Sunday, 7 November 2010

Rearing its head (again).

The last phrase of my previous blog could not have been more prophetic. It has slipped out (an entirely apposite way of doing business as far as the current UK government is concerned - they are all so slimy things cannot help but slip out, slide out, ooze disgustingly around our feet giving off a bad smell…) Sorry, where was I (apart from expressing a loathing so deep it makes me physically ill).

Ah, yes. It has slipped out that the ConDems want to review copyright law in the UK. Details are vague, but the gist of it is that they want to make it easier for those poor, suffering, cash-strapped corporations like News Corporation, Sky, Google, Facebook and so on to use work by creative folk and not have to pay for it.

We’ve already had a bout of whining from people who think that creatives should not have their work copyrighted after they die. Thus depriving their families - who have probably lived in poverty for decades - from reaping any reward for supporting someone who has spent their lives entertaining and enlightening others.

In the last few days we’ve had the explosion of wrath over a cookery magazine that has been stealing other people’s work and when challenged the ‘editor’ (who is clearly ignorant about copyright law as it currently exists) had the audacity to try to charge the complainant for editorial work (which did not need doing). That isn’t just ignorance; that is bullying.

Bullying is what the big corporations are good at. They buy politicians to do it for them, but it goes on just the same. The only thing we get to vote for these days is which particular bunch of scum-sucking CEOs we want in charge of us. The rest makes no difference at all. At the moment it is banks and media corporations who call the shots. They don’t want to have to pay us anything, although they do want us to keep feeding them. Perhaps they will eventually realise that a parasite needs to keep its host alive and reasonably healthy - other wise when the host dies the parasite dies with it.

Of course, it is not an equal relationship. The host can exist without the parasite. When the host wakes up to that fact, we can but hope that the parasite is removed and squashed under heel.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Level the field.

I recently received a little brown envelope containing a slip of paper. It was from the Royal Society of Literature informing me that I hadn’t won a short story competition. It went on to list those who had.

One of the names looked familiar so I did an online search. And was left more than a little annoyed.

Before I go any further, let me say that I had no expectation of winning this competition, but like the optimist I can sometimes be, I thought I’d give it a go. So this is not a rant about how my genius is being overlooked. It is about being fair.

My search revealed that one of the runners-up was a story that had just been published by Virago in a short story collection. Yet the rules of the competition clearly state that entries should be stories not previously published.

I emailed the RSL and asked them about this. The response was mealy-mouthed at best: the story had not been published at the time it went before the judges.

Technically I suppose this is true. Yet that story will have been seen by an agent, accepted for publication, and passed through the hands of a professional editor by the time it was entered into the competition. I entered a story that was all my own work from start to finish.

If anyone is going to take money from entrants to a competition, the competition needs to be fair. Transparently so. The RSL needs to make its rules a little more comprehensive and explicit.

I am sure quite a few people entered that competition in the belief they were being given an even chance to win. That some people may have entered work that had gone through a number of external editorial processes undermines that belief.

It is hard enough as it is to get a foot on the publishing ladder these days. Winning or being given an honourable mention in a prestigious competition certainly does no harm. However, it seems even that route in is compromised.

To those that have…

Sunday, 10 October 2010

A message from Charlie Cornelius...

...who would like you to go here for a sneak preview of the cover of Thin Reflections.

Monday, 20 September 2010


I had written a long diatribe about the state of the arts, but it came across as the rant of a miserable old git. So I'm not going to post it in the spirit of not wishing to sound like a stuck recording.

That is all.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Still at it...

Living. Reading. Writing. All that stuff. Keeps me out of trouble.

Of note is the fact that today I took delivery of a copy The Man Who Knew Too Much (Sexton Blake Library 350). This completes my collection of Sexton Blake's known to have been written in whole or in part by Jack Trevor Story.

If you know nothing about Sexton Blake (shame on you), then a visit here will enlighten you.

If you know nothing about Jack Trevor Story (double shame on you), a visit here will open your eyes to one of the best comic and social realist writers of the twentieth century.

I am chuffed to bits (which is gruesomely appropriate as the cover shows a man falling from a bridge into the path of a steam train).

It's not much to write home about, but there you go.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Dance Your Way To Psychic Sex

Anyone who has been here before will know that I’m not above the odd grumble about the state of the publishing industry. There’s a lot good about it. Still. Despite everything it seems to have done to drive itself into the ground.

But here is a perfect example of what it gets so wrong.

Read this review.

Go to this site.

This is a wonderful book. It is well-written, well-crafted, entertaining, humorous, quirky, and has a lot to say about human nature without shoving it down your throat in portentous fashion. Ideal if you ask me. But could it find a home with one of the big publishing houses? No. Did it deserve to be picked up by one of them? Yes. Unreservedly so.

So why was it not snapped up and subjected to a massive marketing drive? Not commercial enough, apparently. A bit too out of the ordinary.


It is true it isn’t a run-of-the-mill clone of six dozen other books. But frankly, and obviously, if you have read one of those, you have read them all.

Now I like my comfort zone. But only because it is a great base from which to explore. I want books to offer me something new each time I read. This doesn’t mean they have to be out-and-out genre-busting, taboo-busting, experimental works. I like those as well, but they need a context, and readers in general need a wide range.

And what this book manages is a superb balance between the familiar and the unusual.

So come on, people in publishing. Wake up. Go run barefoot in the grass. Live dangerously. Start thinking about what you are publishing and think of other factors up there beyond the bottom line. Yes, running profitably is important, but stop acting like a narrow-minded old boy’s club. We readers will buy what is published because we are hungry for stuff to read, but frankly the diet is getting beyond boring. Spice it up, boys before we all get literary malnutrition and start looking elsewhere for sustenance.

