Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Extreme Piggy-Back Terror

My new wi-fi has certainly changed my life. Because of it I've developed two new damaging obsessions. I'm obsessed with how fast it is, and I'm obsessed about anyone piggy-backing on my connection. Previously I never had to worry about these things. Now I'm checking it all the time. So it's a big step forward.

The speeds seems to be OK. But, to my horror, while browsing through the rather complicated logs and settings in my router, it did seem to me that there were other people using my connection. Another computer, and also an iPhone.

I thought I'd set a password, but apparently this wasn't good enough. People had already invaded my network. I was briefly terrified, and felt unable to cope with this cyber terrorism. I had a vision of some Jack Nicholson-type character smashing through my door with an axe, crying 'You'll never stop us using your wi-fi connection!'

When I calmed down, and realised this probably wasn't going to happen, I was annoyed. I mean, these people can't be far away, can they? Is someone in my block using their damned iPhone on my connection?

* Shakes fist at fellow residents *

Considered knocking on everyone's door, demanding to know who the culprits were, possibly coming to blows with suspicious parties. Eventually decided against it.

Subsequently, with much furrowing of the brow, I learned how to make my connection more secure, a complicated process involving mac address filters, Wpa2 and suchlike. So this was all very stressful. But I think it's secure now. The other computer and the iPhone are no longer appearing on my connection, or in the log

Checking the internet, I notice that all these security measures can be broken by other people if they're determined enough. Sigh. So I will no doubt be checking the whole thing obsessively for the foreseeable future. Go wireless. It's a boon to OCD sufferers. Hours of new stuff to worry about.

In-between fighting off these cyber-terrorists I noticed the sink in the bathroom was looking quite dirty. Wondered about cleaning it. I'm not a great house-cleaner. Eventually decided to make an attempt. Sprayed it with cleaner and rubbed it with a cloth. This had little effect. Was frustrated. Why didn't it work? What's the point of selling stuff that claims to clean sinks if it doesn't do it when you need it? May have to scrub harder.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Injured by Slippers

I've always avoiding buying or wearing slippers. Even when the temperature plummeted I've know that if I ever wore slippers, something bad would happen. Mainly, I'd turn immediately into an old man, shuffling around, probably complaining about stuff.

Glamorous movie stars would cease to visit me. I would no longer be welcome at London's most fashionable nightspots.

However. Right now it's really cold in London. Walking round my flat, my feet are cold. I tried wearing shoes but I don't like wearing shoes indoors. At the supermarket, in their small clothes section, I noticed some slippers. I looked at them sort of longingly, thinking it would be nice to have warm feet, but I hesitated. I knew it was a big decision. I almost resisted, thinking 'I will never wear these comfy tartan footwear items' when I noticed that one of the pairs of slippers was sort of moccasin-shaped. Nice and fluffy inside, but not really looking too much like slippers really. If challenged, I could possibly deny they were slippers at all.

So, furtively, checking no one was looking, I slipped them in my basket, then headed for a checkout point. I felt quite guilty about the whole thing. On the other hand, London is knee-deep in snow these days, and my flat does suffer from drafts.

Back home I put on the slippers. They were very warm. And did look quite like moccasins. Not too slipper-like. I thought I might get away with it. Possibly I would not turn into an old person overnight.

However. There was a slight feeling of discomfort in one foot. I'd bought my normal size, but they felt a bit tight round the toe. Maybe because they were so fluffy inside. I ignored this, because my feet were very warm. This turned out to be a terrible mistake. When I took them off at the end of the day I noticed my toe was quite sore, and next morning it was even sorer. For some reason , wearing this slightly-too-tight slipper seemed to have crushed my toe into my foot, causing pain in the joint and tendon, and this pain didn't just go away as I might have expected. Next morning my foot was really painful, all the way up the tendon.

I stared morosely at my feet. Now not only were they cold, they were sore too. I limped around the house the whole day, complaining about stuff. I knew it was my own fault really. I knew bad things would happened if I ever wore slippers. Now I'm practically crippled. How could an overly-snug slipper cause such damage? I may never walk properly again. Damn my lack of self-control.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Staggering Technological Advances

This week the Millar household has seen great technological progress. (as I've mentioned before, I am always very far behind with technology.) Firstly, I upgraded my internet connection to 20Mb, and second, I got a wireless connection.

