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.

Friday, December 16, 2016

December

So, 2016. That was a bit of a mixed bag...

Brexit, Trump, and all the other political bullshit aside, for me, personally, it wasn't a bad year.

I read some good books, saw some good movies, and got to spend time with some good people. I returned to FantasyCon and Edge-Lit, and went to Sledge-Lit for the first time. It was good to be back attending events. I got to see my very good mate Simon Bestwick marry the love of his life.

Also in 2016 I had a landmark moment: last weekend I passed my first Dan in karate. I still can't believe that I'm a black belt. I've trained hard for five years to achieve it, though, and passing the grading was my proudest moment since having my first mass market novel published.

It's been a mixed year for my writing. The Grieving Stones was finally published. I managed to finish a few short stories, and made another appearance in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year, but that (very) good stuff was undercut by the fact that I still haven't written another novel. I plan to put that right in 2017. Now that the black belt is out of the way, I can simply focus on training hard and writing hard.

Anyway, I hope you all have a good Christmas, whatever your creed, and let's try to make 2017 a good one.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Telling Stories

I seem to be in a purple patch when it comes to writing short stories. After a lengthy fallow period, I've written three new first draft stories in a week.

These new stories, they seem to be pushing towards something, grasping beyond my usual boundaries. I think this is a good thing; I believe it marks a period of growth, or change, for me as an artist. Even the titles - Slam, Viewings, You Can Go Now - feel different from the usual kind of titles I use (but maybe that's just a false notion, informed by my recognition of the growth that's occuring).

Writing - and I'm guessing most types of art - is prone to these periods of change, and change is often painful. It's never easy; it always has a cost. But it's all part of the creative process, the journey (even though I hate to use that word) we take as an artist.

So I rush towards this new period of artistic expression with open arms. I just hope they don't get bitten off.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October

In late December I started writing a short story inspired by the process of viewing houses prior to our big move. Last night I finally nailed down a 4,300-word first draft.
 
The story is provisionally titled The Viewings, and I think it has a lot of promise. It's creepy, has a neat little note of marital discord at its heart, and hopefully says something interesting and insightful about change and upheaval and the strain these things can place upon a relationship.
I have a few short stories I've promised to editors, so I'm hoping this one turns out well during the editing process so I can send it somewhere - it actually fits the theme of one or two of the markets I have in mind.
Eight months to do a first draft. Fucking hell. I remember the days when I could rattle off a finished story in a fortnight. But those days, it seems, are long dead. The ideas - the good ones; the ones that deserve the time and effort it takes to develop them into tales - don't come as often as they once did either. Everything is much more hard-earned these days.
 
  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Charles L. Grant

https://neilsnowdon.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/guest-post-gary-mcmahon-on-charles-l-grant/

I've done a guest blog on Neil Snowdon's site in honour of the late, great Charles L. Grant.

Click on the photo above and the link will take you there. Stick around and read some of the other Grant-related posts.