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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

2000AD hits prog 2000

First combined 2000ad Starlord cover
Back in the mists of time (or 1977 as we also called it). Before the video game revolution, before mobile phones, before superhero movies had real special effects.  When Star Wars, was the only Star Wars movie. Something happened in the world of comic book publishing which remains in many ways unique even now. The self-proclaimed Greatest Comic in the Universe was born, and for me at least that is just what it was, or would be when I started reading it 18 months later after the slightly ill-fated Starlord which tried to repeat its success merged with the big boy of British comics.
Starlord, which I had read from the first issue, was perhaps my first flirtation with grief as I mourned its passing. It had gripped me from the first issue, and I had been there at the start. 2000AD, on the other hand, was foisted on me because I wanted to keep reading my favourite strips. I was in truth a little aggrieved by this, (I was also eight years old, the death of my favourite comic loomed large in my psyche). I almost refused to buy the new combined 2000AD featuring Starlord, as it was obvious to me who was the shark here, eating up the little fish.
However, nine-year-olds are fickle with their grieving and 2000AD's editor, (who it was alleged was a green skinned alien from Betelgeuse but was, in fact, Steve MacManus who took over the job just as the two comics merged and did the job for the next 10 years) knew exactly which strips he wanted to keep from the junior partner.
Two of the mainstays of the early years of 2000AD in Strontium Dog a space western and Ro-busters a thunderbird like a disaster team run for profit and staffed by robots started out in Starlord. Over the years they have morphed and changed, and driven by the storytelling 2000AD is famous for they became greater than the original workaday strips which fascinate the eight-year-old me.
Johnny Alpha, Strontium Dogs main character's back story was developed into an epic that looked at racism and fascists through the lens of mutants and the Keelers. Doing that most subversive of things, educating young minds while entertaining them. Much of my own abhorrence of racism and the far right I can trace back to reading 2000AD and the long-running 'Portrait of a Mutant' Not bad for a strip that started bout as a bounty hunter western set in space.
Ro-Busters too took on a flashback story with 'Hammerstein's war memoirs' telling the tale of one of the two star robots, a hammer fisted first generation war droid fight a war for humans, against humans and despised by humans. This further morphed over the years to become the A.B.C. Warriors, a strange mix of the seven samurai (or Mek-nificent seven) and weird techno-sorcery. Once again this opened up a young mind to some strange concept, cross redressing hyper cool sniper Joe Pineapples and techno-sorcery Dreadlock were at once weird and wonderful.
The badge of Judge Hayes
sits proudly on my mantle piece
Thrown into this mix of my two favourites form Starlord were the king of British comic book characters, Joe 'old'stoneface' Dredd. A strip never short of a bit of subversive satire. A Character that has lived long with me since, replacing even Johnny Alpha in my fertile mind as my favourite charcter. Dredds world has always juggled satire and action with hard hitting ideas, but its real power is and always had been in the story telling. Its the charcaters that you encounter that make Dredds universe so compeling.
Copper the grafiti artist, a kid who see no future, so sets out to become the king of the taggers before Dredd pulls him down, comes back a few years down the line as a slky surfer, making a bid to win a highly ilegal race, before escaping to OZ to liev in teh out back befroe he returns to surf once more. Just one of hundreds of charctesr who come and go but draw you into Dredds world.
If you watch the Dredd movie form 2012 (and if you havn't you should) you can see a chopper tag high on the side of one of the blocks. A moment of personal glee when I found it after watching the movie several times .
Image result for 2000ad covers
2000 AD's cast of thousands 
Rogue trooper, Sam Slade, Nickoli Dante, Nemisis the Warlock, Slaine, Halo Jones and dozens of others run through the pages of 2000AD and formed a back drop to my imagination as a child. But more than this grew with me as I go older. 2000AD grew up with its audiance. The simple hard fast action of the late 70's gave way slowly to cleverer more thoughtful strips and the years went by. And with it I grew to look at the world through eyes that looked for layers in story telling.  acme to understand that you could talk about homelessness, depresion, mental health, racisum, sexisum, politics , indeed anything through the lens of science fiction, fantasy or just good stroy telling. A story could be about anything, but you could work other things into it.
Cider lane is at heart a love story, that talks about depression, drug abuse, self harming, bullying, grief and a dozen other 'serious' subjects at the same time. Mostly by not taljking about them directly. Passing Place even more so in some ways covers big subjects like who we are and how we percieve the universe, but does so with a sutle touch ( at least I hope it does).
The point of this all is simple, without 2000AD there would have been no Passing Place, no Cider Lane, no Hannibal Smyth (who your yet to meet) or Maybes Daughter (ditto). Because it was 2000AD as much as anything that taught me about stories. All the authors I later read built upon that fertile foundation it is true but as a linchpin, it was always there.
I stopped reading 2000AD about ten years ago. Not for any reason other than I missed a few issues and never got back to it, before long a habit long formed had slipped away.
But next week there is a landmark, Prog 2000.
The 2000th issue of a comic which way back in 78 when it merged with Starlord in a desperate attempt to salvage something of the two titles looked to be dying.
It's an institution, A great British institution of storytelling at its purest. Satirical, smart witty and wonderful.
Seems a great time to restart my subscription...

