Saturday, 16 March 2019

Field of Heroes RIP - a hell of a ride.

It was over a year ago that I thought I'd completed a first draft of Field of Heroes, my military sci-fi'er, the first of three novels contracted for Severed Press. I was wrong.

I'll be finishing this off tomorrow (I have around thirty pages of final draft - five hours or so of work - before I write 'the end'), but it's been such a long journey - a year longer than I thought and hoped - that I wanted to see it off with a proper obituary before it goes to the publisher.

Many things happened in 2018 that really made me question how much I wanted this life I've chosen - not just the writers' life, but life itself. I took a break from Field of Heroes in the late spring and wrote two novellas - 'Drift Glass' and 'It Always Rains when the Circus Comes to Town'. Then, I thought I'd get back to it, but life has plenty of jokes and never seems to run dry.

We began home educating our two youngest children. The mental-difference apple hasn't fallen far from the tree that is me, and none of my three boys fit in the tidy boxes of schooling. This is a good thing that happened, because they're thriving and happy again, and the eldest has found a flat and his feet. But, obviously, my writing time has gone from all day to 'as and when'.

Later in a year of adapting, my wife had a stroke. I cared for her for three months or so 'til she was up and at 'em again. I have what is basically schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and it was too much for me. I began self-harming, which I hadn't done for around twenty years. I didn't self-medicate, which was a big plus for someone like me. Instead, I went to the doctors and I asked for help and I got it. She's on the mend, but life isn't the same for her or me as it was...not necessarily a bad thing, either. It's just different.

So it's been a hell of a year...but I did it. People have been astounding. Kind, thoughtful, helpful. I've found out more about myself and the love of friends and family this year.

And through all this Severed Press have earned my undying gratitude because they've been patient and understanding and I couldn't ask for more. Severed Press have done right by me.

Severed Press Website

So, there. That's my little obituary for my novel 'Field of Heroes', coming in at just under 80K, and something I'm proud to have written. It turned from what I thought was a simple military sci-fi blast to something deeper along the way, too...maybe because I'm not what I was, and that's not a bad thing. Things are, I figure, just things.

I can honestly say I'm glad I didn't give up. I hope you'll read it, and I hope you'll find it was worth the wait, too.

Love you always. x

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Stuff I've been Reading...

Haven't posted for a while, so I thought I'd post a little of what I've been reading in case anyone's interested.

Iain M. Banks (Surface Detail)
Neal Asher (The Transformation Trilogy)
Richard Morgan (The Takeshi Kovacs Trilogy)
Alastair Reynolds (Revenger)
Ren Warrom (Escapology)
James S. A. Corey (Cibola Burn)
Peter Watts (The Rifters Trilogy)
Pat Cadigan (AI and the Trolley Problem)
Peter Watts (The Colonel)
C. Robert Cargill (Sea of Rust)
Annalee Newitz (Autonomous)

I've read a few more but I can't remember 'em all and I only talk about stuff I like (unless I forget my little golden rule and slate someone when I'm in a foul mood ;) )

Love you.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

100 Word Horrors Full Table of Contents

Put together by Kevin J. Kennedy, who is a very nice chap indeed. I had a story in the first, and I have a story in this, the second (Widescreen Rapture).

Here's the wraparound cover (minus author names as yet):

Here's the full TOC for 100 Word Horrors Part 2.

(This is the order of acceptance rather than order that the stories will appear in the book)

