Thursday 28 October 2010

George Lucas sells a little bit more...

As amusing as this is (I love R2's reaction to the video game), it is a little sad to see these icons selling Currys. Ah well, enjoy the dancing...

In Portugal - A Real Life Ghost Story

In 1989, my friend Craig Tankard & I went on holiday to Portugal. Whilst there, we experienced something that, to this day, neither of can properly explain.

Mark Deniz’s Beyond Fiction website is having a Ghost Awareness Month and he invited me to write a blog entry for him, so I thought I’d publicly tell mine and Craig’s story.

All of this is true (I even got Craig to read through the piece, to make sure our memory of the events meshed) and I’ll leave it up to you to decide what we saw.

In Portugal, a real life ghost story can be accessed from here, at the Beyond Fiction website

Sweet dreams!

The Man Who Loved Yngve

I had two good films to review for VideoVista this month - the Aussie horror film “The Loved Ones” (which was excellent) and the beautiful, poignant, fun “The Man Who Loved Ygnve”, from Norway. I’ll let you know when both reviews go live, but I just thought I’d mention something about the latter here.

As I mentioned before, in relation to “Flashbacks Of A Fool” (
you can read my post here, if you’re so inclined), I love coming of ages film and this works for me on several counts - it’s set in the 80s, it’s quirky and spiky and made with real passion.

If you get a chance, seek this out, it’s well worth a watch.

And no, I can't pronounce the name in the title either.

Rolf Kristian Larsen, Arthur Berning and Ida Elise Broch, the leads of the film

Monday 25 October 2010

What I Do, Sometimes

Okay, so ZoQuNo is definitely on the backburner for now - the synopsis (brief and indepth) is complete, the first three chapters are complete (and have been workshopped by the NSFWG, in addition to going through the rigours of my pre-readers), but a leading publisher has passed and so I’m going to concentrate on other projects for the moment.

First up, obviously, is the Lost Film novella. It’s been a good while since I did anything on it - perhaps three weeks - and it feels very distant at the moment, but I’m confident I can get back into it.

The weird thing is, I am currently reading “Shoes, Ships & Cadavers”, the NSFWG anthology that contains my story “What We Do Sometimes, Without Thinking”. I’d got to my story and thought “hey, what the hell” and started reading it. And you know what, I liked it a lot. And more, as I read it, I realised that the 80s part of it, the school-kids, was the ideal foundation for “Project Gash”. I’ve been thinking over that for the last couple of days and I reckon I can make it go, so that’s next up on the slate.

Still to fit in - the ‘proper collaboration’ with Steve Bacon, a top secret novella project (also with Mr Bacon and a leading small press publisher) and the 4-writer-project.

Cool, eh?

Friday 22 October 2010

Does anyone else remember "The Blimeys"?

A bit of an interruption here, from Mark Townsend, bass guitarist of the much lamented “The Blimeys” - best known for their single ‘It’s Criminal Baby’ from the ‘Ironing The Soul’ album.

Not web invisible now, are we Towney?

Subscriptions ahoy

I don't know if you'll be interested, but I've added a "subscription button" to the blog - click on it, enter your email address and be advised of each new shiny blog-post as they occur.
You know you want to.

Thursday 21 October 2010

It's all about the ego, baby!

I have a little gizmo on here, from sitemeter, that serves as a statistical analysis - the hits I've had, how long people were here for, what they looked at and where they're from. For the latter, you get a map and occasionally I like to click on it, just to see where all of you readers are. I did that today and, blimey, it's a mixed continent readership!

So thank you, one and all - I thought this blog would only be read by me and my sister and to know that people around the world are also tuning in is fantastic!

Cheers, folks!

Monday 18 October 2010

It's late...

I shouldn’t have gone online tonight because, to be honest, I’m a little depressed now. I’ve read about plagiarists who create multiple identities (and seriously, if you’re not getting paid, what on earth do you get out of such an endeavour?) so that they can put “their work” into even more markets; I’ve read about idiots whose ‘great new books’ feature generous and glittering cover blurbs from people neither I nor Google have heard of and I’ve read about people who big themselves up out of all recognition to their talent or publishing credits.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone has to start somewhere and we all need to shout from the rooftops about our wares every now and again but some people seem to forget one key detail - you need to write. You need to produce a work, an original piece of fiction that will make people stop and say “Christ, that was good”. A cover blurb from your Uncle Frank telling me that your new novel is a work of genius will just result in a) your not getting a penny from me and b) me never, ever taking you seriously again.

