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

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Best Characters Ever


A.J THE ANONYMOUS JOURNALIST SAYS: I was impressed with Iron Man. Overjoyed, in fact. Iron Man opens the mind. It reminds you of technological possibilities. Spiderman is cool, love the romance with Kirsten Dunst, she’s perfect, although any girl would find it hard not to look pretty in that role. Batman is a joke, especially when played by Christian Bale, you only have to watch the old TV series to know he and Robin are both goofs. Superman wears his pants outside of his trousers, less said about him the better, although to be honest he is probably the hardest of everybody and would nail all the rest hands down. All the X-Men are planks apart from Gambit because he’s a legend with cards and can probably deal himself full houses, straight flushes, and 4-of-a-kinds at will. Not forgetting the sexy one with blue skin. Wolverine? Hmm...doesn’t he get like totally owned by Freddy Kruegar? Freddy could invade Wolverine’s dreams as a big-ass snake and make him kill himself with his own claws. The first Wolverine would hear about it was when he woke up dead.

Not very clued up on comics. Haven’t seen Watchmen yet but they all look like gimps. Hellboy is a bell tip although credit where credit is due, Ron Pearlman is a class act. Jeepers Creepers is a fool. I'd hammer that swine all day. Computer games are where it’s at. When I first saw a trailer for the game Silent Hill, that was the point when I realised the computer game industry and the movie industry were moving closer together. The game was actually scary! Can you buh-leeve that sheet? A scary game? Then, when the film came out, I was like, wow, this is one serious flick, outstanding and unique, the only let-down was Sean Bean (pronounced Seen Been, as in have you seen Mr Bean, say it how you see it, there’s no way Sean = Shaun), who doesn’t do accents.

Pyramid Head in Silent Hill was a nasty piece of work, horrifyingly impressive. He pulled a woman’s skin off in one swoop with one hand while holding her in the air a-kicking and a-screaming in his other. And as for his knife, huh, forget Crocodile Dundee, that’s a toothpick compared to old Pyramid Head’s. Forget Pumpkin Head as well. And forget anyone or anything from Harry Trotter or Lord of the Geeks. All that sci-fi fantasy wizard and spells codswallop don’t count. Griffins and Gruffaloes and Centaurs and all that other shish is for kids man. Gremlins are OK however. Anything that gives you nightmares gets a tick of approval (can you think of a better reason to not let your feet hang out over the edge of the bed?). That includes the Hulk, bodybuilder style, as Lou Ferrigno in the hit TV shows, no expensive computer generated imagery (CGI) needed, thank you very much, just a lick of green body paint and we’re good to go.

Dracula? One swift elbow from any old cowboy or alien would knock them fangs down the back of his blood-lined throat and what’s he gunna do then, gum you to death? If he turns into a flock of bats, fair play to the mother. Werewolf? The ones in Dog Soldiers (2002) are truly-fooking-terrifying! Catwoman? No. Wonderwoman? No. Miho in Sin City (2005)? Yes. Angelina Jolie or Milla Jovovich? Yes and yes. Predator? Abso-bloody-lutely! Top design. Alien? Don’t need mentioning. The ghost in 100 Feet (2008)? Arrgggghhh! YES! YES! YES! 

H.R. Giger's Bar - Mine's a Bud

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Steady Destiny 2+

DB TINK SAYS: Practising and then recording the same song for hours and hours gets the tune stuck in your head. You end up nodding along when you are outside. You carry it with you out of the house. This song has followed me from keyboard to keyboard over the last 5 years. You would think I'd be sick of listening to it, after the repetitive playing of it when I'm actually putting it together, but once it's done and finished, that's when you listen to it the most.
The basic structure is important. There are common rules to be followed. One, it must start off strong. Two, it mixes things up to apply the brakes at some point. This I picked up from a band called Rammstein, who often turn off their drums in the middle of a song and have a little peaceful moment before it all kicks off again. They call this HALF TIME. Three, you must finish stronger than how you started. No point running out of steam and fading away. I learned this from Progressive EuroTrance. The clue is in the title. Things should be coming in, not going out, or if they do go out, then returning. You'd be surprised how many professional musicians fail to follow these handy hints.
You're only as good as your influences. And, unfortunately, your microphone...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Embarrassing Absurdia