Stephen Kozeniewski - Clockwork Offal (1)
James Newman - She Fought Back (2)
James Newman - Walkers (3)
C.M. Saunders - Hitori Kakurenbo (4)
Nicholas Diak - Tiki Mug from R’lyeh (5)
Theresa Jacobs - No Greater Loss (6)
Norbert Gora - Fear Production Department (7)
Valerie Lioudis - Being Polite (8)
Valerie Lioudis - Jack (9)
Justin M. Woodward - S.O.S (10)
Toneye Eyenot - The Dreamer and the Doom (11)
Howard Carlyle - Kids (12)
H.R. Boldwood - A Walking We Shall Go (13)
H.R. Boldwood - Of Bubbles and Illusions (14)
C.S. Anderson - No Fear (15)
Nicholas Paschall - Spare Some Change? (16)
Andrew Lennon - Little Men (17)
Veronica Smith - Old Katy Bridge (18)
Rhys Hughes - Don't Shoot the Messenger (19)
Rhys Hughes - Cat's Gathering (20)
R.J. Roles - The Wishing Well (21)
R.J. Roles - Everyday Psychopath (22)
Jay Sigler - Destroyed by Monsters (23)
Andrew Lennon - Growth (24)
P.J. Blakey-Novis - Night Terrors (25)
P.J. Blakey-Novis - My True Form (26)
Justin M. Woodward - Basement Monster (27)
Gary McMahon - Spun (28)
J.C. Michael - Why You Should Always Be Specific (29)
Lee Franklin - Nano Bytes (30)
Shaun Hutson - Last Thoughts (31)
Justin M. Woodward - Five Minutes Alone (32)
Tom Deady - School Lunch (33)
James H. Longmore - The Lament of the Dying (34)
Mark Lumby - DIY (35)
Mark Lumby - Bonfire (36)
R.J. Roles - Call of the Void (37)
Lee McGeorge - Spidertrap (38)
Toneye Eyenot - Death to the Light (39)
Kevin J. Kennedy - Metamorph (40)
Jay Sigler - Let's Swing (41)
Howard Carlyle - The Perfect Blend (42)
Christina Bergling - This Way (43)
Christina Bergling - Prison (44)
Christina Bergling - Leftovers (45)
John Boden - King of the Hill (46)
John Boden - Glutton (47)
Matthew Cash - Making Mr Hide (48)
Chad Lutzke - Maple Syrup Muse (49)
Chad Lutzke - Out of Tune (50)
Andrew Lennon - A new friend (51)
David Owain Hughes - U-Bend Hell (52)
David Owain Hughes - Trapped (53)
Jason Parent - Shepherd (54)
Suzanne Fox - Percy Jacobs’ Last Sunset (55)
Suzanne Fox - Breath-Taking (56)
Craig Saunders - Widescreen Rapture (57)
Ellen A. Easton - Hide and Seek (58)
Robert W. Easton - Faces of the Dead. (59)
Robert W. Easton - No Breath to Scream (60)
Rebecca Brae - Sustenance (61)
Tom Deady - It’s a Twin Thing (62)
Mark Cassell - On the Second Date (63)
Mark Cassell - Feed the Crop (64)
Mark Cassell - Beachcombing (65)
Joe X. Young - In Conversation With My Mirror (66)
Joe X. Young - Fire (67)
Adriaan Brae - How to Disappear in the Big City (68)
David Owain Hughes - The Curious Case of Shadow Man (69)
Rebecca Brae - Fur and Teeth (70)
Jay Sigler - No One Believes (71)
Mark Lukens - Bedeviled (72)
Mark Lukens - A Ghost in the Corner (73)
David Moody - Victim (74)
Howard Carlyle - The Perfect Guests (75)
John Dover - Night Visitor? (76)
John Dover - Monsters in the Mist (77)
James McCulloch - The Hunter (78)
Feind Gottes - Doomed (79)
Derek Shupert - Laid to Rest (80)
Derek Shupert - Young Blood (81)
Paul Kane - To Save us All (82)
Sara Tantlinger - Static Nightmare (83)
Sara Tantlinger - Nearest Beach (84)
David J. Fielding - Prankster (85)
David J. Fielding - Rude Awakening (86)
Stefan Lear - Collectively (87)
Lee Murray - Maiden Flight (88)
Lee Murray - Preserving Jar (89)
Ian McKinney - Pig Sick (90)
Mike Duke - Hollow Earth Food Chain (91)
Mike Duke - An Eye for a Tooth (92)
Pippa Bailey - Just Like Grandma (93)
A.J. Brown - Hung (94)
Lee Franklin - Broken Heart (95)
Terry M. West - The Expert (96)
James Matthew Byers - The Trolley (97)
James Matthew Byers - The Pusher (98)
Sarina Dorie - One Witch's Cure for Vandalism (99)
Sarina Dorie - My Pet Unicorn (100)
Sarina Dorie - Werewolf Dating Problems (101)
Terry M. West - Aye Eye (102)
Myk Pilgrim - In a Little Tin-Hut (103)
Myk Pilgrim - Nanny Goat (104)
Billy San Juan - Colic (105)
Justin Boote - The Rash (106)
Christopher Motz - One Shared Moment (107)
Christopher Motz - Story prompt (108)
Mike Duke - End of the Line (109)
Michael A. Arnzen - Snow Angel (110)
Michael A. Arnzen - The Gurgle (111)
Eric J. Guignard - The Missing Undertaker (112)
Eric J. Guignard - Survival Instinct (113)
Julian J. Guignard - Ghost Hacker (114)
Julian J. Guignard - Witch Dog (115)
Billy San Juan - Instant Messaging (116)
Shaun Hutson - No Such Thing (117)
Shaun Hutson - Lying in Wait (118)
J.C. Michael - The One or The Many (119)
Amy Cross - Haunted (120)
Billy Chizmar & Richard Chizmar - Ghost Riders in the Sky (121)
Billy Chizmar - The Man Who Comes Around (122)
Billy Chizmar - The Highwayman (123)
Donelle Pardee Whiting - Sylvan (124)
Lisa Vasquez - Songbird of London (125)
Steven Stacy - Hooked (126)
Steven Stacy - The Man at the Window (127)

