dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

DNMF Interviews


Here my cousin A.Michael, editor of the very small press DNMF that publishes exclusively to Widnes and Warrington central libraries, interviews six of his writers: Errol Babbage, Cam Lee, Doogie Howsar, Taz, Ed Drew, and Ste Ghost. All six writers featured in the KIXTER anthology.

ERROL BABBAGE on his story Hippy Ritual.

What is Hippy Ritual about?

Hippy Ritual is about a lurid stranger who has his wicked way, basically.

Is it rude?

Not at all. What he does is left completely to the imagination. It’s a situation piece, all in all. A character encounters a problem at the very beginning and that same problem carries all the way through until the end.

What gave you the idea?

Television, as a matter of fact. The tube is a haven for ideas.

Any show in particular?

The world’s wildest police videos, or something like that. The one with the white-haired sheriff who hates bad guys.

I know who you mean. Sheriff Jon Burnell.

You know his name? Wow, that’s hellishly random. I can’t believe you know his name.

He’s awesome.

He is awesome. I love the different terms he uses to describe people, like ‘desperate lunatic’ or ‘drug-crazed madman’.

Does he feature in the story in any way shape or form?

Unfortunately not, no, but he could have. I could rewrite him in quite easily. For the reprint of DNMF back issues, maybe?

Great idea. What are you working on at the minute?

Bit of poetry here and there, but playing the recorder is distracting me from it.

What’s a recorder?

A flute. I have a cheap plastic flute. When I get good I’ll upgrade to a horn made from bone.

Oh, okay. How’s the day job?

Still up to my eyeballs in human trash, basically. It’s no secret what I think of my job and the people I work with. But what can you do but stick it through?

I understand. Whatever pays the council tax and puts Kingsmill on the table though, hey?

Exactly. Times are tight.

Tell me about it. I’ve been strapped for publishing funds for most of last year. At least 30 people have heard of you, however, due to DNMF. You were the 1st story in the 1st issue.

It’s a start.

Have you anything else to contribute to future issues?

Of course. I think I could rustle something up.

Alrighty then. I look forward to it reading it. Cheers, Errol Babbage.

Thank you, Mr Michael.


CAM LEE on his story Fishcakes.

Is Fishcakes the eeriest story you’ve ever done?

I’d say so. I’m usually a kind of Mills & Boon writer, but there was no problem doing a creepy one.

You say it’s virtually all true. Is that true?

You bet. I did it in a couple of sittings. It was so natural, coming out, it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done.

The fact that it takes place in the morning, in the daylight, adds to the tension and suspense. Would you agree?

Yes. It doesn’t have to be dark for you to be scared.

Do you enjoy writing female characters?

Love them, yes. I always wanted to be a teenage girl, for some reason, when I was young. And before you ask, I never tried my sister’s clothes on.

Do you have a sister?

I have three sisters. You’ll see them if you come into the chip shop. That’s probably the reason why I felt like things would be better if I was a girl too, so I could play with them. But, also, there is nothing quite so vulnerable as a teenage girl.

Is business good?

We’re getting by. Being there for years now. You can find us directly opposite the Moorfield Arms pub, next to Booze Buster.

Do you serve teenage girls generous portions?

My sisters serve everyone generous portions.

Oh, I see, you just command ship now.

I chip-in now and again.

Plugs and puns, eh? Ha. Cheers, Cam.

Thank you. Hope to feature again.

Ready when you are.


DOOGIE HOWSAR on his story Emergency Servery.

I know a woman who said Emergency Servery made her feel sick. Was that your intention?

No, but that reaction sincerely pleases me.

It is a total gross out in a way though, wouldn’t you agree? Even the central character pukes up at one point.

I disagree. It’s all suggestive. There'll be people out there who enjoy all the foodstuff I mention in the story and aren’t grossed out at all. It’s not like part of the script from Slaughtered Vomit Dolls or anything.

I beg your pardon?

It’s a dodgy internet movie where people are pulling heads off, scooping them out, being sick in them, and drinking from them. Clips from nightmares, more or less.

I’ve never had a nightmare like that.

Me neither. My friend coined the phrase. I thought it was the best one-line review of a movie I’ve ever heard. Clips from nightmares.

Any truth in the rumours that EM was a play, originally?

None whatsoever. I have no idea how to write stage directions.

But there’s hardly any prose.

I think it’s fresh, that way. I learned from the professional writer Terry Edge that dialogue can carry a plot all by itself. Plus I was getting fed up of writing ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ all the time.

I like the way the story develops into a place completely different from where it started. Is Berky the most engaging character you’ve ever created?

Berky is a potential series, yes. He’s a DVD box-set waiting to happen.

Any plans to write out of 1st person soon?

It depends. 1st person is so much more involving for the reader.

What will you be having for dinner tonight?

Tea, you mean.

Tea then.

Probably some cereal. I eat a lot of cereal these days.

What kind of cereal?

That’s a tad personal, isn’t it? Asking a single man what kind of cereal he eats? You’ll be asking me what particular brand next.

No I won’t. Frosties, cheerios, coco pops……what?

Coco pops? How old do you think I am? Is that how you really picture me, Mr Michael? Sat on my own in my house at night eating coco pops?

(laughing) I don’t know what you eat. Tell me and I won’t have to guess.

You promise you won’t tell?

Cross my heart and hope to die.

