Hello Creatures! I am very pleased to have my socio-political satire Freud Is Dead in Gutter 11. Other excellent contributors include Vicki Jarrett, Lynsey May and Mike Russell.
I am also pleased to have my sci-fi body horror Wire in New Writing Scotland 32: Songs of Other Places. My story is nestled alongside brilliant writers such as Martin MacInnes, Raymond Soltysek and fellow Napier Creative Writing MA graduate Mark Harding.
I am looking forward to delving into both and discovering new voices.
In the meantime, here’s a couple of extracts for you:
Freud Is Dead
“…and so I do think if the bankers do their job, they should be rewarded. If a banker brings in 5k then I don’t see anything wrong with awarding him 2k. We should be rewarding him. It’s good for our economy.”
“‘Him’? Who’s ‘him’?”
“Any banker. They should be rewarded for helping the economy.”
“Didn’t they hurt the economy?”
“Oh, don’t listen to the socialists dear. They’d have us handwashing sweaters every day if they could.”
Caram was leaning against the wall, a cigarette dangling from his lips. The Inex perched on his shoulder, its spidery limbs reaching round his neck. Like every Inex, it unnerved me. Most people cultivated the childlike appearance, exaggerating their cuteness with colourful clothes and bows, but Caram’s was always naked. Its blank eyes met my gaze, and I looked away, feeling the nausea double. I stared at Caram. His eyes were closed, face turned towards the sun. His black hair was swept back, strands stroking his jawline. Caram’s body flowed as liquid, an ichorous seduction.
The technology segment was airing. It charted the death of mobiles and the rise of the Inex, ending with a still of a child holding the hand of her Inex, overlaid with the words “IS THIS THE END OF INEX 20?”
So, what have I been up to for months and months of not-so-bloody silence? Working on Goblin mostly (waaa! *Kermit flail*), and getting married in Venice to a beautiful creature I met twenty years ago in our high school library (so it seemed appropriate to have our reception in Looking Glass Books when we returned). My wedding ring is an eyeball and I joked that if I ever lost it I would get to dramatically shout “My eyeball! My eyeball!” This opportunity came about only a couple of hours after the wedding when a golden cherub on the side of a gondola plucked it from my finger and tossed it into the canal. There used to be a Venetian ritual where the Doge was taken out to the middle of the lagoon where he would throw a ring into the water to marry the sea and protect Venice. So when I lost my ring, really I was doing Venice a favour. I since left one in a Thai restaurant and snapped another in half. I’m on my fourth ring and it’s hasn’t even been a year yet. Fortunately it’s the relationship that matters and not the eyeballs you go through.
As well as writing like mad and getting married I also read many books. I had the absolute pleasure of reviewing The First True Lie, a stunning novel by Marina Mander (translated from the Italian by Stephen Twilley).
It forms my (un)holy trinity of bloody amazing books that have been published in the past couple of years which includes Jenni Fagan’s The Panopticon and Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing (both are devastating and utterly brilliant. Girl in particular is the perfect example of the symbiotic relationship between style and content). And to mess up the trinity/triptych imagery, I’ll throw in A.M Homes’ wonderful May We Be Forgiven too.
I’m just as much of a film fan as I am book mad and my unholy trinity of recently released brilliant films has to be The Paperboy (my friend and fellow writer MrN describes it perfectly: “It’s deliciously over the top and it’s got a strange fierce tenderness in it.”), Stoker (Stunning – brilliantly directed, beautifully shot, perfect score and deliciously mannered acting) and Under the Skin (dark and disturbing, visually striking with an unnerving score that adds brilliantly to some really chilling moments. Scarlett is excellent).
And to mess with that trinity/triptych of delights I have to throw in That Guy Dick Miller, an absolute gem of a documentary about that guy, Dick Miller. I was brought up on 80s Joe Dante films (Gremlins, The Burbs) and in the early 90s the TV series Eerie Indiana, so that’s how I knew Dick. Despite being a big horror film fan, I haven’t seen much Roger Corman, so it was really interesting for me to see Dick in his early roles (and knowing him as this wonderful grizzled curmudgeonly old man, I was surprised at what a stunner he was in his youth). Not only did we have the treat of the film, but there was a surprise Q&A with that guy himself and his lovely wife, Lainie (you gotta love the Edinburgh International Film Festival). The audience went wild (again, you gotta love the film fest – the atmosphere was fantastic).
As well as finishing Goblin, I’ve been working on short stories and sending them out into the world. My sci-fi body horror, Wire, is in Songs of Other Places – New Writing Scotland 32 (you can buy it here) and my story Freud Is Dead will be appearing in the latest Gutter magazine.
Right now (when I’m not basking in the sunshine or attending the wonderful Edinburgh International Book Festival) I’m proofing and editing Goblin (with the assistance of three highly skilled friends) and plan to send it out into the big bad world by the end of September. I will then start work on my second novel, HellSans, which I’m very excited about – can’t wait!
Nine Inch Nails were amazing.
I’ve been a fan since the 90s, but I hadn’t seen them live until now. I was excited, but didn’t expect to be blown away.
They opened with Me, I’m Not, which delighted me as I’m a big Year Zero fan. I’ve not really clicked with the new album, Hesitation Marks, but I loved Copy of A and – later in the setlist – Came Back Haunted. On the album these tracked seemed over-produced, but they were brought to life in the gig.
