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The Cake Tree

February 20, 2015
The Cake Tree

The Cake Tree

I’ve entered my short story The Cake Tree into the Inkitt horror competition. The story is about Edissa, a rebellious girl living in a city obsessed with money. The Council cordon off The Cake Tree but Edissa continues to meet her boyfriend there until a local boy’s jealousy leads to a grisly end.
If you like my story please vote for it here by clicking on the small heart at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

If you want to know more about what inspired the story (local councils, David Cronenberg, Re-animator, the Bible, Shakespeare), head on over to Kirsty Logan’s Thievery page.

A slightly dramatic (I’m still raging) Testament of Youth review

January 31, 2015
My film edition of the book before and after seeing the film (thank the lizards for collage)

My film edition of the book before and after seeing the film (thank the lizards for collage)

I don’t have a problem with filmmakers making changes for the screen (it’s a different medium and requires a different kind of storytelling) and I generally have a perverse tendency to love adaptations more than the books (Atonement, Brideshead Revisited, Fight Club etc) but the changes made here cut the heart and soul from the story. Emphasis is placed on her romance with Roland, every scene is overdone and takes shortcuts to easy sentimentality. It’s beautifully shot but the First World War isn’t a picture postcard. Her time as a nurse felt glossed over (losing the honesty with which she wrote about her experiences) and wasn’t nearly as brutal as it should have been (I’m assuming the filmmakers were aiming for the 12A classification they got). The film doesn’t do Brittain’s personality justice at all; her voice, her presence, isn’t anywhere to be found. She comes across as privileged, whiny, doe-eyed, teary and swept up by circumstance. The scene near the end where she speaks at a public meeting makes it seem as if it was impromptu and the speech itself is naïve and simply calls on her experience and none of her impressive learning. There was no mention of her involvement as a speaker with the League of Nations either here or in the information at the end. Her strength, actions, intelligence, political involvement, and feminism are completely undermined by this film.

Brittain’s memoir is so important that it should have been approached with a sense of great responsibility or at the very least with strong artistic integrity. I came out of the cinema bored, disappointed and angry. To take this wonderful book and reduce it to such sentimental mediocrity is a crime.

Time

January 21, 2015
Chronophage

Chronophage

It’s about time, it’s all about time , you’re in good time, time is money, money is time, time is precious, time is running out, it’s a waste of time, you’re wasting my time, you’re losing time, turn back time, paid for your time, clock in clock out, into time, out of time, this is your time, this isn’t your time, earn your living tick tock tick tock, time has been kind, time has been unkind, your time is valuable, your time is cheap, there will be time, there will be time, there is always time, it is timeless, you are timeless, make time, measure time, kill time, there is no time, it’s your time, it’s not your time, your time has come, you’re late, you’re early, you’re just on time, stealing time, lending time, time is nothing, time is everything, there’s no time like the present, do you have the time? What’s the time? Where’s the time gone? Time heals all wounds.

In the Gutter, Singing Songs of Other Places

August 13, 2014

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.

You can buy NWS here and Gutter here, or you can try your local independent bookstore. If you’re in Edinburgh, you can pick both up at the wonderful Edinburgh International Book Festival.

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’?”
“The banker.”
“What banker?”
“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.”

Gutter 11

Gutter 11

    Wire

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?”

New Writing Scotland 32

New Writing Scotland 32

Goblins, Weddings, (Un)Holy Trinities

August 10, 2014
Eyeball wedding ring from Cherryblossom Jewellery

Eyeball wedding ring from Cherryblossom Jewellery

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.

On The balcony of the wedding hall, Palazzo Cavalli.

On The balcony of the wedding hall, Palazzo Cavalli.

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).

Unholy Trinity of Delicious Delights

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).

Skype Q&A at the Filmhouse with Lainie and that guy, Dick Miller

Skype Q&A at the Filmhouse with Lainie and that guy, Dick Miller

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!

Heart Is Where The Home Is

May 30, 2014

They say home is where the heart is. That’s what they say. In my home there are seven hearts; three are beating.

What does ‘home’ mean to you? Scottish Book Trust are looking for your stories and you can read more of my story here: Heart Is Where The Home Is.

Heart Is Where The Home Is

Heart Is Where The Home Is

My Gods Are in Rock n Roll – Nine Inch Nails SSE Hydro 20/05/14

May 23, 2014
SSE Hydro NIN aftermath

SSE Hydro NIN aftermath

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

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