If you’ve been around recently, you’ll already know the big news. If you haven’t…where HAVE you been? Oh, you have a life? Well, I hear they’re overrated. I won’t hold it against you. Better late than never.
Anyway, in honour of the publication of my debut novel, Greaveburn, I have decided to have a bonanza. Some lucky bugger is going to win things and that could mean YOU! But I’m not going to make it easy for you. Why would I? This isn’t the kind of giveaway you find on daytime tv where the question is something like:What is the name of the money-winning organisation for which millions of people buy tickets every week? Is it: A: The National Lottery B: The National Pottery C: The National Mockery (answers on a postcard, kids!)
No, we’re not going to do that, because that’d be crap. Instead, we’re going to go all Challenge Anneka on you. Below, you will find a couple of Greaveburn-related images. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to take one of these images (or one of your own making) and use it in the most imaginative way possible. The most outrageous/funny/obscure entry wins a personalised, signed copy of Greaveburn itself for your shelf and, of course, all entries will be put into a gallery for everyone to see and share (We’ll keep track of them on the new competition page). All mediums are accepted, including photos, vids, animations or whatever else you deranged readers can come up with.
Here are a few ideas to get you going:
- A tableau of you and your Steampunk/Goth friends brandishing the logo.
- Respraying your car/scooter/Harley Davidson with the cover images (That’d be freaking awesome).
- …or maybe a tattoo somewhere about your virgin flesh? (Soooo not worth the resulting prize!)
- Carve the title into a motorway overpass (I in no way endorse this vandalistic behaviour………although SOME might think it cool)
- Get your friends to spell out Greaveburn at a football game.
Whatever you come up with…camera *click*…email (Under my pic on the right, over there)…Simple!
I’m going to leave this open until the end of September, so pop back and see if you’ve won!
I’m sorry, did you think this was going to be about how to present yourself as an author to readers/interviewers and other such people you’ll be meeting along the way? No no. What I need, dear friends, is your opinion! If you were paying attention to any of my interweb outlets yesterday, you’ll have noticed that the ebook version of Greaveburn is now available for purchase. A-woo-hoo! This is a major step in itself, and I’m absolutely ecstatic, but it’s still just a warm up for the print copies being released on the 20th. Ok, self-plug over. Now what’s the relevance? Well, it’s got me thinking about how a professional writer comes across, and how important it is to how we’re seen. Surely the words are all that matters, right? Well, I don’t know. So, we’ll start with “Does The Look matter?”
Let’s have a think. Picture your favourite author. There aren’t that many, in the grand scheme of things, where I know what they really look like. But the ones that I do know by sight have a very particular look. Let’s have a look at the kind of folk I mean:
Neil Gaiman is a hero of mine. I’ve never been shy about sharing it. He’s an awesome writer, and incredibly versatile in what he can turn his hand to. I think his first ever book was a biography for Duran Duran (but don’t quote me. I may have my authors mixed up). But his writing isn’t just what makes him so damned cool. Just look at the dude. Long black coat, awesome hair, monochrome photos. He’s like a literary Neo. If only I could pull off an ounce of his coolosity, I’d think myself pretty darn hip and down with the kids.
The original dude of all dudes, as far as I’m concerned. The Discworld series is what got me into the Specualtive Fiction genre, and they still make me laugh on every re-read over 25 years later (Jeez, where did that go?). If anyone doesn’t like my writing, it’s Terry Pratchett’s fault. He inspired me to start creating my own worlds, even if thos early ones will never saw the light of day (and never will *shudder*). But look at him. He has a jaunty hat, he drinks tea, he’s covered in mice. And he still looks like the kind of guy you’d invite round for scones and a laugh. He looks like a really nice guy, and yet you take him seriously, too. Damn it, Terry! How do you do it?
Ok, obvious gender comparisons aside, Anne Rice knows how to work a look (take that Gok Wan). She looks like she would offer you apple pie and a glass of milk, then garrote you with that rosary and drink your blood from your skull. She also looks like she could walk into a room with Lestat and Louis, all nonchalant, and fit right in. She’s awesome; like a badass grandma that could roundhouse your head off with her oxford heels.
The Master himself. He doesn’t need to wear all black, he doesn’t need a cool coat. He’s got his specs and his typewriter, and that’s how he rolls. No one’s saying that Stephen King is going to win any Mr. World competitions. But that’s not the point of him is it? The point is, he could stand in front of Conan the Barbarian on PCP, and Stephen would just talk to him. Nice-and-calm. Before you know it, Conan’s screaming bloody murder and commiting Hara Kiri because he can’t handle the crazy that King has just dropped in his ear. Now THAT’S a writer! He also looks cool in a stripey shirt, of which I have plenty.
And so what have we learnt? Gaiman teaches us the virtues of awesome hair, cool coats and monochrome. Pratchett accessorises like a boss. Anne Rice preaches the virtues of a simple black number and a statement bob (not a choice I’ll be jumping on, I can assure you). And King shows us that sometimes the backdrop speaks proverbial volumes, and that can be all you need.