VOICES FROM THE OTHER SIDE is a ‘black writer’ anthology, and good. Read it a couple of years ago and it’s almost time to go back. Mainly to reacquaint myself with Ricky Windell George, author of the contribution Good ‘Nough To Eat, about the touching and hilarious insecurities of a male stripper hung like a horse. Truly mesmerising content! Probably in my top 3 fav short stories ever. Couldn’t put it down, devoured in one sitting, yadda-blah-blah-yadda and so on (as you would expect with all short stories, I suppose).

Like all the best efforts, they kind of change you. They challenge you. They almost intimidate you. But, importantly, you learn from them. Because it's an education. And you're better next time. Perhaps you're better than them. Creative practitioners are constantly leapfrogging each other. It's the name of the game, and not important, because it's all about personal progress (never compare yourself to other people!). This story in particular was like the Dumb and Dumber of literature, like a stupid movie in the text of a book, but serious, sad and horrifying at the same time, making it a real adult gem. (A chipped gem, it must be said.) Chuckling out loud while leafing through pages is a reserved form of humour, and different to other laughs. It takes a lot of knack to make people do that. Or a natural funny bone (some comics have funny material, and some have funny bones). A book has no visual power whatsoever. All print looks the same. Black on white blocks. Line after line. Uniform. But within it is the author’s psyche (if he or she is any good), delivered into your brainspace, and that particular author’s psyche may be very visual indeed. The reader may be a visual person too, and when they both interact in this way, then a splendid meeting of minds might just take place...

Is Ricky Windell George really writing about this?? I thought to myself. It was kind of unbelievable. Like watching a laugh out loud comedy with no television. Reading can very much be like watching telly, except you choose all the locations and actors. You’re in total control of interpreting the writer’s message. The farcicality of bold stories like Good ‘Nough To Eat actually rub off on you. The funniest laughs are those laughs when you shouldn’t really be laughing. Embarrassment has a lot to do with it, you know. As an author, how far are you prepared to go? How much of yourself are you prepared to reveal? How red must your face flush before you have to think twice about where you’re heading? I believe there are no boundaries. On the screen, there are. But on the page, no (not on that illimitable screen in your mind). Push them. Break them down. But you have to know yourself first. Or maybe not. Perhaps knowing others is enough. When you mix yourself and others you get a new character.

The most preposterous scene ich recall ever writing was a flash piece called Spell Pinocchio (1300 words). It took place on a plane. Among other strange goings on, a woman had kept the liposuction juice from her hospital operation and was squirting it from a water gun into the hair of other passengers, saving only enough to make pancakes for her husband.

It’s called absurdia, and it’s the future. Think of Jim Carey and Jasper Carrot in a script written by Harry Enfield and Lenny Henry. This is why the blog has a trick up its sleeve waiting for Mr. Ridiculous to come out. What’s the point in living without laughter? Soes anyway, well done Ricky, gunna read you again soon. Some things you just have to experience more than once. Like Michael Jackson’s Beat It video, and oriental sushi with coconut yogurt mashed together on a folded pineapple pizza...no other toppings, not even cheese and tom, just pineapple...like a Hawaiian without the ham. Spell Hawaiian. 
 right though aren’t I though

Wednesday, 18 April 2012


The ability to make
oneself unseen to
the naked eye


If I stay totally still,
if I stand right tall,
with me back against the school wall,
close to the science room’s window,
with me feet together,
pointing straight,
aiming forward,
if I make me hands into tight fists,
make me arms dead straight,
if I push me arms into me sides,
if I squeeze me thighs,
stop me wee,
if me belly doesn’t shake,
if me boobs don’t wobble,
if I close me eyes tight,
so tight that it makes me whole face scrunch,
if I push me lips into me mouth,
if I make me teeth bite me lips together,
if I hardly breathe,
if I don’t say a word.
I’ll magic meself invisible,
and them lasses will leave me alone.