And you could do a damned site worse than buying yourself a copy of Dance Your Way To Psychic Sex, seeing what a great book is really like, and beating a path to the author’s door.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Four Rings of Light

Bloody hell it's dusty in here. And the cobwebs. And mouse shit.

I've been busy. Not looked in for a while.

But just to let my reader know that my story Four Rings of Light has now been published in the latest edition of Exterminating Angel.


That is all.

[Wanders off looking for a broom and duster]

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


...down the word mine hacking away at the ink face.

Some good news. I finally got a copy of the Jack Trevor Story I had been after. One of the missing copies turned up after having been round the country several times (or maybe just stuck down the back of a sorting office trolley for a few months). Anyway, worth the wait.

Then I got my copy of Into The Media Web (as a reward for lots of typing). This is what books should be like. Superb content. Top class design.

I also managed to pick up an 'as new' copy of Colin Greenland's The Entropy Exhibition.

I detect a theme.

As well as slaving away at the non-fiction, I've managed another couple of Charlie Cornelius short stories (one of which will be appearing in Exterminating Angel in the near future - watch this space) and I'm getting itchy to get back to the novels.

OK. That's enough leisure time for today. Back to editing.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


Three times this year I have tracked down an affordable copy of a book by Jack Trevor Story that I do not own. And for the third time this year I have just given up on seeing it delivered. Who or what is out there making sure that I never get to see this book? Very strange.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Head still down

Still beavering away. I now have another of my books done. This one is nearly ready to send to the publisher (I just have a few bits to tweak to bring it in line with the house style). That leaves the other museum book to do and then back to the very rough draft of the Druid book to kick it into shape.

It's all very humdrum, which is mostly what writing is about. Yes, there is a huge thrill in taking words and getting the clearest meaning out of them by combining them in certain ways. But all the rest is like any other job. Except you generally do it for ten hours a day. Seven days a week. Knowing it is unlikely to get you even close to the wrong side of the poverty line.

But I don't care, because I love writing.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Please read the link

Please read this: and look at the rest of the site.

It may same complicated and, certainly, law making seems designed to put people off (which is why such poorly drafted legislation gets through), but it is important.

In a kind of panic, probably prompted by big industry putting the squeeze on Lord Mandelson of Mordor, the government's response to piracy seems to be to dismantle the laws that protect us from pirates. Big business may survive this, but individual creators will not. This Bill will open the flood gates for people to rip off other people's work and the law (already adequate but poorly policed and implemented) will tie everyone up in knots for decades.

If an artist, writer, or musician feels they are unable to control who makes money from their creation, they aren't going to bother. You won't have original works to read, original works to watch on TV or in the cinema, original music to listen to.

Pirates steal because they cannot create. Once they have pushed creative workers out of business, that's it. And the biggest pirate? A company that goes to law to protect its own copyright whilst also going to law to grab everyone else's. Their name begins with a G.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Head down

Busy just at the moment. Museum books on the go. Druid book on back burner. Short story completed (although it will need a bit of work as I tried to do something tricksy with tense and I'll need to think about how well that works). Health a bit dodgy.

On a different note, I was heartened the other day, however, by statements from two people. The first was an actor who said he was always drawn to parts by the writing. If the writing was no good, he wasn't interested because that was the basis of everything else. The other was a film critic who said he could not understand how a film could be nominated for an Oscar TM for best film unless the screenplay was also nominated. The implication being that at the core of any good film is a good script. Hurrah for those two people.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


Twice in one day, what's the world coming to?

Jolly bit of news here about The Borribles.

This has put a smile on my face. The Borribles books by Michael de Larrabeiti have long been a favourite of mine and deserve a bit of recognition.

It is clear that one or two people fail to see any merit in them because they are, according to Wikipedia (that accurate fount of all knowledge), young adult books. Sorry, Wiki, but that's bollocks. They might appeal to young adults, but they were written for a much wider audience.

The Borribles is a well-written, highly astute political analysis; a fascinating exploration of morality and the importance of community; an excellent exposition on how we create an underclass; and its all wrapped up in a bloody good story. It is a powerful piece of mythology. Oh, and did I mention? It's a bloody good story.

The confusion may arise from the fact that it is a set of books about children (of a sort). That does not make it a book written exclusively for children. Sadly, many adults will not read books with children as the main protagonists. Partly because there aren't a vast amount out there (although I've no doubt my reader will provide me with a long list).

Anyway, I will quietly celebrate the success of the books in this small poll. I love the work of Woolf, Dickens, and Moorcock, but de Larrabeiti has best captured the London I know.


...haven't written anything for ages and I still get an award. Or maybe it's because I haven't written anything for ages.

Thanks Carol.

I nominate the Novel Racers as recipients of this; fine bloggers one and all.

I also have to tell you about five things I like to do.

1 - Writing. This may come as a surprise to some folk, especially given the amount of spleen that gets vented on this blog. But I do enjoy it. It is an act of magic, as far as I'm concerned - marks on paper or screen can pass information from one person to another, can evoke emotions, entertain, keep one person in contact with another through space and time... Amazing.

2 - Reading. Ever since I was able, getting comfy with a good book has been one of the great pleasures of my life.

3 - Listening to music. It has played an important role in shaping my imagination.

4 - Holding hands with Barbara.

5 - Cat watching. Even when they're asleep they fascinate me.

OK. That's enough niceness and jollity. Normal service will be resumed just as soon as something ticks me off enough (Amazon chucking its toys out of the pram over Macmillan doesn't count - stupid, but highly pathetic).

Friday, 22 January 2010



Where did that come from?

Sneaky bugger.