Sunday, 29 March 2009


I wasn't going to blog tonight because I'm still full of dinner and sleepy*, but news has happened while I was out stuffing my face. My first story has appeared online at Pantechnicon :D I submitted it some time ago, and it's taken them a while to get it all together for various reasons, but it's now up and readable!

This is the first bit of writing I've ever sent off to someone I didn't know, and I'm quite excited. Someone who wouldn't care about hurting my feelings read it and liked it!

Now it's your turn! I'd really really love it if you went here: and clicked on Latest Additions, and then had a quick looky at my story, London Stone. It's very short and relatively painless and I'd love to know what you think.

*my blog about the fabulous range of new haircuts on display in Primeval will have to wait.

Friday, 27 March 2009


So where did the last week go? Honestly, I blinked and it sailed past. I certainly did not realise that it's been around 6 days since I last did an update on here, and that was about my arch-nemesis, football. That's just not good enough.

Bad Apple Bone has been going very well indeed. I seem to have properly gotten into the rhythm of writing every day, and for the last few have averaged around 1000 words a day, which is very good for me with my lack of spare time and tendency towards procrastination. Due to that, I now have a wordcount of 90,000!

This feels like a significant milestone, and a wild and crazy number. 90k? That's a proper book's worth of words now. The end is in sight, and I suppose part of me has always assumed that I would never finish the sodding thing. I'd get bored, distracted by something else, or just get dissuaded by the enormous amount of work novel writing actually involves. To know that the end is now weeks, or even days away is an extraordinary thing.

Plotwise, BAB (Ew, acronyms. Gross) has been both confusing and surprising recently. A character I thought had exited stage left a while ago suddenly popped up this afternoon, with an entirely new way of looking at the plot; he told me stuff I had no clue was going on, and then buggered off again. Also, the character who I thought was going to do a runner just as the shit was zipping towards the fan is fine, it's the other one who's legging it in the opposite direction. In the confusing stakes, a subplot that I have foolishly not been writing in proper chronological order has suddenly exploded in my face and revealed that perhaps I should think about which chapters belong where. Whoops. For a while I considered dropping the whole thing, but the fact is the two characters it involves are so much fun to write (bad, bad men who do terrible, despicable things) I can't bear to chuck them. And as I threw myself into sorting out their plotpoints this week, I discovered exactly how important they are to the story, and how they need to be there at the end. So that was good.

And there you are. I'm sorry this update was a largely boring one about writing, and did not contain any spewed bile about football/Chris Moyles/breakfast TV. In the next one I sort of intend to talk about my NaNoWriMo book, Bird and Tower, because once Bad Apple Bone is out the way, I'll probably need to start a proper edit and redraft on that, so I might mention it on here from time to time. That is unless I see something that really annoys me, like Ferne Cotton or tomorrow's episode of Robin "shops at Topshop" Hood.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

beautiful game my arse

I don't like football. Football doesn't like me. This is fine, and we tend to keep out of each other's way. We've found that the easiest solution for our mutual dislike is mutual avoidance. Mostly this works, because luckily football doesn't especially agree with my boyfriend either, so I don't have to spend my saturdays with Match of the Day, or listen to witless conversations about footy (what's more tedious than football? People talking about football). I don't watch any sports channels, read the backs of any newspapers, or ask my brother how West Ham are doing.

Unfortunately there is one instance where football flagrantly ignores our peace pact, and that's when it comes to the pub. Because, let's face it, if you don't like football and you want a peaceful drink on a saturday afternoon, most of the time you're pretty much fucked.

Today was a good example; we wandered off out after a long morning and early afternoon spent mooching about indoors, looking forward to have a couple of drinks and a nice chat about stuff. After all, this is what I expect the pub to be about; drinks, and chats. That's all I ask of it. We made our way to my current pub of choice in our neighbourhood, ironically avoiding another local because they charge an entrance fee if there happens to be a match on (and that is another fucking rant altogether). It's a cosy place usually, with an interesting mix of regulars, and pretty decent (and cheap) thai food. I like it there. When we got in and ordered our drinks it was busy; the big screen up the back was showing rugby*, which I expected really, so we made our way to the far corner, which was out of the way of the main crowd.

