Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Latest Transmission

Not a great deal to report from the last couple of days - finished a story and wrote the dreaded 'back-of-the-book-bio' that goes with it; hit up a friend in the medical profession for a touch of scientific realism I hope to include in a new pitch; did a swift read-through for a story a mate's writing; and taught my kids how to fly a kite. We avoided all the trees and power cables and everything.

Meanwhile the release of the Doctor Who Short Trips book Transmissions is fast approaching (July 31, according to the Big Finish website) and editor Richard Salter has been doing his bit to promote the release while I've been pottering around, largely oblivious. He's given a rather good interview to Unreality SF about the book, its genesis and some of the stories you'll be able to read therein. You can read it here. And so you should.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Running Lines

Simon G has tagged me in return for the song meme I roped him into, setting me this task: “To participate,” say the rules, “you grab any book, go to page 123, find the fifth sentence, and blog it. Then tag five people.”

When Simon was set this, it was specified he should pick from a sci-fi book, but since it's not clear if I have to do the same (and because I'm splendid value for money), I'll do one that is, one that isn't:
'The commune got their ration tickets; they were allowed to keep their money, although they didn't have very much-'
Joe Haldeman, Peace and War, The Omnibus Edition

'You're not watching someone from a pushbike,' said May.
Christopher Fowler, Ten-Second Staircase

And now to the taggery: David, Adam, Paul, Amanda and (because Paul's quite right when he says you need to blog more, m'dear) Rachel.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Odd Job Man

So aside from popping in here to quiz people on their musical choices, what's been happening? Well there's been plenty to keep me busy, but for all the effort there's been little that's shown immediately obvious results.

I've spent a good deal of time on rewrites for an upcoming short story, a job that should have been easy but that ended up causing me some serious structural problems. Being told that I was the only writer the editors were still waiting for (the first time that's happened!) lit a fire under me, however, and I hope the version now being re-edited has addressed all the main problems. (If it hasn't, it's back to work ...)

Meanwhile I've been invited to pitch for another upcoming anthology, and ideas for that have been fermenting in a quiet corner of my head. With a reasonable block of free time today, I'm aiming to get a synopsis off at least, now that I have the core of a plot. The deadline for this one puts it ahead of finishing my story for Morrigan's Second Storey anthology (although that's looking good) and my constantly-put-back spec script. Of course, that's the problem with writing something as an audition piece - no deadline means no pressure means no finish.

I've also been lining up some interviews for a magazine in Sydney, covering everything from medical miracles to family tragedies. The availability of the subjects is causing me some problems, however - even though they're all keen to talk - so it's another of those situations where lots of effort is being expended but there's little to show for it.

And then, of course, there's Euro 2008 chewing up large chunks of my time. No England, obviously, but it's turning into a cracking tournament for the neutral, with plenty of upsets and surprises.

One bit of good news to finish - there's a fresh review of In Bad Dreams over at ASif, which includes some nice comments about This Train Terminates Here. It's the second review on the page, so scoot down to the bottom if you fancy a look. Good to see that after the initial wave of dislike for the tale, some more positive reviews are coming in. Yay!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Apologies for the enforced absence again - lots on my plate at the minute, and I promise to drop in later and tell you all about it. In the meantime, my old mate David Bishop (over at Vicious Imagery) has tagged me with this musical meme. Here's the deal:

"List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to."

So, the top seven songs in my life at the moment ...

1) Here I Go Again '87 - Whitesnake. My wife latched onto some throwaway comment I made a while ago about my teenage love of big-haired rock, and this song was top of the list. She got me a copy for my birthday in February and even now I'm giving it a ridiculously high amount of rotation. (Normally headphones only, though. I can only put it on the speakers - loudly - when there's no one about. And under no circumstances is there to be any singing into broomsticks ...)

2) Nylon Smile - Portishead. Tough call between this and Hunter from the trip-hoppers' third album. Nylon Smile wins on points both for being a sublime effort and for avoiding the silly wibbly bits that have crept into some of the other tracks on the disc.

3) I Fought The Law - The Clash. Pinched from the soundtrack to the TV show Ashes To Ashes, it's been on my iPod for my morning run. I've been leeching its energy during that difficult last half-a-k.

4) Hear That Sound - INXS. I've just received a large number of boxes from the UK containing all the personal effects I left behind 11 years ago. One of the items I've fallen upon with misty-eyed nostalgia is the VHS/CD combo Live Baby Live, recorded at Wembley Stadium in July 1991 (and still the best gig I've ever been to by quite some distance). Hear That Sound jumped out at me because I've been stuck with Best Of ... compilations for all my INXS needs over the last decade, and I'd completely forgotten this song even existed. Loved it then, love it now.

5) All You Need Is Love - The Beatles. Dug out an old Fab Four CD as mood music while I've been reading a history of Britain in the 60s. Bizarrely I've also discovered it's the perfect length for timing soft-boiled eggs for my daughter ...

6) Temptation - The God Machine. Because I've been asked to write a short story based on it. Which is kind of a swizz because it has no lyrics. Plentiful listening has given me the springboard I need, though, including sinister use of wind-chimes ...

7) On Her Majesty's Secret Service - John Barry Orchestra. Because no other theme tune to a film pushes exactly the right emotional buttons for me (I hear this and immediately want to ski quickly down a mountian, pursued by e-vil henchmen ...). Oh, and because it's the ring-tone on my mobile, so I get to hear it a lot.

So that's me - I now tag Mark Deniz, Simon Guerrier, Paul Robinson, Ian Mond, Adam Williams, Amanda Pillar and Erykah Brackenbury. Away you go, guys.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Writer's Black and White Heat

Been wallowing for the last week or so in what I like to call Writer's Black, that peculiar brand of depression in which you suddenly realise that the story you've been working on so long and so hard is actually ... well, crap.

That's not to say it's not salvagable. What it does mean - for me, anyway - is that I'm far too close to be objective. So I ditched the job and I've done nothing but read and play rubbish computer games since last Wednesday.

And I'm happy to say that's done the trick. Looking at the story again today everything that made it crap suddenly seemed not only obvious but also eminently fixable - hooray!

The book I've been filling my hours with in the meantime is White Heat by Dominic Sandbrook - one of those rare authors who can make history not just accessible but entertaining too. Centring on Britain between 1964 and 1970, it's a comprehensive account of not just the politics but also the music and movies, fashions and fads of the time. Amusingly it takes just four pages for Doctor Who to get a mention ...

So here's one of the many things that made me laugh therein. It's a story quoted by Sandbrook about politician and alcohol fan George Brown attending a reception for a delegation from Peru

'George made a bee-line for this gorgeously crimson-clad figure, and said, 'Excuse me, but may I have the pleasure of this dance?'

There was a terrible silence for a moment before the guest, who knew who he was, replied, 'There are three reasons, Mr Brown, why I will not dance with you. The first, I fear, is that you've had a little too much to drink. The second is that this is not, as you seem to suppose, a waltz the orchestra is playing but the Peruvian national anthem, for which you should be standing to attention. And the third reason why we may not dance, Mr Brown, is that I am the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima.'

White Heat, pp 365-366.

I thankew.