Friday, February 25, 2011


Opportunity Mocks!

I still can't draw. No matter! Here's an example of something previously unknown to all botanists, a rendering of the extremely rare Giant Daft-odil. To deter nibblers and grazers, this plant grows one flower in the shape of a man with a club, as a deterent...

I enjoy inventing imaginary fauna and flora. Don't know why. My well-thumbed copy of Borges's Book of Imaginary Beings is one of the very few volumes in my possession I'll probably never give away. Apropos of this, I'm pleased to announce that I'm going to be a contributor to a forthcoming modern bestiary edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer. The bestiary entries will be arranged in alphabetical order and my own monster begins with the letter 'X'...

Following last week's post, someone asked me if I'm really as competitive as I seem to be. I am a competitive person, but not excessively so. Ditties such as "Harpy Talk" are more an example of larking about than anything else. Larking about as an artform seems to be in decline. Where I grew up it was a highly prized ability. We larked about constantly, inventively, remorselessly...

I have been accused of various things over the years: arrogance, narcissism, whimsicality, vanity, capriciousness. I was once even accused of being "too mature". Even more oddly, I was recently condemned as an opportunist. Frankly, I find that charge peculiar. Over the past 15 years I've gone out of my way to make things more difficult for myself, not less. I don't network; I hardly ever attend conventions; I don't make friends with other writers if I can avoid it; I don't flatter editors (quite the opposite, in fact). I have chosen the narrow difficult path, not the wide easy one.

Mind you, I suppose I do my fair share of self-promotion... When I started writing, I refused to self-promote, and I mocked others for pushing their egos too hard. As it happened, the whirlpools of necessity sucked me in. I became a blatant self-promoter. It's difficult to resist when publishers, editors, agents, urge you to plug yourself for their sakes as well as your own. I do make an effort to be entertaining when I self-promote, to treat such occasions as another chance to lark about...

My next major piece of self-promotion will possibly take place at the First Crawley Festival of Words in April. I think I've been invited to do an event there. If all goes ahead as planned, I have to sit in the window of a bookshop writing a short story on a laptop which will be projected onto a public screen and also be available as a live internet link... I'll provide more details if all this turns out to be true!

In the meantime, here are two example of the old Surrealist game, cadavre exquis. The rules are simple. Take a piece of paper and fold it three times. One person draws the head of an imaginary being and passes the paper to another person, who draws the body; then a third person (or else the first person again) draws the legs and feet. No person sees what any other has drawn until the picture is finished and unfolded. Hey presto, a composite monster!

The game can be played with more than two people, of course, and the paper can be folded as many times as you please... The only limit is your imagination! Here we see a Weird Witch and an Octopus General Monster! (With thanks to Adele, my collaborator in both instances).

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Harpy Talk

Harpy talk, keep talkin' Harpy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to Worm.
You got to have a scheme,
If you don't have a scheme,
How you gonna make other writers squirm?

Talk about the pterodactyl glidin' in the sky
Lookin' at a werewolf in a cage;
Talk about a vampire learnin' how to fly.
Scarin' all the reviewers off the page.

Harpy talk, keep talkin' Harpy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to Worm.
You got to have a scheme,
If you don't have a scheme,
How you gonna make your critics squirm?

If you don't Worm the Harpy,
And you never have a scheme,
Then you'll never blow your rivals off the stage!

Friday, February 11, 2011


The Brothel Creeper

I am delighted to announce that my brand new collection, The Brothel Creeper, is now available for pre-ordering. The book will hopefully be published in March. It is being published by the wonderful Gray Friar Press.

I don't mind saying that I consider The Brothel Creeper to be my strongest, most serious and darkest collection to date. If you don't like postmodern irony very much, then you'll prefer this book to most of my others: the tone is much darker and more sober. The twenty stories in The Brothel Creeper are themed around sexual and spiritual tension. 100,000 words of my finest fiction!

Anyone who bought a previous Gray Friar Press anthology, Where the Heart is, and read my contribution to that volume ('The Cuckoos of Bliss') will have a fair idea what to expect with The Brothel Creeper, and in fact that story appears here too. Other contents include 'The Quims of Itapetinga' and 'Southbound Satin', both of which I recently listed in my own top 10 personal favourites among all the stories I have written.

Friday, February 04, 2011


Up a Gumtree

The second edition of Mister Gum is out! It's superior to the first edition in several ways, the most obvious being the production values. The original resembled a samizdat publication, the sort of thing smuggled across heavily patrolled borders at night. The winegum-man cover came in for particularly harsh criticism. It is the only cover I have ever personally designed and has proved to be my least popular cover ever.

The book clearly deserved better production values and now it has got them! This second edition contains extra material, including 'The Sticky White Hands', a new chapter written especially for the expanded version; 'I am a Slimy Man', the poem that won me the First Swansea Poetry Slam competition back in 2006; a new Afterword that strenuously denies that the character Mr Gum is anything like me; and a Foreword by the inestimable Joel Lane, a fine fellow and a great writer...

Mister Gum is a mosaic novel made up of four interlocking story cycles that outline the adventures of the depraved tutor Mr Gum and his sidekick, Fellatio Nelson. Basically it's a wild and filthy satire on the 'teaching' of Creative Writing. It is also partly a Roman à clef. Can you guess who the obnoxious Samuel Tweed is, I wonder? The truth is that I regard this as my funniest book, but don't let that put you off! The first edition had plenty of great reviews. But be warned: this book really is excessively rude! If you are easily offended by scenes of a sexual nature, then it'll be safer for you to avoid it...

Mister Gum is available right now direct from Dog Horn Publishing for the princely and lipsmacking sum of £9.99.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]