Cool, I thought. They can watch their footy/rugby/sportwhatever, and we can have a quiet drink and a chat. Unfortunately I hadn't noticed the tiny screen just above our heads playing the apparently less popular football game. Soon we were joined by a quite alarmingly arseholed old geezer, who sat around about a foot away from us and proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes randomlt shouting things such as "SPREAD! SPREAD THE BAAAALL! SPREAD IT!" and "GET ON DEFENNSHH, YOU FACKIN' IDJITS!" and "YOU ARE RUDE! YOU ARE A VERY RUDE MAN!". He also stood up at one point with his arms in the air, silently saluting nothing for a few minutes, and then stumbled back down again. Riiight. As the game went on, we were gradually surrounded by an army of similarly shouty winos. Any chance of hearing each other talk, and me not wanting to punch people, went right out the window.

I fucking hate you football. Leave me alone.

*By the way, I lump rugby in with football; it's all about blokes chucking a ball around, what's the difference?

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Dawdley, the God of Procrastination

The Gods of Procrastination have been whispering in my ears again. And it's all due to Script Frenzy!

Script Frenzy is a sister project to NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which I took part in last year. NaNo is a brilliant mad thing, where you are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel over the month of November. I really can't recommend it highly enough; if you've ever thought you might enjoy writing and have a secret book inside you somewhere, or you're a frustrated writer who never finds time to get it down, Nano is a great catalyst to get your arse in gear. A community of thousands of enthusiastic writers, all struggling with their own wordcount, and all ready to offer encouragement (or jibes) when you're flagging. It's brilliant fun, and taught me a lot about my own writing, as well as many lessons about how much I can do when I stop whinging and just do it. Of course, given the speed of the output a lot of rubbish is written across the board, and even I was surprised by the number of Nano novels that appeared to be about sparkly vampires and angsty werewolves. Hmm. But it's the pure joy in the act of creation that makes Nano fun to be part of. That and all the sweets you're allowed to eat because you need to stay awake.

Script Frenzy takes place in April, and is essentially Nano with scripts. Now, I've never written something in that format. Have never, in fact, even contemplated doing so. I love films almost as much as I love books, but it's never occurred to me to try and write one. But all it takes is one convincing email from Chris Baty (organiser of Nano and all round nice chap) and I'm contemplating it... Even though Bad Apple Bone is so close to being finished and the last thing I need is another month spent concentrating on something entirely different.

But. I have an idea, gleaned from a half finished storyboard of a half finished comic I did years ago... I think it might make an interesting Guillermo del Toro/Mirrormask/Dark Crystal kind of film.

And it is very, very tempting.

Monday, 16 March 2009


Ooo, I've been sitting a bit funny and my leg's gone a bit achey. Ow.

In the spirit of my aching self, I feel incapable of writing a comprehensible blog today, so instead I think I will make a small collection of thoughts. Sorry.

1) Chris Moyles- I do not like him. A very brief note, but jesus christ, have you listened to Radio 1 in the mornings lately? I had the misfortune to do so, because I had grown so sick of the appalling fetid-brained sock-people that present breakfast tv and decided to try the radio. I should have known that Radio 1 was not for me; Radio 4 is my natural home, and I shall never leave it again. The Chris Moyles Breakfast radio show is essentially an hour (how long does it go on for? I've no clue. How could I possibly find out without wanting to end it all?) where Chris Moyles makes vague references to something funny he said down the pub last night, while a gang of sycophantic jibberers squeel themselves silly about how fucking funny he is. Underneath it all, a constant jingle plays, like we're all having a fucking jolly time, because Chris Moyles is so fucking funny. Christ.

