Saturday, April 28, 2007

Buffy Comic Crisis

Something of a panic in the Millar household this week, as I realised I'd missed the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. I did know that Joss Wheddon's new series was on its way, but I thought that meant some indeterminate time in the future. Not right now. Not until someone reminded me about it in my blog, did it occur to me that they'd actually been published.

Well, this was a problem. With my agoraphobia, I'm not in range of any comic shops. I phoned up Forbidden Planet and was horrified to learn that issues one and two had sold out, and they weren't expecting any more in!

This led to a burst of frantic activity not seen within these walls for several years. Though I'm quite capable of staring into space for days at a time, I was galvanised into taking some firm action. Within minutes I was on eBay. And, even though I don't find eBay that easy to use, I located issues one and two and bought them immediately. Then I called the comic shop and placed a subscription so I'll get the rest of the comics delivered.

I regarded all this as strong, forceful, and decisive behaviour. When a Buffy crisis appeared, I rose to the challenge, and solved it instantly. If the United Nations needed a commissioner to look after World Buffy affairs, I'm sure I could qualify for the post.

Issues one and two arrived through my letterbox yesterday. All is right with the world again.

The launch for my new book
Lonely Werewolf Girl will be at the Boogaloo Club in Archway Road on the 12th June. More on this later. (Will it be a problem for me, getting to the Archway Road? Yes, a big problem.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Overwhelmed. Retreat to couch.

Well, that was an interesting experience. When Myspace made my last blog their selected book blog, I was completely overwhelmed with readers, responses, and email. Most of it was very friendly, and I appreciated it all. Unfortunately, I was unable to keep up with answering all this email. So I did what I generally do in times of crisis, which is to despair, retire to the couch, play my Buffy the Vampire Slayer video game, then stare into space until everything goes quiet again.

So I'm sorry if I haven't replied to you yet, I will still try to answer everyone's messages.

I also got a lot of new subscribers to my blog. I fear they may be in for some disappointment as it sinks back into its normal content of obsessive thoughts on rhubarb crumble, complaints about Arsenal's poor performances, and sad tales of how I still miss Buffy.

When I recovered from the huge mass of correspondence and ventured into the world again, I decided it would be a good idea to add all the most fabulously beautiful gothic/fetish models on Myspace as friends on my new Lonely Werewolf Girl page. I mean, gothic/fetish models are bound to like werewolves. Not that I believe in stereotyping people or anything.

It does mean encountering quite a lot of 'This page is set to private,' and even 'Go away, don't add me.' Ha. These people don't know who they're dealing with here. It takes more than a hostile Myspace page to keep me away.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More Vonnegut - I’m Kilgore Trout...

I so much admired Kurt Vonnegut that his death got me thinking, quite nostalgically, about the first time I encountered his work. In 1976 my first proper, post-high school girlfriend lent me Breakfast of Champions. She was at university and she had the book as part of her Modern Studies course. Which was something of a surprise in itself, because I didn't know Modern Studies was even a subject. (Back in those days, British universities only taught academic things like English, History or Maths. They hadn't yet moved on to awarding degrees for watching TV or making balloon animals.)

She was a great girlfriend. But more of her later.

At this time I had no clear ambitions. I'd always liked writing, but I didn't think there was much chance of me ever producing a proper book. A proper book being, for instance, Jane Austen. I was in fact quite annoyed with Jane Austen for being long and dreary. Later I came to realise that Jane Austen was neither long nor dreary, and was actually a mighty genius. But it took a while before I realised that.

So when my girlfriend lent me Breakfast of Champions, I was just astonished. It hardly seemed like a novel at all. It contains a lot of little ink doodles. It's written in a series of short paragraphs, jumping from character to character, situation to situation. Absolutely nothing that could be called dreary. I loved this because I've always had a short attention span.

This made me think, well that's a good way to write a book. I could do that. Or at least I could do the short paragraphs bit. So I did. I just adopted Vonnegut's style of chapterless, short paragraphs, moving from one part of the story to another. After some years and several failed attempts, I managed to produce something worthwhile, and it was published.

