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Tuesday, 22 January 2013


It's not, of course. That title doesn't make any actual sense, but it sounded good.

ANYWAY. I'm currently beavering away on a few stories, including my very first foray into "heroic fantasy". I've never wrote anything like this before, despite growing up on Chadda Darkmane and Gord the Rogue stories (alongside Fighting Fantasy gamebooks). I was a bit stuck on what to write that wouldn't come across like a flagrant Conan rip-off, then started researching ancient history after being spurred on by the discovery that Solomon Kane stories are set during the 'Restoration' era. This in turn lead to some interesting research on different religious beliefs, and so on and so on. I'm now looking at setting something in a fictionalized version of ancient Catalonia, which should hopefully be enough of a different/interesting take on a heroic fantasy backdrop. Then again, maybe it's already been done and I'm flogging a dead horse. But we'll see!

I recently watched two remarkably bleak films (though they present different takes on the term): MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE and SHAME. The first is an artfully done examination of a broken mind, and the subsequent restructuring of a damaged psyche. The second is about a relentless spiral of addiction, and the attempts of one man to break free.

Martha Marcy May Marlene introduces us to Marcy May as she tends crops and cleans up around a farm that appears to be the peaceful home to a commune. Then, for no apparent reason, she runs away. As soon as another member catches up to her we get a glimpse into the real attitude of those at the commune, before being violently sent into the future: Marcy May is back home with her sister and is using her real name of Martha. She won't talk about where she's been for two years, other than she lived with a boyfriend and he lied to her (which has an element of truth to it, as we'll come to discover).

Slowly, she starts to exhibit weird behavioural issues, and the film starts to flip suddenly (but elegantly) between past and present - in turn, revealing the genesis of her behaviour and disturbing parallels between commune life and 'normal life'. We see how she is taught certain life lessons at the commune that a person learns in the outside world, except Marcy May is told them with subtle twists that don't cause suspicion, even though to an outsider what's been taught is very far from 'normal'.

Martha Marcy May Marlene does end rather abruptly, but with enough of an insinuation as to what is about to happen, which I think is an especially ballsy move.

If you're a fan of Michael Fassbender's willy, you'll love SHAME. He plays a New Yorker named Brandon. He has a well-paid job, nice clothes, modern apartment...but he is trapped in a routine as much as anyone, except his involves sexual fulfillment. Brandon is a sex addict. Whether he's shagging prostitutes, taking part in porno video chats or masturbating in the work toilet, he can't help himself. He appears to be managing, until cracks start to appear - some are caused by his blase attitude towards sex and relationships, others by his behaviour (his work laptop is found to have an insane amount of porn on it, but he blames an intern)...and then his sister appears.

She is damaged herself, though it's not entirely clear how, to start with. She's doesn't appear to be able to 'grow up' even though she has solid intentions to do so. However, when she sleeps with Brandon's friend and work colleague, this seems to set something off in Brandon. A change has been wrought.

Shame is the meanest form of 'bleak', as it offers an insight into life free from trouble, before stirring up a palatable sense of impending doom. The last part of the film gets very uncomfortable as characters clearly, and consciously, taking destructive paths. Will they still manage to make it out the other side? Maybe.


My band, Handsome Bastards, might have some very exciting news to reveal soon! Terribly vague, I know. But suck on it.

I also hope to have some interesting news to reveal involving the arts collective I run with my best mate. Well, I do, technically, but I don't think I can talk about it officially, yet :)

And to end, some music that's been fueling my creative process lately/making my brain feel funny:

Friday, 4 January 2013



This one's for you, ladies!

My New Year's Resolution (capitalized to show its importance) is to re-establish my writing discipline. I used to put aside 7-10pm every night (if I wasn't otherwise busy) to write, and kept up this regime for ages. I also used to, quite happily, use every spare moment to write - afternoons off work, an hour before work, etc etc etc. But, to be succinct, Life (also capitalized to show its importance) got in the way and all that stopped about six or so months ago.