2) I watched around half an episode of Supernatural last night. This is a series I've utterly failed to get into, mainly because it's shown in a fairly random fashion late night on ITV2 (I think) and may turn up on any night, and at any time. I've always been a little intrigued, mainly due to its huge following on fandomsecrets, from which I have learned all sorts of interesting facts about the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean. Mainly, that if they had sex it would apparently be really, really hot.
So I finally saw some of it and was rather disappointed. To be fair, I'm coming rather late to the party, and my paltry plot knowledge gleaned from poorly constructed jpegs containing such wisdom as "I would hit that!" and "Ruby sucks!" was hardly likely to give me the best preparation. But still. What mainly happened was a number of devastatingly attractive people hung around looking devastatingly attractive, whilst giving the sort of moody glances that indicate rumpy pumpy might be on the cards at any moment. True, there was a woman there in a mental institution who could hear the voices of angels and demons, but even she was distractingly beautiful. Despite being loopy, she still apparently had time to nip out and get her hair dyed "Mystic Plum". Oh, someone had a nosebleed too, and someone tried to stab someone else. But that was largely it. And not once did those two brothers have sex. Disappointing.

3) Fantasy trilogies: I am in the middle of one at the moment. This is rare for me, because the sort of fantasy that comes in trilogies (and higher numbers) is normally the sort of fantasy I'm rubbish at finishing. No reflection on the books themselves; I still love sword and sorcery fantasy and all it is and all it stands for. When I was a kid I was obsessed with The Lord of the Rings, but since then I think my attention span has shrunk, and proper po-faced fantasy has me running for something a bit more funky, with a little more humour in it; The Lies of Locke Lamora, for example, or The Book of Lost Things.
So the Trilogy I am currently slogging through? Robin Hobb's Soldier's Son sequence. And I am enjoying it; I'm just not sure I can tell you why. The set up is very similar to her previous series, the Assassin's Apprentice (which I loved) where a young male character grows up with an unwanted magical "gift", has all sorts of shit happen to him because of it, and generally has a fairly rotten time. The AA series had dragons and pirates going for it, and intrigue and castles, but Soldier's Son... well. It has the army. Uh. And spotty magical people. And stately balls (ahem). And the most interesting thing to happen so far happened in the first 100 pages, which is a little annoying when you've read around 800 pages so far.
But, it is a testament to Hobb's writing that she can take the pace this slow, have no dragons in it and still have me balancing the book on the washing machine while I try to turn the burger's over one handed. The woman writes characters you grow to love, and you learn a lot of patience that way.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

The House of Terror! Or Unresolved Psychological Issues.

After four weeks of getting up before 6am, I think my brain is finally rebelling at the lack of sleep I've afflicted it with. For the last few days the nearest I've got to working on Bad Apple Bone is writing strange, incomprehensible notes in my notebook; they often says things that a few hours later make no sense to me, such as "Herded by dogs!" and "mouth leaf". Mouth leaf? Next week I go back to my more usual work shift where it doesn't matter so much that I am entirely unable to go to bed before midnight, and hopefully with a bit more sleep under my belt my writing attempts will make more sense.

On another subject entirely, I was pondering yesterday about my grandparent's house. They moved there when they were a youngish couple, and most of my aunts and uncles, and my mum, were raised there. I lived there myself from the age of about 5 or 6, to the age of about 10 or 11, when my parents split up. It's a very significant place to me, the house that I dream about most often, or if I'm writing a story, I tend to instinctively shape the house I'm writing about around that one. My nan lives there by herself now.

I was thinking about what might eventually happen to the place, in a good few years time. I couldn't imagine people other than my family living there, but it seems quite likely we would sell it, with the money being split between my nan's children. What if one of us moved there though, I thought. I tried to imagine moving in myself, or just sleeping over there to help sort the place out, staying for perhaps a week in my old room.... and I was seized with a feeling of almost supernatural terror. I honestly could not bear the thought of sleeping in that house again.

And this is weird, because I have no particularly bad memories of my nan and grandad's house. If anything, I was very happy, because my grandparents were there, and the place was often filled with most of my extended family too, on visits and friday night card games. So why on earth am I so alarmed by the idea of sleeping there? To be fair, I am often reluctant about going round there now, and rarely do, but I've always thought that was due to the weird sense of vertigo you get from visiting the place you grew up; everything is smaller than you remember, and distorted.

So I'd like to know if anyone else has experienced similar feelings. If you can still go to the place you grew up, is everything still cosy for you, or is it a little strained? If you are unable to get there these days, what do you think about going back?

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Thoughts on Watchmen

Potential tiny spoiler alert! Well, if you haven't seen the Watchmen film, or read the comic, or been living under a rock for ten years.