What does it all mean for yours truly? For a guy who’s just trying to break into the world of fiction, wielding his copy of Greaveburn like a Judeo-Christian tome and begging to be taken seriously? It means I need to get in the back of my wardrobe and have a rummage, that’s what it means…
Thanks for reading.
Well, folks, we’re on the last leg of the journey now. It’s been a long year, but Greaveburn is done, edited, covered, and at the printers. And so without much further ado, I would like to give you all a glimpse of what’s to come. This is the part I’ve personally been waiting for for a loooong time. Here’s what Greaveburn’s going to look like on the shelves!
(Drum Roll, please!)
Ain’t she purdy? Thanks to the incredible work of Ravven Kitsune, Greaveburn now has a face! Or faces…What you see here, folks, is Abrasia and Darrant against the backdrop of Greaveburn. I have to say that Ravven has done an incredible job here, not just artistically, which is obvious, but in getting the whole thing to look like it just leapt out of my head. fantastic work. Send her praise on Twitter and such.
But that’s not all. I can also reveal the OFFICIAL Greaveburn blurb! Or Greave-blurb, if you like (which I do, so there). Take a look:
A hero murdered.
A girl alone.
A city of villains.
From the crumbling Belfry to the Citadel’s stained-glass eye, across acres of cobbled streets and knotted alleyways that never see daylight, Greaveburn is a city with darkness at its core. Gothic spires battle for height, overlapping each other until the skyline is a jagged mass of thorns.
Archduke Choler sits on the throne, his black-sealed letters foretell death for the person named inside. Abrasia, the rightful heir, lives as a recluse in order to stay alive. With her father murdered and her only ally lost, Abrasia is alone in a city where the crooked Palace Guard, a scientist’s assistant that is more beast than man, and a duo of body snatchers are all on her list of enemies.
Under the cobbled streets lurk the Broken Folk, deformed rebels led by the hideously scarred Darrant, a man who once swore to protect the city. And in a darkened laboratory, the devious Professor Loosestrife builds a contraption known only as The Womb.
With Greaveburn being torn apart around her, can Abrasia avenge her father’s murder before the Archduke’s letter spells her doom.
So that’s what’s going down in the old town of Greaveburn. I hope it’s piqued your interest, because it’s on its way! Now as if that isn’t enough juicy stuff for you, I’d also like to draw your attention to the new page at the top of your screen entitled “TOUR DEETS”. That’s right, my little chickadees, me and the Greavesters are hitting the road this summer to meet some folks, sign some stuff, and have a laugh or three along the way. As we get new places to visit and details about when me and Greavesters will be there, the itinerary (scary word) will be updated on the DEETS page, so keep an eye on that new page for updates. I can’t wait to meet you all in person!
Thanks for reading!
Ladies and Gentelmen, this is an unscheduled public service announcement.
Today, a lovely little pick-me-up has occured. I got a phonecall from David North of the BookIt show on Doncaster’s local radio station Sine FM. Some of you may remember that I had an interview on a different show late last year but BookIt is specifically about books and…this time, it’s going to be about mine! As they had an unscheduled cancellation from another author, and David has just read Not Before Bed, he called to ask if they could record a reading of one of the stories and air it on the show! How cool is that!?
And so folks, this post is to inform you that if you listen in to Sine FM at 11am on Thursday (28th June), you will be able to experience one of my stories like they hever have been before!
If you’re in Doncaster, just tune in to 102.6 Fm on your radio. Or, if you’re anywhere else in the world, you can listen online here: http://www.sinefm.com/listen_live
I hope you guys get to have a listen. I’ll certainly be tuning in myself, of course. And then NEXT month, they’ll be airing an interview with little old me about the release of Greaveburn. I’m a proper Radio Regualr
I was watching The Book Show last week (I forget which day. It was raining at the Hay Festival, but this is Britain, so that's not really life defining.) and they had one of my favourite poets, Lemn Sissay as a guest. He's written a poem called 'Spark Catchers' to be erected in the Olympic Stadium this year, and I can't think of anyone more deserving, really.
When Stephen King started to write the Dark Tower series with The Gunslinger, way back in the mists of time, he said that it was reading Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings that inspired him to do it. King wanted to write a fantasy epic that would be as vast as the LotR universe. Hopefully, in years to come, if anyone ever reads my own work, it would be The Dark Tower series that I would quoet as inspiring me to write my own epic work of Speculative Fiction. That’s not to say that I dont love LotR too. I do. But there’s something about Roland Deschain and his Ka-tet that just resonates with me on every level imaginable. From that first famous line (which I quote verbatim when asked for an example of brilliant and simple writing) to the very last moments in Roland’s company, I can think of no other series that has rocked my imaginative world in quite the same way.
With that in mind, when I finally reached the Tower (because that’s how King makes you feel, like you’ve made the journey yourself) in book 7, I was utterly satisfied, utterly bewildered and felt utterly lost. Nothing I have read since has ever come close to being as EPIC as that series. But there’s a little saviour in the form of The Wind Through the Keyhole. Thank the Man Jesus, say thank ya.
