Friday, February 12, 2021

First edition of my first book, Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, from 1987. This copy's looking very worn now. I wrote it on an old orange Olivetti portable typewriter with a broken carriage return. After typing each full line, I had to manually push the carriage back to the left side of the page. It took me four and a half weeks to write the book and it was never revised much after that. It was the third novel I'd completed but the first one that was any good. I posted it off to a literary agent I picked at random from the Writer's and Artist's yearbook and surprisingly she accepted it right away. However, it took her three and a half years to find a publisher. I never liked the cover very much but I was so pleased to be published I didn't care at the time.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Introduction to my new edition of Simulation Bleed

I wrote Simulation Bleed as a weekly serial on my website. There were three parts made up of 211 short chapters. I always enjoyed writing it. I'm fond of the main characters: Rainith, Mixt and Nakishdan. Rainith the Red is a particularly bad-tempered and anti-social fairy. Mixt and Nakishdan are two people with many problems who'd much rather be left alone to play video games. None of them are suited to working as government agents. But it happens, and they're stuck with it.
Because it's a serial, it is slightly rambling. I couldn't say it was tightly plotted. Several threads are not pursued and some occurrences are not resolved. However, I did resolve the main events, and as the story involved various timelines, I could claim that any sub-plot that wasn't resolved simply disappeared when history was changed.
When I started Simulation Bleed I planned to write about things I knew about. Firstly, early punk gigs in London. I went to a lot of these, and most of the gigs in the serial are based on concerts I was at. I've seen most of the bands whose records are mentioned. The video game that Nakishdan and Mixt play in the book is mostly based on Mass Effect. I played that trilogy a lot, with great enjoyment. As it turned out, there's a lot of therapy in Simulation Bleed as well. That's not what I'd call a favourite topic of mine but I do know quite a lot about it, from experience.
Several elements of the book such as the gaming, and Nakishdan's liking for all things kawaii, did go on to feature more in the next novel I wrote, Supercute Futures. That's fine, I find both topics very interesting. Despite the occasional loose ends, and some small overlap with a later novel, I haven't revised the serial, preferring to publish it as it was originally written. So here it, Simulation Bleed.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Lux and Alby Sign On and Save the Universe

I've just brought my graphic novel back into print. I wrote it in 1991 and the artist was Simon Fraser. It originally appeared as nine comics, published by Richard Hansom at the Acme comics shop in Brixton. In 1999 it emerged as a graphic novel, published by Pater Pavement's Slab-O-Concrete Press. That was a good edition but it's been out of print for a long time. So here it is again. It's set partly in Brixton in South London, where I used to live, and partly in the realms of the protectors of Nirvana.
'When Lux the Poet and Alby Starvation, notably poor South London inhabitants, find themselves sharing a house, tensions arise. Not only that, the fabric of the universe starts to crumble. The arrival of Ruby, with her plans for total domination of the squatting group, leads them into a fantastic (and upsetting) adventure, featuring powerful Goddesses, unhappy plants, sad rocks, a lot of kissing, and a full scale assault on Nirvana. Can Alby rescue his precious comics? Will Lux mange to charm his way to another benefit check? Will the rocks, plants and fairies ever smile again? Find out in Lux and Alby Sign on and Save the Universe.'
ISBN 978-1688341715 - You can order it from bookshops too.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me

Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me. My schooldays in Glasgow, and the mighty Led Zeppelin are coming to play. I always liked this book but it had an unfortunate history. Shorty after it was published, the publisher went out of business. The book disappeared almost as soon as it arrived. Soft Skull did do a decent American edition, but the book has been out of print in Britain for a long time. I've now brought it back into print myself. While preparing the book, I read through it with some trepidation, as I always would with any of my old books, wondering how much I'd hate it, and how often I'd be shaking my head muttering 'What was I thinking when I wrote this?' But that didn't happen too often and I still liked it, which was a relief. -

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Supercute Quiz

On my publisher Piatkus's Facebook page there's an entertaining Supercute quiz! How Supercute are you?