I notice - because I've been obsessively checking - that the speed varies a lot. The fastest it's been is 18Mb but sometimes it's only 10Mb. That seems OK anyway.

It does strike me that I probably have no real use for this. My previous connection was 2Mb. That didn't cause me any problems. It was fast enough for everything I did. What do I need this extra speed for? Nothing, as far as I can see. But perhaps it will be useful in the future. Maybe for downloading my robot-cyber-fantasy-bride, or something like that, when technology has advanced some more.

Though the speeded up connection didn't cause any problems, the wireless connection wasn't so easy. I told my internet provider I was a Mac user. They said they'd sent me their router, but don't come complaining to them if it didn't work. Fine. I appreciate your terrific customer service.

But it wasn't too hard to connect. There was a tricky moment, where things hovered in the balance, and my computer seemed to be about to give up the attempt, but the Mac airport assistant rode to the rescue. Now I have this wireless connection, I can move around. But I expect I'll never move anywhere, and will remain sitting at the desk in the exact same spot I always sit in.

I was pleased of having some new technology to play with just two nights ago, when I was woken by an extremely troubling dream. It was so troubling I had to get out of bed. This very rarely happens. I'm not prone to bad dreams. But this was so bad I got up and sat at my desk, feeling tired, but not really wanting to go back to sleep in case I got the dream again. I wonder why that happened? I don't remember being quite so troubled by a dream before.

I don't often remember my dreams. Although only a few weeks ago I did have an had a erotic dream so vivid that I woke up quite astonished, thinking, wow, I wish I could dream like that more often.

This graphic sex dream involved a woman I know, but have never had any romantic involvement with. Later I was sort of tempted to mention it to her, but decided against it. Mentioning it might seem creepy. Or is that a mistake? Might it be a compliment? Is there any sort of established etiquette? I might be having an autistic moment here. It's probably the most obvious thing in the world that you shouldn't mention things like that. But I sort of wanted to.

Probably I just shouldn't mention it. If you are socially incompetent - and I'm fairly socially incompetent - it's best to err on the side of caution. Probably friends don't want to hear you've been dreaming about them. But these tricky social problems will melt away when the robot-cyber-fantasy-brides get here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shot Full of Holes

I saw my doctor last week and while I was there I asked him about flu vaccination. I'm still worried about being carried off by swine flu. Unfortunately, while supplies of the swine flu vaccine have started arriving, so far they're only being given to 'priority cases.' Like pregnant women, and infants, and people with health problems. (But I'm an author. Shouldn't I be ahead of these people?)

However, the doctor did tell me that anyone could get a seasonal flu shot, protecting you against other sorts of flu. I sort of grunted, and this grunt meant - 'OK I'll think about it for a few weeks and probably not do anything about it.'

I thought I was being quite clear but strangely the doctor misinterpreted this grunt and immediately pulled out a syringe, and told me to roll up my sleeve. Before I knew what was happening I was inoculated against other forms of flu.

I was perturbed. I don't like medical surprises. I like a long time to think about things. I don't like to take rash actions, like for instance, getting vaccinated when I wasn't expecting it. Afterwards I trudged round the shops wondering what dreadful symptoms the flu shot might cause, and counted myself lucky to make it home before being completely incapacitated by harmful side effects.

But I survived the experience. So I suppose that's something anyway. While I'm still susceptible to swine flu, I am at least protected against various other forms. I've only had flu twice in my life. Readers of my blog may remember that the second time was just last year, and it involved suffering on a scale rarely seen in this world. I endured a terrible period of illness when I was unable to do anything except lie on the couch and watch SpongeBob SquarePants.

* That's what you do all the time anyway. *

Well yes, but this time I was feeling a lot worse than normal. I was sore, feverish, and I felt very sorry for myself, and this feeling sorry for myself continued long after the other symptoms departed.

Here, for no real reason except I like Japanese electronic music with female singers, are Hangry and Angry. They just made a good album, Sadistic Dance.

Really, I’d like to walk around looking like that. For a day or two anyway. It would certainly make life interesting.

Wikipedia tells me that 'Hangry & Angry is a Japanese pop duo ….the group is a collaboration with a Harajuku fashion store, and serves to promote various products, including stuffed toys fashioned after the members.'