As you may already know, this volume slots into the Dark Tower series between books four and five, filling in some blanks which I never knew were there in both the chronology of the story and history of Midworld (and Outworld, and all that lay outside and between). As a stand alone book, it might not shake you to your very foundation, but if you’re already a fan of the series (and if not, WHY not?) it’s like eating the best steak of your life (or asparagus stick, for you veggies) and, just as you finish, finding another tasty morsel hidden under the lettuce leaf on the side of your plate.
Suffice to say, the Wind Through the Keyhole makes for some tasty reading (extended the metaphor too far?). I dont want to talk about the plot in case of spoilers, but lets just say that its a brilliant way to insert an extra volume without shaking the foundations of everything that comes afterward. It’s a a very clever story within a story within a novel and this Russian Doll effect is what makes it really different. Of course, King has done this before in Song of Susannah, but The Wind Through the Keyhole does it better. If King had released this idea as a book in its own right, it’d be fantastic. As part of the Dark Tower series, it’s bloody brilliant. It’s times like The Wind Through the Keyhole when you realise (all over again) why King is a master of the craft, and why I envy his skill so damned much.
If you know the Dark Tower series, read it. If you don’t, then set aside a chunk of your life and bask in the awesomeness. I implore you.
Thanks for reading.
Oh yes, Zombies and Vamps, the post you’ve all been waiting for has arrived! After reading yesterday’s offering about his excellent novel, Dead Men, you have returned to get a taste of the author himself. And so, without any further ado and with no more preamble or fanfare, I give to you the poet, the author, and all round nice kinda guy, Richard Pierce.
Enjoy the trip – and it is a trip
In the lovely village I am fortunate enough to live in, I’m now talked of as the famous writer. Which is very odd, because I’m not famous at all. There is a common misconception that all published writers have a massive publicity machine behind them, that they’ll just be able to sit at home, in the comfort of their study chair, and watch sales rise and rise while they’re busy eccentrically producing the next masterpiece for their captive audience. Oh, and occasionally fielding phone calls from the publishers offering yet another all-expenses paid book tour to some exotic location. Unfortunately, real life in publishing nowadays very different to that. Or should that be fortunately?
A writer who has found a home for his or her first novel with a small independent publisher will get significant support on the editing side – Jon, my editor, spent hours with me going through the tiniest bits of grammar, meaning, punctuation, explaining the typesetting process etc etc – but when it comes to getting a big marketing push, there just isn’t the resource. It does make me smile when I tell people I’ve been here and there, and that I’m off to the US in June, and then add that I’m paying for it all myself. But, if I believe in the book, I have to do it, however uncomfortable it might be for my Yorkshire wallet.
The week Dead Men was launched, I was in London on the Monday, Portsmouth the next morning, then Doncaster in the evening and for the whole of Wednesday, then home, and another event here in the village on the Friday. I then spent a whole day in London doing 13 radio interviews (half of which were live), one after the other. And on Good Friday, I travelled all the way up to Dundee for a talk in the evening, and then back home on the Saturday. Cold and tired.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, this is not a miserable piece. I am not complaining. It’s been wonderful, sitting on trains, watching the countryside slide by (and the services have, on the whole been reliable, although with insufficient seating at times). It’s been even more wonderful, from a writer’s point of view, to be able to sit and watch lots and lots of strangers, absorbing their idiosyncrasies, storing them for future use, either as walk-on parts in some future novel, or as main characters who will write a whole book themselves, because they’ll be beyond my control.
The best things about all the travelling, though, and the book signings and interviews, are the individuals I got to meet, from crazy, rude people, all the way through to the people who engaged me in long conversations, even if they didn’t buy a copy of the book. It’s a hard slog, and sometimes hardly anyone turns up, but it’s worth meeting even just one person who’s interested, or one person who makes some sort of impression on you. That’s what a writer’s life is all about. Taking other people and putting them or their words into the stories we tell. Here are some of those people.
Like Fiona at the Natural History Museum, one of the Day Guides who help people to plan their days at that spectacular edifice, who calmed my nerves, talked to me about her mother who had met Charles ‘Silas’ Wright years ago when she was a young woman, the same Wright who features at the beginning of Dead Men. Fiona bought a copy for her mother who has since started regular correspondence with me – humbling.
Like Alan in Portsmouth, an Old Danensian like me, who turned up fifteen minutes early so he could show me photos of Portsmouth during the Second World War, who talked to me about my old school, and about how he loves Portsmouth now. ‘Oh, I don’t read much,’ he said to me when I asked him if he wanted to buy a copy of my book. ‘But my wife reads loads.’ And then he turned and left. That’s me put in my place.
