Tuesday 28 September 2010

This Is England '86

Genius. Absolutely bloody brilliant work - top notch acting and writing, beautifully constructed, difficult to watch at times but never less than gripping. If Vicky McClure (Lol) doesn't get awards for this, there's no justice.

Monday 27 September 2010

Raft did crime too!

Who knew? Published through Pan Books in the 70s, going into the early 80s, horror writer Peter Raft branched out into crime. Apparently, all of the books are set in Miami (where Raft lived at the time) and just looking at the covers and titles is enough to make me want to read one. These two are my favourites:

Don't forget, there's an online presence of sorts for Peter Raft - http://peterraft.blogspot.com/

Sunday 26 September 2010

From a Golden Age...

Just discovered this writer (well, I haven't read any of his stuff yet, but the covers and titles alone make me want to). They don't make them like this any more, do they?

I can't tell which'd be the more fun, but I hope to track either of them down - and when I do, I'll let you know!
Edited to add:
There is an online presence of sorts for Peter Raft - http://peterraft.blogspot.com/

Friday 24 September 2010

What I'm doing now...

No, I'm not writing a book based on this fabulous film, but rather I'm working on my first ever novel-pitch. It all started at FCon, with a conversation in the reception area and, suddenly, ZoQuNo is back on. I've already produced a (far too long) synopsis (which some of my pre-readers have been through) and now I'm working on the sample chapters. I'm going to open with a bang and a half and, hopefully, I'll drum up some interest in it.

More news, as and when!

Monday 20 September 2010

FantasyCon, Nottingham, 17th to 19th September 2010

After attending many Con’s in the past, only for the Saturday, I decided to push the boat out a bit and stay for the weekend. And I’m really glad I did. I caught the train up and found my hotel, the Plaza, immediately (and thank you so much to Mick Curtis & Gary Cole-Wilkin for suggesting it - lovely room, plenty of space, very close to the Con itself).

So much happened, it’s going to be impossible to try and create a decent blog post so I’ll go with the bullet point method:

* Got signed in, chatted with Martin Roberts (cool haircut) and Helen Hopley. Bumped into Stu Young and Peter Mark May (the first of many new friends, who I’d already conversed with through Facebook). Had my afternoon planned out, which readings I was going to go to, which panels, all sorted.
* Convened in the bar, met Mick & Debbie Curtis and Gary Cole-Wilkin & Soozy Marjoram (all good people) from the RCMB. Also met Simon Marshall-Jones (SMJ from hereon) - we’d been saying it felt like ages since we last met up, but it was Terror Scribes in July. How times flies. Also met the lovely Raven Dane and Pixie Pants - wonderful ladies.
* Went out for dinner - Zizzi’s, very nice, very expensive - with Stu Young, Pam Creais and Lilly (don’t know her surname, unfortunately). Due to the extraordinary length of time they took to serve us, managed to miss Simon Bestwick and Peter Mark May’s readings. Whoops! On the plus side, Stu gave me two books he’d picked up in local charity shops, a Jesse Stone hardcover (Stu & I love Robert B Parker and often end up talking about him, when we meet and on email too) and a Robert Crais.
* Back to the hotel, met more people, went to the Quiz (our team was bolstered by the wonderful Jay Eales - recovering from graphic dental work that he kept trying to tell me about - and Selina Lock) and two chaps I never really caught the name of. The quiz was tough (seriously, who knows that much about the bloody Transformers) and we came last, though there were only about 6 points between us and the winners.
* “Get Real” panel, which I attended with Stu.
* Back at the bar, meeting and chatting. Called it a night at just after midnight, then was kept up until 3am by the shrieking of Nottingham night-life-folk on the main road outside my hotel.