OK, nothing artistically dubious about that. It's credible enough for me. I wonder where I can get the stuffed toys?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mac Problems / Dolltopia

My new Macbook broke down! I count this as among my most traumatic experiences. It started running slowly, and generally not working very well. Several long calls to the Apple helpline failed to rectify the situation. Eventually I was forced to take it to the Apple Store in Regent Street, where they diagnosed a faulty hard drive. They had to fit a new one. I had to leave it there and then pick it up the next day.

Well, my computer is now working fine again, but the whole experience has shaken my faith in Apple somewhat. Their support was good, and and they did repair it very quickly - it was still under warranty - but even so, you don’t want your new computer dying after only two months. I am somehow not expecting this new Macbook to last as well as my old iBook, which marched on unstoppably for 6 years, before unfortunately becoming too out of date to keep using

After leaving my laptop for repair, I trudged mournfully down Regent Street, feeling like the world was against me. In fact, I was crushed by the whole experience. There was a man in some sort of costume outside Hamleys Toy Shop, calling out friendly greetings to everyone that passed. I scowled at him in a hostile manner, and felt annoyed that ‘Hamleys’ doesn’t have an apostrophe, which it surely should have.

Fortunately, I had copies of all my computer files, so I didn’t lose anything, apart from some recent email. Perhaps that’s not so bad. I can use it as an excuse for my long, long backlog of unanswered email, about which I have a permanent feeling of guilt.

Later I was cheered by the arrival of Dolltopia, by Abby Denson. I really enjoyed this graphic novel. I contributed a few sentences to the blurb on the back cover, saying how much I liked it. Which is something I very rarely do, due to my pathological laziness, and general misanthropy.

Right now there’s a big rainstorm here. I like that. The gutters in the road outside always get clogged, and water pours down the hill in a big river. It's entertaining.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Never Mind the Bollocks

I started to write a blog a while ago - 'On this day in 1977, the 28th October, Never Mind the Bollocks by the Sex Pistols was released.' But then I became distracted and didn't get round to it. But I'm still sort of thinking about the Sex Pistols anyway, because they were such a big influence on me.

I don't think I'd have ever got up the confidence to write novels if it hadn't been for the Sex Pistols. My school, a Glasgow comprehensive, was reasonably good at teaching grammar, spelling, sentence construction, and so on. Which is a good thing. If you want to write, it helps if you can put a sentence together properly. But my school was very bad at giving working class kids the confidence to do anything with it. I can safely say that I was never encouraged by anyone at school to be creative in any way. At the time, authors, like proper rock musicians, seemed like a different class of people.

It might not ever have occurred to me to try writing books myself, if the Sex Pistols hadn't come along. The punk rock spirit of do-it-yourself, and having confidence in your own abilities, which they brought with them, were very influential. Life-changing, in fact. I started writing immediately, and this spirit of punk rock lingered in Britain for a long time afterwards. Long enough for me to still be thinking about it in 1984, when I wrote Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation.

I bought Never Mind The Bollocks on the day it was released. I already had the four singles it contained, also bought when they were first released. I still have them, apart from my original copy of Anarchy in the UK, from November 1976, which was unfortunately stolen a long time ago, in one of the many squats I lived in in Brixton at the end of the 70s.

Another memory of Never Mind the Bollocks - when it was released, there was actually a court case. Some retailers in Nottingham were prosecuted for obscenity, for displaying the album cover, because it said 'bollocks' Even at the time, everyone knew this was ridiculous. Why the police and public prosecution service ever got involved in it remains a mystery to me. When the case was thrown out of court, as it inevitably was, they'd succeeded only in making themselves look stupid. Though they did give the Sex Pistols a huge amount of free publicity.

The word bollocks has never really been an obscenity, being only quite a minor expletive, though it does remain quite popular in the Millar household. It is, for instance, often uttered during the course of my many household accidents, like smashing plates, or kicking over the teapot which I've carelessly left on the floor. It was said repeatedly - with some harsher words thrown in - in the aftermath of the recent 'getting out of the bath' disaster, an incident too distressing for me to give a full account. (But how, after a life-time of carefully protecting my groin, can I suddenly whack myself in the balls? It defies belief.)

