Thursday, 10 November 2016

FEMFORCE 178 solicitation details released!

The Previews solicitation details for FemForce issue 178 have been posted, offering the first glimpse at the March 2017 relese from AC Comics!

As you can see, I'm listed in the writers for what will be my 7th issue with the title, and I am deep into work on the scripts for three brand new stories, more info on which shall be revealed over the coming months.

Of course, before that there will be FemForce issue 177, which I'm also very proud to be a part of.

The AC Comics team is a joy to be creative with, and I look forward to what the future holds with them.

Although, considering some of the death-defying situations we put the characters in, I doubt they'd be that pleased by the gleeful manner in which we fling new challenges at them...

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

No, no NanoWriMo

I'd like to wish everyone taking part in NaNoWriMo 2016 the very best of luck with their projects this time around, but sadly I won't be joining in the fun (or the moments of crushing, desperate defeat) this year. My last couple of NaNo attempts didn't work out that well, and with my writing career developing in a rather different way during 2016 (hello, comics scene!) I've decided that, this year at least, NaNo is a no-no.

I have a lot of love for that most literary of yearly events, I mean, my first (and so far only) novel was born from furious NaNo sessions. Its sequel, another NaNoWriMo project, is yet to be completed. I thin that after the experience with that first novel I needed to take a look at the way I structure my writing and how stories develop.

For now I am concentrating on comics and the music memoir, but the need to write prose fiction is still there – just a little subdued at the moment. That need is brooding in its dark cave, figuring out how next to approach something with a chunky word count without leading me to the same stumbling blocks I met before.

Writing is a constant learning experience. You can never know all of it. It's just not possible. What you can develop is the ability to take the seed of a story and help it to flourish. My comics work in recent months has helped me massively. The scripts are relatively short in comparison to prose, but the settings, dialogue and stage directions have to be laid out in such a way as to correctly convey your point to the artist, and then the reader.

This has really helped me to hone things a lot in terms of character, pacing, conflicts and resolution, as so much has to be shown visually as well as in the dialogue, and so once the memoir is out I may have to get started on a new novel.

Something fresh that doesn't come with the baggage of the universe I began with A Stolen Fate. Having said that, I'm determined that the sequel will be completed eventually, as the plot of it kicks large quantities of backside. Just not quite yet.

Life is in one of those states of flux where anything can happen, but once I find my way out of that uncertain vortex, then the next novel will come. And the next. And the next. So good luck, brave NaNoWriMo participants – You CAN do this, and this year I'll be cheering you on from the side.

Good luck.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Defiants - 'Love and Bullets'

I still can't get enough of this album. Definitely my favourite rock album of the year. This opening song is perfection to me. Classic, timeless and yet utterly fresh.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

FEMFORCE 176 is here! Look out for the debut of my new character!

Femforce issue 176 is now available, and this latest 80 page delight is absolutely jam-packed with new stories featuring the Federal Emergency Missions Force.

This issue, alongside the main feature story and tales from truly gifted creators, contains THREE stories that I had an absolute blast scripting.

These consist of the STARDUST tales 'Where Vengeance Hides' and 'The Distant Horde' which feature the return of Traxis, the villain from my first Femforce story from last year, plus a new SHE-CAT story which is a very special moment for me in my career - the introduction of a brand new vigilante.

Her name (or is it her title?) is VIOLET SHADOW, and even she's not sure which side she's on. You can find her first ever appearance in 'Beware The Violet Shadow'. Please do check it out!

As with my previous stories for AC Comics, these three have been a pleasure to write and AC have been a joy to converse with. It's all about the characters and the story and taking the reader to some unexpected places. More stories to come!

FEMFORCE 176 from AC Comics

Review - Luxury Stranger / In Isolation / The Jan Doyle Band – The Chameleon Arts Cafe, Nottingham

Luxury Stranger / In Isolation / The Jan Doyle Band
The Chameleon Arts Cafe, Nottingham 
September 30th, 2016

Okay, this gig happened a month ago, so I do apologise to the bands for taking a while to get this up! 

It's been far too long since my wife and I last caught the wonderful Luxury Stranger live, and when this triple-bill of musical delights came along, we had to be there. We hadn't been to the Chameleon Arts Cafe before, despite having lived in Nottingham for seven and a half years. A marvellous secret venue right in Market Square, it houses a friendly bar and an upstairs gig room, which was pleasingly lo-fi and intimate. The perfect setting for that night's entertainment.

The Jan Doyle Band were new to us, and while it took a while for their set to grab us, they did win back the audience by their final few songs. Offering a mix of dark synthpop and early Goth, the duo put a lot into their performance which helped to draw the audience in. With a mix that did leave a little to be desired and a few glitches here and there it wasn't a perfect set, however it was plain to see their belief in their material and persona. Compelling by the end. A good start to the evening.

In Isolation have been on my radar for years, but our paths never crossed until tonight. This had me kicking myself, as they were fantastic. Mixing elements of The Cure, The Smiths and Joy Division into one beautiful melancholic pop entity, the band gave a wonderful performance of guitar-driven dark indie taken from their formidable back catalogue as well as the current album, 'A Certain Fractal Light'.

The trio have a beautifully synchronised sound and awareness of each other as musicians which hooked us from the first song. The material has been crafted perfectly, peaks and valleys vying for attention amongst the instantly memorable choruses. An incredible set by a band that truly left us agape with awe. Fantastic.