Like the spam stuff I get through Facebook and, sadly, GoodReads - ‘Become my fan’ or ‘I suggest you read my book’. You know what, I’m sorry to say that your sterling efforts to recruit me have just resulted in your being wiped off my friends list. On Facebook, I’ll become a fan of what I want, when I want to do it - I won’t do it because you ask me to and I’ll delete you because you asked (Facebook rule number 2). Likewise, on GoodReads - yes, you’ve written a book and that’s brilliant, but why suggest it to me? That just sounds desperate. And invokes rule number 2.

I’m very lucky. I’m part of a vibrant small press scene, with several of my peers and friends breaking out into the mainstream markets and presses. That’s brilliant. I revel in the creative energy and spirit of that. Reading through my Facebook updates today has been depressing (the plagiarist especially) and my tolerance for message board idiocy is at an all-time low (I’m done with Shocklines now - I should have gone when Greg Lamberson did).

When did this beloved genre, for some, become not about the writing but, instead, about the “look at me”. Don’t tell me, you idiot, show me - write it, publish it, make an impression.

Saturday 16 October 2010

Flashbacks Of A Fool

You won't know this, probably because I've never told you, but despite loving the horror genre and defending it staunchly whenever necessary, I do have a little secret. My first two proper novels - "The Loved One" and "Alice" - were contemporary drama and it's one of my long-held ambitions to write something lit'ry, kind of like The Great British Novel. Every now and again, I'll have a tinker and make some notes and then something comes up and I never complete it. In fact, I probably never will but tonight, the idea is playing on my mind.

I went over to have dinner with Pauline, who is beautiful and spirited and one of my oldest friends and I love her dearly. We had a pizza and rented a film ("The Losers", it wasn't bad) and then watched the late BBC film, which was "Flashbacks Of a Fool". I hadn't heard too many good reports about it, but we decided to stick it out and I'm so glad we did. It had flaws, certainly, but parts of it were - I'm convinced - touched by genius. I much prefered the flashback to the opening Daniel Craig segment (though the coda segment with Craig was good) and it was just an incredible film.

The one sequence which really sticks with me is where young Joe and young Ruth are at her house, messing around and they lip-sync to Roxy Music. The sequence is slowed down and there's so much life and vitality and fun, it's a joy to watch. And that's what makes me think - I'd love to do that. Just the once.

Watch "Flashbacks Of A Fool", it's a good film.

Friday 15 October 2010

More signing goodness...

Another photograph from Newcon (courtesy of Ian Whates)
- the signing line-up, with Neil Bond, me, (Dr) Steve Longworth and Paul Melhuish.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Happy birthday.. Sir Roger Moore, 83 today.

Alison & I watched "Live & Let Die" this evening, in honour - cracking fun!

Wednesday 13 October 2010

The way he makes me laugh...

In our house, we’ve moved to the default routine that it’s my job to get Dude bathed and ready for bed and to read his bedtime story (or, as is more frequently the case now, to have it read to me). Last night, as he & I had been out for a wander/bike ride after dinner, I thought it might be nice for Alison to get some time with him and put him to bed. I asked him and he pondered the question for a moment, as Alison & I stood there waiting. He decided to solve it the same way important issues have been solved for centuries - a quick case of eenie-meenie-me-nee-moe.

He went through his little poem, different to the one I remember learning at school and it slowly became obvious to all of us that he’d miscalculated - moe was going to end up on Alison. I smiled. He got to the end:

eenie - pointing at me
meenie - pointing at Alison
me-nee -pointing at me
mo - pointing at Alison, quickly followed by
wuh - pointing at me

It made both of us laugh so much that, even though I offered to let her go up, I ended up putting him to bed and telling him a story.

I have a wonderful little kid, I really do.

- - -
In other news, the publisher passed on the zombie pitch. Bummer. He liked the prose, but the plot didn’t move him. Ah, bugger. I wrote back, thanking him for his time and for coming back to me so quickly. He said to approach him again with ideasand I probably will - I think I have the start of another one, even as I type this - but at the moment, I’m just licking my wounds a little.

However, onwards and ever upwards. I’m doing a little bit of writing in Gaffney over the next few days for another project (which is looking hopeful) and then I’m back to the Lost Film novella.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

NewCon 5 (9/10th October 2010)

You know how sometimes you read a report and it appears as if the person wasn't at the event at all? This is one of those, I'm afraid - I had a great time, I met a lot of good people, I went to a reading but I didn't do any of the main panels. So other people might have far more accurate reports of the con than I do. Oh well, I had a good time.