On these occasions, there is nothing to do but retire to the couch, and play on my PlayStation. I've been doing this a lot recently, having discovered that there were two sequels to Prince of Persia. Am currently swashbuckling my way through Warrior Within, though I've come to something of a standstill, due to repeatedly being slaughtered in single combat by the Empress of Time. But this is not really a fair fight. I mean, the Empress of Time looks like this -

And it's quite distracting. The Empress's underhand tactics of revealing huge cleavage are very off-putting. I'm sure this is the reason she keeps defeating me. I may be stuck on this level for some time. And when you consider that the Prince of Persia, earlier in the game, also has to fight Shahdee, who looks like this -

- then you can see that the whole thing is very difficult. But perhaps the Prince is going about things in the wrong way? Surely he should not be engaging in combat with these women? Were it me, I'd try and reach some sort of understanding, and would not be waving a sword at them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Menstruation ( hooray! )

I notice a prominent advert for tampax on my Myspace page. 'Discover the Latest Tampax Pearl with the New Pearl Protect System.' I have no idea what this is. But I hope it makes the world a happier place.

It reminds me of something I was thinking about recently, whilst slumped on my couch. I do my finest thinking there. No, that's not true at all. I just lie semi-comatose, watching TV. Often I watch American sit-coms, which I generally like. Or dislike them less than British sitcoms, maybe.

I notice that anytime menstruation is mentioned in an American sitcom, all the men panic. They cover their ears, or even run out the room. It's weird. I've seen this repeated in various programmes. Some woman mentions her period, and the men start panicking, completely unable to cope.

Do men ever really do this? Do any of them really get that upset? Not in my experience. It's difficult to see why anyone would get so upset.

I wonder why this scene is so often repeated? I've never seen it in a British sitcom (On the other hand, I haven't seen anything funny in one either, for about the past twenty years)

I suppose it's just done for comic effect. It seems like a fairly lazy way of raising a laugh, really. And not really liable to make women feel good about themselves if it's implied that something they experience every month is deeply repulsive to the other half of the population. So I was on the brink of becoming self-righteous about this, when I realised that... hmm... that actually, I wrote a scene like that once too. In a Thraxas book.

In Thraxas and the Elvish Isles, at the vital moment in an all-male card game, Makri, female barbarian and waitress, starts talking about her period. The men all become uncomfortable, and indeed, some of them panic completely. Which did lead to a funny scene. My thinking at the time, I suppose, was that in the mediaeval, and quite religious society, in which Thraxas lives, menstruation was a taboo subject, and when the female barbarian blithely starts talking about it, the men can't cope.

It seemed funny at the time. But maybe I shouldn't have written it. I didn't realise I'd be joining in with some global campaign to make menstruation seem like a bad subject. If I had realised, I'd probably have written something different. (It's time for the National Menstruation Festival! Bring party hats!)

Hum. Oh well, in Queen Vex, sequel to Lonely Werewolf Girl, Daniel buys the contents of a shopping list, including tampons, for his female friend Moonglow, and he manages not to panic, or even comment adversely.

I'm currently editing this book. And also trying to think of a new title. It's still on course to come out next year.

Spell-check fact - On spell-checking this blog, I found I spelled 'menstruation' wrongly every time. Ha. Well, it's quite a tricky word.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Athens / SpongeBob

I've been reading this, The Athenian Institution of the Khoregia, by Peter Wilson, both for interest and research. It has a vast amount of information about ancient Athenian theatre, presented in such detail I'd have difficulty finding it anywhere else. I'm now stuffed full of facts about Sophocles and Aristophanes. It's an excellent historical work. But it is a little dry. I can only manage so much at a time.

When my head starts to hurt from Athenian theatre research, I slump on the couch and watch SpongeBob. I just saw an episode called Wigstruck. (I can't believe I actually know the title of an episode) It made me laugh, quite a lot. SpongeBob is on Nickelodeon, but I think it may be wasted on the young. Possibly you have to be advancing in years, defeated by life, wearied by toil, to fully appreciate Spongebob.

About 2 a.m., still suffering from complicated ancient Greek theatre research, I'm reading some online newspapers. I look at some reports from fashion shows. I generally like pictures of fashion, despite being the scruffy sort of person who gets followed round supermarkets by suspicious security guards. Unfortunately I'm useless at writing about clothes. I find writing a description of any item of clothing completely impossible. I regret this. I'd like to be able to give a neat little description of a dress, but it's not one of my strong points.

In amongst a lot of interesting and elegant apparel I notice this, from Milan, by Dsquared2. Nice transparent coat. Though it's possible - there is a slight chance - that I'm more impressed by the model than the coat. Well, it is 2 a.m. Actually, with her yellow bikini and brown hair, she's not a bad match for SpongeBob. She'd cheer me up at two in the morning, no doubt, were she knock on my door, maybe looking for directions, having taken the wrong turn on her way to a fashion show.