However, these last two evenings have seen me churn out over 5200 words, with plenty more rattling around in my noodle, so I'm feeling pretty goddamn jazzed about everything at the moment. I'd like to think that 2013 will see me reach the next level with my writing, when it's already at a nice level now (being published in invite-only anthologies alongside some top genre authors still fills me with the warm fuzzies). However x 2: anyone would just grow stagnant and complacent if they start to put down roots, and I would like to think that I'll get somewhere with at least one actual novel (I have about five in various states of completion) this year - I typically get asked to send a full manuscript (which is nice to hear) but then it's 'not what they're looking for at the moment', which is fair enough, really.

In the meantime, I shall continue to work on short stories, including one that fuses pretty much every genre imaginable. I suspect this might end up being the basis for yet another novel, given that the underlying idea is MASSIVE (oooh how vague, Mr Goodchild!) but we'll see...

So, here's what will be either the first chapter or first part. Will likely be tweaked a little, but I'm very happy with it at the moment. I'm always wary about posting sizable chunks of writing online in the public view, but if anyone nicked this I'd be flattered that they bothered. Plus, I don't imagine there's much they can do with such a small slice of something, anyways. Not that any of that is an invitation, you naughty plagiarists!



Danny Vacuus wiped sweat from his brow with the back of an arm as he hurried through Nottingham city centre. He was late for work and he had the mother of all headaches. Where it had come from, he didn't know—he felt otherwise fine and hadn't been drinking the night before. Probably dehydrated, he reasoned. It was unseasonably warm—had been for a few days—and the weathermen on TV kept mentioning 'flares' or something; he never paid much attention to the news. In any case, he gathered the hot weather was bound to continue. Fantastic.

“Late again, Danny?”

Elizabeth stood smoking a cigarette on the steps of the city hall, flanked by a congregation of her hipster friends.

Though he wanted to make a sarcastic remark, Danny slowed down and offered a cordial “Morning, Liz. Ladies.”

“I'm surprised you haven't been fired yet,” Liz said.

“I'm surprised you haven't been called back to your mothership.” There it was. He couldn't help himself.

Her smirk mutated into a grimace. “Grow up.”

“Sure thing, mum.” Danny offered Liz and her friends a salute and hurried on. Goddamn it. Why couldn't he just let it go? It didn't do him any good being bitter, and none of his friends (and some of hers, he suspected) thought he was in any way to blame, yet—

A car horn blasted him out of his reverie as a taxi bombed past him. Hadn't the light been on red? He looked up and saw the traffic signal going bananas. And was it his imagination, or was the pulse of his headache growing louder? It sounded like it'd left his brain and was flying overhead, which didn’t make any sense at all.

A scruffily-dressed older gent stood next to Danny, shouting into his phone and holding a hand to his free ear. “Bill? You're breaking up! Bill? Shit!” He stared at his phone in frustration and muttered “Cutting-edge technology, my arse. And what the hell is that noise?”

“You can hear that?” Danny asked.

A crash further down the road grabbed both their attentions. The taxi that had buzzed past Danny had crumpled into a tram. All the traffic lights were randomly flicking between colours and/or firing off sparks. Some people were rushing to see if they could help, but most pedestrians were staring up at the sky and holding their heads. Danny followed their collective gaze and watched as vivid streaks of colour to match the malfunctioning traffic lights raced across the heavens, turning the blue sky into an acid-trip eye-blitz. Danny's headache pulse now beat erratically along with the aurora, making it difficult to concentrate, or even move.

“Jesus...” the older gent muttered, before stumbling awkwardly away from Danny.

“Dan!” Elizabeth came rushing over, but it took Danny a moment to register her presence. “They said this wouldn't happen!”

He saw the look of unadulterated fear on her face and all the anger, the bitterness, subsided. He felt the old longing to protect her, hold her close, and tell her things would be all right. “The flares?” he asked.

“I'm scared, Dan,” she replied, tears brimming in her eyes. 

Without another word, she stepped towards him, but at the exact same moment the air hummed with a level of atmospheric pressure that forced everyone to scream soundlessly and buckle. Simultaneously, the lights overhead burst into a searing white, that was more absence of colour than anything else, and a rush of heat surged across the city. Without even being conscious of the thought, Danny knew that this was the end. Of everything.
And a suitably cheery song to end on: