Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Stories

Writing stories. It's a funny old thing. A contradictory thing, really.

My personal take on it is that writing stories is childish and self-indulgent, yet it's also serious and important and pretty much vital to our species.

Because writing stories is how we collectively dream; it's how we try to make sense of the world.

Sometimes art is all we have. When society is collapsing around us, and we're pinned like insects beneath the weight of the decisions of those who run the world, art is often the consolation, the solace, and the way to find a gap in the great wall of idiocy and glimpse through it someone who thinks and feels the way we do.

Writing stories. Making paintings. Shaping sculptures. Creating music.

Sometimes these things are all we have to fight against the darkness.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Time

Sometimes it's hard to stop life passing you by. The flow of time becomes like a silent river, washing everything away before you even get the chance to watch it floating past.

My son is nearly 14, on the cusp of being a young man; the last time I looked he was a child.

We've been in our current house for two years; the last time I noticed, we were still moving in.

It's been over three years since my last novel was published; the last time I thought about it, I was still an up-and-coming British horror author within touching distance of "breaking out".

They say time flies, but that isn't entirely correct. It doesn't fly, it rushes through us and over us at high velocity, like river rapids. It leaves us drenched and shivering and wondering what the hell happened.

I'm 48; the last time I noticed, I was 31.

I'm tired and middle-aged; the last time I checked, I was still an angry young man.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Everyday Thoughts

So today I've been thinking about:

The new football season, Turkish food, the eerie movement of cats' ears, beer, the paintings of Rene Magritte, short story collections, the biomechanics involved in karate kata, independent publishers, the bearing pressure of soil, my son's nostrils, the calorific content of a flapjack, the smell of rubber, bubble-wrap death shrouds, the texture of molten flesh, Building Regulations relating to the construction of roofs, the sad sight of a shelled hard-boiled egg with a smear of ash on its otherwise clean white skin, grainy silent black and white footage of water rippling in a pool, what a rock might sound like if it were to scream, my wife's thighs, a small green budgerigar, the tools required to remove a window frame, a tiny tooth flecked with blood.

Sometimes They look Like Us


                                                                      "The Lovers" by Rene Magritte

Monday, July 17, 2017

George A. Romero

I am truly saddened by the death of Gerorge A. Romero. Last night I even shed a few tears.

Romero is one of my creative heroes, a true original who pursued his own vision and made movie magic. In my opinion, he never made a bad film, and at his best he was the best of them all.

THE CRAZIES
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
DAWN OF THE DEAD
DAY OF THE DEAD
MARTIN
CREEPSHOW

I wouldn't be who I am without seeing, and loving, those films at an early age. They enriched my imagination and my life, inspired me creatively, and helped nurture what was to be a lifelong obsession with film and fiction that explores the darker side of the human experience.

It's strange when we hear of the death of someone we never met but who helped shape us. Thanks, George Romero, for showing a lost and lonely kid in Sunderland a whole new world of possibilities.

It's difficult for a lot of people today to understand the cultural impact of something like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. It was seismic. An entire cinematic subgenre was created; the tectonic plates of a genre shifted.

Nihilism had never been so beautiful.

DAWN OF THE DEAD might just be the perfect horror film, the ultimate expression of horror cinema. It has everything. It broke new ground in all kinds of ways. Social commentary, cultural impact, extreme violence, pitch black humour, nihilism.

Horror had never been like this before. It was radical and brilliant. The genre is only just starting to catch up with the things that film did.

I've long maintained that the opening sequence, with the SWAT team raiding the tower block, is the best film ever made.

The first time I saw DAY OF THE DEAD was in the cinema upon its initial release. Two members of the audience vomited. Several others left in disgust. There was a lot of screaming and moaning.

I just sat there with tears of joy in my eyes. It was like seeing the holy grail.

MARTIN is, for me, the best vampire film yet made. Its naturalistic approach and deconstruction of the gotjic staples is a revelation. It's the film I'll wstch in tribute tonight.

My favourite Romero film is THE CRAZIES. I first saw it on a portable black and white television in a caravan in Cleethorpes. It was part of a double bill with THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT. I was blown away, couldn't sleep that night because of excitement and the fear that soldiers in white hazmat suits were creeping around outside.

I love that film. Its combination of social commentary, nihilism, violence, and human drama is magnificent.

Romero is gone. We shall never see his like again.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May



The new novel I'm working on is called LITTLE RED HOUSE.

It's something that crept up on me when I realised that the last two short stories I wrote were actually part of a novel I didn't know I was going to write. I'm quite excited about this project. It's forced its way in and demanded to be written. I've even started a new notebook, which is something I haven't done in years. I'm hoping it's a project I might actually finish.

I've gone back to my roots with this one (as I did, in some small way, with THE BONES OF YOU). No possessed housing estates. No psychic detectives. No end-of-the-world scenarios. It's just a grim little drama about absent fathers, toxic relationships, and a little red house that appears during times of emotional turbulence.

Extract:

A momentary silence falls between the two men. Empty. Yawning. A void opening in the gap between their minds, their bodies, into which either one of them might fall.
Marc gets to his feet and pours another drink. He doesn’t turn to face the room when he swallows it; he just necks it and pours another before turning around, smiling. “Yeah. I hear you. I know what you mean.”
But that smile, to Kurt, says otherwise. The smile says, your problems are nowhere near as important as mine; they are small-fry; they barely even register on the great, grand show that is my life.

- LITTLE RED HOUSE
(copyright Gary McMahon 2017)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

April

A little while ago I sat down at the laptop and wrote a couple of hundred words - the beginning of a new short story. Then I shut down the file without saving because it didn't feel right, effectively deleting what I'd just written.

I seem to be going through a weird phase at the minute where everything I write seems like it's derivative of something else I've already written. As if I'm unconsciously plagiarising myself. I feel like a copy of a copy. A ghost of a ghost.

I know this won't last, but it's...unsettling.

I suspect it's an aspect of the beginning of a minor change in direction. It's happened before and it'll no doubt happen again. Art is funny like that: it takes you where it wants to go, and all you can do is hang on and hope you survive the ride.