Monday, 21 July 2008

KEEPING IT COMING

A new release will be available from me soon, featuring a character from a novel I am working on the first draft of alongside my other projects. A dark supernatural fantasy, MERCY is a short story which tells the tale of a woman’s journey from death as a victim and back to life as something else altogether more vengeful. The story will be released as an Ebook which will also contain a selection of original illustrations to add a new dimension to the tale. Why am I doing this one? Because there is much that I can’t release myself. There are stories and ideas I am pitching to the mainstream, and while I do so I want to still be able to offer something new for readers to check out.

I am a strong believer in the New Media approach to publishing, and want to make my voice heard in order to carve myself a niche in this burgeoning industry. Thus, as long as I am submitting things and writing material for use elsewhere, I am going to keep on releasing stories and other material online myself, directly to my audience. After being a fan of SF and fantasy for so long, I want to be able to offer something cool to my fellow fans. I’m very much a part of my target audience, and as a fan, I know I’d want to be able to get hold of new material on a regular basis while waiting for the next book or whatever. This here I am, doing exactly that.

I have now recorded the first episode of the FOREVER GUARDIAN podcast series and will be submitting that shortly. There’s a ton of other stuff coming from me soon, and I really am having the time of my life getting these things out to you. As long as I have access to the internet and readers, I will be offering you new adventures. After being online for many years, it is a very empowering thing to know that creators are now able to use the net as such a powerful tool.

Friday, 11 July 2008

A moment of realization

I had an odd moment today. After coming out of my comic-shop day job this afternoon I stopped off at WH Smiths and picked up the current issue of Writer’s Forum. Upon passing it over the counter, the friendly gent at the till nodded to the magazine and said “You never know, we might be selling something of yours in here one day.” My automatic (and sadly pretentious) reaction was “You already do mate, I write for one of the magazines you sell.” He said he was impressed. I took my change and went for my bus home. It led to an odd train of thought pulling away from the station of Tired Metaphors- somehow, I’ve become a writer. This thing I did as a hobby for so long has become part of my daily life and is eclipsing my other creative endeavours completely. It brought to mind a comment on my Livejournal, where a friend I’d found on a writing community had said they enjoyed my posts and were ‘pleased with my success’.

This took me by surprise, not just because it was such a nice comment, but it made me look again at the things I was doing. I wanted to write fiction, I always had, but I had also always wanted to work in music journalism. My girlfriend, a notably more successful writer than myself (Whenever you’re in a large supermarket or newsagent, you’ll see something she’s written for), pointed out that I am indeed successful, at least in many people’s eyes. I write for a national (now international) music magazine, I write as part of my day-job, I wrote for a huge music site, have an anthology out, a serialized novel underway and more. I had to stop and take stock. You see, I’d spent so long trying to focus on my goal, that I’d managed not to notice what was going on around me.

It happened again last month, when myself and my long-term musical cohort Dave O’Kelly went to see Whitesnake and Def Leppard (incidentally, my review of that night will surface in the forthcoming issue). While waiting in line, it occurred to me that potentially several thousand of those people, all rock fans who bought magazines and visited websites, had read things I’d written. I felt odd. Good, but odd. Many years ago, I idolized people like Dave Reynolds and Morat and Jason Arnopp and suchlike; the people who filled the magazines I bought with opinions on the music I loved. Now here I am, doing that same thing. I’ve become one of those names at the foot of a review, and I am immensely proud of that. I’m very proud of everything I have been given the chance to take part in, and am loving doing so.

What have I learned? Appreciate your achievements, and don’t just see them as steps towards something greater. Each step is important, but it is also to be savoured. I would love it if one day someone read something I had written and thought ‘I want to do that’. That would be wonderful.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

POWERPLAY HITS ISSUE 100


Powerplay has hit a real landmark this month. The 100th issue has hit the shelves, and there's a great deal of special material in there to enjoy. I have now been writing for he magazine for six months, and am thrilled to be a part of this issue. On the personal side it contains my recent interview with Timo Tolkki (ex Stratovarius/now Revolution Renaissance), a profile of me amongst the writers (I'm in some fantastic company) and a load of reviews of mine. It is easy to get complacent about these things. I mean, I've had endless album reviews published online and now in print, but the fact that I get to write for Powerplay means lots to me. The story of the magazine's humble beginnings is told in this issue by editor Mark Hoaksey, which goes right back to the days of it being a photocopied fanzine, but my own introduction to it came back in 1998, discovering it in Noise Annoys, the now sadly defunct rock and metal CD store here in Sheffield. Finding a magazine with Rhapsody on the front cover was a revelation. People still loved the music I was into. I wasn't alone after all. Sure there were magazines that had gone before, such as Hard Roxx and The Rock, but neither of them matched the enthusiasm of Powerplay.

It is a magazine that has stood the test of time and has ploughed on its own journey despite the passing trends that clog up the mainstream rock press and which have turned much of the contemporary scene into a parody of itself. It is a magazine that isn't afraid to cover bands and genres that aren't in vogue. Powerplay revels in that. It delights in covering music that fans love and want, instead of simply latching on to the new half-baked trend of the week.

It is that outlook and the dogged determination of Mr Hoaksey that has seen the magazine reach the grand number of 100 issues. It has gone from being a photocopied labour of love to a much bigger labour of love that, as of this issue, has US distribution and is stocked in newsagents all over the UK and further afield. Look at the covers- those are bands that music fans want to read about, and many are acts you would never see on the front of other magazines. In fact, take a look at the current crop of rock mags- other than Powerplay and the wonderful Terrorizer, all of them will have pretty much the same thing on the cover.

Powerplay is a great beacon for melodic rock and metal (and not so melodic music too), and its arrival at issue 100 is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all involved in its creation and continued success. Happy issue 100, and thanks for having me along for the ride. It is a great honour to be a part of the team, and enormously satisfying being able to help other people discover bands they may never otherwise have heard of. Here's to Powerplay, and long may it continue.