Monday, 18 August 2014

A STOLEN FATE - FINAL COVER AND PRERELEASE INFO - BOOK NEWS

A STOLEN FATE

My debut full length novel, A STOLEN FATE, will be released on the 6th of October in paperback and ebook. The novel will be available to pre-order on Amazon in both formats in mid September.

A unique dark urban fantasy story with elements of comics, horror movies, anime and more, the book has been a part of my life in one form or another since 1998, and now I am finally ready to get that story out there and into your eyes.

These are characters and events which have helped to shape me as a person and a writer, and after so many years I have finally been able to create the definitive version of the original story and I want to share it with you.

Writing this version of the book has been a fascinating, frustrating and humbling experience. I hope that you enjoy the story when it finally sees release. It's strange to think that the tale I've kept secret for my entire adult life will now start to be told properly.

BOOK NEWS

Once A STOLEN FATE is out, several of my previous books will see an overhaul and redesign, as well as a move to a new publishing platform for many of them.

Depending on the reception to A Stolen Fate, a number of other projects will be completed to follow it, the first being the third book in the OTHERSIDE trilogy of novellas, a new collection of short pieces and maybe even the sequel to A Stolen Fate, which is already 2/3 complete.

Beyond those, other non-fiction titles are being considered, continuing my journey through the worlds of pop culture which made me grow up with a head full of weird stuff, monsters spaceships and spandex.

These would include sequels to both BAGGED AND BOARDED: LIFE ON PLANET GEEK and my most recent (and surprisingly popular) VHS ATE MY BRAIN.

There are big life changes going on too, but I'm sure you'll hear about those soon as well.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: A GALAXY OF EXCITEMENT OPENS UP



Okay. So. Panels to Frames is back, for now at least. It may still be homeless (Lost In The Multiplex remains offline – I hope the place comes back someday, as it was a great place), but there's stuff I need to talk about. The column covered comic book movies and the related lifestyle, and right now seems like a damn good time to talk comics, film and comic based films once again. In fact, there's rarely been a better time to do it. Excitement for a comic book movie release hasn't been this high since the Avengers film arrived and blew a great many of the world's minds.

Basically, Guardians of the Galaxy has exploded across the world, and the cinematic Marvel Universe is opening a lot of minds to the prospect of more cosmic adventures, and that's an absolutely beautiful thing to see. An interest in far-flung adventures with ludicrous characters, comedy, action, pathos and the promise of a larger universe is a thrilling prospect, and one which I hope will help to fire up the imaginations of a new generation of young fans.

It may be the grumpy old geek in me speaking (it usually is), but having comic book movies continue to kick box office ass keeps positive role models in the public eye, and also helps young creators be inspired to bring their own characters to life in the future. The kids watching these films right now are the people who one day will be running the studios and publishers that will bring more heroes into the lives of yet more fans-in-waiting.


I am yet to see Guardians of the Galaxy (I'm finally getting the chance this coming Wednesday, and I'm taking my awesome mum along as it looks like the sort of film we would have watched together when I was a kid), but the massive amount of positivity surrounding the film is just intoxicating. I've seen so many reviews that say it harkens back to another era, a retro sci-fi comedy blockbuster with heart, a tongue-in-cheek adventure, a great big romp, that I can't help but get excited.

People are talking about it being a ton of fun, real fun, and it's bringing to mind the sort of uncomplicated, joyous adventure of Indiana Jones, Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, Romancing The Stone and suchlike. I love that. I love that something that people are picking up on is how the film is making them feel (especially with its upsetting opening scenes). That emotional investment in characters an what they get caught up in is something that has been missing from a lot of recent blockbusters outside of comic book films, and I'm proud to say I'm still a fan.

I've said it before but it remain true – it's a beautiful thing to finally be able to show the world that we were right all along and these stories and characters are genuinely wonderful. It's a wonderfully liberating feeling. All those years with comics being frowned upon as unimportant fluff are being made up for by comic book films breaking records while audiences flock to lap up more adventures with improbable people in improbable costumes doing improbable things.

Escapism is a wonderful thing, and in an increasingly tough world to live in, right now we could do with all of the escapism we can get. This should be easy to remedy, as the sequel to Guardians has now been confirmed. As soon as the credits roll (and you've watched both credits scenes), it's time to get excited again.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Book Review - Hatchet Job By Mark Kermode

Hatchet Job
By Mark Kermode


I wonder if I'd get on with Mark Kermode if I ever met him. I think I probably would, even though I often disagree with him. Disagreeing with a critic is something that keeps the film community's heart beating, and while this book talks a great deal about the changing times and the changing opinion of critics, it also makes a a good arguement for their continued existence. Expertise is a big factor in the usefulness of a film critic in this day and age where film companies are now using random tweets from dubious sources on their advertising.