#2000AD #prog2000 #Dredd                

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Passing Place the movie

well, okay, the home movie perhaps... 

This is still a rough cut, and eventually, once I have played about with it more I will add some music


Monday, 12 September 2016

Things I hate about self-publishing #1

Asking people, I converse with on Facebook, if they will read and review my book ...
Really, words can no describe how much I hate doing this... which is why I don't despite many of them been great reviewers who have both integrity and an intelligent, often humorous view of the world and of novels which make their reviews interesting in of themselves and I honestly would be amazingly pleased if they read and reviewed my book even if they decided they did not like it.
That's the weird thing, I am not in any way afraid to ask them, worried about bad reviews, or anything as prosaic as that. I just hate asking people.
I am an introvert by nature, I'm a writer for god sake, it more or less in the job description, well it is in my case. I observe the world, comment upon it, try to help and advise people where I can. Leap to the defence of anyone and happily try to aid others in pursuit of their dreams, but I don't push myself forward. I don't say to people I know only by pixels on a screen 'please read my book and review it I love your reviews and I want your opinion...' the mere thought of doing so chills me to the bone.
Not because I am afraid of rejection, or even seeming a fool.
I just don't like asking...
So I don't.
Which leave me in a wilderness of my own making at times I suspect.
Reviews are important. and respected reviewers who have an audience of their own are a godsend to a writer looking to find new readers. There are hundred of pay review sites where you can pay people to review your book. I don't trust them as far as I can throw them, because they are as fake as it's possible to be. After all, they make their money by reviewing and why would an author go back to someone who gave them a crappy review?
Where is their incentive to be honest?
And such biased reviews do no service to readers or writers.
Give me an honest review by someone who reviews books for the joy of doing so anytime. Though people I will not ask...
Occasionally, once in a while someone I don't know personally reviews my work, Someone I know in passing, or completely out of the blue, and those are the best reviews of all, because paranoid as most writers are about their work, its only the stranger or the passing acquaintance whom reviews that you can know with certainty are completely unbias.
I hate asking people to review.
Doubt that is going to change anytime soon.

day 7 after the release of passing place, still terrified of the first review I will end up reading ...

Friday, 9 September 2016

in case anyone is wondering...

Just in case anyone is wondering about the new banner.
The dragons name is Errol
More fully he is Errol the Bookcase Dragon, a rare and wonderful breed of dragon I bought at Gothfest in Whitby a couple fo years ago. He has been guarding the bookshelves in my house ever since. A task he seems to like, as it keeps him away from Boomer the cat.
Occasionally he moves around in the night to guard a particular first edition, and has been known to nest among the Stephen Kings and the Pratchetts. Though I caught him snoozing on a couple of Neil Gaiman's last week.

He is guarding the first lot of paperbacks of Passing Place until I get them all signed and sent out to the readers who asked for them.


Waiting at the bus stop of lost hopes...

Okay, slight over dramatic title for this piece, but it is taken from the name of the first chapter of Passing Place so it had a certain appeal because waiting is more or less what I am doing. It's not an unusual situation for a writer, or at least for this writer.
I waited to find my urge and need to write when I got stuck half way through Passing Place.
I waited till I had finished Cider Lane ( my first novel) before I went back to Passing Place.
I waited after the first real draft was done till I could face the second.
I waited for proofreaders to read through
Then waited some more...

And now I face the most agonising of waits, the wait for readers to read the book, to hear back from a few about how they did, or did not like it. And of course, the wait for reviews.

Image result for waiting

While I wait I have things to do..... and a list of them indeed.

1.  Make promotional meme pictures/adverts for Passing Place

2. Make promotional video for Passing place

3. Mention Passing Place on every bit of social media I can find to get the word out there.

4. Post out the sign copies of the paperback that have arrived

5. Wait

6. Start writing the sequel

And most importantly ....

