SixtyEighth Time

October 31, 2010 at 9:14 am (Uncategorized)

It’s been a while since I blogged, and I’d like to claim it was because I’ve been busy doing all sorts of exciting things…but it’s not, it’s mainly that I’m lazy. Anyway, some stuff has happened, so here it is: update time!

First, Pete Tennant has reviewed quite a few of my stories in Black Static #19 (whilst reviewing lots of different anthologies). Of the five stories he reviewed, he liked 4 (calling ‘Mami Wata’ from The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #21 a ‘highlight’ of the collection!). The only one he wasn’t convinced by was ‘Traffic Stream’ from The Black Book of Horror 6, which he described as being like a real life Pacman (an oddly accurate description of what was in my head when I wrote it!) and he didn’t like the fact that the characters were named Bird and Samuels. Oh well, can’t win ’em all!

I’ve finally finished the horse demon story, which is now called ‘The Fourth Horse’. It’s been submitted, so fingers crossed…

Work on Quiet Houses is now well and truly underway. I’ve completed (to second draft level, anyway) two of the main stories and three of the wraparound sections, and aim to have another underway by the end of the coming week. I’m happy with what I’ve done so far, and have some ideas that I’m looking forward to messing around with in later tales. As ever, whilst writing one of the stories, ‘The Elms, Morecambe’, odd little sentences were bubbling out that will have an influence on later stories, which is really exciting. My portmanteau character suddenly feel real as opposed to a useful cypher for moving between the stories, which is great because that means he’s an actual character as opposed to a cardboard one. More news as and when it arrives…

M is for Monster - available now!

In other news, my copies of M is for Monster have arrived, and  a lovely looking thing it is too. The cover picture (by John Prescott, who also compiled the book) is eyecatching, the back cover has a lovely background detail of scaly flesh behind the blurb… The contents, I’m sorry to say, I’ve not read, but there are some excellent authors in there. I’ve noticed a couple of typos so far, but for an essentially one-man show, I think John’s done a great job. It’ll be interesting to see how it translates to Dark Contents, where John will be part of a wider team – it does strike me as a really good sign both for Dark Continents and also for my collection with them! M is for Monster is for sale through Amazon as both hardcopy or download (Amazon.com currently, with Amazon.co.uk to follow), but if you’re in the UK, you can buy it directly from me – it’s £10 plus postage, copies will be signed (and personalised if you want), contact me direct for details. However, you might want to move quickly as my copies are selling fast – the Old Pier Bookshop in Morecambe has agreed to sell copies for me, so have taken half my stock and may need more if it goes well there…

On Thursday 28th, I finally did my reading for Cancer Research UK in Morecambe. We had a good crowd (about 25 people in all – the shop was completely full) and feedback on the event was overwhelmingly positive (mostly, it has to be said, for the fantastic cupcakes Wendy made!). Overall, we raised nearly £150 for the store, and may make more yet as I still have some of the chapbooks specially produced for the event to sell. It’s an extended version of the ‘Pennine Tower Restaurant’ true story, and it’s £3 inc postage (to the UK – overseas I have to charge a bit  for postage, I’m afraid), of which Cancer Research get £1. I also have one or two copies of  my original Ghostwriter Chapbooks (containing the stories ‘Marley’s Haunting’ and ‘Button’) for sale, and will donate part of the profit from them to Cancer Research as well. Because of their rarity, these are £4 each inc. postage (more for overseas, as above), and again can be personalised/signed as desired. Anyone interested, contact me direct…

…and an interesting thing came out of the reading: Willie Meikle, fellow horror author, has decided to jointly edit an anthology called The Big C, for release next year, an anthology to raise money for cancer research charities both here and in the US, and he’s asked me to be involved. I’m really pleased to have been asked, and have of course agreed to write something (no idea what yet, though!), as have Gary McMahon, Steve Duffy, Allyson Bird, Johnny Mains and a whole bunch of other great authors. It’s another great project to be involved in, and from my perspective shows again how genuinely intelligent, caring and proactive are my friends and peers in the horror field. We may never lead the world, but we may yet change it for the better…

And there’s more (as Jimmy Crickett used to say): it’s been confirmed that I’m doing a reading as part of the Chorlton Book Festival. It’ll be on November 12th at 7pm in Chorlton Library. I’ll post links when I get them, but as far as I know, it’s a free gig. If you come along, you’ll have the opportunity to watch/listen to me read two stories with my entire family (including grandparents) in attendance, which means no swearing or jokes about masturbation. Damn, that’s most of my repertoire gone… I’m also fairly sure that I’m doing something in Liverpool on the evening of November 26th (no, a reading, not just getting drunk!). Again, more details as I get them.

I think that’s it for news, but I wanted to bring up one thing that’s been on my mind a bit recently: ebook readers. My initial approach to them was to say, NO! Very Luddite, I agree, but it seemed to me that we had created something that we simply didn’t need – books being a near-perfect machine as far as I’m concerned. However, I’m beginning to change my mind a bit. Part of the reason is pragmatic: ebook readers are clearly here to stay, and assuming they work as well as people claim they may be useful (lighter than books, for one) and extremely good for things like textbooks (having the Community Care Law and other legal stuff with me on an ebook reader when I’m training would be fantastically useful!). The other reason is that more and more of the companies I work with are focussing on ebook publications either solely or in part, and I’d like to be able to have all the available versions of the works I’m included in. So, I can feel a ‘can I have a Kindle’ request approaching soon…. Anyone got any thoughts/advice on this?