Supercute Futures was published a few months ago in Britain. The print edition is due to come out in the USA in August. The ebook is already available there.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Anime, Manga and Supercute Futures

Anything I'm enthusiastic about often ends up influencing my writing. Sometimes that's unintentional. Sometimes it's not. The impact of anime and manga on my new novel Supercute Futures was quite deliberate. I've enjoyed anime and manga for a long time so I thought I'd attempt to write something like that. Or, at least, something that reflected the pleasure I've received from these genres. That's how Supercute Futures came about. I'm not copying anyone else's plot or characters, but I was entering the same sort of universe.
Wondering about my own influences, I made a quick list of anime/manga I've most enjoyed. Off the top of my head that would be something like -
Ghost in the Shell
Cowboy Bebop
Shakugan no Shana
Lucky Star
Fairy Tale
That list misses out a lot of popular favourites, though it's not a list of obscurities. These are well-known titles. I'm far from being an expert on the subject, hunting out hidden gems. How each individual title might have influenced me is difficult to say. The heroines of Supercute Futures, Mox and Mitsu, do have happy childhood memories of playing at Claymore, running around in a garden with big cardboard swords, but there's no swordplay in the scientific world of Supercute. There's a lot of swordplay in Shakugan no Shana and Bleach too but it wasn't an avenue I wanted to explore. (Although in a previous book, Lonely Werewolf Girl, Vex is a Shakugan no Shana fan, and I have eaten melonpan because of that manga.) I suppose Ghost in the Shell was more of a direct influence, with its comprehensive take on cyberpunk. I've enjoyed Ghost in the Shell in all its incarnations - the original films, Stand Alone Complex, 2nd Gig, Arise. Even the Hollywood version was a decent attempt although, being Hollywood, it wasn't as intelligent as the Japanese originals.
I like cyberpunk anime though I haven't found anything to compare to GITS. Psychopass was enjoyable, anyway. I've thought a lot about the gigantic world of Blame, with its net terminal genes, and all the characters who appear briefly, never to be seen again. (What happened to Toha Heavy Industries? And should a man my age buy a Toha Heavy Industries t-shirt?) I've watched Cowboy Bebop many times. I love its populated, terraformed solar system and its a great story with great characters. Fantastic music too, from Yoko Kanno. I don't know if I'm looking forward to the live action version because they might well mess it up, but who knows, maybe they'll surprise me.
Another favourite is Lucky Star, which made me laugh. Though that was a four panel, or 4-koma manga, it translated well into longer anime episodes. Now I'm wondering how I could incorporate that 4-koma format into a novel. And then there's things like K-On. I don't really see that filtering through into my books, though the girls who meet their friends in virtual space in Supercute Futures might carry some echoes of Ho-kago Tea Time. (And I do have a K-On t-shirt) Recently I've watched anime by subscribing to Crunchyroll, and sometimes on Netflix, and I've bought anime and manga over the years because I like to support the artists whose work I've enjoyed, and who've influenced me.
Amazon uk --- Amazon com

Friday, January 11, 2019

Thraxas of Turai - Book 11 in Series

Thraxas of Turai, book eleven in the series, has now been published. It's available as a paperback and as an ebook.

Paperback  -  -

ebook  -  -

Thraxas of Turai is the eleventh book in the series. Thraxas, perhaps the doughtiest warrior ever born within that city's walls, (as he describes himself) is almost home. The army led by Lisutaris reaches Turai, ready to retake their city. Thraxas begins the book in some trouble, having been flung in the stockade following a disreputable brawl, but will soon be back in action, investigating a politically awkward murder while making ready for battle. At his side is Makri, whose mathematical skills are called upon for some complicated sorcerous calculations designed to bring down the walls. There are dragons in the sky, hostile forces ahead, and, worst of all as far as Thraxas is concerned, a general beer shortage. When this is all over, Thraxas intends to spend the rest of his days sitting comfortably in his favourite tavern. But first, he has a city to retake.
ISBN 978-1792849992