Okay then (leans close and whispers). I’m eating Taz tonight.


TAZ on her story Moon Rabbit.

Hey Taz, how you doing?

Oh, you know, still smoking, drinking and getting high.

Is that a bad thing?

On a weekday morning it is. It’s a very bad thing.

You still dividing your time between Runcorn and Hough Green?

You know me. Always back and to.

What about your old lodger, Roy? You still see him?

I see him around, but we don’t really speak much.

Remember the time when he was playing the guitar and you were singing?

Oh yeah. You were recording it with your thingy.

I still have the tape.

Christ, no way. I can’t sing for toffee.

You’re good. And your dancing, well, wow……

I can’t believe I did that. Too much beer. You mentioned it in my introduction too!

You were fantastic. Seriously. But tell us about Moon Rabbit now. You said some of it was inspired by Pet Cemetery.

Absolutely. Some of it is a direct result of that book. I’ve seen a couple of cute animals get hurt and it’s horrible. I wanted to share that distress.

Is that how the sky at night seems to you, the way you described it in the story?

Depends on what I’ve been chonging, but yeah, it can sometimes. Makes me feel like an ant.

I have a lady friend who read the story and found a dying fox on her doorstep the next morning.

Holy baloney. Does she think I did it?

(laughing) Haha! That thought didn’t even cross my mind. Is that esspecially weird or what?

That is simply brilliant. That’s easily the best connection I could ever hope to have with a reader.

What genre would you class the story in?

I’ve no idea. It’s kind of mysterious, kind of uncanny, but it’s not horror, and it’s not a thriller. I don’t know.

That’s why it’s in DNMF.

Exactly. Of course.

Have you written anything else since?

I write emails every day, and I keep a journal, but apart from that, nothing.

We have to change that. Promise me you’ll send me something soon.

About what?

About anything that doesn’t involve banned taboos. Promise me.

I promise.

Cheers, Taz, thanks a lot. Did I mention that Doogie Howsar said he was eating you tonight?

No worries. I’ve got two knuckle sandwiches waiting for him right here.


ED DREW on his story Ripper.

(Interview conducted over telephone)

Hey Ed, how are you hanging?

Sound, yeah, are you alright?

I’m fine mate. What’s happening? When you getting out?

Don’t know. Either three months or six. Times flying though. Had a game of rugby last night.

Widnes top on?

Yeah, yeah, you should have seen it, some big hits. I was singing that chant, the one that goes meat pie, sausage roll, come on Wigan, give us a goal!

Is that a footy chant or a rugby chant?

I don’t know what the f**k it is. Wanky-wanky-wanky-wanky War-ring-ton!

Any seagull frenzies going on lately?

Yeah, I tore up three loafs outside some pricks window last night.

How’s that woman screw? The one who was there when I visited you?

Who, Kim? She’s still fit. She wore a skirt yesterday. The whole wing was mad for it.

Are you still working as a councillor?

No, I’m in the kitchens now. I put a bottle of caramel sauce in the chips last night (laughs). Last week I swapped all the pasties for apple pies. One lad complained that his steak pasty tasted like apple pie.

You producing any more stories?

Ripper 2. He escapes and goes to Creamfields dressed as Dracula.

Don’t spoil it, I’ll put it in.

When? Listen, are you sure my story was in Widnes library?

Damn right. It wasn’t a wind-up.

I’ll be out soon to check, anyway.

Hope so. Catch you then. We’ll go for a steam.

Where at, Kingsway, the Autoquest or JJB?

JJB is DW Sports now.

Anywhere’ll do. I know that trick how to make them hotter, don’t I?

Pouring cold water over the thermostat? You certainly do. I’ll see you soon. Send us Ripper 2 when it’s finished.

I will.


STE GHOST on his stories Foxy Gabe and Wolf Where?

What have you been up to, Ste?

Out in the garden mostly, throwing ninja stars into the tree.

Really? Are you into ninjas then?

Ninja assassins especially. I can practice with the nunchuckers for hours.

Have you got a suit?

I’m after one. At the moment I wear my old karate suits.

Have you got The Karate Kid movies?

I do, yeah, from years ago. I also have the old Shinobi video games.

I remember that. We used to play it in the arcade hall at school dinner times.

Those games are what got me into ninjas.

What got you into the supernatural?

Just darkness, I suppose. I love it when it starts to get dark. The body reacts chemically. I love it when the sky is purple at sunset, that very moody violet colour you see sometimes. I love to go camping by caves and rivers.

Why, in DNMF, did you opt for spills of the four-legged kind?

Round here, near the rubgy ground, when I was a kid, was a huge grey shaggy dog. It was taller than me at the time, one of those great mastiffs or something. I used to think about it for hours after I came in from playing, and then have nightmares about it. But it was friendly, really, so I had nothing to be afraid of.

Is Ghost your penname?

No. Ghost is my real name.

That’s a good name for writing supernatural fiction.

I know, you couldn’t make it up. I want to do my surname real justice and pen something really creepy soon. A haunting, or a possession. It’ll take no prisoners. Voodoo, the spirit world, the lot.

Make sure you send it to me.

Of course.

Any news on that story from your childhood which inspired you to start writing?

The Tailypo? Aw man. I‘d do anything to see that story again.

I’ve got news for you. It’s on Amazon. Clarion Books. By Joanna and Paul Galdone.

Result. You can order me that as payment, if you don’t mind.


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