Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Comic Book Retrospectives – A Current Indulgence

Ah dammit, I think middle age has finally settled in properly. I've started getting the urge to write retrospective pieces. I finished one today on a certain nineties comics event (which should arrive soon on a certain site), and had a lot of fun writing it. So much so that I suddenly have half a dozen other ideas for further retrospectives.

Is this just middle age talking, or am I actively wanting to revisit stuff that I love?

Probably a bit of both, really. Nineties comics are often derided, and in some cases quite rightly so, but that was the era in which I came of age and the era I remember the most fondly in terms of stuff I was reading. Writing restrospectives is the perfect excuse to revisit things you love, but it does run the risk of discovering that those things weren't as great as you remember. That's an odd feeling, but an interesting one.

It's interesting to observe how your tastes change, how your mind evolves and how the different eras of your life start to seem like chapters.

It's also a nice little reminder of a more simple time in the comics industry. I mean, back in the day we may have had foil embossed covers and characters with ridiculous physical proportions, but we didn't have gigantic crossovers which it was impossible to follow. Sure, there were events, but not quite to the same extent as today's bloated, meandering crossover fodder.

So basically I'm taking from this urge the apparent fact that I'm a bitter and jaded aged geek with a fondness for nostalgia. I don't have a problem with that. Now, where did I put that stack of early WildC.A.T.S. issues and my stash of Malibu comics?

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Hear me babble about movies on May the 12th!

On the 12th of May I'll be co-hosting my favourite radio show - STRAIGHT TO VIDEO! The people behind the eclectic  film-geek-and-film-soundtrack show asked me if I'd be interested, and the answer was a resounding HELL YES. Expect a lot of VHS talk, a lot of film geeing and some damn fine soundtrack tunes. You'll be able to listen in worldwide at www.rockstarsglued.com. Please do tune in! There may be a little announcement in store...

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Friday, 13 March 2015

Terry Pratchett And The Sound Of Pages

I was lucky enough to meet Terry Pratchett on three occasions, and each time he greeted me like an old friend, as though we were picking up a conversation we'd left behind on our previous visit. In reality I was just one of many, many people who had queued to spend a moment with the man who wrote some of the greatest books that had ever been published.

He was gracious and friendly and pleasant, adding messages and pressing ink stamps of Discworld characters onto books as he chatted with everyone. I remember one evening seeing him with a bag of frozen peas at the ready to soothe his aching hand after signing for so many people.

The true depth that his work worked its way into our lives has only really become apparent for many people since news broke that he has passed away at the age of 66. The stories, the characters, the style, the humour, the satire, all of those things have now crystallized in our minds once again. The books are wonderful, and his legendary status was further cemented by his fascinating nature in conversation, his love for Orang-utans, his wit, his honesty regarding his fight against Alzheimer's disease and his will to carry on.

His loss has hit me harder than it probably should have. I may have spent a few brief moments with him, but I didn't know him. I just admired and enjoyed. I was just another fan, but he made everyone he met feel like the most important person there. With his passing we have lost a treasure of a man, a cherished mind and personality.

But we haven't. Not really.

Here, let me explain with my own brief tribute.

The Sound Of Pages 

News travelled fast. Very fast. “The End,” the final tweet had said. The news sites picked up the moment quickly. He had gone. People began to hear the news right around the world that a life had been cut short, a wonderful mind had succumbed to ill health. A man that many saw as an inspiration, an entertainer, a genius, had gone. 

Across the world there was mourning. Across the world there were stories shared of what his creations had meant to people, the things his unique vision had brought into the lives of millions. 

Around the world, hands reached up to shelves and pulled out well-worn paperbacks and hardbacks. Favourites that had been there throughout entire lives. 

Around the world, the sound of pages rose, turning with the world, rising like a whispering wave. Inside that sound, between those turning pages, there was the sound of laughter, the sound of adventure, the sound of wizards and witches and idiots and heroes and more idiots and a rather hairy Librarian, the sounds of people who lived in a carpet, the sound of real society being pointed at, the sound of years of stories being rediscovered, remembered, relived. 

The pages continued to turn, and as the legend of those stories was ignited anew, they would continue to turn for generations to come. In the sound of pages, between those adventures and gasps and snorts and explosions and chases and schemes, deeper, between those wonderful things, a softer sound was there. 

In the sound of pages, the great man breathed again.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

My HALESTORM cover story - out now!