I thought the Hydro was going to explode with the stomper of a performance that was March of the Pigs, followed by a deliciously creepy Piggy that had the audience singing along. It’s 20 years since the release of The Downward Spiral, so to hear these songs live felt really special.
When I was studying for my Degree and Masters I had The Fragile and Year Zero on repeat, helping me get through all my assignments and exam revision and I loved hearing some of my favourites from these albums. The Wretched sends shivers through me when I listen to the album; hearing it live had my whole body tingling. The Great Destroyer is another favourite and didn’t disappoint as it descended into noise with a backdrop video montage of Blair, Bush, and scenes from the Iraq war.
It was wonderful to look down on the crowd and seeing them going crazy; to have that perspective was great, and it really made me feel a part of something magical. Though, if it wasn’t for the stupid chronic illness I have which means I can’t stand for very long, I would have been standing down in the front row. It makes me sad that my standing in concerts days are over, but I’m glad I was able to go to this gig at all.
My experience of chronic illness and pain is tied up with my experience of music and this in turn informs my writing both directly and indirectly. My first piece to be published in an anthology, She’s a Liquid (which you can download here), is about the healing power of music and has an appearance from NIN. My sci-fi body horror story, Wire, which is to be published in the New Writing Scotland 32 anthology in July has a character in it – Caram – who I pictured as Trent. It explores what it means to be human and embodied, and the ways we experience pain and pleasure.
The concert closer, Hurt, was beautiful and heartbreaking, with a backdrop of reptiles, insects, and holocaust and Vietnam war footage. It was the perfect coda, leaving you bereft and begging for more. I could have stayed there all night, never wanting it to end.
I’ve been to a lot of gigs over the years, and with this one I was wondering if I’d missed the NIN boat (were they past it? etc. Was I past it?), but it turned out to be the best concert I’ve ever been to. Sometimes when you see a band live, the vocals can be a bit ropey, but Trent’s voice was absolutely stunning throughout. The energy of the gig was amazing, and the lighting and visuals were perfect. The gig left me feeling stunned and utterly alive, and even more ambitious. My chosen career is author and my gods are in rock n roll.
Setlist: Me I’m Not, Copy of A, 1000000, March Of The Pigs, Piggy, The Frail, The Wretched, Gave Up, Sanctified, Closer, The Warning, Find My Way, Disappointed, Came Back Haunted, The Great Destroyer, Eraser, Wish, Only, The Hand That Feeds, Head Like A Hole
(Encore:) The Day The World Went Away, Hurt
Greetings, creatures! Did you think I’d forgotten these not-so-bloody walls? As you can see I’ve been busy – I finished my first novel, Goblin (I’m sitting here typing this calmly, but inside I feel like a crazy kermit muppet doing Ian Curtis dancing).
I also got married in Venice (more crazy kermit muppet Ian Curtis dancing) and did a whole buncha other things, which I’ll tell you more about soon.
Goblin is currently with my proofreaders, so there will be lots of editing ahead. Luckily, I’m a complete freak and editing is one of my most favouritist things, so I can’t wait. I also really miss Goblin and I’m itching to hang out with her some more. I guess that’s a good sign.
After the editing, I’ll have to say goodbye (which is a euphemism for sending Goblin out into the world and collecting the rejection letters) and move on to HellSans, a sci-fi thriller set in near-future Edinburgh, which I’m very excited about.
I will be posting more often on these forgotten walls, but in the meantime I’m going to sit back and take a moment to appreciate that delicious moment when I typed ‘THE END’.
Trees, walls and bulbous rocks were an opportunity for climbing when I was growing up. Craving new heights, I scrambled up castle turrets and spiralling monument stairs, bursting out at the top, eager to be near the whirling clouds. I watched as they broke apart innumerable times, coagulating into ships that rose out of gullies, riding a darkening sea-sky as the clouds became heavy with water. Skulls yawned at me, engulfing the ships, sucking them into their eye sockets, collapsing them into a homogenous grey. I dreamt of exploring those mysterious realms.
One day I stopped dreaming and said to Cinn, “For our tenth anniversary, would you like to float? But first we would fall, like Alice down the rabbit hole, and we’d have a stranger strapped to our back.”
That’s how we came to be packed into a tincan plane, sitting in the laps of our strangers, wearing conehead hats and sexy jumpsuits with straps where straps should never be. As we made the journey into the sky Cinn’s stranger fooled around, cracking unfunny jokes. At four thousand feet I looked down at the Scottish coastline, the beaches burnt white with heat, the calm sea a deep blue. The fear came at nine thousand feet as our strangers finished strapping us together. Ten thousand feet, and Cinn and his stranger were the first to go.
I watched my partner fall and felt the urge to pull him back, but instead I followed. In a second we were gone, tumbling through the sky like roiling storm clouds, lost in a mixture of exhilaration and shock. I felt the jerk of the parachute pulling us out of our freefall. Directly below us was a smudge of grey cloud, and we were swallowed up, just as the skulls had swallowed the ships. Cradled in the cold grey, I felt like I had disappeared. I stared at my feet, my toes pointing as if reaching for a foothold in the cloud. The world below emerged in glimmers of colour; green patchwork fields and the yellow insect-figure of Cinn walking back to base. I helped steer the canopy, feinting left towards the airfield. We continued our journey to the earth, dropping out of paradise, drifting on azure and eddies of cotton-white. “I still believe in my childhood dreams,” I said, as little wisps of cloud snaked around us like a cartoon spell.