A rowing couple in Portsmouth, a couple of lads walking round threateningly and telling me to you know what. Arms in the air. And then the best one, an Irishman whom I, feeling like a used car salesman sharking through Waterstones, approached and asked if he was interested in a book about the Antarctic. ‘Only if it’s about Tom Crean,’ he said, sounding even broader than the late, great Frank Carson. And then we spoke, not just of Tom Crean (who was a real real hero, who saved Teddy Evans’ life by walking over 30 miles without a compass through the freezing cold, and finished his days running a pub in Annascaul, The South Pole Inn), but of my new friend’s life, of the dreadful accident which had robbed is 30-year-old daughter of both her legs as she saved her own daughter from being run over by a refuse lorry on the way to school. And he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself or her, he was dignified, a caring father, a man complete and at peace with what life had dealt him and his family. ‘I’m just getting books for her so she doesn’t get bored,’ he said. We finished our conversation many times over, but turned back to each other time and again to add something else we felt we had to say to each other. I don’t care if I missed out on sales during that conversation. I just wish I remembered his name, but the piece of paper I wrote it down on has disappeared off with Lord knows what else I’ve lost. But the memory’s there. I wouldn’t be surprised if his name was Tom Crean the Third.
Doncaster was meeting old friends again, like noble Mick and Gray, at the Rovers, although they lost, and realising a dream, to have a page of the programme to myself, though I had always dreamed of it being as a player or a manager of the Rovers, but we can’t have everything. And making new friends, meeting twitter buddies like Craig, whose blog this is, who must be one of the kindest men on the planet [aw shucks - Craig], and his partner Laura, who helped me face the unusually quiet Creative Writing students at Hall Cross School. And Simon Saynor, from SineFM, who must be a long-lost half-brother of mine, who still has so much hair and so much energy he puts me to shame. What a craic that was, doing the Breakfast Show with him. All these people are so much more interesting and talented than I am.
An unexpectedly large crowd for my home event in Stradbroke. Lots of beer donated by St Peter’s Brewery, and me so nervous I forgot to thank them, although their MD was sat right in front of me. A friend, ill with cancer, making the effort to come and she rewarding me with a peck on the cheek as well as buying a book. And one lovely man whom I only know by site, coming and buying two copies of the book early and getting me to sign them because he had to rush off again. And Jack Stevens, from the band Cathedrals & Cars, being the most nervous I’ve ever seen him, because the other two couldn’t make it. And lots of familiar and unfamiliar faces. And talking till my throat could talk no more.
The water diviner in Diss Publishing who was ex-Royal Navy, who swore he could remotely divine water and was helping an African state find more water from his front room in Diss. ‘You don’t need divining rods any more,’ he said. ‘You don’t even need to be there. It’s all in the mind.’ And, you know, I believe him.
The crowd at Dundee could have been larger. Publicity angles had got confused, and so the event fell between two stools. But the eight souls who did turn up were wildly enthusiastic and made me go on for an hour and a quarter rather than the 45 minutes I’d planned. Michelle, the Australian girl with a very slight Scottish accent, and her East European friends, the two mature gents who kindly laughed at all my jokes and asked me really good questions. Nick, an old friend from Cambridge who works up there sometimes and had hidden himself from view when I’d gone into Waterstones before the gig, because he and his wife wanted to surprise me. Russel from the Waterstones up there was a brick (he writes crime novels himself), and the gathering down the pub afterwards with McEwans 80 was, er, lots of fun. And the folks at the Discovery Centre who gave me a free tour of Scott’s Discovery, which I later found out, back in Sassenach country, is haunted by quite a few spirits. Full cycle.
And so, now, as I brace myself for my US tour, as I try to edit my next book, A Fear of Heights, I look back at those wild crazy days just after book launch and wish I’d written it all down, in the minutest detail. Ah, but I have, and, like I said to Craig when I promised him this blog post – all the best stories are written in your head first.
Thanks to Richard for a great post! I’m honoured to have been a very small part of it. And now what you’re wondering is where you can find out more about this guy? Well, you can follow his Twitter with @tettig, or hit his blog HERE. Or, of course, you can buy his book…
Thanks for reading.
I don’t do this very often. Mostly because I don’t get to read half as much as I’d like, but mostly because I post reviews on Goodreads instead of on the blog. However, there’s an exception to every rule and this particular one is going to be broken by Dead Men.
Now, I’ve met a lot of fellow aspiring authors over the internet, mostly on Twitter, and read a LOT of independent work. Some good, some that still needed work. But now and again, I meet someone who really does deserve to be raised above us all; someone who deserves a healthy dose of props/kudos/respect. This post is my little nod to Richard Pierce, who I believe to be worthy of those three things.
Richard has done what many (including myself) aspire to do. He’s been published in the traditional rather than the self-published route. That means that he’s jumped those dreaded hurdles which wake us up at night, in a flop sweat, screaming unhinged syllables into the dark. You say that’s just me? Oh right…sorry. Anyways, he’s made it by hook or by crook, via a collection of poetry and now his book is on the shelves. Congratulations, Richard!