However, the wholesale borrowing / theft / plagiarism of Vonnegut's style for my early books isn't my only reason for loving Breakfast of Champions. The book features the immortal Kilgore Trout - an author so steeped in failure, so shabby, defeated and unsuccessful, that you can't fail to warm to him. Poor Kilgore Trout's stories are printed mainly as filler in porn magazines, and they often don't even pay him. In Breakfast of Champions, Kilgore Trout is old and decrepit, and he's about to let the world know how badly it's treated him.

There have been occasions when, after writing for a long time, and then wandering out absent-mindedly to the shops, I've caught sight of myself in the supermarket mirror. I suddenly realise that I've forgotten to get shaved for several days, I've apparently managed to spill soup down my T-shirt without noticing, and I'm bearing a strong resemblance to the beggar who's sitting outside the shop. And I've thought to myself - My goodness, I've turned into Kilgore Trout.

But I've found that quite a comforting thought really. Especially during times when I've not been successful, of which I've had my share. Because Kilgore Trout, while shabby, defeated and ignored by the world, has his own dignity. He's a worthwhile person with a great imagination. He's smart, even if the world doesn't realise it.

Yes, I'm very fond of Kilgore Trout. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that many authors, in times of trouble, have mused on the heroically-defiant Trout, and felt better about themselves.

Kilgore Trout is wise enough to realise that he's actually a character in someone else's book. In Breakfast of Champions, he meets his creator, Kurt Vonnegut, who is himself a character in the novel. Trout, realising that Vonnegut has the power to do anything he wants with him, shouts at him - "Make Me Young!" Quite a reasonable request, and one which I might echo if it turns out I'm merely a character in someone else's novel.

What else might I ask Kurt Vonnegut to do, if it so happened I was one of his characters? Well, about that girlfriend who leant me Breakfast of Champions. She was witty, intelligent and beautiful, and strangely fond of me. So, naturally, I ruined the relationship by being young and stupid.

* shakes fist at my youthful stupidity *

I might ask Kurt if he could write all that a bit better this time. You know, make me more sensible at an early age. And maybe make me a bit taller. And with more hair. And definitely selling more books.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Carter USM / Kurt Vonnegut

I’m off to see Carter USM playing their re-union gig in Brixton in November. (Unless I am too agoraphobic to make it, always a possibility.) I saw Carter quite a lot in years gone by, though it’s ten years since they played together. So I’m looking forward to seeing Les and Jim onstage again.

I haven’t been to the Brixton Academy for years. In fact, it’s quite a long time since I’ve been to a gig anywhere.

I’m sad to hear of the death of Kurt Vonnegut. He was a great writer and I really owed him a lot in terms of inspiration. I particularly loved Breakfast of Champions. I read that before I had anything published, and after reading it, I thought about writing in rather a different way than I had before. Slaughterhouse Five is another brilliant novel.

Currently reading : Somerset Maugham - Collected Short Stories Volume Four. Another of my favourite authors. Satisfyingly unfashionable.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch - Santa’s little Helper. Dammit I miss Sabrina the Teenage Witch on TV.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Distributing the Werewolves

Lonely Werewolf Girl will be distributed by Turnaround. This is the front cover of their buyer’s notes for June. Turnaround’s reps take this to bookshops when they’re trying to get the shops to stock the book. I’m pleased to be on the front cover. Turnaround have made it one of their lead titles, so I’m wishing their reps good luck in flooding bookshops with the title.

It’s not easy getting your books well displayed in stores. So I’m relying on the good work of the Turnaround reps, and the excellence of Simon Fraser’s cover, and some good fortune for getting the book well-distributed. If you’d like to go into bookshops and ask for the book - possibly banging your fist on the counter - that’s always a help too.

Other books on the front cover of the Turnaround catalogue - a Fantastic Four collection, which I like the look of. And The Black Death, also potentially interesting; there’s nothing like a good plague. And also A Year on the Bog. I don’t know anything about this.

I put some short extracts of Lonely Werewolf Girl on my website; You can read them there, or download them as a PDF here.