My interview with Lzzy Hale of rock giants HALESTORM is out now - the cover feature of our current issue!

Friday, 27 February 2015

Leonard Nimoy: We have been, and always shall be, your friends

Hearing about the death of Leonard Nimoy has been a poignant and strange thing today. He was an incredibly talented man, loved by his colleagues and fans across the globe, and leaves behind a legacy like no other. The things he did, the decades spanned where his work had become part of the backbone of popular culture, the number of things he created which have entered the lexicon of our lives is astounding.

His sad passing has made fans new and old revisit some of his greatest moments as Spock, the many glorious moments from TOS, the iconic and now even more poignant death of Spock in The Wrath of Khan, along with all the other moments which further strengthened his legendary status.

Personally, something which has stuck with me for years now is his performance onstage with a number of other Star Trek luminaries in Alien Voices: The First Men In The Moon, a live adaptation of the HG Wells classic. Hearing Nimoy perform without the expectations that came with him being in costume as Spock gave me the first real taste I'd had of his versatility. As much of a Star Trek fan that I am, the thing I'll remember the most is that powerful performance. I must revisit that soon.

Leonard Nimoy's passing has also made me think about how things continue to change around us each day. The heroes I grew up with will one day all be gone, replaced by things I can't imagine and which I won't understand as I age myself and move away from being in the loop about the latest cultural changes. It hasn't happened yet, but it comes to everyone eventually.

However, even when heroes such as Nimoy are claimed by failing health, the eras they created that defined generations of fans around the world live on in the recordings, the continued passion of the fans and what we pass on to future generations. It's important that the wonderfully creative work of people such as Leonard Nimoy isn't brushed aside and forgotten by future lovers of the fantastic. The original series may seem quaint now, but it was groundbreaking when it first aired. It changed perceptions. It challenged established ideals. It changed popular culture forever.

Leonard Nimoy was an integral part of that change. That zeitgeist. That cultural shift.

What an incredible thing to leave behind.

Monday, 16 February 2015

More words in, more words out

I really need to finish reading some of the books which have found their way into my bedside table. The above pictured books are recent additions to the library which appears to have taken over our house, but I've not had chance to finish any of them yet. This has had a knock-on effect with my writing, as the more I read, the more I'm able to write. It's a well-worn bit of advice for writers to read as much as possible in order to develop and maintain their craft, and the proof for me is that when I can't get the time to read enough, my productivity also suffers. 

I've certainly noticed this recently. With a full time day job, two small children, work on the house and my regular freelancing, time available for my books is at a premium. Energy is a rare thing too, as sleep has been a scarce creature since becoming a father again. 

All of this sounds like me making excuses. I'm really not. It's just important to me that people know I'm working hard to get to the place I've always wanted to be with the stuff I write. It's not been easy lately, but I'm battling on. I love doing this. I promised myself and those around me that I would carry on, following the experiment of putting out A Stolen Fate, and so here I am. I'm really enjoying it when I get the time to actually get some words down into the various files, but I would really like those moments to be less infrequent.

February 2015 - portrait of a caffeinated hack
One way I've got around the lack of time at home is to work on my commute, during which I've actually made a hell of a lot of progress this past few months, making my magazine deadlines easier to fit in with daily life, work and my unending desire to get the stories out of my skull and into the skulls of others. However, recently even those times have been fruitless, as they've been taken up with me either feeling too ill or sleepy to concentrate, or with me trying to focus on whichever book I'd taken out with me and failing miserably due to tiredness.

Thus my productivity has wavered somewhat. The less I read, the less my brain is well-oiled enough for hefty bouts of writing new content. The books I have scheduled to come out this year are all on target, but there's so much more I want to get out there for you. I mean, what else am I going to do with all this stuff?

Incidentally, I had 90 minutes of free time today with no other distractions and got another 1,500 words added to the current novel. It just goes to show you.

So the point is simple. Keep reading and you'll keep writing. Keep it varied, too. Read widely. Read voraciously. 

Oh, and if you see me nodding off with a book in my lap, give me a poke, yeah?


PS My blog will now have a conscious focus rather than the random jumble of stuff which it's had since I started it. I'm going to gear it more towards the life of a semi-pro hack trying to fit in interviews with rock stars in the middle of getting the kids to bed and then getting something done on the novels.
So yeah, a new start from here.

BTW - look out for my interview with none other than Lzzy Hale of the mighty HALESTORM at the end of the month in our next issue.