Thursday, 17 January 2019

On Fantasy

Everything's fantasy. I mentioned before about horror being the alpha and the omega of fiction and life. Fantasy, though? That's how we get through it.

How do you write a story when you get stuck? We make stuff up all the time. Maybe you're writing a historical novel, trying to make it sound right, to be historically accurate, but the simple fact is, you weren't there. In a documentary about dinosaurs the BBC doesn't know what colour dinosaurs were...they don't make it in black and white. They use ARTIST LICENCE. And the licence fee to pay someone to paint things in Microsoft 3-D. Whatever. I don't make dinosaurs.

But I could if I wanted to, because, fantasy.

You know what I do, what I imagine everyone else does at some point in a tricky bit in a work of fiction? I make it up. The main character's stuck in a vast plot hole? Fuck it. The hole leads to an alternate dimension where they have a sex change, time travel, become a vampiric dragon unicorn with a Gatling laser eye, that's stupid. Because, SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF.

We're reading a novel, we know it's fiction because there's a great big spaceship on the front, but we're going into it knowing it's fiction, expecting something, but within reason...our reasoning, our narrow hopes for what our chosen genres are going to do for us. If it's a science fiction novel, we don't want too much kissing, too many dragons, too much magic. I remember playing Might and Magic games as a nipper, happening upon a spaceship, getting a futuristic blaster when I was a mage, a thief, a knight and someone else to make up my team of four.

What the fuck?! It's fantasy. Why is my archer suddenly using a fucking space-blaster?!

It wasn't what I expected. Reading bizarro? Why the hell not. Minigun out of a butt flap? Bizarro? Sure...minigun butt flap it is.

Fantasy, there are tropes. There are tropes for everything. I'm not writing a blog about tropes because it's dull and I don't want to.

Anyway, the point, I guess, is this; if you're stuck...make it up.

It's all fantasy. Horror's the thing waiting for us all. Fantasy's the shit gets us through another day. I'm a fantasist, though, not a realist. Maybe absurdist, not a nihilist.

I don't know. I'm something. Probably a dragon with a butt gun. Deal with it.

Love you.

Surprising how...flexible...a Google search can be...
From ''...I didn't wish to go further than that, though.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

On Structure

I think about story structure often. Well, I say I think about it, I don't exactly do that. It's more of a feeling. Like when you look at a house, or a sculpture, and it feels right. Structure's 3D, or 4, or 5, maybe. The part of a story that lives and breathes, the bit all the other bits hang from. Without it, it's just a bunch of words.

It's the frame of a wooden house, the blueprint of something built of brick. The prose is only the plaster. The plot is the paintings on the walls. The characters won't be happy in your word-house if it's shit. Like, they want to go to the toilet but you've put the comfortable room in the basement and the only toilet in the attic of a five-storey townhouse so they wet themselves while they're dashing up the stairs.

Some books are constructed beautifully. King's Christine springs to mind, as does Straub's Ghost Story. Some are wibbly wobbly and fall down because they just don't make sense. A house but with a bus' concertina midrift for a hallway.

It's not a descriptive passage, or a perfectly constructed sentence. It's the thing of wonder you see when you're walking through that story. Like metafiction for me is a part where someone forgot to put the plaster up and didn't paint anything and you see the shoddy brickwork so you think it's just a house, and forget it's supposed to be a home for as long as you need it.

It's a feeling. It's not synesthesia, exactly. It's not like Mondays are the colour red. But it is a feeling. That sixth sense that it feels right and you'd like to put your Sims-characters in there and see what they'll turn into. A tickle. A hunch. The curvature of a wood carving, or the heft of a bat in an angry man's hand, or the swirl of smoke in cold air from a pipe...all just words, without some place great to put them on display.

Anyway. Thinking aloud. Quietly. On a screen.

Love you.