* Up good and early, checked out the hotel breakfast. Decided £16 was too steep, walked around to Greggs and got a croissant. On the way, I bumped in Gary Greenwood, we had a chat and agreed to meet up later. Determined to have a more pro-active approach to the readings and, for the most part, managed it. In fact, the lift (or ready lack thereof) scuppered me more than anything else. So what did I do today?
* Met Gary and Emily McMahon on the way into the hotel. Had a nice chat, talking about awards and work and families. Stu Young came by, gave Gary a copy of “The Godwulf Manuscript”, which he & I have been raving over and which Gary wanted to read.
* Andrew Hook’s reading was great fun, included the penguin head and I got to ask him some questions at the end.
* Gary McMahon’s reading was equally good. I’m very lucky, I’ve pre-read “Pretty Little Dead Things” (an ARC of which appeared over the weekend) but it was great to hear it in Gary’s own voice.
* To the bar, where I met up with Paul and Cath Finch, David Price, Simon Unsworth, the McMahon’s and Shaun Hamilton, who I originally met in Fiction Factory. We took some photo’s. I also finally got to meet, face-to-face, Stephen Bacon. Steve & I have been corresponding for a while now and we’re working on a collaborative project together, but it was great to shake his hand. His wife, the lovely Andrea, had come along for the day with him and it was great to meet her too. I only hope she didn’t get too bored!

Gary McMahon (and the "Pretty Little Dead Things" ARC), Shaun Hamilton, Steve Bacon, SMJ, me, David Price and Simon Unsworth. A gaggle of horror writers.

* Caught Paul Meloy’s reading and I’m glad I did. The story was incredibly moving, written (and read) with power and very affecting. I’ve never been disappointed by Meloy and this was no exception.
* Went to lunch at the Java café with Dave Price and SMJ. By the counter, at a small table, were Stephen Volk, Tim Lebbon and Mark Morris, who all said hi. Stood behind Jonathan Oliver in the queue and the lady behind the counter asked what we were all doing. We explained about the Con and that we were writers. She asked if any of us were famous. As one, we all turned and pointed at Steve Volk.
* Steve & Andrea Bacon joined us for lunch and he & I talked over our collaboration project. I’ve got a good feeling about it.
* “End Of The Line” launch - picked up my copy, got a signature from everyone who was there. When I got to Conrad, shook his hand and thanked him for the confidence burst that FicFac had given me. He’s a gracious man, that Williams.
* Paul Finch’s reading was good, though I only caught the tail end because of the launch and the bloody lifts.
* “The Grass Is Greener” panel. I went in on my own, interested to hear about moving genres (I’m not leaving horror, but my Lost Film novella is functionally a crime story, told in that voice and I’ve been reading a lot of crime lately to absorb it). Paul Meloy came in and joined me. Good panel, very interesting.
* Paul & I have a chat in the reception area, about brands. Decide that it’s all about the writing. He goes to the dealers room, I head up to Ian Whates’ reading. Once again, foiled by the lift but I catch at least 20 minutes. Ian runs the Writers Group I’ve recently joined and it was great to hear him read aloud, even better that he finished early and so I got to ask some questions.
* Back to the bar, where I meet up with John B Ford, who has dropped in for a while and Alison Davies. I haven’t seen either of them for years but, quite literally, it’s as if no time had gone by. John looked good and, despite his dreadful last few years, was upbeat. Let’s hope this isn’t the last Con we see him at.
* “How Not To Get Published” panel, which I’d been really looking forward to but, to my mind, didn’t work at all - it got quite snide, I thought, so I left. Managed to meet up with Jonathan Oliver for a chat a little later, as I wanted to ask him how he liked his novel pitches.
* Back to the bar, for more chat, then SMJ collared me and we sat down with Adrian Chamberlin. The three of us - and Mark Deniz - are working on a 4-writer-collection and we batted some ideas back and forth. One of them, in two parts, was really quite exciting!
* The RCMB Curry trip, wonderfully organised - as ever - by Gary Cole-Wilkin and Soozy Marjoram (and a terrific job they do, I organised a “thank you” round of applause when we finished). We were rounded up, led down, seated and eating really quickly - conversation was loud and passionate and funny and the meal was terrific. Attending were: Paul & Cath Finch, John Travis, Charles Rudkin, Ally Bird, Simon Unsworth, Terry Grimwood, Daniele Sierra, SMJ, Joel Lane, Simon Bestwick, GCW, Soozy, Shaun Hamilton, Mick & Deb Curtis, me, Gary & Emily McMahon, Chris Teague and Gary Fry. Great fun.
* Back to the Brittania and into the awards. Neil Bond and Donna Scott, from my Writers Group, had saved me a place at their table for the event and I didn’t realise, until too late, that I was sharing it with David Riley and Sharon Ring. Wish I’d known at the time, I’d have introduced myself! The awards were good (I wish Selina Lock had won for ‘Girly comic’ but Neil Gaiman - who he? - is, I suppose, a big draw) and Conrad William’s acceptance speech for “One” was about the most moving I’d heard since Tim Lebbon’s last year. Fantastic stuff and I made a point to go and congratulate him and Sarah Pinborough before the evening dispersed everyone.
* Back to the bar. More chat.
* Into the small bar, for the Pan book launch. It was held back by another event running late, so Peter Mark May & I stood chatting with John Forth and his partner Esther Sherman. We chatted about many things, but “Piranha 3D” got a good airing - it’s important, I think, to find folk who share your belief that a 3D film full of boobs can only be a good thing! Great fun, great couple and I really hope that Esther’s promise of a horror-Burlesque performance comes off.
* The Pan Launch was fabulous, helped in no small part by Johnny Mains’ enthusiasm and John L Probert’s incredible oratory skills.
* Back to the bar, more catching up with people (including Matthew F Riley), then back to the Plaza to listen to the Nottingham harpies.