What’s astounding about this story is that I’ve actually found time to read it! Here’s the official blurb:
Birdie Bowers is a woman with a dead man’s name. Her parents had been fascinated by Henry Birdie Bowers, one of Captain Scott s companions on his ill-fated polar expedition. A hundred years after the death of Bowers and Scott, she sets out to discover what really happened to them… The discovery of Captain Scott’s body in the Antarctic in November 1912 started a global obsession with him as a man and an explorer. But one mystery remains why did he and his companions spend their last ten days in a tent only 11 miles from the safety of a depot that promised food and shelter? Dead Men tells the story of two paths. One is a tragic journey of exploration on the world s coldest continent, the other charts a present-day relationship and the redemptive power of love.
Now what’s interesting, and brilliant about Dead Men is right there in the blurb. This is not only a story about one of the greatest feats in human exploratory history, but its about the smaller event of two people falling in love. If you’re expecting a long-winded, overly glamourous re-telling of Scott’s journey, you won’t find it here. If you’re looking for a chick-flick style romance, go somewhere else. This book is neither formulaic or predictable. I can honestly say that there is nothing I’ve ever read which has been quite like Dead Men. The mix of a real-life, very relatable story and the themes of obsession are a fantastic contrast to each other, while Pierce shows us that they’re not Polar (excuse the pun) opposites at all. You don’t have to understand WHY someone becomes obsessed, you only have to accept it as part of them and, if you love them, maybe even embrace it a little yourself. Who knows? You might find something beautiful to share.
And that’s what Dead Men is all about, at least it was for me.
Now that the literary study is over and done with, what did I think? I can throw compliments at Pierce and his work until the cows come home and all f them will seem hackneyed and bland, or overly enthusiastic and hence ignorable. So I’ll put it this way. I bought Richard’s book from my Doncaster branch of Waterstones on a Tuesday afternoon. By 7 o’clock the next morning, I’d read it. More than that, I read the last page, and realised I was smiling.
Go and read it. Download it, buy the hard copy, have it sent to you on post-it notes, but read it. You won’t be disappointed.
And now for the surprise that I promised you all through Twitter!
If you tune into the blog tomorrow…Richard Pierce, author of Dead Men, will be guest blogging about his book touring experiences!
Thanks for reading.
Yes, I’m one of those people that just randomly types things like “Steampunk Movies” into Google and hopes to find something genius to watch. Of course, you end up with the usual list of top ten lists that you’ve seen before and nothing new. Well, my friends, this time I have gone deeper into the Matrix to bring you a juicy eye-feast. Youtube be praised!
As I have discussed in a previous post I’m always as looking for more examples of the incredible creativeness that Steampunk encourages. And here are some visual treats for you:
One of my personal favourites are the very kitch and toungue-in-cheek adventures of the League of Steam. They’re a team who battle paranormal beings. It’s great. Here’s an episode to watch, but there are loads more on their website.
My trip to Budapest, although only a few days, was the most surreal experience of my life. As some of you may know from my going-away post, I did absolutely no research about the city before going there. It was a literal out-of-the-hat type holiday. I didn’t know what places of interest to visit, what historical sites were there or any of the history of the country. I especially didn’t know the language. But when I got there, I realised that I DID know the city. In fact, for the last three years, I’ve been visiting Budapest in my head without even knowing it. Because, as I walked the streets, I realised that parts of Budapest were exactly how Greaveburn to look! I don’t just mean in a similar-kind-of-way. I mean in a This-is-what-was-in-my-head kind of way.
Here’s a gallery to show you what I mean, the captions, of course, are which Greaveburn buildings I relate to the real ones:
That’s only four pics, but I’m afraid they’re quite high res and I can’t fit any more on. Maybe I’ll do another gallery on a separate page later on.
Anyway, you get the idea. And with the edits for Greaveburn coming back from Inspired Quill for the second time, everything’s starting to feel just a little too real. We’re getting closer and closer, folks. The time will soon be upon us. I may sound calm right now, but expect some serious panic-posts very very soon
Anyway, now that I feel I’ve visited some of the places in my head, and that I may well be living in the Matrix, I’d like to suggest Budapest for your next trip. If you like to relax, but in a city environment, I can’t think of anywhere else I could suggest. It’s peaceful, despite being a big city. No one rushes around. The food is great. The exchange rate right now is pretty damn good. Just avoid the Austrian beer. NOT good. The local brew, Dreher, however, is great.
While we were there, we poked around just about anywhere we could. Especially in search of a good bar. But our strangest discovery was a little place called Verne’s, named after the incredible Jules Verne. And outside Verne’s, I found something that made me feel completely at home; a piece of Steampunk awesomeness:
Great isn’t it? I dropped a Greaveburn business card into it for some unsuspecting Hungarian to find. Who knows? I might get a following over there! (I’m not holding my breath hahaha).
As always, I’d like to apologise for how long it’s been since I’ve posted. I know I’ve been slacking off. But, as you will soon see, it’s all for a good reason. The next time I post, I hope, it’ll be to show you my Steampunk costume for the upcoming Weekend at the Asylum Steampunk convention. I intend to look utterly ridiculous, and I can’t wait! Keep your eyes on this spot!