Luxury Stranger had their work cut out for them, but enigmatic frontman Simon York and focused bassist Jake Hampson (currently without a live drummer) faced that challenge head-on and ensured the audience was given the perfect ending to a splendid evening. Despite playing as a duo at present, the sound was full and immediate, the two musicians illuminated only by a spotlight at the side of the stage. This left them as glowing silhouettes, and along with the stark imagery projected behind them gave the music the perfect visual accompaniment.

Their emotive blend of post-punk, dark indie and alternative rock is topped off perfectly by Simon's full-bodied voice and his engaging stage presence. Over a set which included songs such as 'Paradise Untouched', the hauntingly beautiful 'Dreaming Our Lives Away', the compelling 'Ripple' and the rousing dark pop of current single 'When The Lady Takes The Blame', Luxury Stranger turned an intimate gig in a room over a greetings card shop into an engrossing moment of monochromatic performance art.

At £6 for all three bands, it was fantastic value. CDs were bought. Friends were made. We left happy, chatting animatedly about the quality of the evening, striding out for a taxi and promising to see those bands again as soon as possible. Now that's should say it all.

Thursday, 18 August 2016


Excellent news for horror fans in the US! SCREAM Horror Magazine - the home of my VHS ATE MY BRAIN retro cult film column - will be hitting the shelves at Barnes & Noble stores next month!
This is amazing news, as I really feel that Scream has a lot to offer horror fans in the States, possibly with a slightly different flavour to US based genre magazines. It's an honour to be in those pages, and I hope that US readers will love the mag as much as fans over here in the UK do!

I've had various things available in America in the past, but the thought that my VHS column may be seen by likeminded individuals there is a genuine treat. The VHS scene in the US is far more rabid than it is here in the UK, with sites, events, magazines and new releases still doing the rounds for the faithful.

So if you check our VHS ATE MY BRAIN in the pages of the next issue of SCREAM, please do drop by and say hello!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Writing On

So a couple of months ago I retired from music journalism with a view to allowing more time for other projects and also to help with day to day schedules (I'm a daddy and also work full time). I had a spectacular final hurrah and tried to plan a new schedule. Of course, the writing life is an unpredictable one, as I'm often at the mercy of what my chaotic brain throws out at me.

This has ended up with me finally sitting down to write a new book, which I'm now well into. I've posted a little about it elsewhere, but will give full details of it here soon. It's called METALHEAD: A ROCK AND METAL MEMOIR and chronicles 25 years spent as a rocker, including 9 years spent interviewing rock stars and reviewing hundreds and hundreds of albums and a look at what rock and metal means to its fans and bands. That's turning out to be a lot of fun.

While that's going on, there's my film column, the comic books I've been writing and other stuff here and there. I really want to get a ton more titles out there. My head is bursting with stuff I want to tell you, and there are numerous files I'm desperate to finish for you, but time and opportunity are often not all that easy to come by.

But I carry on. I carry on because I love it and I have to get these things out of my head to make room for other things like remembering to get dressed and figuring out how to keep myself sane while commuting. The stories are coming, but the time to get them finished and polished is hard to come by due to the billion other commitments I have.

I shall do it, though. We write on because we have to. It's natural and we can't stop. Here's to getting there. Eventually.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

POWERPLAY ISSUE 188 – My final issue is here!

The new issue of Powerplay Rock and Metal Magazine is here, and this is to be my last issue as a staff writer with the title. I've had the amazing experience of 92 issues as part of the team writing for editor Mark Hoaksey's wonderfully dedicated and varied title, a life-changing experience I'll always be proud of, but the time has come to move on.

I'm moving more towards comics writing, with more stories to come in the pages of FEMFORCE as well as more stories in development for other titles to come. Recent appearances in Doctor Who Adventures and the Judge Dredd Megazine have been the catalyst for some exciting times ahead. You can also find my retro horror movie column, inspired by my 2014 book VHS ATE MY BRAIN, in the pages of SCREAM magazine. A new novel or two may be on their way soon as well... ;)

Writing for Powerplay has given me the opportunity to spend time with and chat with some of the most influential rock and metal musicians in the world, as well as a large number of personal idols. The interviews, the countless album reviews and reviews of gigs, festivals, books and DVDs made it possible for me to contribute to the music and the lifestyle which changed my life for the better 25 years ago.

As a failed musician and former DJ, I wanted to be a part of the scene somehow and help it to grow an develop. I hope I've been able to do that – even just a little bit – over the past 92 issues.

My final issue features my interview with blues rock icon JOE BONAMASSA, which also graces the cover! You can also find me ranting in the album reviews pages. The Bonamassa interview was a pleasure to do, and was followed by a spectacular trip to Liverpool to see him play at the legendary Cavern Club as a warmup to his British Blues Explosion tour.

The first moment I saw a copy of Powerplay Rock and Metal magazine (way back with issue 2), I knew I wanted it in my life. It featured bands I loved and bands a lot people had forgotten, scenes that thrilled me and albums that inspired and offered solace where other magazines featured the same five or six bands every damn issue. When my name finally showed up in issue 96, I felt incredibly proud to be a part of it, and still do to this day.

I have been lucky to appear in the mag alongside some incredibly talented writers and photographers, all of whom share a genuine, endless passion for the music we covered. I'd like to say a massive THANK YOU to Powerplay head honcho Mark and all of the bands, writers, music lovers and readers I met along the way.

I end my time as a music journalist on a very high note indeed. Somewhere around the 22nd fret, I guess.

Thanks for rocking out with me all this time. Thank you so much.

There may be an encore of sorts to my music writing career.

Stay tuned.