Oh, one last thing: I’ve seen the early version of my website and it’s great – special thanks to Andrew for building it! I need to write some stuff for it, and then we hope to launch it properly in a week or two. Watch this space…

Right, I think that’s your lot. Back again soon, Lords and Ladies!

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7 Comments

  1. poor writer said,

    We are on the cusp and don’t have any choice in the matter, but writers of our generation will always lust after seeing their name on the front of a hardcover book.

    Seeing one’s name on an electronic device is not very impressive, especially with the millions of blogs and websites allowing anyone to self publish their words electronically.

    I find it all depressing – books will become rare. It will take a while longer, but just like CDs are becoming rarer already due to MP3 devices, hard copy books will fade. But with a proliferation of enovels, pirating out your work might become a problem and may affect sales.

    Imagine working your arse off to write a perfect novel. Harper Collins publishes it in ebook format. Then, several websites offer it to download for free, despite Harper telling them to bugger off. The offenders just set up a different website if anyone complains, or a share site to download.

    Or I buy your novel and then I send it out to twenty friends. It’s insidious. I guess the people who think all music should be free will then complain and say all novels should be free. Instead of Napster, we’ll have FreeBook.

    Unlike musicians, we won’t have “touring” to fall back on to earn a living!

    (hahahahahaha)

    That’s the rationalization for snagging MP3s from share sites – “I pay for live concerts, not for recorded music!”

    I am trying to embrace the ebook wave, because it is coming no matter what I might think about it.

    Good news for trees. Bad news for my ego!

    Kindles in the US have dropped to only 139 dollars! Imagine when they drop to 99. They are going to sell and sell and sell.

    The iPads are fun, but much more expensive, so the Kindle is still selling strong.

    Yep. Fucking depressing. But I guess there was a time when some bloke was upset that his words would no longer be recorded on clay tablets but instead on that wimpy new paper technology!

    And when the printing press was invented, people probably that was some evil manipulation, creating copies….

    My question is, what will replace ebooks? I can’t even imagine.

  2. Peter Ford said,

    Simon, once again, thanks for the great reading evening and for signings. Glad it was successful financially as well. I am successfully coming to terms with my feelings of guilt at eating a gothic cupcake, but they were not easily ignored!
    About the Pennine Tower story – I went past the building today and it looked entirely unsinister, but iI now regard it in a newish light, or should I say darkness, I note that you assured Steve Row that the story is as it happened. Does this also include what acts essentially as the framing story – the chap in the car?
    Just another thing –
    In my 2002 ‘Flatwoods Monster 50th Anniversary’ document which I am updating for limited re-release, I mention the idea of the ‘expectant location’. I would find it very useful to refer to ‘The Pennine Tower’ in this context, as it now has the potential of becoming an ‘expectant location, despite its mundane appearance.
    By this, I mean a reference in the text to ‘a well known writer of horror stories’ and putting ‘The Pennine Tower’ in the references as a recommendation for further reading.
    The document was originaly produced in aid of Macmillan but did not sell well, as it was – in its original A5 form and content – mainly of interest only to what was then known as the ‘UFO community’. The ‘Lancaster Guardian’ of the time did give it a good boost. with an article entitled ‘The Truth is Up There’, showing yours truly holding the book and looking skyward!Further printings were distributed free in the interest of research and have gone as far afield as America and Sheffield.
    Of course, I understand that you may not wish your work to be associated with anything like this (It takes an open minded but non-alien stand, with leanings towards a ‘secret aircraft’ scenario.) .
    Whatever the outcome, keep blogging!

    Best wishes

    Peter

  3. Chris Bell said,

    I enjoyed ‘Mami Wata’, too. I haven’t finished reading the book yet, so won’t comment on its overally ranking in ‘The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21’ here, but I’d say your story is definitely closest to what I would describe as horror in a genre sense.

    Perhaps it’s just because I’m a grumpy old man, but the stories in the Pan Books of Horror I read as a teenager in the 1970s seemed a lot more horrific. Most of the stories in ‘TMBBNH21’ (including my own, ‘Shem-el-Nessim’) I’d describe as being ghost stories rather than horror, ‘Party Talk’ by John Gaskin being a prime example.

    Peter Tennant has always been a astute reviewer. I haven’t read ‘Traffic Stream’ so can’t comment on that.

  4. simonkurtunsworth said,

    Poor writer: things are changing, but there’ll always be books, of this I’m convinced. Still, it’ll be interesting (if not a little scary) to see how things develop over the next few years.

    Peter: refer away, with my pleasure – and I’d love to read the Flatwoods Monster when it’s updated! As to the veracity of the Pennine Tower story, all things are true. Didn’t I say so several times? Whether you believe me is, of course, up to you!

    Chris: I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read any of BNH21 yet, it’s sitting in my TBR pile. Thanks for the kind words, though, it’s greatly appreciated!

  5. Chris Bell said,

    Re-reading my comment, for me to have merely said it’s of the horror genre is damning ‘Mama Wata’ with faint praise. Sorry. It’s experty written, in a setting that was unfamiliar to me and is convincingly rendered. And it’s probably that mix of themes, settings and styles that make BNH21 so successful, rather than its adherence to the horror genre as I’ve always understood it. Fashions change, and my 1970s reading matter would no doubt seem very dated now.

  6. Mark said,

    Glad the reading went well, best wishes for the festival!

  7. JC said,

    Hey Simon,

    Cheeky request, but is there anywhere online I can check out “Traffic Stream”? Would love to read (big fan of road horror), but not overly interested in the other “Black Book” stories I’ve read loglines for.

    Cheers,
    JC

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