Friday, July 1, 2016

July 1st 2016

So this is me trying to add a post to the blog at least once a month. The 1st of the month seems like a sensible plan to me.

July was strange. Major upheavals in UK politics have seen me becoming obsessed with political shenanigans for perhaps the first time in my life. I suppose I need something to fill the void now that GAME OF THRONES has finished for another year.

Last week, taking me utterly by suprise, I started to write a new novel. It's called Edgeland and is the synthesis of three seperate ideas I had for short stories, none of which seemed to work entirely on their own. I've been researching Dachau concentration camp, 1940s sound recording technology, urban blight, an old folk song and various other bits and pieces. More importantly, I've written almost 7,000 words of first draft prose, a circumstance that pleases me greatly after suffering from a creative block for the best part of three years.

It's good to be writing regularly again.

I've decided to grade for Shodan (first dan black belt) in December and have started training like a motherfucker to give myself the best chance of passing. It's a life goal for me, something that has come to mean so much that I feel rather emotional even thinking about the prospect. The next few months are going to be tough, but I like to think I'm tough enough to get through it all and keep smiling.

My sensei always says that gains are made only when you push yourself out of your comfort zone, and I believe that too. In karate. In writing. In life.

Keep pushing. Keep gaining. Keep failing better. Inch by inch. Bit by bit. What else is there to do?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ideas

An idea, an idea, my kingdom for an idea...oh, here's three!

Writing is a funny old thing. For ages I've been trying to come up with an idea for a lengthy piece of fiction - a novella or even a short novel. Something to break the final bits of the creative block that's plagued me for a couple of years now.

Ideas came, and ideas went. None of them seemed good enough. Not one of them had the legs to carry them into being.

Then I started reading a (terrific) novel by another writer, a book I've been asked to provide a blurb for. And something began to stir.

Ideas are curious beasts. The title of the novel I'm reading lit a spark inside my brain; in turn this spark reignited three old ideas that I'd cast aside but always rather liked: ideas that might have made three decent short stories but didn't really stretch to anything longer on their own. Yet once combined they started to writhe and transform into something stronger, something better.

Now I seem to be working on a novella that's straining to be a novel.

The working title is Edgeland. I like that. It's simultaneously mythic and intimate, and hints at many layers beneath the original trio of ideas that formed it. Indeed, here's an extract from my notes, a brief piece of dialogue that will find it's way into the tale:

Notice how it’s always three with these things? Say the devil’s name three times in a mirror. 3am. Three days until you die. Three. It’s always three – a powerful number.”


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Raised by Horror

A few cinematic images that haunted, and enriched, my early years:

Rednecks taking potshots at stumbling zombies in a distant field, a rabid woman attacking a commuter on a Canadian subway, a leather-clad warrior driving a bus loaded with sand, a chainsaw pirouette, a dead old woman tied to a chair in a desert as bait for mutant cannibals, a disfigured boy rising out of a lake, garden shears slicing off fingers in a chiaroscuro montage, a vampire child scratching at a closed window,  a monochrome Creature walking backwards into a room, Lugosi's venal smile, an armpit sprouting a penile fang, a chitinous black mask with an asthmatic voice, Rathbone striding across a misty moor, a thin-faced Van Helsing sprinting across a long table to tear curtains from a window and let in sunlight...

Man, I was raised raised by horror films.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Inspiration Strikes From Nowhere

I've been wanting to write a new novella for a while now and ideas have been a bit thin on the ground. Nothing seemed to catch fire: every spark either went out or blew away on the breeze.

But tonight an idea hit me out of the blue - incorporating the loose Exorcist homage I've been musing over for several years, the horror of loss of identity, my usual sense of urban dread, and a kind of vigilante scenario.

I even have a title:  Better Now

I shall start this fire tomorrow and see how it burns.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sunday. Evening. Interior shot of a bedroom.

A thought for the evening:

As a writer, the single most important thing to me is integrity. Even if everybody hates something I've written, if it's an honest piece of work it's a successful piece of writing.

Integrity.

Not front or hype or chutzpah. Not relentless self-promotion or cliques or mutual back-slapping.

Integrity.

It's all I've got.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Ramsey Campbell Tribute

I’m delighted that my story There, There has been accepted by editors Scott David Aniolowski and Joe Pulver for their Ramsey Campbell tribute anthology.

DARKER COMPANIONS: CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF RAMSEY CAMPBELL will be published in Autumn 2016 by PS Publishing.

Ramsey is my favourite writer, and a writing hero. I'm also honoured to call him and his lovely wife Jenny my friends. I first read Ramsey's early collection Demons by Daylight in my late teens and it changed my life. I've been reading him ever since. Ramsey's fiction affects how I see the world. He's a genius.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Write Now

Today I created a new Word document called White Fingers (the original title was simply Fingers, but I've expanded on that). I've written about 500 words of this new project. It's my version of a crime story - let's call it "domestic noir" - something that's been in my head for a few years and refuses to go away.

I decided to start writing it now because I've been stuck on my haunted house novel for a couple of years and am beginning to suspect that I'm using it as an excuse not to write.

An excuse.

That's pretty bad form, if I'm honest (and I always am here, often to my detriment).

So now I've taken away that excuse and all that's left is my desire to write. is it strong enough to help me persevere, or has it faded to a point that I can no longer sustain the demanding, exhausting, painful act of writing a novel?

One thing's for sure: it'll be an interesting challenge, one I'm rather excited about.