Gary McMahon & I at Chutney's, for the curry

I admit, I chickened out. I got a text from Mick Curtis, wishing me a safe journey and decided to head straight for the train station and my pre-bought ticket and reserved seat. If I’d stepped back into the hotel, I’d still be there, I think.

This was a fabulous con, brilliantly organised and run and I had a whale of time! Roll on the next one!

Incidents In Quiet Places is now available

is my new, digital-only collection, published by Ghostwriter Publications and contains ten of my previously published short stories. These are:

A StirringA hiking holiday in the Canuris range of Wales goes horribly wrong

Risen Wife
A grief-stricken widower is surprised when he opens the door to his newly-dead wife.

Cottage By The Sea
A holiday cottage, a centuries-old wrong-doing and strange shapes in the water

A Bug Supper
Is the fancy dress party everything it’s supposed to be?

Sleep Deeply
What happens if, one day, you simply forget to breathe?

Thank You For The MusicAll she wanted was to sing.

All The Rage
What road rage can sometimes lead to, if the persecuted is pushed hard enough.

What happens on these darkened streets, Grandad?

When a man, obsessed by time, seems to run out of it. Literally.

For the man who loves feet…

And from my foreword:
My first collection, “Strange Tales”, contained what I considered to be my best fiction up to 2002. This has no cross-over material, containing a mixture of newer stories and some which were left out for reasons of space.

There are zombie stories, quiet and dramatic; there are a couple of very black comedies (about the music business and foot fetishists); there are two very dark, hyper-realistic nightmares that were tough to write; a surreal adventure into time, or the lack of it; a story about bugs and another about the worry I used to have, that I’d suddenly forget to stop breathing; and a tale about a cottage, sitting near a beach in Wales, where I had a lovely holiday.

None of the incidents in the stories, it should go without saying, really happened though each of them, in one way or another, contain a lot of biographical details. It’s virtually impossible, I would have said, to write something and not include parts of yourself and your loved ones in it. That is, of course, if something is written with honesty. And all of these are - whether the monster in the story is in the protagonists head or wants to bite it off - are honest, in that I hope they all say something about the life around me, the writer, as I was creating the tale.

I hope you enjoy what follows, I had a good time writing them and it’s great to see them having a fresh start in life.
Download the book here, from Smashwords, where it is available on most digital formats.

Come and get it!

Thursday 16 September 2010

It's all happening at once!

I had my second meeting at the Northampton SF Writers Group last night and it was very successful - good material to critique (from Nigel Edwards and Tim Taylor), interesting chat and a terrific, creative atmosphere.

The Lost Film novella is coming along very nicely. I’m past 12k words now, Bird has seen his first glimpse of the lost film (and experienced the first of many side-effects) and he’s also witnessed the mental collapse of someone associated with the person he’s trying to track down. I’m amazed at how quickly this is coming out and, I have to say, my confidence is running at an all-time high. I’m attributing it to several things - kind words from readers, especially Mick Curtis, who had lovely things to say about my work; the Northampton SF Writers Group and the creative energy it’s suffused with and “What We Do Sometimes, Without Thinking”.

On the “upcoming” front, I have the artwork and “Up For Anything” in the PDF Ltd Edition to be launched at FantasyCon this weekend.

