Thursday, 20 November 2014

Reality Television...Horseman of the Apocalypse.

Reality Television is shit. There, let's get that out of my system first up, so we all know where I stand on this, then we can get onto the good stuff. i.e. what's not shit.

People aren't shit, and yet I find myself endlessly disappointed. People, I think, are inherently good. I'm a long, long way from the perfect human, but don't panic, I'm not a hippy. I don't advocate hugs and drugs for serial killers, either. I don't like arseholes, true, but last I checked, that's still acceptable.

But, is it? Or, has it become acceptable to be a complete knob...and to aspire to be one?

Yeah I've got a point.


When did passion, drive, dedication, goodwill, charity, intelligence, achievement, erudition, become something to be derided and mocked? Is it now fashionable to sneer at someone for showing these traits, to wish to bring others down, rather than lifting them up?

I watched the Book of Eli the other day. I enjoyed it. A parable wrapped in a violent, moody apocalyptic thriller. But the point, and it's a good point (I think) is that Eli comes to understand a very simple message: The book in question (here being the bible) tells us to do more for others than we do for ourselves.

People don't do that anymore. It's become about having more than the next person, and somewhere along the way we forgot to check that they had enough. Homelessness, hunger, disatisfaction, social unrest, mistrust, poverty...these things becomes the norm, because everyone is not equal...cannot be equal, but yet we chase prize at the end of the rainbow. Money. Not good, not love, not peace, advancement and betterment of mankind...nothing highfalutin, no sir.

Money. Somewhere along the way, money stopped being the reward...it became the goal. It has become everything. You want something? Money'll get it. Can't afford it? Borrow it. Pay it back later.

No!

Christmas...let's buy more shit we don't need, on credit because we can't afford it. We'll pay it back later. And then go on a diet to lose the weight we put on, eating all the food we didn't need...and what we couldn't eat? We threw it in the bin.

People don't diet before Christmas, do they? Why not? Because we've become a world of borrowers, when things are expected to be easy. They *shouldn't* be easy. Because when things are easy, we don't value them. Want to lose that weight? Why not have liposuction instead of going for a walk? It's quicker! It's easier! Is it good for you? Do we care? No. Because we want everything right fucking now.

But it shouldn't be that way. So, instead of work, practise, dedication...we replace everything with the simplest-seeming solution, and now even those we elevate or mock are famous in five minutes. Reality television...making people famous for no reason at all. Same reason as we love footballers and singers and pop stars...it's a dream. Get famous...get rich quick. But it's a fallacy. It's not the fame, the adoration. It's the percieved easy life of money. The goal is money. Money...do you think a famous person needs millions? Does any one? Of course they don't. But this is success, isn't it?

And if some have got it while we haven't...well, we can mock, troll, then key their cars if the flash cunts park on our street.

Money's the goal, fame's the means...but it's not going to help, is it? Because we strive for the money, we get rich...then there are all the other people we left behind, waiting in line to key our car. So we protect ourselves, our money, and further grows the division.

Sometimes I want to scream at the human race: STOP BEING TWATS!

Does Reality Television or any other throw-away media make people happy? Maybe. But it's just a salve on a gaping flesh wound. It's nothing more than snake oil. It can't fix what's wrong with us, because it's shouting, distracting us. It's no differently to the zealots and bigots out there... The things that are bad for us are always louder, brighter, more shrill.

Do I think it's a conspiracy, to keep the workforce sedated? No. But it's not helping, is it?

Yet we still want a human drama about a shirt when we land on a comet. We still want to stake people for good intentions. It's probably hopeless, trying to help people, like collecting piss in a bucket full of holes...because we mustn't *try*, oh no. That way is FAILURE...let's just gasp at the horrors of the world, because trying to do better is a mug's game, eh? Let's sit in front of our televisions, watching TOWIE and I'm a Celebrity and X-Factor, looking at a mirror that reflects back nothing but us, just like a budgie in a cage.

Maybe the budgie and humans, too, would be better served by simply dreaming, not of a new cooker that goes nicely with the fridge, but of a better place, a kinder place that makes sense. Dreaming's a good start, I think. Something to aspire to is better, surely, than endless, hopeless, distractions. Because even dreaming of a better world beats envy. Looking out for everyone is common sense, in our best interest. Not the simplest-seeming solution, but *the* simplest. Create division, create dissatifaction and along come social ills. Shout at your neighbours, burn down their fences, laugh at them, call them names, steal their food. See how that works out. We're all neighbours, for fuck's sake.

Anyway, in conclusion: Be nice, don't be a twat...the end.

And yes, I am a grumpy old bastard. Next week's installment: Shaking my fist at teenagers on my lawn.

Love you! x


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Will you bite the hand that feeds you?

Sitting around listening to Nine Inch Nails, reading Marx and thinking about art and capitalism. I've got the black dog by my side tonight, and some beer. A great and terrible combination indeed.