"Welcome to my shabby part of South London. Would you like some tea? Nice coat. Nice shoes too."

But this is not really likely to happen. I return to my Athenian research. Hmm. I must get out more.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Flash Drive

Here is a picture of me holding my complete works, loaded on to a flash drive. It's the first one I've owned. I'm always a long way behind with technology.

These are so ubiquitous now that I didn't even have to go to a computer shop to buy it. I got it in the local 'We-Sell-Everything' shop, where it was sandwiched between alarm clocks, novelty mugs and plastic food containers. Last month I bought a cheap kettle from the same shop.

I put everything I've ever written on the flash drive. That's a lot of books, including Thraxas. Then I attached it to my key-ring, and walked around feeling pleased with myself. I have my complete works on my key-ring. I wasn't expecting that to happen in 1984, when I was writing Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation on an old typewriter.

Later I became worried about literary spies stealing my works in progress, also copied onto the drive. So I downloaded encryption software, learned how to use it, and encrypted it all. Then I walked around feeling even more pleased with myself. Whilst I may always be behind with technology, I refuse to give up the struggle, not wanting to fall out of touch with the modern world. Next target, film myself reading and put it on Youtube. That sounds difficult, but it's time the world was exposed to my impenetrable Scottish accent.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What? £42 for a book?

Last week I was staggered - appalled - to find myself paying £42 for a book I needed for research. I mean, £42 for a book? $68? €48? What's the world coming to? Is it normal for academic books to cost that much? It came as quite a shock, and led to me shuffling round the kitchen muttering about greedy publishers, my impending financial ruin, and the imminent collapse of society. £42 for a book. It's not right.

( I'm not going to say what this book was, fearing that international literary spies may be trying to steal my ideas. Hmm. Must check the phone again for bugging devices. )

Scotland surprised me by winning against Macedonia, thereby reviving our hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in South Africa. Unfortunately, despite a plucky performance against Holland, Scotland lost the next game, and have therefore failed to qualify. Sigh. Scotland used to have such good football players, but we don't any more. Well, I suppose it will give me more time to read my £42 book.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Night Shift

Have now watched every episode of Claymore anime, and read every episode of Claymore manga. Afterwards, found myself suffering from Claymore withdrawal symptoms. I'd really like more adventures of these silver haired warriors.

Disconsolate, and still wanting more Claymore, I wander into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. I put on the radio. Unexpectedly, Led Zeppelin are playing. Am immediately cheered. I find myself playing air guitar, not something I do that often. Continue listening, and play more air guitar. Finish off with a final flourish of air-drums, something I don't think I've ever done before.

Find myself cheered. OK, I might have finished Claymore, but there will be other manga and anime. I can survive the crisis.

Am generally cheered up by Led Zeppelin. Apart from in 1985 when they played at Live Aid. They played in Philadelphia, and that was broadcast live in Britain about 1 A.M. Unfortunately, at one o'clock in the morning in 1985, I was working in a warehouse just south of Waterloo bridge, doing night shifts, carrying heavy mail bags, in a really, unpleasant job. Urgh. That was such a bad job. Long, long night shifts, in that warehouse. I'd be exhausted, and sleep all day, and work through the night. It doesn't take long doing that till you become quite confused about what day of the week it is.

At that time I'd written Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation. I'd found a literary agent for it, who was enthusiastic. I thought that she'd find a publisher for it soon enough, but it took her three and a half years. (That's not a criticism of the agent. She proved to be very dedicated, and didn't give up on it, fortunately for me.) So while I was struggling around in that warehouse at night, loading heavy sacks into trucks - dimly aware that there was some big music concert going being broadcast on the radio - I had a nagging feeling that really I ought to have been published by then. Probably because of that, I've never been able to remember Live Aid / Band Aid very fondly. (By all accounts, including their own, Led Zeppelin didn't perform very well at Live Aid, being plagued by sound problems.)

I gave up that job with great relief, and found work as a clerk for the council, which was better, though it didn't pay so well. I think I was there for two years before my agent finally found a publisher for Alby Starvation.

