Monday, 28 November 2011

Rich, powerful and pompous

One of the best comments so far to come out of witness testimony to the Leveson Inquiry, and it was from Charlotte Church:

I don't want to single out [Daily Mail editor] Paul Dacre at all. Just in terms of editors and people who are high up in tabloid papers – he [Dacre] said that there were many journalists who were exposing the misdeeds of the rich, the powerful and the pompous. 
It just struck me that Mr Dacre themselves and other editors are probably rich, definitely powerful; I'm not sure about pompous, but if they were subjected to the investigative journalism, maybe they would come out whiter than white, but if they weren't then their misdeeds are much more in the public interest as rich and powerful people than me as a TV presenter/singer or my friends.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

'Scuse me while I kiss this guy

When Luca Veste invited me to contribute to the charity anthology Off The Record, we argued for a while about whether I could include 5-6-7-8 by Steps, but settled in the end on Purple Haze, an old favourite of mine. To celebrate, here's a few versions of the song, from the sublime, to the...well. Watch the videos.

Definitely the best version of all time, which takes you to the frontiers of psychedelic innerspace on a trip that even Hendrix could only have dreamed about:

A strong contender for second best:

What appears to be a mashup between Purple Haze and the Seinfeld theme tune:


We're lost in a purple haze, again and again and again and again. The Cure:

Chamber music, from the Kronos Quartet:

But finally, what better way to stay true to the spirit of the original, than by this version brought to you by a choir of very elderly people. Actin' funny, but don't know why? It's because you forgot to have your bran for breakfast this morning, dear.

Off The Record

Off The Record is an charity anthology edited by Luca Veste, featuring stories from a host of excellent authors, with each story inspired by a classic song track. It's been launched today, and is available on Amazon now (UK | US). Thirty-eight stories for just £2.29, it's a bargain, and all the royalties go to charity - the National Literacy Trust in the UK, and the Children's Literary Initiative in the US.

There's a new story in there from me, too. Purple Haze is a story about people getting out of their heads, and out of their depth.

Grab a copy now, get some great reading, and contribute to the development of child literacy too. Full contents list below (and now, a playlist of all of the songs, thanks to Court Merrigan).

1.Neil White - Stairway To Heaven
2.Col Bury – Respect
3.Steve Mosby – God Moving Over The Face Of Waters
4.Les Edgerton - Small Change
5.Heath Lowrance - I Wanna Be Your Dog
6.AJ Hayes - Light My Fire
7.Sean Patrick Reardon - Redemption Song
8.Ian Ayris - Down In The Tube Station At Midnight
9.Nick Triplow - A New England
10.Charlie Wade - Sheila Take A Bow
11.Iain Rowan - Purple Haze
12.Thomas Pluck - Free Bird
13.Matthew C. Funk - Venus In Furs
14.R Thomas Brown - Dock Of The Bay
15.Chris Rhatigan – Shadowboxer
16.Patti Abbott - Roll Me Away
17.Chad Rhorbacher - I Wanna Be Sedated
18.Court Merrigan - Back In Black
19.Paul D. Brazill - Life On Mars?
20.Nick Boldock – Superstition
21.Vic Watson - Bye Bye Baby
22.Benoit Lelievre - Blood On The Dancefloor
23.Ron Earl Phillips - American Pie
24.Chris La Tray – Detroit Rock City
25.Nigel Bird - Super Trouper
26.Pete Sortwell – So Low, So High
27.Julie Morrigan - Behind Blue Eyes
28.David Barber – Paranoid
29.McDroll - Nights In White Satin
30.Cath Bore - Be My Baby
31.Eric Beetner - California Dreamin'
32.Steve Weddle - A Day In The Life
33.Darren Sant - Karma Police
34.Simon Logan - Smells Like Teen Spirit
35.Luca Veste - Comfortably Numb
36.Nick Quantrill - Death Or Glory
37.Helen FitzGerald - Two Little Boys
38.Ray Banks - God Only Knows

Also includes forewords from UK writer Matt Hilton, and US writer Anthony Neil Smith.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Catching up

Hectic times at the mo. Lots on at work, and outside work a lot of the last couple of weeks have revolved around the kids who have been in their first professional production at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. Son made front page of the Journal this week, which made me all proud and something-in-my-eye and, inevitably, got the 'new Billy Elliott' tag. Am also still quite drifty after what happened in September/October (and angry - is a weird thing about grief, how it can prompt this inchoate unfocused anger at well, everything), but trying to get my act together now and get on, because there's a lot to get on with.

I've started a new novel, and am working away at it with the intention of submitting it to the Debut Daggers. It's about working undercover, identity, madness, the protest movement, the illegal arms trade, and not knowing who you are, or who anyone else is. Know where it starts, and where it ends, and a fair bit of what happens inbetween, but am spending a lot of time getting inside the protag's head at the moment. Am also planning something a bit different around point of view, which may or may not work out, but will be interesting to try. Don't have even a working title in mind, so for now it is just The Novel.

Julie Morrigan has interviewed me over at her place. Paul D Brazill has announced the impending release of his anthology Brit Grit 2, which features a brand-new short story from me called Looking For Jamie. Probably one of the most bleak stories I've ever written, which given some of my other short stories is something of an achievement. Luca Veste's charity anthology Off The Record will be out soon too, and  will include Purple Haze, a short story from me specially written for Off The Record.

Too soon to blog about them in detail just yet, but in the last week I've become involved in two really interesting and exciting projects. Hope to tell you more about them soon. One's a new project around a series of short story collections, working with some excellent horror/dark/weird fiction writers and which promises to be a huge amount of fun (and see a few new short stories from me). The other might see some previous linked short stories of mine packaged up and turned into a novel for a magazine publisher's new ebook venture - but there's 20,000 words of new fiction to be written to get it there.

Better get on with it then, hadn't I.

Well, nearly everywhere

Barack Obama, January 2011:

"I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.

The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere."

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Review time

Been catching up with some interesting short ebooks recently. Victoria Watson's I Should Have Seen it Coming is a short story published by Trestle Press. The narrator progresses from redundancy to an initially reluctant but increasingly successful career as a psychic - until her new vocation brings disaster. It's a quick and entertaining read with a controlled narrative voice, and I liked the gradual disintegration of the narrator as the story moved on.

Luca Veste's Liverpool Five is a collection of short short stories - five of them, surprisingly enough. The stories cover quite a range, from crime stories with an entertainingly dark twist like Heavy Sleeper and Model Behaviour, to acutely-observed stories that capture a moment in someone's life, told with great economy. Writing short is sometimes much harder than writing long. I'm really looking forward to seeing more from Luca.

Darren Sant's been writing a series of stories set in the same location, the fictional Longcroft Estate. Rowan's Folly (no relation, although I have been responsible for much folly in my time) is another slice of Longcroft lowlife and the longest story - and, I think, the best - so far. The story features a convincing range of characters all following their own storylines which intertwine as the story progresses. If you've read the earlier stories set you'll spot a few references and characters as the author continues to build up the grimly fascinating world of the Longcroft.