Thursday, 29 December 2011

2011 – The Year Things Actually Changed

Every year as long as I can remember, I've ended December with 'Next year will be MY year', or 'Next year is the year everything changes at last', or some such vague nonsense. The thing is, this year stuff DID change, and change in ways that I couldn't have dreamed of.

My career as a writer has finally started to gain momentum, with the release of three books this year (DEAD THING, DIARY OF A GENRE ADDICT VOLUME 1 and FOR THE FALLEN), eleven more issues of Powerplay Rock and Metal Magazine and my first ever legit fiction sale (“Beneath An Orange Sky”, which will feature in the anthology EXPLORERS BEYOND THE HORIZON in the US in 2012). 

Those literary adventures included the first two books of my OTHERSIDE trilogy, writing for and Lost In The Multiplex, my first forays into eBook publishing and the opportunity to interview some of the greatest rock and metal musicians in the world. My personal highlights include hugely enjoyable chats with guitar legend George Lynch, ANTHRAX guitar legend Scott Ian, ARCH ENEMY vocalist Angela Gossow, ANVIL frontman Lips and EVANESCENCE vocalist Amy Lee. That interview with Amy Lee scored me my first ever cover feature for the magazine, and it was an absolute thrill to see my work on the cover of the magazine I love.

Speaking of music, here are my top ten albums of the year, in no particular order (and with no concern for how much some folks will mock me):

The Man Eating Tree- “Harvest”

Evanescence - “Evanescence”

Trillium - “Alloy”

Chris Duarte Group - “Blues In The Afterburner”

Nightwish - “Imaginaerum”

LOVE.MIGHT.KILL – “Brace For Impact”

Anvil -”Juggernaut of Justice”

George Lynch - “Kill All Control”

Omega Lithium - “Kinetik”

Arch Enemy - “Khaos Legions”

But there was more to 2011 than just my career. Things have been changing at home and in my dayjob, but the greatest moment of the year came around my birthday in August, when it was discovered that myself and my girl are expecting our first baby together. I cannot put our excitement regarding this into adequate words. We are absolutely thrilled, and are both eagerly awaiting the first third of next year, when we will be able to welcome our baby into the world. I am going to be a daddy, and I am genuinely looking forward to the challenges that this transformative event shall bring. Naturally, I also have my fears about the future, which is why I have created The First Time Daddy, a blog about exactly what I am going through, my hopes and fears for the future, and more.

Other events that made 2011 so very memorable include:

REVAMP/EPICA at the Rescue Rooms
Two of the greatest symphonic metal bands on the planet at one small venue? Hell yes. Being able to witness Floor Jansen and Simone Simons sharing a stage was a dream come true. Two of the most incredible voices I have ever heard.

The Opening of Robin Hood: Rise Of A Rebel
I was commissioned to supply art for a new exhibition at the Galleries of Justice Museum here in Nottingham. I drew a dozen comic art images of Robin Hood characters and my colleague and friend Chris Dowson supplied amazing digital colours. The exhibition opened to a rapturous response from local government, students involved with the project and the public. It remains open now and has proven to be a big draw for visitors to the city. That night was one of the proudest moments of my life.

ANVIL live at the Rescue Rooms
After my interview with Lips, myself and my good friend Chris Dowson had a blast at the evening's concert, before which I met up with a bunch of people I had only ever talked to online before. A brilliant show and a brilliant crowd vibe.

FIREFEST 2011 at Nottingham Rock City
Three days of incredible melodic rock music, meeting friends and catching up with Powerply magazine colleagues were enjoyed in October. Out of the bands that played (all of whome were excellent), the highlights for me were sets by SERPENTINE, Jimi Jamison, W.E.T, Alien, and the Steve Augeri band. Firefest continues to deliver the goods, and it was a pleasure and an honour to be able to cover it for the magazine again. A much-appreciated VIP pass meant I was able to cover the shows from a great vantage point and also mingle a bit with the acts themselves. What a weekend. I can't wait for the next fest!

Four bad movies, a load of vintage trailers, and nine hours spent in the company of 150 rabid film fans in a gorgeous cinema, laughing and trying to stay awake. Bliss. 

So. 2011 was indeed the year things changed, and it looks like 2012 will continue this trend in brilliant style. There are more books on the horizon, a web series, a movie screening night, a podcast, a movie shoot, lots more fiction and the joys of fatherhood to come.

It's not a build-up any more. It's not a series of hopes and dreams. It's a fact. It's happening.

Planet Earth, here I come.

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