I can see two solutions to the 'no more Claymore' problem. One, hunt for more Anime to make up for it. Two, throw myself into my work. Hmmm. I can see which way this is going.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pictures of Me

My friend Kate is visiting London, from San Francisco. It was great to see her. I met her in a pub at Clapham Common. She pointed her iPhone at us, and took this picture.

Later I sat at my new computer and became confused about the iPhoto application.

Finally I worked out how to use it. Aha!

Then Buffy arrived to protect me. (And she brought me a hat!)

(Buffy figurine from www.buffycollection.com)

Note the bare wall behind me. It looks like I'm sitting in a prison cell.

Something just thumped through the letterbox. Ah. Three copies of the Italian contract for Queen Vex. And a new Buffy comic. Both good.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Computer

I have a nice new MacBook. You'd be surprised how old my other Mac was. It was very out of date. Internet videos struggled, froze and jammed. But now I'm equipped to fully appreciate the modern world. Am doing this mainly by watching old glam and punk rock videos from the 70s on YouTube. Yes, it's a big step forward.

My other Macs have generally worked when I plugged them in, which was helpful. So, naturally, this one didn't. It failed to connect to the internet properly. I responded by looking disappointed, and saying "Why aren't you working? Start working properly." Then I sat and looked hopeless for a while, mumbling sadly to myself about how difficult everything is.

When this failed to produce results I phoned the Mac helpline, and to their credit, they sorted it out for me quickly. But it was a tense moment.

My old Mac, while very slow by today's standards, remains quite precious to me. I wrote a lot of Thraxas on it, and Lonely Werewolf Girl, and Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me. I also wrote Queen Vex on it, the sequel to Lonely Werewolf Girl. This is more or less finished now. But don't get too excited, it will be around a year till it comes out. Which I find frustrating, but that's standard practice in publishing. However, the good news is that's it's already contracted to be published in Britain, the USA, and Germany, and the Italian contract should be sorted out soon.

Till I transfer over various files and software, I'm writing this blog on google documents. So it's not really even on my computer. Is that cloud computing? Hmm. Also alarmingly modern. I consider taking a little picture of myself with the camera in the computer, and putting it here. But when I check the picture, I think it makes me look old. Must be something wrong with the camera. Possibly I should phone the Mac helpline again. "The camera on my MacBook is making me look old. How can I fix this?"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Good Neighbour

I just received a box of books from my Greek publisher - Κάλιξ: Η γυναίκα λυκάνθρωπος. I'll give one of these away to the first person from Greece who wants one. Leave a message here, and email me your address, and I'll sign the book and send it to you.

I was worried by recent 'good neighbour day' or something like that, in which people were encouraged to meet their neighbours. Maybe even share a meal with them, I think. Am appalled by the thought. If I wanted to meet my neighbours, I wouldn't live in London. I rely on Londoners' mutual suspicion and hostility to prevent me from having to talk to any of these people.

Nervous in case some neighbour might knock on my door, asking me to share a meal, I lie on the couch, listening to the New York Dolls.

A new bad girl
Moved in on my block
I gave her my keys
Said 'Don't bother to knock.'

Risk a quick glance out the window, hoping some bad girls might be moving into my block. No sign of any. I suppose it's not very likely really. Life is rarely like a New York Dolls song. Probably when I get carried off to hospital with swine flu, there won't be a rock'n'roll nurse there either.

Monday, July 13, 2009

French Book

The French edition of The Good Fairies of New York - Les Petites Fées de New York - was published recently, and I have some copies from the publisher, Éditions Intervalle. Again, I'll sign one of these French copies and give it away free to the first person from France to say they want it. Just leave a reply here, and then email me your address.

I have many foreign editions of my books lurking on my shelves, I should give away more of them. Or actually organise myself to sell them from my website. I also have some spare sets of the Lux and Alby comic, which I've been meaning to put on sale for years. However I haven't got round to it. I'm hopeless at getting round to doing things. Though I am skillful at sitting on the couch watching TV. There is nothing at all wrong with my TV watching technique. I can also handle a whole stack of Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics with enormous skill.

Brighten up your reading experience! Who would not enjoy one of these knitted cat bookmarks? There's no point denying it, you know you'd like one. From knitted toys.blogspot

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ΚΑΛΙΞ - Werewolf in Greece

Lonely Werewolf Girl has now been published in Greece, by Kedros, as ΚΑΛΙΞ  Η  ΓΥΝΑΙΚΑ  ΛΥΚΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΣ. Which would translate as Kalix the Werewolf Woman. Or, Kalix, Female Werewolf, I suppose. So I'm pleased to have Kalix venturing into new territory.