I also have some terrific news, regarding my work. Neil Jackson, at Ghostwriter Publications, is releasing a new collection from me. It’s called “Incidents In Quiet Places”, will feature ten stories and a foreword and I’ll post more details as and when (hopefully, very soon - like, this weekend!). For now, though, here’s Neil’s cover art. Lovely, isn’t it?

Ghostwriter are also putting out another chapbook of mine, “Cottage By The Sea”, which will feature four stories. More details as I get them - I have seen the cover art for that too and it’s a cracker.

And last, but by absolutely no means least, it’s FantasyCon this weekend, in Nottingham. For the first time (my first FCon was back in 2000, in Birmingham, with Doug Bradley as one of the guests) I’ll be staying for the weekend and to say that I’m really excited is a bit of an understatement. Thanks to Facebook and various message boards, I’m looking forward to meeting face-to-face people I’ve only conversed with on the web, I’m looking forward to seeing old (and new) friends and I’m looking forward to the curry. Ah, the curry. Most of all, though, I’m looking forward to being in the company of like-minded folk and having a good time.

I’ll post a report when I get back! See you on the other side!

Monday 13 September 2010

The Lost Film novella's

I managed another 2k words on the Lost Film novella today - Eric Freeny has just had a mental meltdown at a big old hospital in the centre of Oxford. Very enjoyable.

As things are starting to move now, my partner-in-crime on this ‘collaboration-that-isn’t’ and I have decided to go a bit more public. My colleague on the project is
Stephen Bacon, whose “Last Summer” was, for me, the best story in “Where The Heart Is”.

We’ve been corresponding for a couple of years (we’re finally meeting up at Fcon this weekend!) and enjoyed each others work, chatted through Fiction Factory and, just after that finished, I suggested that we team up for a novella length project. At first, we were going to go for a straight collaboration, then decided to try a story each (we both felt like we needed the kick up the arse) and in a brainstorming of themes, he mentioned “lost film”. And that was it.

Mainly, we’re doing this to spur one another on - we’re going to critique each others work, help out with various bits and pieces and blend some characters/incidents as we go. We have a publisher in mind, but that’s not the important thing now, getting us both working is.

Not many other details at the moment, since we’re both in first draft, but whatever comes up, I’ll be sure to let you know.

And this - because I’m wired this way - is a teaser graphic I’ve created for the project.

Saturday 11 September 2010

We went to the cinema (on our own)...

...for the first time in ages, since Matthew is at Sea Palling with his grandparents today.

On the spur of the moment, we decided to head to Sixfields in Northampton and watched "Piranha 3D" and it was brilliant (the first 3D film either of us have seen at the pictures since the early 80s) - cheesy good fun, with great special effects, a cracking pace and more boobs in 3D than I would have thought it possible to fill a film with!

If you get a chance - and haven't already - this is well worth a look.

Friday 10 September 2010

Apropos of nothing, here's a picture...

...of me, Nick and Sarah (head partially obscured by Dad's technique!), cruising up the Norfolk Broads in 1988.
I like this.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

It's Official! "Come and get it while it's hot!"

Shoes, Ships and Cadavers
Tales from North Londonshire

The Northampton Science Fiction Writers Group
Introduction by Alan Moore

A town that sits at the heart of England. A town that has played host to kings, saints, parliament, public hangings, and hot air balloons. A place steeped in history, laden with mystery, and bursting with wonders just waiting to be realised.

Let us be your guides...

“The writers represented in Shoes, Ships & Cadavers: Tales from North Londonshire have crafted visions of the town that are distinct and separate, covering a generous and sweeping arc of this tiny and yet deceptively expansive area of spacetime… I read this in a single sitting, something that I can’t remember managing with an anthology for a considerable while. I don’t expect to read a book this year that is more personally satisfying or a greater cause for optimism. Passionately recommended.” – Alan Moore, from his introduction.

Twelve tales of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy and Horror

Established in 2002, the NSFWG exists to enable local writers of genre fiction to learn their trade and hone their skills. The group includes both established novelists and exciting new talents. This volume features twelve original stories set in Northampton and acts as a showcase for their work.

Available as a limited edition (of just 50) dust-jacketed hardback, and an A5 sized paperback.
12 stories, 256 pages, 80,000 words of intrigue, humour, magic, terror and conjecture.