Can you have integrity, and can it sit side-by-side with the need to eat?

I think you should. It's something to strive for. I don't write characters and stories with fairytale endings, though, and the world isn't a fairytale place. It's a constant battle. The man who's offered a million to save his starving family...kill a man and he'll get a million to feed his loved ones...

It's an extreme. It's a morality tale. Everything is, isn't it?

And yet, hypocritically, I'm listening to an album (With Teeth) on YouTube. There are no adverts, and NIN (can't do a backwards 'N', sorry) aren't making a penny from me. I tried to watch a movie earlier, that I've paid for, on Amazon Instant Video. It didn't work. Spoke to my friend earlier this evening about piracy and how it's hitting sales of *everything*. People don't want to pay. Artists really, really don't want to give their work away for free. Yes, it's art, it's passion...but we need to eat, don't we?

My friends, writers and non-writers alike, are monkeys to Mr. Business' whims. Should we be? I don't think so. But what place have ideals in living? You simply can't live without food, without shelter, without the tools, even, to create. Even a painter needs paint, or he's reduced to painting in his blood on borrowed walls. That's not healthy.

Writing is easy, says Hemingway - all you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed. That's what art is, isn't it? Art takes blood, sweat, passion, soul. You can't price these things the same way as a pair of machined-socks.

Do you bite the hand that feeds, or stay down on your knees? asks Reznor, though probably not in direct response to Hemingway. Maybe they were both talking about art, life...the world of money sucking their blood. Again, probably not, but when the black dog's at your heels, everything looks darker.

Do we need to eat? Yes. But at the price of our souls, our humanity, at the cost of the best thing about us, as humans? Are we now simply part of the machine? If we bite it, can we even break it anymore, or just our teeth? Shouldn't we bite away, anyway? After all, what use is it to us, the cogs of that great machine, to turn time and time again, simple to wind the great machine above? Our endeavours feed not *us*, but them, the great them above. Our overlords are getting fat on our labour, and that same dissatifaction breeds heavy hearts indeed.

But...meh. Sometimes I think the black dog's a cunt. Other times, I wonder if his teeth are just tougher, his eyes sharper, than mine.

And so, to Marx, 170 years ago. A man who describes how it feels when a person becomes part of a mill that churns labourer up and out, creative or not. Stick 'em in a pit, make 'em fight for a profit, and watch the humanity drain into the dirt.

The following, which I'll leave you with, is an excerpt from Marx's 1844 'Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts'

***

The simplification of the machine, of labour, is used to make a worker out of the human being still in the making, the completely immature human being, the child – whilst the worker has become a neglected child. The machine accommodates itself to the weakness of the human being in order to make the weak human being into a machine.

***

But what if the machine that turns humans into machines doesn't work...and never did?


I don't have the answers. Maybe it was never intended to work, because the soul isn't a machine and never can be.

Love you. :/

Monday, 10 November 2014

Flesh and Coin Cover (Due Feb 2015)

New cover is in for the novella 'Flesh and Coin', to be published by Darkfuse in February 2015. Here it is.


Ooh...pretty.

Back cover copy: 

For some, dying is easy. For others, dying is their only hope.

Charlie Dawes lies in the Old Oak Hospice haunted by the looming specter of death, plagued by dark memories, stalked by a mysterious, faceless creature he knows only as the Shadowman, who won’t let him die…yet.

Cathy Redman, his only friend and a caretaker in the ward, spends her time reading to Charlie and comforting his pain. She thinks she knows him.
But when an inquisitive detective, a spiteful nurse, and a dangerous old Gypsy’s lives intertwine, Charlie’s true fate is revealed, and it has been sealed by...flesh and coin.


*

There's also a one chapter sample here: Flesh and Coin Sample.

Signed, limited editions (100 copies) will be up for grabs, too, I should think - I'll post more nearer the time. 

Short and sweet today - I'm off to register for PLR or something...I don't have the foggiest how to do it, but I need my earnings (2p) from the library ;)

Love you!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Autumn: Horror in the East - Part Two...the one with pictures.

Yes, you've guessed it. My cunning ploy to force myself to leave the shed and travel to Lowestoft for the convention worked. If you title something 'Part One', you can't not do 'Part Two' unless you're dead.

I didn't die. I didn't die of bus germs. The bus driver who needed to squint to see my ticket didn't crash. I found the venue.

It was brilliant! Loved it. Made more money than I spent, got to sit on two panels, with Adam Millard, David Moody, Andrew Hook, Paul Huggins and more. Met some lovely people, some for the first time and some again. I sometimes forget it can be nice outside the shed, too.

Got a copy of Black Static from Andrew for a quid, and signed copies of books from Adam, David, Paul and Iain McKinnon. Here are the goodies:


'Larry' and 'Straight to You' are gorgeous books - nice to hold. I didn't smell them. Yet.

