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, 28 October 2012

Priya Sharma / Stephen McGeagh

Priya Sharma’s Needlepoint is a monarchical fantasy in the very latest Interzone magazine #242. That’s a nerdy way of saying it has people like kings and queens in it. The magazine is worth buying for the cover art alone, but let’s not digress to the artist, Ben Baldwin. Rather, we’ll concentrate on one paragraph in particular from her story. Here it is:

Marry me. I’ll wait for your reply under the elm that you can see from the queen’s gallery. Flash a lamp three times if the answer’s yes. I’ll wait there until the second clock strike of the morning. If there’s no light, I’ll leave this place and never trouble you again.

Wouldn’t this make the perfect creative writing assignment, if one had to use it as a starting point and carry on with the tale to follow? It’s near the end, and that’s fitting, because the end is the beginning and the beginning is the end. Not in her story, mind, but generally, in life. Our last breath in this life is our first breath in the next, a friend said recently. True, you think, or no?

It’s a purposeful mark of intent to designate italicised paragraphs near the ends of stories with condensed meaningfulness. Often, all the other couple of thousand words seem like padding in comparison. These are the working words. These are the meat. The final destination from the very first line. The logo of the story, in a sense. The badge of it. The burning emblem of identity. The glittery sticker. If you read something, then want to pick it up and run with it, then that says it all. That’s the recycling factor, right there. You’ve been inspired to share. The self-regenerating continuum of ideas is eternal.

Fantasy has the best potential for romance, some reckon, more than any other style, even more than romance itself. This does not go unnoticed on Priya Sharma. 

Stephen McGeagh has his first novel out from Salt Publishing. He admits the opening sequences of the book read like an episode of Shameless but promises it isn’t. Like any book worth its salt, where the reader starts out is not where the reader ends up. The urban realism is stark and fearlessly blunt. To get the show rolling, it don’t get any more downbeat than bus rides and dole offices. One of his character's opinions, on the matter of benefits, is: I want money for nothing, so just f**king give it to me. 

Stephen received the first copies of his debut novel on the same day he sat next to Ramsey ‘The Master’ Campbell on a Twisted Tales discussion panel. It must have been a great day for him. Talk about arriving within the writing world! Congratulations to Stephen.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Tony Stark on Captain America

"Which of the men in this room is (a) wearing a spangly outfit and (b) of no use."

The Only Bond

nobody could raise an eyebrow like roger
king of the one-liners
never broke a sweat
big kicks - hard as nails


Be stronger than your past..

The future might still give you a chance.


Monday, 22 October 2012

March of the Zombies

It’s the year 2013 (almost), it’s FIFA 13, we have all this technology, and still the players look dead-eyed and hungover, to put it best. The blockiness is disappearing, but the cumbersome movement remains. Just give it up, fellas. You’re never gonna convince us. If they were holding severed arms or biting into chunks of raw flank then fine, but they’re not, they’re wearing soccer strips. Seriously, these guys wouldn’t look out of place in Silent Hill. Do you one day hope to convince us that we are playing a real game of football? We know it's on a computer, we're not that thick. We'd rather have a desert surface to play on, or a colosseum to play in. C'mon, skip these crud animated sequences altogether. Who watches them anyway, after the first couple of times, zombies? Zombies watching zombies? Concentrate on the playability of the game. 

Whatever happened to the fast and easy menus of yesteryear? START GAME, OPTION, CONTROLS, and that was your lot. You could get off to a flyer, immersed immediately in the heart of the action, especially shoot-em ups. Now it’s all 3D role-playing nonsense. Everything has a menu. Menus in menus. Whatever happened to all the 2D games? Whatever happened to the golden age?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Orbit

No doubt this took some stick, like a lot of new sculptures. The architects can’t please all of the people all of the time. You can imagine the dismay and abuse at what may well be mistaken for half an unfinished rollercoaster. What a crock, they’ll say. What a waste of money, they’ll say. What the ruddy hell is it supposed to be, they’ll say.

ATD applauds this. It’s most superb. One has to account for glimpsing this from the surrounding area ground level at teatime dusk when the thing is hulking out over the neighbourhood between rooftops. Ask yourself how many other sculptures can loom over you from the sky like a sprawling sea creature or something fresh from the War of the Worlds conceptual design portfolios.

Photos aren’t enough. Sometimes you have to stand and look upwards from close range. Almost anything is worth doing this to if you are in the correct ‘viewing’ frame of mind, including cooling towers, telescopes, and churches, but to see what looks like a fairground track ride moulded into steel origami would be a real treat.

Top Marks.   

115 metres high observational tower
UK's tallest sculpture

Monday, 15 October 2012

Chopper on the Mafia

“Who are they anyway? Bloody fruit shop owners. They should stick to selling their bloody fruit n vegetable and just f**king leave me alone.”

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A Football Article

eg  Read here  eg


Vintage Soccer Boots 2012 Style

stitching, signed, mouldies, numbered
wore these for a Cheshire trial in high school    
After a decade and a half of hibernation I pulled them out for a couple of games (funny how all the trivial possessions somehow survive with you while all the important stuff gets lost along the way). Like all well worn footwear should, they literally fell apart on my feet. We’re talking bare toes popping out and soles flapping off. That’s what you call money’s worth. A lot of modern footwear starts to peel after a few months and looks ten years old before you’ve even started to break them in, so no complaints.