Thanks for reading.
This is more of an update post, really. Just to let you know about the fun stuff that’s going on around here and elsewhere.
Let’s start with the blog.
Well, as you can see at the top of the screen, there’s a new page called DOWNLOADS. In there you’ll find a few nifty pictures if you’ve read Not Before Bed or any of my other stuff (and an mp3 of my radio interview very soon). If you’ve read the book on Kindle or online and want to join the Reader’s Gallery, for instance, you can download any of Not Before Bed’s covers for use in your photo. Or, if you just like the spooky forest image I used for the cover (my own photography so don’t worry about using it) then right-click save to your little heart’s content!
Over on the right side of the screen, you’ll see a new widget, too. That’s just to show whos blogs I read the most and who’s I think you should take a look at. Nothing wrong with a bit of friendly mutual promotion, eh?
On there you’ll find two fellow writers who you might have seen me mention in previous posts; Pete Denton and Christie Adams. They’re part of the writing group that I’m honoured to be involved with, Steel City Writers (take note, you’ll be hearing much more about that very soon). Another blog on the list is someone who I met on Twitter and who has consistently impressed me with her work, the Poet known as “Eve Redwater”. You really should check out her stuff, and she’s also a local lass so that’s an extra bonus. And, last but no least, there’s the “From the Rooftops” blog which covers everything culturally relevant to anything you can think of. From the Rooftop’s writer, James, may only just be starting out in the world of blogging, but I give you my personal guarantee that this will be a must-read on your blog list from now on.
So, the blog keeps getting niftier and niftier. A-woohoo! Who knows what will happen next!
Thanks for reading
I love movies almost as much as I love writing. Most of the time, they become interchangable as I watch a movie that sparks some idea that ends up as a story (NOT Fan Fiction. I’m sorry, but I had to stipulate that). Anyways, as I’m sure you’ll have guessed by now, I’m seriously into my dark imagery. Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake is among my favourite reads, and I can’t think of anything more incredibly Gothic than that. Anyways, as I sometimes so, I’m going to talk about the movies that have inspired me ove the years or, more specifically, the Gothic ones.
Now, you might disagree as to whether these films are truly in the classical Gothic tradition. But I’m talking about the darkness, here. That feeling of dread or shivery exultation you get from reading a good ghost story, or experiencing something dark that you can’t help but like. So, without much further ado, here are my favourite Gothic movies…
Let’s start with the oldest first. As well as being one of the first Vampire movies I ever saw (not because I was old enough to be there, but because it was on TV) this is one that still bloody petrifies me. The fact that it has no sound, and the camera angles/use of shadow just make the whole thing so ethereal. Take a look at what I mean, and turn off the sound. I don’t know why people insist on adding stupid music to clips of Nosferatu. Talk about missing the point!
This probably isn’t in the true Gothic feel, being more of a sci-fi movie, but the imagery is certainly dark enough. There’s also a deep sense of being trapped and a feeling of futility to the protagonist’s fight. How can he possibly escape the labyrinthine avenues and alleyways of Dark City when the villains can warp the world around him. You might also see a bit of a similarity between the villains and Max Schreck’s character from Nosferatu. Oh, and it has Keifer Sutherland in it. What more can you possibly ask for? Apart from JENNIFER CONNELY! Schwing!
And now to my favourite of this group. I have seen this movie so many times that the VHS (remember those?) warped from the heat and the DVD has lost its shine. James O’Barr’s utterly psychotic graphic novel is the inspiration for this film, and not a lick of the depth seems to be lost. The dialogue is dumbed down for the masses, since the comic was written in almost constant poetry, but parts of the original come through in Brandon Lee’s lines. It also has one of the creepiest villains this side of the Joker. This film, out of this sall selection, probably hits the Gothic feel the most. Eric’s return from the dead to seek his revenge on Shelley’s murderers is always secondary to the love story, the power of which literally resurrects him from the grave. Take a look at the trailer, which focusses more on the action, and so does it no justice whatsoever. But you’ll get the idea.
This is what it looks like inside my head a lot of the time, folks Greaveburn at the very least has been influenced by the kind of camera shots and colourscapes you see in these films. And since I tend to write my stories as I see them, and so as cinematically as possible, I think you’ll see where I get my obsession with dark imagery from.
Anyway, it’s been nice sharing with you as always, especially these three favs of mine. Let me know if you have any other suggestions. There’s always a chance you might put me onto a gem I haven’t seen
Thanks for reading.
Well, this is quite the benchmark. When I started this little blog, I never imagined that I’d be 130 posts in and still be finding things to jabber on about. I suppose it’s kind of similar to how a novel gets written. Sure, you have your plot, you have your basic characters, but you never know exactly how long it’ll be when finished, or how those characters will develop in the dire straits you place them in. I certainly don’t! While writing Greaveburn, I didnt know how it was going to end, or even how the second part was going to go. I think that’s the benefit of a blog; it’s open ended. While Greaveburn had to have a THE END, the blog keeps rolling out. And hopefully, it’ll keep on rolling as other novels and stories are written and published for you all to peruse.
