I’ve been thinking a lot about myself this week.
Since I started this blog (not quite a year ago), I seem to have been involved in a number of disagreements and arguments, mostly conducted via the blog and on various internet forums. I’ve had words with Mark Samuels, with Neil Jackson and Ghostwriter Publications and most latterly with Dan Ghetu of Ex Occidente, and I have to ask: is it me? Am I one of those people who finds arguments anywhere and gets involved when they shouldn’t? I’m not particularly argumentative in life, so why here? It’s a worry, wondering if I’ve become (more of) an arse as I’ve got older.
Well, I read back over my previous blogs, looking at the ones about the arguments in particular, and it’s been oddly reassuring. Apart from the Mark Samuels stuff, the rest of the disagreements I’ve been involved in have, mostly, been of other people’s making and based on factual disagreements. Ghostwriter and Neil Jackson still owe me books, and Dan Ghetu did send me (and other authors) abusive emails, so how should I respond? Sit quietly and say nothing? Become part of the silent majority who do nothing and let idiots get away with things? No. I have no doubt I’ll never see my owed books from Ghostwriter, or that Dan Ghetu will ever actually act like a professional in relation to me, so I reserve the right to write about it and to use this blog and the various forums to let people know what’s going on. In the case of both Ghostwriter and Ex Occidente, I haven’t said anything in any forum that I can’t prove factually, and as long as I keep to that, I think I’m within my rights to continue as I have done (incidentally, a legal point: my barrister friend has told me that the word ‘liar’ in legal terms would indicate prior intention – so to call Neil Jackson a liar, I’d have to have proof that he intended to rip me off before he actually did it. Now, I have suspicions about this based on Neil’s earlier behaviour and how he spoke to me, but I have no proof so I must sadly retract the notion that Neil is a liar. So, what do we call a man who refused to honour the details of the contract he signed? A cheat? Or should we put it down to mere incompetence? Answers on a postcard please!). I think that, as long as I make sure I don’t become insulting, and stick to reporting the facts as I understand them and as I can prove them, I’m okay. What do you reckon? Yep? Thought so! Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.
In terms of the Mark Samuels stuff, that’s clearly far more related to my opinion rather than a set of specific facts, but I still think I was right to get involved. The problem is that the internet has removed all the filters that we use in normal arguments/discussions – would Mark have said half the stuff to mine or Allyson Bird’s face that he said online? Well, I don’t know, because I don’t know Mark Samuels particularly, but as a general rule of thumb I’ve found that most people (me included!) will write stuff that they wouldn’t say. The internet is a great tool, but it has given every self-important, self-aggrandizing, lickspittle idiot and opinionated talentless fool a voice (and yes, I do include myself in that group, before you ask!). So, what should I do? Stay quiet when someone attacks my friend? Or tries to bully someone I know? Again, no. I don’t believe that anyone should stand by whilst someone else is attacked or bullied. By all means criticise, disagree with decisions or statements, but keep it professional. Another author told me a while ago that I’d “jumped in too quickly” in an argument between him and an editor – which may be true, but the problem was that the argument was being held in a public venue (in this case, facebook). Should I stay quiet while one person threatens another with violence (even if it’s not a genuine threat)? My own take on this is, if you don’t want people to join in and to criticise you, hold your arguments in private, or temper how you say things. Otherwise you risk people like me (who are mostly confident about themselves and who have a set of values that we believe are worth defending!) joining in…
…oh, and if I ever say something objectionable in a public venue – please feel free to attack me at will.
Right, onto the less reflective stuff: my copies of Black Static #15 turned up! 5 new pieces of fiction (including my short story The Knitted Child) plus columns and reviews by Peter Tennant, Christopher Fowler and my friend Stephen Volk. I’m pleased to say that the artwork accompanying my story is really good and fits the feel and tone of the piece nicely, which I’m very happy about. This is my first magazine publication, and it’s a superb place to start – Black Static is beautifully produced, and clearly has excellent taste in authors. Plus, my name is on the cover, which is always a plus…
I also had a couple of emails this week about other stories: fan mail! What was really nice was that the two messages were about different stories (Vernon, Driving from Lovecraft Unbound and The Hand-Delivered Letter from Gaslight Grotesque), and both were very complimentary about the stories. It’s nice to know that, away from all the other tensions and the waiting and the submitting and the rejections and acceptances, when the stories get out there people actually like them. I’m happy.
In other news, Lovecraft Unbound has been nominated for a Stoker Award for Best Anthology! Hurrah! And well done Ellen Datlow for that, and for her anthology Poe also getting a nomination!
Reviews: The Lovers by John Connolly. This is the latest in the Charlie Parker thrillers, and it’s as excellent as ever. Connolly has, for most of this series, touched on the supernatural, and in this novel the mix of the thriller and the eldritch is further to the front in the mix. As Parker investigates the incidents that led to his father committing suicide, family histories are revealed and terrible secret unearthed, and ghosts come back to Parker’s home… If The Lovers has faults, it’s that the conspiracy at its heart seems a little too all-encompassing and unrealistic, and that the climax is over very quickly, but these are minor quibbles. Highly recommended.
This week, I had a sneak preview of the introduction to the new Noose and Gibbet Publishing anthology Back From the Dead (which celebrates the legacy of the now legendary Pan Book of Horror Stories series). Now, I’ll admit a slight bias: I’m pretty friendly with Johnny Mains, the editor of the volume (and author of said intro), but even having said that, it’s good stuff – informative, interesting and a great intro to a volume that celebrates a series that I’ll bet most of us (in the UK at least) have been influenced by. The anthology is actually out at World Horror in March, and I can’t wait – on the strength of this intro, it’ll be a great read!
Watched three movies: The Burrowers (bleak, downbeat horror western) which was excellent stuff, Drag Me To Hell (Sam Raimi’s return to horror filmmaking) which was hugely enjoyable take-yer-brain-out fun and District 9 (Alien Nation with added blood and insectile stuff), wood – which was also great – violent, beautifully made and full of South African accents. What more can you ask for? All recommended, if you haven’t seen them already, especially The Burrowers, which had the courage of its gleefully nasty convictions, as well as being well-made, well acted and genuinely creepy.
Right, that’s your lot. Back to real life, Lords and Ladies. See you next week.