Thursday, March 20, 2014


The Return of Twisthorn

Out of print for two years, my novel Twisthorn Bellow is coming back into print soon courtesy of my own Gloomy Seahorse Press. The best thing about publishing my own books is that all the design choices are up to me. I can insert little illustrations throughout the text and use typographical tricks and know they will appear unaltered in the final book. The freedom is rather wonderful.

I have just prepared the back cover of this novel and here it is. It features many of the monsters that appear in the text itself. The monsters are (from left to right and from up to down)...

Shylock Cherlomsky: Not really a monster as such, but his mind and heart are monstrous. Here we see him in the basement beneath the Ethnology Department with the collection of kpingas at the disposal of his Agency. (I modelled personally for this one)

Baddie TwoShoes: a sort of footwear komodo. He’s the pet monster of Lord Doublestuff, who always does everything twice. In keeping with his owner, Baddie TwoShoes has two soles. Baddie TwoShoes, you don’t think, don’t joke, what do you do? Eat goodies, is the answer to that!

Bob the Lock: The graceful but evil padlock swan, swimming serenely with his wife, Raypova, and his son, Paddy.

Crystalbonce: He may look like a bulldog clip balanced on an inverted tea light with a yellow crystal for a head, but Crystalbonce is an extremely suave and dastardly robotic being. He’s French and his cry of “C’est pour toi que je suis!” has been known to strike terror even into the unbeating hearts of golems.

Highly Contrived Name: at home in the city of Moonville.

Ruby dubDub: standing above an indoor sundial. Some people don’t believe in the existence of indoor sundials, but they are useful. She appears to have acquired the hands of Enid Hans. Ah well!

Enid Hans: He isn’t French but Prussian and he has massive hands! Not only can he use them to grip and gesture, but they enable him to fly too. That’s quite bad! In an emergency he can even open bottles of wine. Makes him more sociable.

Janrel MacScabbard: Here he is balancing on a cairn that is being carried on the back of a dolphin. That happened in Patagonia; and if you look closely you can see a ghostly set of books in the mountains. Spooky! Educational!

MeMeMeMeMe U, a yeti who enters Britain without a visa when the block of ice that entombs him is shipped from Tibet to the Imperial Ice Museum in London. Then global warming thaws him out and all hairy hell breaks loose! After many adventures he returns to a secret valley in Tibet and grows old gracefully, losing all his hair, which is how he is depicted here. Coincidentally, a hairless yeti closely resembles a badly painted brown man!

Ptula Graaark. The work of a pterodactyl includes soaring, swooping and croaking. This example of the species, Ptula, is preparing a nightcap of Ovaltine, one of the few reliable methods by which a stressed pterodactyl can become a calmodactyl. Or so it is rumoured.

Two photos of the arch villain République Nutt follow. First we are presented with a frontal view, showing clearly the fiendish Walnut Whip Helmet that he wears atop his head. The Walnut Whip Helmet has the power to create unfounded rumours and transmit them across vast distances. One of the first rumours it created was the rumour of its own existence in a cavern deep under the city of Strasbourg. That’s how République Nutt was able to get hold of it! The second photo shows his death at the hands of Twisthorn Bellow. I’m pleased to report this isn’t actually how the fiendish chocolate-headed rascal dies. We see Monsieur Nutt impaled on the golem’s favourite weapon, the kpinga, a throwing-sword typical of north central Africa, but in fact Twisthorn deals with his foul enemy unarmed.

Sappy Ever After: The robot villain is relaxing in his private chambers in the city of Moonville just prior to being mailed as a parcel to his enemies. He has an incorrectly completed crossword for a face and this explains his cryptic but pithy fury.

The monster in the next picture is the diabolical pitta bread cyclops known as Snagtooth Toasta. To make him I toasted him in my new toaster, balanced him on a piece of driftwood and arranged him against a backdrop of silver foil. Only joking: he’s a real monster!

Tiktac Spittlegit: He’s not French but he’s malign! He can transform into any domestic object and has no ‘basic’ topology. Here we see him changing so rapidly between the forms of garlic bulb, bird eye chilli, mate gourd, tea light case and drawing pin that he appears to be all those things at once. Which makes him look like a bad owl. This photo of him was done on a Monday. Owls don’t like Mondays. They want to hoot the whole day down.

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