7.  Resist urge to ask people for reviews, Amazon stars, good read stars, the mentioning of the novel to friends.....

So waiting, in the possibly vague hope people will like the novel ...

oh 8. write blog posts ......  

Friday, 2 September 2016


On the off chance anyone missed it My new novel Passing Place came out today.  Needless to say I am very happy about this :)

more news on this front in the next few days

Fantasy and science-fiction collide with horror and the supernatural in a world where reality is a matter of perception…
Sonny, the doorman, drinks his brandy and tells a story of death row. A green haired girl sits in her tree and speaks of the Wolf of Winter. The Weaver of Tears cries diamonds, and the Gunslinger speaks of death riding in on desert winds. The Grey Man tells of his soulless world before dancing with his mop once more. In the kitchen the chef bends casually to make the greatest sandwich in the world. And the devil behind the bar tells tall tales while he pours you a drink.
Welcome to Esqwith's Piano Bar and Grill. Where the impossible is the everyday and reality is just a matter of perspective. Even the cat has a story to tell…
An impossible place that bridges dimensions and time itself. A place where stories are told and retold anew. A place where something lurks unseen, something from the void, something dangerous, something hungry, something red...
On kindle and in paperback.


Thursday, 1 September 2016

Passing Place

No longer coming soon ,, its almost arrived ....

"The Greyhound pulled away into the thunderous summer storm, leaving in its wake a dishevelled, world-weary figure in the dark, deserted bus station." 
Richard is a man come to the end. Grieving after the death of his wife he has travelled the back roads of America in the search for an answer to that most impossible of questions. Why?  Looking for that answer in all the wrong place.
In a Hicksville town in the western desert, he answers a want ad for a piano player and finds himself in the Passing Place, an impossible bar,  where the patrons all have stories to tell…

Sonny, the doorman, drinks his brandy and tells a story of death row.  A green haired girl sits in her tree and speaks of the wolf of winter.  The Weaver of tear's,  cries her diamonds, and the Gunslinger speaks of death riding in on desert winds. The Greyman tells of his soulless world, before dancing with his mop once more.  While in the kitchen the chef bends causality to make the greatest sandwich in the world,  and the devil behind the bar tells tall tales while he pours you a drink.
Welcome to Esqwith's Piano Bar and Grill... Where the impossible is the everyday and reality is just a matter of perspective. And even the cat has a story to tell…

An impossible place that bridges dimensions and time itself. A place where stories are told and retold anew, and a place where something lurks unseen, something from the void, something dangerous, something hungry, something red...

Fantasy and sci-fiction collide with horror and the supernatural in a world where reality is a matter of perception...


Passing Place , Authors notes ,and Playlist

Authors notes.

This is a novel about many things, but more than anything else it is a novel about stories. The ones we tell, the ones we here and the ones we all know. How they influence our lives and our perceptions of the world around us. How they teach us about ourselves.
I have begged, borrowed and stolen ideas from other tellers of tales, because that’s what writers do, we are all thieves of the rich history of tales which permeates human culture. The good ones, of which I can only hope I am, add to that which they steal and make it their own. The truly great ones, which I can only aspire to be, do this so well that they become the source of the tales they tell for a new generation.
In this tradition, the tradition of literary thievery, I have plundered here and there a few tales, true and imaginary. I won’t be telling which is which, but if you want to know more about anything within these pages the internet is at your disposal.
I am at heart, an honourable thief of stories, however, if I steal from the real world I try to stay true to the source. If I steal from other tale-tellers, I try not to twist their visions round too many corners. The eagle-eyed reader will spot some of the references to my plunder. Many are hidden in plain sight after all.
Moorcock, Gaiman, King, Pratchett, Verne, Wells, Orwell, Gemmell, Adams, Bradbury, Eddings, Gibson, Holt, Rankin and many more have been subjects of my thievery. My thanks then to them, tale tellers all. Without which none of this would be possible.
Beyond artists of a literary kind, there are others who tell tales. The ones who set them to music and sing the words, weaving their tales with sound walls of passion and grace. Without them this novel more than most would be a poorer tale.
It was written over the course of five years, somewhere in the middle of writing it, I wrote Cider Lane, my first novel, a tale which had much to do with silence and silences.
Passing Place, on the other hand, is a tale which has much to do with music. As such it comes with a playlist of songs, one for each chapter, from those other tale-tellers who influenced this tale…..

Playlist by chapter