With this post, I think I should do something I haven’t done in a while. This post is going to be about other people, rather than me and my characters (coz, in the end, who wants to listen to my drivel any more anyway?). So, without much further ado, here’s the first recommendation. A local (to me, at least) poet and writer who deserves some recognition. If it’s poetry and I can actually read it, it MUST be good. So here she is…Stacey aka Eve Redwater of Redwater Ramblings. Here’s one of her poems that has my appreciation:
My mother always said, That the milkman was the devil. The way he comes a'clinking, Every day at hellish hours, That horrid, loathsome rattling. That way he chugs Without a care. And we collect him, wordlessly- Grabbing necks, without thinking; Catching souls who are the last - Or are the first - to reach the steps, At darkish hours, even if the world Outside Is bitter with a cold. For all you know, He's sneezed his way throughout his life. For all you know, He's maybe sneezed into the glasses He so lovingly arranges, On every step, on every path- With a sultry smile that says: "I've seen your face somewhere before." He's grinning at the housewives, While snorting at their children Playing goose with their little shadows, As they run the street at midnight. In his stubby vehicle, he brakes before the Headlights Meets with their milky faces... A good excuse to take them home to wives, Without their precious lambs. Smiling As he spans the threshold Into your domain.
How creepy is that!? This poem literally gives me the willies. If I could have pilfered any poem to include in Not Before Bed it would have been this one. Lucky for Miss Redwater, I’m not the plagiarist type. You should definitely check out her other stuff. It’s all as good, and not al as dark. I just liked this one with my horror-adled mind.
Now, what else shall we talk about? As I try to decide, here’s a picture of a sandwich…
Tell me you didnt just get a little flutter of giddy, like you’ve just watched Molly Ringwald walk into the dance in Pretty in Pink, or when Cameron takes the heat for the trashed Ferrari in Ferris Bueler’s Day Off. Yeah, you can feel it can’t you?
Now, for the ultimate in variety, we go from poetry to music (via a bacon sandwich) to some great artwork. Images that have given me a little tingle lately:
Tell me you dont want to run out and get your Steampunk on after seeing that. What an incredible image. Next:
Talk about atmosphere! These are images I came across while looking for ideas for the cover of Greaveburn. There are others, but these two really stood out. Wouldn’t the word GREAVEBURN in gold across the top of these images look awesome? Hell, I’d buy it. But I’m biased hahaha. And finally I’ll leave you with an image that really moved me to strong emotion…that of laughter. I give you Phil Collins: The Younger Years
Thanks for dropping by the 130th Celebration! And, as always, thanks for reading!
Yes indeedy, as if the Steampunk make-over wasn’t enough, I’ve gone and given you a new page, too. Take a look at the top of the page and you’ll see an excitiable little critter shouting “Readers Gallery”. Go on, give him a tickle.
What you’ll find is my own meagre way of saying thank you to all of you who have provided support for me over the years. Readers, reviewers, people who’ve kept me (relatively) sane. The plan is simple: Have readers submit photos of themselves reading Not Before Bed ALL OVER THE WORLD! I already have a few exciteable shutterbugs winging their offerings to me as we speak, and so there’ll be a gallery very soon.
But for now, I have the interactive map up and running. Compiled from reviews, ratings, comments and emails received from you lovely people all across the globe, you can now see how wide the Craig Hallam readership has reached. When I started out, I thought it’d be done in finve minutes flat. As it turns out, there are so many of you lovely lot, that it took HOURS! And I enjoyed every single second.
Here’s a hint on how it works: Click on the blug pegs for more info on people who reviewed. Yellow pegs for raters and other important folk. And there’s one other colour…see if you can find it
I hope you enjoy the new page, and keep coming back for the updated gallery. I’ve told people to be as wierd and wonderful as they like in their photos, and these people are the kind to enjoy Not Before Bed, so who knows what they’ll get up to!?
Thanks for reading!
A nomination for a blog award?
Thanks go to Conrad at A Side of Writing for nominating me for this lovely, shiny award. The rules are simple: Nominate six other blogs to pass the torch to. And share ten things with your readers that they don’t already know about you. Let’s do the easy part first. People who I think deserve some serious Bloggage Recognition:
1. Shea MacLeod’s Everything’s Better With Dragons - For her multimedia giggle-fest of a blog.
2. Pete Denton’s Pete Denton – Writer - For Blogging about the trials of writers better than I do.
3. Laura’s Cyborg Seamstress - For her awesome costuming skills (For all you Cosplayers, Larpers and Steampunks out there).
4. Stacey’s Redwater Ramblings - For her excellent examples of poetry and prose.
5. Lindsey Sterling’s Music - For making me like the violin with her videos (Geeks, go find the Zelda themes vid. Incredible).