I’d never been in the Fishmarket art centre in Northampton before, but it’s a good space - open and airy, with plenty of natural light. There’s a little café at the top, small special-interest shops down the sides and plenty of room to move about.

Paul from the NSFWG was manning the door when I arrived, so I had a chat with him and Susan (another NSFWG member). Russell Morgan, an artist from Kettering that I knew from Facebook but only met for the first time at FantasyCon, came over - he had some (very good) pictures in the art show and we had a drink and a chat, about writing and drawing, influences and horror and a project that we might work on together.

There were panels and readings through the day - the panels were in the main area (which carried quite a bit of echo), the readings at the back, in a little room that was rather exotically called a studio. I unfortunately only managed one reading - though I did get to meet Sam Stone, which was a bonus - held by Jaine Fenn, Ian Whates and Stephen Palmer, who let Ian read his piece too. Very good, with some great excerpts read, but the room got a little stuffy after a while.
After chatting with Sam about writing, later joined by David Howe, I then checked out the stalls, met Ian Whates’ lovely partner and finally got to see “Shoes, Ships & Cadavers” (the anthology of new writing from the Northampton SF Writers Group, edited by Ian Whates and Ian Watson, with a terrific introduction by Alan Moore). Neil Bond & I oohed-and-aahed over it and it’s lovely looking tome. He & I sat and chatted for a while, joined by Donna Scott (both members of the writing group).

After lunch (where I managed to pick up a long sought 70s sleaze novel from the market in town), I took to door duty with Tim Taylor (also from the NSFWG), where we were entertained by the Jester and his magic show and chatted about writing, our plans and our processes. All good fun.

Then there was a real buzz in the air, as Alan Moore arrived. Now I’ve never met Alan Moore before (he’s a Northampton resident) and the only real contact I’ve had with him has been interviews regarding films of his work, where he comes across as quite crotchety (though it has to be said, having seen the films, I can see his viewpoint). His very lovely words about my story “What We Do Sometimes, Without Thinking” made me think differently, but I was still a bit trepidatious when I went to introduce myself. How much of an idiot am I? “Hello,” I said, “my name’s Mark West and I just wanted to thank you for your kind words about my story.” “Which one’s yours?” he asked. I told him it was the train one and he remembered it, complimented me on it again and was full of praise for the book and what we were doing and then he said “keep it local” What a truly lovely man, all beard and great jacket and rings, but exuding this wonderfully genial air. I didn’t get to sit next to him on the signing panel (damn you, Tim!), instead I was sat between Neil and Dr Steve and had a great time. The book seemed to do well, people were very interested and hey, if you’re a writer, being on a signing panel is terrific fun. Three months ago, I wasn’t even in the NSFWG. Now I was, I’d written a story in a week and met Alan Moore through it. Sometimes, you know, this writing lark is bloody brilliant!

I had to head off a little after this and didn’t get to say goodbye to everyone, but the rest of NewCon partied into the night (and then met up again the next day). It was a cracking con, I really enjoyed myself and can’t wait for the next one.

Donna Scott, Neil Bond and me, on the signing panel

Monday 4 October 2010

Very pleased with this

In one of his patented real-time reviews over at his blog weirdmonger/, Des Lewis is reviewing the anthology "Never Again". In one of the story reviews, he has this to say...

"It reminds me of the classic story, 'The City In The Rain', by Mark West that I reviewed
here.. "

His review of the story is about halfway down the page.

How cool is this, though? Des Lewis is quoting my work in reviews!

Definitely chuffed with this.

Sunday 3 October 2010

1st draft done!

Wahey! Finally, the first draft of the novel pitch is now complete (3 chapters, 6,091 words). A brisk run-through, then I'll send that 2nd draft on to my pre-readers.


Lost Film Novellas (trailer test)

This is just a test - my novella hasn't even been completed yet and nor has Stephen Bacon's, but I do like to do this arty-farty things...

Let me know what you think.

Saturday 2 October 2010

What you see, whilst train chasing

Dude & I like to go train chasing. It's a term I invented (and used in my story "What We Do Sometimes, Without Thinking") because he likes trains and loves to watch them and I thought calling ourselves trainspotters this early in the day was a bit limiting. But train chasing sounds cool, I think.

Anyway, one of our haunts is the bridge on the road that connects Rushton to Pipewell. It's relatively safe, not too much traffic and with a kerb and the views are very nice. A week or so ago, we went out and I took this picture, looking towards Desborough, with Triangular Lodge just off to the left (there's plenty of history, some of it quite macabre, around here).

I love train chasing because I get to spend quality time with the Dude - it also has other benefits too!