Paperback edition: £9.99 (ISBN: 978-1-907069-18-5)
Hardback edition: £15.99 (ISBN: 978-1-907069-16-1)

Available to pre-order at:

Full contents:

1. Introduction – Alan Moore
2. A Walk of Solace with my Dead Baby – Ian Watson
3. Lifeline – Susan Sinclair
4. These Boots weren’t Made for Walking – Ian Whates
5. Mano Mart – Andy West
6. What We Do Sometimes, Without Thinking – Mark West
7. Arthur the Witch – Donna Scott
8. Goethe’s Wig – Steve Longworth
9. The Old Man of Northampton and the Sea – Sarah Pinborough
10. The Last Economy – Paul Melhuish
11. Hanging Around – Neil K Bond
12. I Won the Earth Evacuation Lottery – Tim Taylor
13. The Tower – Nigel Edwards
14. About the Authors

Tuesday 7 September 2010

The Lost Film novella (post 1)

Well, it appears to have started. Sorrell Eve is in the process of engaging the services of Gabriel Bird and it seems to be running along quite nicely so far.
My target is to have this finished by 19th October (preferably the week earlier, as that'll tie in with my first critiquing slot at Northampton SF Writers Group) and we're off, so here's hoping everything goes to plan. Speaking of plan, that took ages - for a fairly straightforward horror/detective tale, this has been very complicated to try and fit everything in together. Thank goodness it's a novella and not a novel!

Simon Bestwick's Statistics

My friend Simon Bestwick’s latest blog entry (click here to read it for yourself) is an interesting little essay about him sorting through old stories to hopefully put together a new collection (which’d be very nice). The biggest revelation was that he has written over 190 short stories.

Bloody hell! He has a couple of years publishing headstart on me but even so, my credits pale against his. I checked through my records today and these are the stats:

Including non-genre, I have written 67 short stories.

Of those (including non-genre), I have seen 54 of those published (a not at all bad 81% success rate).

Of the unaccounted for, 4 of those are at a really odd length (in fact, I now realise they’re novelettes) and two are currently ‘circulating’.

Simon talks about the heyday of the British small press and I share the same views - in fact, at the weekend, I found a stash of ‘Sackcloth & Ashes’ and it was very interesting looking through the credits for each issue. I shared space with some very good writers, a lot of whom - I’m pleased to say - are still publishing today. There are many others, of course, whose names I haven’t seen in ten years - what happened to them, do you think? Did they just stop writing, or move into a different genre?

Anyway, between Simon and Gary McMahon - whose work rate should be an example to us all - I feel like a real slouch. But hopefully not for long because, this morning, I started the plan/synopsis for the lost film novella.

I’ll keep you posted as to progress.

Monday 6 September 2010

State of play

Okay, this is where I am now:

* Chris has signed off on the last of the illustrations for the “Tourniquet Heart” pdf, which is good.
* My diary is now up to date
* My afterword for “What We Do Sometimes, Without Thinking” is now completed (and might just make an appearance here, once the story is published)
* I have caught up on all of my critiquing

My slate is now clear, therefore, leaving me free to crack on with my lost film novella and I’m keen - I’ve been itching to get to it for a while, bits of the story are dropping into place every day and I think it could be pretty powerful. We’ll have to see. Anyway, that’s next up.

* * *
In other news, I showed Dude my Snowspeeder model yesterday (for those who don’t know, the Snowspeeder is the Rebel ship that fought the AT-AT’s in “The Empire Strikes Back”. He was so taken with it, we went up into the loft and found all the old bits and bobs I had from back in the mid-to-late 90s, when the re-issues brought a new wave of merchandise. I still have two original 1978 figures - Han Solo (with a small head) and a Death Watch Commander, but they remain on the top shelf of a bookcase, safely out of reach.

Dude said, “I love these, but we can still share them if you want, Daddy.”

Dude, yesterday, with some of the toys

Saturday 4 September 2010

Last minute changes...

Chris has pointed out a perfectly reasonable thing about my illustration for my own story in the "Tourniquet Heart" pdf - the opening line is "The bathwater was crimson..." and it clearly isn't here.

So, this was supposed to be my picture but now isn't!

Friday 3 September 2010