First time I went to Horror in the East I didn't talk to anyone, really, but Rich Hawkins and Adam Millard. Rich Hawkins was there today, and damn nice to see him. This year, still shitting myself, I went and spoke to everyone, figuring embarrassment probably isn't terminal. And guess what? They're all really, really nice people. David Moody in particular was great - a real gentleman and very supportive of me, first time out of my box. 



Didn't get to hide, either. I was late, and got stuck on a panel five minutes after arriving. A good thing - if I'd had time to think it through, I might have balked. But I did it. Then I did another later on in the day. And it was fun...panels should be terrifying, but neither was - it's more like sitting down for a chat about writing/horror etc with like-minded people. It wasn't awful at all. 

Jo Wilde and Emma Bunn (and, it seemed, Emma's entire family) looked after all of us a treat - gave us tea, cakes...and all for the love of it. They were wonderful, and Henry, who hosted the panels, was amazing. Welcoming, supportive, and friendly. It's not the biggest convention, but it's certainly the friendliest, and there's an awful lot to be said for that. Thanks Jo and Emma.

And last, but certainly not least, Jen, the horror make-up artist, who did this:


...then left to go do face painting for a kids' party. Good work :)

Love you! x

And now, for my treat to myself from today's earnings...

Friday, 7 November 2014

Autumn: Horror in the East - Part One

Evening. Thought I'd write a quick post in case I don't make it back tomorrow. About conventions, getting out and about, and that *you* aren't the only one that shits a brick at the thought of being out there, in public...as a writer.

I've been a writer for a couple of years. You know, not a writer like the one I used to be, where people would ask what I do and I'd shuffle my feet and mutter 'iwritestories', then go home and hit myself with a whisk for being presumptuous.

But I'm terrified of conventions, public readings, panels. I think some people actually enjoy this stuff. I'm simply not good at it. I went to Cardiff Comic Con, did a signing for The Estate, and the first year of Horror in the East. In between times, I've wussed out of Scardiff twice, and Horror in the East once, and completely fucked up getting to the Fantasy Convention in York.

I don't travel well, which doesn't help. I'm also basically a hermit. I'm a writer. I'm not a famous writer. I haven't won the Booker T prize, or T.J. Hooker, or anything to do with William Shatner. Or, erm, jazz.

Anyway, this week, I spent all week sitting in my shed, where I live, thinking of excuses to get out of tomorrow's convention. Broken leg, dead relative, alien abduction...anything.

But then I looked at the books I have on my shelf. Just contributor's copies. Anthologies, magazines, periodicals, novellas, novels. Just the ones I have doubles of...and there are tons. I picked them up, put them in a big bag. It's really, really heavy. I'm going to carry it to the bus, sit on the bus all the way to Lowestoft in Suffolk, then from the bus station to the Marina. I'm going to plonk them on a table. If I sell a couple, great. If not, I'm not going to cry about it. Because I'm not a salesman. But, it turns out, I've got about thirty books in my bag. I wrote them.

I think the other guys, the ones who are good at this and do conventions on a regular basis, will have banners, book marks, giveaways. Signs with prices on, gadgets to take card payments. I've been to these things before on Crowded Quarantine Publications' ticket, with Adam Millard. He's good at this stuff. Iain McKinnon gave me a poster first year at Autumn. He's got a knack for this stuff. I've seen Wayne Simmons and not said hello, because I'm nervous. I watched Conrad Williams on a panel, thinking 'he wrote 'One'...I shan't say hello...' because I'm nervous.

So those writers have got fancy stuff, and confidence, too. I haven't got any of that. But I don't care, because I'm going. I'm really going.

I'm also going to be wearing a nappy, in case I really do shit myself.

Part Two tomorrow or Sunday, with pictures...like they have in the future. Where people don't live in sheds.

Love you x

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Spiggot, Too - R.I.P.

They said it couldn't be done. They said he couldn't be rebuilt...

Actually, no one said that. No one. But I wrote a sequel to 'Spiggot' anyway.

I'm bloody-minded, me.

Anyway, this is the traditional morbid obituary for my latest, finished works. I think I started this a couple of years ago, largely imagining that no publisher would ever accept my stories. Turns out, by and large, they don't mind a bit of horror, so far, which has been a great result for me. The fantasy I don't bother sending out anymore - but I suppose it ticks along well enough on Amazon. It could all do better, but I figure if I've got three million stories for sale, eventually it'll start being a money maker because everyone else will just GIVE UP.

Longevity, that's the trick. That's how God got to be number one...simply outlasted most of the other Gods...

Even though Odin's way better.

*ahem*.

Spiggot, Too
21st June 2014 - 29th October 2014
R.I.P.


Damn shame about Jean Grey, though...