I found Nik Perring by accident on the web when I first started searching for suitable people to follow on Tweeter. You gotta start off by following somebody, right? Similar like-minded people and all that? Well here was a guy much like myself (just another writer on the web) trying to get ahead with his craft. To his credit Nik was already in print with Roast Books, but unusually it was with a collection of short-short stories. Now I gotta tell ya, I’m all for backing flash fiction ever since I fell into it myself back in 06-07, and will happily champion anybody who not only practices the endless possibilities of this gloriously dynamic format but manages to get published with it, because that’s good news for every fan and participant. Don’t forget, there’s absolutely no shortage of flash material on this blog. Sounds good, dunnit, saying ‘flash material’? Better than saying ‘manuscript copy’.

Any-old-hoo-hoo, the extract above is a short-short story from Nik Perring’s latest published paperback, FREAKS, co-written by Caroline Smailes and illustrated by Darren Craske. Check the usual places, like Amazon, for very competitive rates. Ebook there too of course. I like this sample because it kind of treads into poem territory, and reminds me of a scary broad daylight shape-shifting changing sequence in a horror flick…plus any book with a comic cover this impressive has gotta be good, hasn’t it? 

One more thing: The “Manchester Titan”, novelist Nicholas Royle, got caught up in a kind of smack-slam-slanging match with Nik on Tweeter a few months ago, arguing the toss over the literary credibility of novels and longer works and suchlike  over shorter bite-sized flash works. Now, Nicholas once judged a story of mine 1st place in a comp, so understand that I’ll never say a bad word about him, but this public social network brawl was unequivocally enthralling for the casual observer, probably the best Tweeter moment ever in my book, with each stating worthy points of merit for either argument. I found myself agreeing with both, and would love to encourage ‘Round 2’, if both gentlemen are up for it! Not to stir things up, but I did enjoy some interesting banter for a change! C’mon guys, gloves off…

Then again, I also seem to recall Nicholas locking horns with a poet. Maybe he picks fights with anyone who doesn’t write novels. Or isn’t from Manchester…

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Plans...and Da Jungle

Here’s an old hard copy title cover of the rewrite giving your host with the most such a headache at the moment, along with its predecessor, Glimpses Gone. Rewriting something old which is embarrassing in places can really test your patience, but you have to stand by it and see it through, cutting and chopping without changing the body into something altogether new, and resisting the temptation to put it in the bin. It’s fair enough being willing to simply check for spelling mistakes and leave it at that, but when almost every seven year old sentence needs reconstructing it's far easier to kick back and think about something else. Maybe watch something intellectual, or dip into a book, or think about some collages.

Schmoe 2 needs to be done, which is a totally fun release from normality. Schmoe is different because it has a niche audience, so it will get written with a purpose unlike anything else. It can get reeled off. Each instalment of the series will be about 10,000 words, in mini-anthology style, like the first.

Schmoe and Mr. Ridiculous, along with Escaping Hazel, are bound for print. The ultimate idea of a book signing is to have a spread of the entire works laid there for browsers or buyers or whatever to pick and choose, rather than hinge every hope on one title. That’s a lot of work away however, at the moment, but achievable within one or two years. Or five.

But you know, writers get sick of sitting at screens. Especially if that screen is in your home. Clocking in has its advantages. Office premises have their advantages. A woodland retreat has its advantages. Tight busy schedules have their advantages. The future is rising early to write first thing in the morning, when your creativity is peaking within the throes of dream hangover, or napping late to stay up and write in the night, with quiet nocturnal energy.

Be posting a feature about selected writing from prisons and secure hospitals soon, so please call again. 
Weird Jungle
A snake ate a Leopard’s cub
So the Leopard bit the Snake
Until it spewed the cub back up
The Snake slithered away
To fight another day
Then the Leopard ate her cub