one Spring afternoon when sat in the little AV theatre at Montsaye and watched Stevens’ colour footage of the liberation of Auschwitz and I can still see the bulldozer and its terrible load. For VietNam, the images of Kim Phuc running and the Vietnamese man being executed are still lodged there, as is the footage of the burning monks (which makes the Rage Against The Machine album difficult for me to look at ). I feel uncomfortable watching this stuff because - and I must stress, our history teacher wasn’t trying to entertain us - it’s real people, whose lives are threatened or irrevocably altered or ended by the act I’m watching.

Later, two incidents I saw on the news stuck with me too. I was watching the BBC 9 o’clock news with the folks and there was a report from South Africa which, at the time, was still heavily in the grip of apartheid. The footage was in a football stadium and showed a fat black man, wearing a white shirt, running from one side to the other (ie, towards the camera). As he ran, people stepped in his way and he tried to run around them and I assumed they were punching him, but as he got closer to the camera, I noticed his shirt was changing colour. And that the men who were punching him had knives in their hands.

Later still (in 1988), my Mum & I were watching the lunchtime news and saw live the awful moment when those SAS officers drove into the path of a Republican funeral. I remember watching the crowd swarm around their car and the taxi that blocked their escape route, before the feed died and I was able to process how awful it would be to be in that situation. Real people, real problems, with literally life-and-death decisions to be made.

Those things weren’t entertainment, dreamed up and written or filmed for my enjoyment, they were real-life. And I can’t unsee them (and some of them have been in my head for more than a quarter of a century).

What’s prompted this was a discussion I had on Facebook with my friends Gary McMahon and Chris Teague yesterday. There’s a new film about called “A Serbian Film” and if you don’t like the idea or concept of extreme cinema, you have already read too much and I would advise you against further investigations. I first heard about this film a couple of months ago and as someone who believes that art should push against the envelope, I read up on the story - the précis and some early reviews - and I’ve decided it’s not for me. There’s one particular sequence that, as a father, I don’t think I could ever tolerate and it’s the inability to “unsee” that pushes me to make that decision - I can’t have that kind of imagery on my mind for the next 25 plus years. Chris is not going to watch it, but Gary is still torn, though he knows that in doing so, he might inflict something awful upon himself.

The ironic thing is, for all our discussion and my comments about censorship above, I can’t see the film getting any kind of major release - there aren’t too many companies who’d be willing to touch something that extreme and those that would don’t have the logistics to get it out to a wide audience. Do I think it should have been made? I’m not sure of the motives, but it certainly doesn’t read as exploitation for the sake of it so yes, if they’re making a point, they shouldn’t be stopped. But will I ever watch it? No. What I can see in my mind from what I’ve read is bad enough, I don’t want to be able to see the images.

So can you watch things that you know will frighten you to the core, even knowing that you’ll never be able to “unsee” them?

Interview, by Gregg Winkler

Over on the Random page (it used to be called Gallery, but isn't now), I've just posted an interview Gregg Winkler undertook with me, back in April 2007. It originally appeared on his 9fingers Live Journal.

We discuss plenty of things (including "Conjure" which, as it turned out, was another two years away from publication), mess around and have a laugh. It's good fun - check it out.

This is a direct link

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Some very nice writing news...

“Mr Huxton Goes Camping” didn’t make it into the market that it was written for, unfortunately, but I haven’t let that stop me and I’ve sent it off elsewhere. Fingers crossed it finds a nice home very soon. However, there is good news on the writing front (and no, it’s not “david & the clowns”, which is still ‘coming along’).

Gary Fry, of Grey Friar Press, sent out an invite a couple of weeks back, asking for stories about place. I wasn’t sure exactly what was needed, so I sent him an older story of mine to see if that fitted with the theme, which would give me an idea of what I needed to write. Long story short, he loved the older piece and so that’ll appear in a print anthology later this year - more news as I get it.

For those interested, I wrote the original story back in 1999 and dedicated it to a friends daughter, who’d just been born. The story is “The City In The Rain”, which Alison calls it my slut-tale - it’s been around a bit, but it still has plenty of life left in it yet. It’s first print appearance was in the Best Of Horrorfind, edited by Brian Keene, having been one of the first stories published on that site. Gene O’Neill also had a story in the collection, read mine and liked it so much that he wrote me a lovely letter and then gave me a blurb for my collection. Which is where the story subsequently appeared.

Once the ToC is finalised (and I’ve seen some of the other names - it’s going to be great), I’ll post it here.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

My little boy is a star...

Apparently, at school today, they were talking about books and writing and Dude told his teacher that I'm an author. He must have then explained what I write, because he told me that his teacher "likes horror too."

Cool, eh? Youngest PR exec ever!

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Send in the clowns

After a bit of a break, I’ve just started working on “david & the clowns” again. The clowns have just made their first appearance, Chelsea Smiles and all. Lovely.

Monday 3 May 2010

Books up on eBay!

After some quite considerable time away, I've decided to dabble once more in the eBay waters and have put 10 books up for sale (my shelves were getting seriously overloaded and these were the first cull casualties).

Apart from "The Birthing House" by Christopher Ransom, which is absolutely awful, the rest are decent enough books and all are in immaculate condition.

Interested? The link to my eBay page is:

Happy browsing!

In other news, no work at all this weekend on "David & The Clowns". Which shouldn't come as any surprise at all to followers of this blog!