6. Constance Wallace’s Legends of Greenisle - For leaving great little stories lying around for me to read.
And now, the hard part. Ten things you don’t know about me…
1. I play guitar. Badly. So don’t ask me to post any videos/soundbytes of me playing.
2. My drawing (see some older posts for examples) was once used by a short-lived band, ironically named Misplaced Hopes for their Album cover.
3. The first story I ever tried to write (at age 13 or 14) was about a bumbling jester and his talking puppet. It was very similar to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels which I was reading at the time. I never finished it.
4. I’m constantly amazed when people like my writing. I actually think it’s pretty lousy, but I’m also very impressionable and fold under peer pressure so I continue to send things out. Only recently, with the acceptance of Greaveburn, have I gained any confidence in myself.
5. Despite my outward appearance, I’m a serious Rock fan. Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard, Foo Fighters (especially them), Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, KISS…I could go on forever.
6. Although I love writing Steampunk, I worry that with the release of Greaveburn (and with The Alan Shaw Chronicles in the pipeline) will get me typecast. I need to work on other things, too.
7. I’d love to write a movie, and have an idea called LARP: The Movie which I think has real potential. However, I find script writing incredibly hard.
8. I’m a major Geek (note the capital letter). Sci-Fi, Fantasy, anything wierd on tv or film. But my real geekness comes whenever I’m in the vacinity of a Comic Book shop. One of the only things I actually wanted to do when we went to New York City recently was visit a proper comic book store. How sad is that?
9. I don’t mind cheating…
10. I’m glad this list is over
I know, I know, those last two were terrible and, if I think of something else, I’ll come back to you. Promise (crossed fingers).
But thanks for reading everyone, and thanks for the nomination, Conrad!
Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City…
…Or it certainly feels like it. I know, I’ve been gone a while. In fact, this is my first post in the New Year. But there have been trials. Oh yes, there have been trials.
My Laptop was poorly, sick and dying, dragging its hard drive across the floor when I tried to let it out for a wee, not taking its electricity in a morning, and its screen had lost the joyful gleam of when it was just a wee Netbook. And so, I had to take poor Lappy to the Engineers (he always hated that and could smell when we were going), and I’m afraid he’s been put into sleep mode…for good.
I don’t consider myself a nostalgic person as such, but there was something about Lappy that made me get a little choked when I realised he was on his last legs (so to speak). I’ve had it five years, and in that time I’ve completed my Nursing degree and started another in English Literature. But Lappy was where I set down the feverish words of my first published short story “Upon Waking” and every other short tale encompassed in Not Before Bed (and a host of otheres that never made it). The entirety of Greaveburn has been written on there from concept to final draft. And my current WIP, The Alan Shaw Chronicles lived its first 40k words there, too. I’m sad to see the old boy go!
But, out with the old, and in with the new. I have a new Laptop who shall henceforth be called Tony. Named after the billionaire playboy, Tony Stark because he’s slick, fast and metallic red. Booyah, indeed.
Look at him shimmer in the noonday sun! It was almost worth learning all that Russian to get him. Sorry, did I not mention that? This is where the trials come in. You see, Tony had a predecessor. Another shiny red number who we will call Karl. I bought Karl, took him home, lovingly (in a purely platonic sense, you understand) stripped his packaging, and booted him up…and that was where the fun started. You see, on the title screen where it should say “loading Windows 7″, it said “загружение Windows 7″. Bugger.
Of course, I’ve seen enough Bond movies to recognise the language as Russian (And for you astute kids out there, you’re right, the Russian word for Windows is Windows!). I figure, the language settings have just been done wrong. So I Google a Russian translator and start looking for anything resembling the obscure Russian runes that mean “English”, “United Kingdom” or “British” in a hope that a simple click will revert me back to my mother tongue. No such luck! After returning Karl to the shop the three “experts” (Lets call them Harpo, Chico and Groucho) did exactly the same thing that I did, which was search for a Russian translator. Since I’d already done this, I ended up around the counter translating to Chico. Me! Translating Russian! A skill I never knew I had. To cut this odious story short, the versio of Windows installed on this English computer was actually the Russian verson, and so we took Karl to the embassy who returned him to a lovely family in Minsk.
And all should have been well. Except there were no other computers like Karl in the shop. Or, apparently, in any other shop in entire world. So it took two weeks for Tony to arrive. But now he sits warming my knee as I beg your forgiveness. Because this whole elaborate post (although every word be true), is basically a long apology and stream of excuses for abandoning you all for so long.
If you want a happy ending…here it is…
It seems that neither Harpo, Groucho or Chico knew what they were doing at any stage of Tony’s birth. And so the Laptop with i3 processor and 4GB of RAM I payed for has been inadvertently ungraded to an i5 with 6GB of RAM. A quick research shows that to be a £150 pound upgrade freebie! And me being an upstanding citizen, I kept my trap firmly shut and will never return to that shop again!
Now I think I really deserve that BOOYAH!
Thanks for reading.