Monday 12 May 2014

Bloghopgasm! Three Things I Don’t Write (and Three Things I Do)

 My first BlogHop! The delightful Ruth Booth has kindly tagged me, along with Neil Williamson and Jennifer Williams, so that I can test the waters of this brave new world. Check out Ruth’s bloghoppy installment here: 
One wee caveat before we begin. Like Ruth I’m not entirely sure what I do or don’t write. I just write. When people ask me what I write, I reply “stories” and they think I’m being facetious. I’m not. I write whatever comes into the old brainpan and I’ll give pretty much anything a go. In fact, I’m currently thinking about some gothic Bunty/Enid Blyton Space Opera Erotica fan fiction… Onwards!

Three Things I Don’t Write.
1. Hard SF
It’s not because I don’t want to, I simply don’t know enough sciencey stuff to make it any good. I’ve not read a great deal of it either, so in many ways I’m ill-equipped. All that said, I am partial to a spot of Arthur C. Clarke and I was brought up by a pack of feral Astronomers, so the stars and the great dark depths of space have always been a fascination for me, so maybe one day…

2. Time Travel – I don’t know if this comes under the umbrella of Hard SF or not, but I’m guessing it doesn’t entirely. Time travel makes my brain hurt. Hurt, I tell you! Paradoxes and timelines and all that business panic the tiny goblins that operate my cerebral cogs and throw them into riot. And then they die. Bad times. There are so many possibilities and problems with time travel; when would you travel to? Would you go backwards or forwards in time? Wait though! Can you simply travel backwards or forwards, or is it more complicated than that? Hang on, what about diseases? Would you really want to go to Elizabethan England and catch a nice dose of the plague or smallpox? And what about where you wind up, geographically speaking? What if you land in the middle of an old building you didn’t know existed before and you get bricks up the wazoo? And then there’s the small (!) matter of paradoxes (I can’t even get my head around most of that business) and of the potential, not to mention multitudinous, consequences of changing even the tiniest thing. Lordy! I’m confused enough just getting up in the morning…

3. Children’s Fiction – I swear too much. I have to learn not to because I’d quite like to have a crack at children’s fiction and, indeed, some YA. Why not, I say? And then a fuck or a bollock trips out of my fingers and my hopes are dashed. One day, sensei, one day.

Three Things I Do Write.

1. My Own Worlds – I don’t set stories exclusively in invented worlds, but I confess that I prefer mine to the “real” one. I’m a control freak and live (at least part-time) in the delusion that I am The Mighty Warrior Empress-Mage of All Time and Space, so creating a world from the ground up appeases a little of my wannabe-megalomaniac tendencies. The characters are my minions and I their overlord… okay, maybe not that because my characters seem to do whatever the fuck they like. Quite rude.
In addition, it’s like Jake Chambers says, right before his second death in Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, "Go, then. There are other worlds than these." There are. I’m sure of it and if I can’t visit them, I’m going to grow my own.

2. Mental Health – You drop the old MH bomb and people visibly quell. Still. Which is probably why it’s something I’d like to explore more. My story “Maggie and the Cat” was one of my favourites to write so far. I wrote it with the work of Leonora Carrington in mind (albeit very loosely). I wanted to convey the disconnection, confusion and uncertainty of something like depression, how it can cloud your actions and thoughts and how, furthermore, the selfish ballbaggery of others can compound the anxieties you are already dealing with. The absurdities and unexpected juxtapositions that are central facets to surrealism seem like ideal tools to blur those kinds of lines.
Mental health is a difficult subject to write about in a way that doesn’t overload the reader with sanctimonious solemnity. I’d like to write about the experience of having a mental health problem without it having to be an exemplar of inspirational dogma. Sometimes we can be crazy and just be crazy. We can’t be fixed, but we do deal. Sometimes the lesson, if there is one, is simply the experience itself.

3. Swear words – I like to swear and that’s a fact. Cursing instantly conveys visceral emotion that can lack punch with “ordinary” words.  Besides, swear words are as much a part of our language as any other kind of word – denying that denies a rich folk heritage of cussing. I like to be creative with my swearing – no word is ever thrown in just for the sake of it. I think about it hard and look for the right word at the right time. When I can’t find the right one, I make that shit up. Of course, I understand some people don’t like it, I’m not an idiot, but sticks and stones, baby. They’re just words. As long as they’re not directed at a real live someone in a vicious way, they’re not going to crush your soul or steal your sweets. There’s already plenty enough to get upset about in this world. (PS. Not every story I write is a cuss fest. Check them out for yourself and where you can get hold of them at

Right, that's enough of my blather. I’m tagging my fellow skulk members, Alec McQuay and James Bennett, who are both excellent writers and genuinely decent human beans.

Alec McQuay is a horror, fantasy and science fiction writer hailing from Cornwall in the south-west of England; an area renowned for natural outstanding beauty and the worst internet connections in the country. Capable of going off at odd tangents, bizarre flights of fantasy and generally being incapable of taking things like bio-writing seriously, Alec spends most of his time scribbling notes and ideas on his phone and talking the ears off his wife and friends about whatever mad-cap scheme he intends to write next. Alec’s novella  ‘Spares’ is already available and his debut novel, the steampunk adventure ‘Emily Nation’ will be released in 2014. You can find Alec’s blog at

James Bennett is a British writer of fantasy, horror and the odd contemporary fable. He and I shared our first public reading together last year and I couldn’t have asked for a better companion. For further information, and to find where and how you can read his work, check out James’s blog at

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Social Media is not the scourge of our Age.

Why do people keep sharing that bloody awful poem about how social media isn't social and blah blah blah? What deliberately heart-twanging bollocks! It's not as simple as that, as nothing is. Social media can give isolated people a way to communicate. It can appease loneliness, despite what he says, help you make connections you might never have had the chance to make. Kids weren't playing outside all day every day a long time before social media reared its head. Do you think there weren't lonely people before or aren't now in spite of it? A lot of people I know in real life don't know the "real me", a great many of them don't care either. It's like anything else, a handy thing to blame, a source for our excuses.