With the rise of online critics, the professionals have had to deal with a lot of competition from idiots like myself (see my now-defunct film site, Diary Of A Genre Addict, for my own examples), and Hatchet Job takes a look at how this has changed the film industry a little, and how it has certainly changed the public view of dedicated critics.

While not as venomous as his previous book The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex or as funny as his near-legendary It's Only A Movie, Hatchet Job is nevertheless a thoroughly entertaining read for film lovers and popular culture historians.

Once again, the anecdotes are the most entertaining part (especially the "Well? Say it to my face!" conversation, which is a delight), but Kermode gets his point across well and with plenty of knowledge to back up his arguements. Do we still need professional critics? yes we do. The word 'professional' is the key.

While bog standard film nuts like me may well enjoy spouting off about films blindly into the ether, the pros have a more tangible audience, even now in the digital age. It would be a shame to see them vanish entirely. Especially as then there would be less books like this satisfying and well-written volume. With Hatchet Job, Mark Kermode reinforces his status as the UK's best film critic with a quiff.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

NEW NOVEL COMING IN OCTOBER


A project I have always wanted to share with you. 
A story that has lived with me for my entire adult life. 
A dark urban fantasy like no other. 
It's time to show the world what I'm really capable of.

October 2014.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

DELAIN - 'Stardust' music video

The new DELAIN album, 'The Human Contradiction', is getting some great reviews from around the world, and after a few listens I agree the praise is well deserved. The album isn't very immediate, instead improving with successive plays. 'Stardust' is one of the more versatile cuts from the disc, and proof that symphonic metal continues to evolve.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

METAL IS NOT TO BLAME


Following the tragic stabbing of the much loved teacher Anne Maguire at a Leeds high school, many media outlets are picking up on the fact that the boy responsible was both a metal fan and an avid gamer. Since the metal genre was born it has been blamed for all manner of ills in the world, murder, rape, crimes of every description, the warping of youth, the perversion of ideals and possibly even the downfall of civilisation itself. Well, what utter nonsense. You could just as well blame biscuits or flatulence for those same things.

Yes, metal often has a negative outlook, but it's more as social commentary and personal catharsis rather than a call to arms to slaughter people. If people are unhinged to start with, some loud music with confrontational or tasteless lyrics isn't going to tip them over the edge. The edge has already whizzed past them long ago.

The argument that metal causes crimes and mental disorders is as old as the music itself and remains unfounded. What about hip hop? Video games? Ultra-violent films? They don't create lunatics. None of these things do. The lunatics are already there, right around the world, and metal or any other media played no part in making them act a certain way. High profile court cases involving acts like Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne went nowhere in the 80s, and still the accusations come up whenever something terrible happens. The Columbine shootings come to mind as well, considering the media's association of the lunatics responsible with alternative culture.

It is all part of a pathetic need for sections of the media to find a reason, a scapegoat which can easily have the finger pointed at it in order to give a reason where there really isn't one. Society creates its own monsters. Be it a lack of medical and psychological understanding in our communities, a lack of compassion for people in need of serious help, or just plain old ignorance, the blame for these atrocities isn't to be squared at music or art or tomatoes or race or shoelaces or reality TV.

If people want to bring up the early 90s and the Black Metal controversy involving church burnings, murders, assault and the rest, then they're welcome to. The people involved in those occurrences were already psychologically troubled. Some issues with society can indeed be traced back to the media output that people consume, such as body image issues and unrealistic lifestyle aspirations through reality TV and fashion magazines, a skewed sense of monetary value, views on gender, orientation and suchlike are all being directly screwed up.

Niche genre music doesn't cause social ills. If anything it helps to prevent them. Metal is a genre which offers positivity through a negative release, catharsis instead of incitement. Exploration and entertainment rather than instruction. Art isn't a cause. It's an outlet. It's not a reason for terrible things happening, and yet once again it is being brought in as a scapegoat.

How can one of the most technical, intelligent and nuanced forms of musical expression be seen as an element in the cause of a terrible incident like this? You can bet a lot of our government doesn't like metal, and they go to war to murder thousands of people at a time. At home they ruin the lives of the country with misguided policies and well-documented corruption. Can we blame that on something too? Public school? An upper class out of touch with reality? Metal isn't to blame. Music never is.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

STREAM OF PASSION - "A War Of Our Own" video

Stream of Passion are an interesting band who stick out as one of the best of the whole female fronted symphonic/pseudo gothic metal genre. I've followed them since their first album and have always been impressed. This new material sounds like they have another winner on their hands.