The problem now, with modern boots, is that they look ridiculous. They look like pop art. The sheen and the colours are truly atrocious. They only suit Jimmy Savile. I for one wouldn’t be seen dead in them. Since when was it acceptable to wear pink boots? Imagine the added pressure in a tense game whenever the ball came your way. I don’t get how players want to stand out visibly like that. It should be their skills standing out visibly.

The boots I bought back in school cost under 30 quid. The yellow stripe was outrageous enough. Don’t get me wrong, a little colour indicates flair and style. Emphasis on little. A hint. A splash. A stroke. But today’s designers have gone like totally overboard. Rather than dab the boots with paint, they DIP THE BOOTS IN PAINT.

Anyway the point of this is about getting ripped off for brands from back in the day, because now Diadora have returned to JD Sports and if by some chance I wanted to buy a pair of sensible boots with meaning, I could take myself back in time and buy almost the same pair I had in my childhood. How good would that be, if I still played for a team? You see the problem right there though don’t you? I don’t play for a team, so therefore don’t need the boots. And that is my world, folks...a place where even the good news is bad. 34 Skid Row, Endsville.

Oh (and here’s the kicker), did I mention it would cost me 100 pounds for the privilege? They look like a cheap boot, despite the back story. You're paying for the memories, people. They don’t even look as good as the originals, although this changes the more I look at them because they are growing on me with every passing second. Probably not made as well either, but then again maybe they are. But still, at least, if you’re prepared to fall for the overpriced vintage trap, there’s an option besides the majority of pukey luminosity monstrosities currently adorning the shelves. And if you have a passion for the beautiful game, and they last you as long as football boots can, then I suppose it’s worth it. In fact, I think it is. Peeling back the years is mastercard stuff.

£30 mid-nineties...£100 now

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Rewriting An Older Work

The next ebook to be released by Zombie Publications is another short collection of shorts originally written back in 2006. 10,000 words have been trimmed off the 36,000 to begin with. One of the reasons is to reduce ambiguity. Much of the flash was written on the spur of the moment, straight into the machine, for self-entertainment. Not for an agent, not for a friend or family member, not for an audience, but for moi. For the sake, or heck, or love of, writing. There are some stories you only tell yourself. These are the best kinds of stories.

But there’s a problem when you have characters telling each other private jokes only the author knows about! Your private jokes are funny too I’ll bet, but go repeating them to anybody and your inner personal humour will most probably fall on flat faces.

Certain bunches of stuff have to be cut when you’re dreaming of customers in Baton Rouge. I’ve identified vagueness as a problem. So too conflict. Vagueness and conflict. Less of and more of. It’s a thin line between truly great and shite, but being brave and facing facts is a winning track.

Because six years have passed it is nice to go back and get inside it again. Enough of proof reading with fingers spread over the CAPS LOCK, DELETE, BACKSPACE and SPACEBAR (sounds like a rap to me), right-tracking the flashing cursor along as I read. No. It’s best to read with your arms folded and enjoy rolling back the years. If you have to edit a technicality, lean forward and do it, but then sit back again, because be aware, if you rewrite as you reread then you will have to reread the rewrite.

If you rewrite as you reread then you will have to reread the rewrite.

Ever wonder where all those errors come from? They kinda creep out from the woodwork and evolve during your edit. That’s because they OCCUR during the edit! I believe in keeping things very closely to how they were. I take great pride in saying here’s something I wrote six years ago. If I totally revamp it beyond all recognition in 2012, can I still say that? Did I write it now, or then?

This is minority advice, but a rewrite for me should only take place when you lose the damn thing. Otherwise a brief technical read-over edit will suffice. Wanna shove a new sentence in? Hey, no problem with that. Go whole hog and bung a new paragraph in there. Hell, START AGAIN if the fever grips you. But here’s the thing: Most of the writing takes place in your head anyway.

And here’s another thing:

As 'artistes', we’re clinging to the past. Believe. We’re clinging by our little finger nails. Everyone is. Think about it. Diaries, photographs, home video. Memories are all we have, and vintage is best. Go and write a how-to manual for the development of free energy in Arabic, and it may well outsell all that ghost-written bollocks in the Xmas charts, but it will never be that ode to nostalgia from yesteryear.

Nothing will. Ever again. Not without hypnotic regression and automatic dictation. Now try on peacing out already. Or even better, try on peacing in with your friends or the wife.

ABOVE: Each book "has a colour", strange but true, and changing the page colour  appropriately genuinely got me into the mood for this latest "rewrite".

AND REMEMBER: If you reread as you rewrite you will then have to retweet the rehype.

Friday, 12 October 2012


"Hope springs eternal in the human breast." 
Alexander Pope

"Deja vu all over again..." 
Yogi Berra

Thursday, 11 October 2012


"If you know before you look, 
you cannot see for knowing." 
Sir Terry Frost

The better you measure the breeze, the better your arrow will make the  mark.


Tuesday, 9 October 2012