We saw it last night at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, which is an excellent old fashioned cinema with friendly happy staff. Don't try to buy a drink there though; two quid for a tiny coke! In a paper cup! Yikes.

Firstly, let me say I liked it, I thought it was good. It was, in short, one big fangasm from beginning to end.
It was essentially as good a film that could possibly have been made from the source material. I should point out that I was entirely against it being filmed at all; it is possibly the closest thing to a perfect graphic novel ever written, and the best example of how comics work as a unique art form. There was no need for it to be a film. But. It has won me over. Every scene that you would expect or want to see in it is there, and achieved with a perfection that is almost eerie. I spent most of the film rapt with wonder at how faithful it was. I squeed, yes, I actually squeeeed in a terribly fangeek manner every time Rorschach did a "hurm". The opening montage of an alternate history of America with superheroes was one of the most extraordinary bits of cinema I've seen- the Comedian on the grassy knoll! (good use of Bob Dylan there, too). It's funny, violent, scary and bloody good fun; everything the comic was.

There has been quite a bit of criticism of the film, which now that I've actually seen it just don't ring true to me. So I shall take this opportunity to disagree with it all. Hurrah! Some of the things being said:

1) all style, no substance: Now, I'm not sure what these people want. The story is all there, as complete as it could ever be in film form. The ending has impact and meaning (I understand why they changed it, and I still have slight reservations, but the new ending serves its purpose) and the characters are spot on. Seriously, the casting on this film is some kind of miracle, particularly with Rorschach, the Comedian and to my surprise, Nite Owl. The story, the characters, and the "meaning" all work, so what do they want exactly?

2) Not gritty enough: I would say this film is pretty gritty. I mean, you see a little girl's leg chewed to bits by dogs, and Rorschach is one whole film's worth of grittiness by himself. Perhaps what they mean by that is that it should be all realistic shaky cam and dirty tights. To this I would say, firstly, did they actually read the comic? It's beautifully framed. Why would shaky cam be an obvious choice? And secondly, as a friend commented to me; when Nite Owl breaks an arm, I want to see it, preferably in slo-mo. A fumbled fight in a dark alley that you can't really see would have been a bit of a let down to be honest.

3) The dialogue is too comic-booky: Uh, it's based on a comic? Really though, at no point did I squirm with the discomfort of clunky dialogue, although this did happen all the way through Spiderman 3. And bits of the most recent Hulk movie.

4) Its too long: Of course it's long, have you seen the comic? And this is without all the pirate zombie stuff! There were moments, admittedly, where I thought my bum would seize up, but at no stage was I bored, and the story did not drag. There's just no room for drag in it. And Marty will testify that I actually managed to watch the whole thing without having to get up to go to the loo once- if I can do it with my peanut sized bladder, anyone can!

5) Casual viewers won't understand it: I don't care. Come on, if you can follow the Usual Suspects you can follow this. If you want a difficult movie, try the second Nightwatch movie.

My favourite bits:

Rorschach! Just spot on really. I now want a Rorschach action figure, the first time ever I've wanted an action figure of a fascist, woman-fearing, psychotic loon. Apart from Darth Vader maybe.

The opening montage was beautiful; really authentically done, and a clever way to plop the viewer right in the middle of the dystopian 1980's with a pretty good idea of why America was in such a mess.

Nite Owl/Dan Drieberg was lovely. Likeable, heroic, conflicted. We saw probably slightly more of his bum than was needed but that was nothing in comparison to...

...Dr Manhattan's blue penis! I am glad they had the balls *ahem* to actually show it- a less faithful adaptation would have constructed constant super-pants for him, or carefully shot it so his wang was always tastefully out of sight. I mean, it was quite odd. Especially when there were lots of him. But I appreciate the thought.

So, will I be getting the dvd? Yes. Will I be saving my pennies for keyrings with smiley faces and Nite Owl fridge magnets? Very possibly.

Monday, 9 March 2009

the raspberry coulis of doom

I got a fair amount of writing done yesterday; got the characters moving in the right directions, got some other bits and pieces ready for the final scene. I never get quite as much done on a Sunday as I expect to, and the main reason for this is one tv programme that seems to take up most of Sunday's schedule: Come Dine With Me.

If you haven't seen it, the concept is quite simple; four or five people take turns hosting a dinner party, they mark each other out of 10 in secret, and then the person with the most points gets a grand at the end of the week. Now, don't get me wrong, I have no interest at all in cookery programmes. I bloody hate them. I can't think of anything duller than listening to Jamie Oliver warble on about his spuds (although I have been known to watch Heston Bloominecks cock up Little Chef, or stick vibrators inside jellies- but that's not really cookery though, is it?)

The reason I love Come Dine With Me are the people that go on it. Every week, I will find myself asking "Where do they get them from? Really, where do they find them?" Because every group is a glorious collection of grade-A weirdos. First of all, there will always be one you are guaranteed to hate instantly, usually (distressingly enough) a woman of a certain age with a face like a smacked arse and frightening upper arms (I wish there were more hateable men on the show, but it's just not the case). Half of the people there you will wonder why they went on the programme at all, because they clearly can't cook and in fact seem rather surprised by their own kitchens, as if they have never been in there before. It's always these people who are making something they've never made before, with a gadget they bought that morning and haven't bothered to read the instructions for yet. One chap even still had the little wire twines around the plug flex, so fresh was his ice-cream maker from its box. Cue a series of disasters as things go up in flames, vital meats are left out of the oven, or in the oven too long, fingers are cut open, cats eat the appetisers, plasters are left in mixing bowls... One elderly chap put very obviously blue coloured liqueur on his crepes, and then wondered why they turned fairy liquid green. How he could not notice the big blue bottle was full of blue stuff, I do not know.

The other half of these weirdos go on there purely to show off the house they are so dreadfully proud of, which normally looks like it was furnished by the dodgy shop round the corner from me that sells lifesize porcelain labradors, and framed paintings of snow leopards. And then there are the people that just seem to make no sense at all. Last night's episodes contained two; the guy who decided to do a full christmas themed dinner (with decorations and santa costumes) in the middle of summer, and gave the vegetarian of the group her veggie option with pigs in blankets on the side. And then there was the barrister who was terrified of people, who named his hero as being Bart Simpson, and when asked to turn up in Christmas gear arrived as an Aussie surfer. With a rugby ball.

The crowning glory on all this is the fantastically sarcastic voiceover by Dave Lamb. We love to bitch at the people on this show, but Lamb is right there with us. Possibly his greatest comment ever came on yesterday's episode; "Gordon Ramsey would tell you to f**k off." Brilliant.

So if you're not watching Come Dine With Me, for christ sake watch it, it's the best thing on tele on a Sunday by miles, if not all week. It will remain my favourite mainstream programme, at least until the Apprentice comes back anyway, the Holy Grail of Hateful Bastard TV. Can't wait!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Bad Apple Bone

One of the things I'll probably talk about on here is the book I'm writing, so I thought I'd give it a sort of slight introduction here, so you'll know what I'm on about.

I started it in May 2007; I came home from work one day (really cheesed off, actually) and decided to write down the scene that had been going around in my head all day, for no other reason than it would take my mind off my bad mood. While I was writing it I realized that I wanted to know the history behind the scene, and what happened after, so I began to plan that out too... and that's how I started writing Bad Apple Bone. Kind of an accident really.

If I were asked to provide a synopsis for the novel, I would probably whinge and complain that I'm not any good at synopsises, but to give you the most basic of basic outlines; a horror/fantasy novel in which a child has been abducted by an old and dubious witch. The child's older brother sets out to find him with the help of a younger, less experienced witch. Bad things move in the background, pulling strings and causing trouble.
Now what worries me is that as soon as you say "young witch" these days, people tend to assume you mean the ass-kicking, sexy, scantily clad witch made popular by Buffy and horror romance novels where the heroine sees an awful lot of willy action. This is not that sort of book. Just so you know. Don't expect much willy action. If anything, it has a traditional fantasy setting, along with a more modern approach to story and character. Er, yeah.

I love writing it, and I'm tremendously fond of the two main characters, who have managed to surprise me, make me laugh, and make me cry, all unexpectedly. It'll probably be around 100,000 words long (about average for a book) and at the moment... *checks wordcount* ...I'm at 81, 249. I'm well into the third act. The endgame. The shit has now hit the fan. And this is proving to be the complicated bit!

One of the things I learnt from doing NaNoWriMo last year is that with people watching you, and expecting you to get something done, you can suddenly find yourself doing much more than you thought you could. So I'm hoping that by occasionally blogging about Bad Apple Bone on here there will be an added incentive to get the bugger written. I'm so close to the end now!

So if you should see me, bumming around on the internet, looking at pictures of cats with funny captions or twittering about what I'm making for lunch, feel free to say, in your best Stewie Griffin voice: "How you uh, how you comin' on that novel you're working on? Huh? Gotta a big, uh, big stack of papers there? Gotta, gotta nice litte story you're working on there? Your big novel you've been working on for 3 years? Huh? Gotta, gotta compelling protaganist? Yeah? Gotta obstacle for him to overcome? Huh? Gotta story brewing there? Working on, working on that for quite some time? Huh? Yeah?"


Alright then, I thought I'd explain some of the links I now have to the left of this blog. I suppose you could actually click on them yourself, and then you'd find out straight away what they're about, but you might not know me, and I could reasonably have some very strange interests. One link could send you to novelty butt plugs* for example, or the latest furry fashions, or godzilla porn (thanks to Warren Ellis for that one).

So if you trust me, go have a look for yourself. Go on. I don't mind waiting for you. I'm listening to Papa was a rollin' stone, I've got a while.

Well. The level of distrust on the internet just saddens me. The first link, unsurprisingly, takes you to the profile page for The Boxroom Podcast, a podcast I record with my young man, Marty. When we started recording it we did attempt to plan what we were going to talk about; now that's all out the window and it's very much a makeitupasyougo-cast, or a let'sgetpeopletotwitterwhatweshouldtalkabout-cast. Largely, it seems to be about geeky things we like, geeky things we don't like, and how we've embarrassed ourselves in the last week. The cheese story being a good example.

The Lost Bearings forum is essentially a tiny message board for our friends, because when you know a lot of people from various places online, it's nice to have one place where they can all meet up. We're lazy like that.

The Bearcast is a podcast recorded by the grumpy bears I mention in my profile. Yes really. Well, Terry is rarely actually grumpy, to be fair. I make guest appearances on there as Token Female (the cheek) and we discuss... odd things. UFO's. Doctor Who. More cheese.

The Lost Bearings Audio Adventure is my other half's Maximum Octopus; an audio comedy/drama about hope, distant lands, mad scientists, the pub, and soft toys. It is very good indeed.

Pantechnicon is a website that is also a forum that is also a magazine that publishes genre fiction. I mention it here because a) it is a groovy idea that supports new writers, b) it is free and you can actually download it and print it out if you like, and c) the next issue has a story by me in it. Hurrah!

That's all of them for now. I may add more later when I realise I've inevitably forgotten something. On an end note, I would like to ask: wasn't there a character in Thundercats called Lynxo? Was he a bit rubbish? Did you all think this post would be about Thundercats and you are now bitterly disappointed?


*Lots of sales on for butt plugs at the moment. I'm just saying.

Friday, 6 March 2009

New Bloggings

The first entry was always going to be a difficult one to write, wasn't it? Spent the whole bus journey brimming over with ideas of how to start it, and of course I come to actually sit down and write the bugger and I can't think of a single one. Typical.

Well. I've decided it's time I had a proper blog, a real "presence on the interwebs", which is a very wanky way of putting it, but it's been pointed out to me in a variety of ways lately that if I really want to be a writer and have people read what I've written (which is sort of the point, I guess) then a blog will help. All the cool people have them. I can point to stuff I'm doing, plug the other things I'm doing, such as the Boxroom Podcast, and whinge about the things I'm struggling through (not too much of that though). Also, in the vaguely patronizing guide to blogs I found, it said something along the lines of "write about stuff you're interested in, and your potential reading audience will be interested in". So expect some tangents along the lines of "Jeezum christ Demons is terrible" and "the new Doctor's hair is very distracting" and so on.

So the blog will be about, roughly: writing, podcasting, geeky things, books. That probably covers most of it. Oh, and there will be lots of swearing, because my vocabulary is fucking ace, or something.