London is pleasantly warm and sunny and I've been wandering around in shorts and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt, probably looking ridiculous. Last summer I got a slight tan on my legs, and was quite excited by this rare occurrence. I'm always quite pale.

I'm still enjoying Dollhouse, now up to episode six here. Last night there were new revelations in the plot, and Eliza Dushku had this great fight with the FBI agent. But, as I predicted, no one else I know is watching this programme here, it being rather hidden away on the SciFi channel.

I bought the fantasy stamps, as mentioned in my last blog. They're good stamps. (but what will I ever do with them?)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stamps / Germany

I don't think I've ever bought any special stamps before. My personal history is entirely stamp-collecting-free. But I did just notice these, advertised for release today. Mythical stamps from the Royal Mail. Featuring fairies, dragons, and other things. I would quite like to have these stamps.

Hmm. How high up the geekiness scale would it be to buy a sheet of stamps because they feature fairies and pixies? Quite high up, I imagine. Well, I'd still like them. Examination of the Royal Mail website reveals that there's a presentation pack with writing in it, by Neil Gaiman. I will investigate in the local post office, and see if they have them.

Lonely Werewolf Girl has now been published in Germany, by Fischer, under the title of Kalix. Werwölfin von London. Here it is at the publisher's website and at amazon.de.

I have a few copies of this book. I'll sign one of these and give it away free to the first person from Germany to say they want it. Just leave a reply here, and then email me your address.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na

Am shuffling round in kitchen, making pot of tea. Put on sport radio channel. Distressed to find them talking about 'Britain's Got Talent.' I don't want to hear about this, I want to hear about football. Change to Radio 5. But they are also talking about 'Britain's Got Talent.' There seems to be no escape. I have no interest in this topic. Why is it everywhere? What's wrong with these people? Argh. Even the most assiduous efforts to ignore it seem doomed to fail, you just can't click on a news website or turn on the radio but someone's talking about it. Argh... kill, smash. There, you've made me mention your damned programme. Are you happy now?

Now in bad mood with modern world, retreat to Cozy Powell in 1974. 'Na na na na (na na na na na) which contains the lyrics -

I know you get your kicks playing Hendrix licks
You're the wizard of Wembley Central
You're the J.S. Bach of Belsize Park
But me I'm just plain mental.

Who wrote this lyric? I mean, it's genius.

I've now seen three episodes of Dollhouse, and am still reasonably enthusiastic. I do like Eliza Dushku. Also, a new season of House just started here. It's a relief to find some TV programmes I want to watch, because I need excuses not to got on with writing, and I don't seem to have any new Playstation games at the moment. Maybe I should play through Tomb Raider Underworld again. I enjoyed that.

And now, I have my polling card, so I'm off to vote in the European Election.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A New British Edition of Lonely Werewolf Girl

Here's the cover for Piatkus's edition of Lonely Werewolf Girl, due to be released in Britain in October, I think. I like this cover a lot. Meanwhile I'm working away on the sequel, which is due to be released next year.

I watched the first episode of Dollhouse and I enjoyed it. I wasn't sure if I'd like it, even though it's a Joss Whedon creation. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the best thing ever, but I wasn't really keen on Firefly. Dollhouse started off well though. I thought it was really entertaining, and I still love Eliza Dushku.

Dollhouse was shown on the Sci-Fi channel. I don't think all that many people have that channel in the UK, so I don't know if it will become popular here. Possibly no one I know will watch it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Plumbing Terror

Two nights ago, at 10 in the evening, I turned on the hot tap in the kitchen. Then it got stuck. It wouldn't go off. Nothing I could do would make the tap turn off.

This was a problem. The hot tap comes from the gas boiler, so the gas was going as well, heating up the water. Which, I could see immediately, would swiftly lead to overheating - gas explosion - entire block of flats destroyed - Millar lost in tragic household accident - Buffy videos scattered over wide area - couldn't find enough of his body to give him a proper burial - identified by dental records - sequel to Lonely Werewolf Girl never completed - weeping crowds at memorial service - and all in all, this was quite worrying.

I couldn't find the stopcock to turn off the water. It did strike me, after a while, to turn the gas off at the mains. Though even that was worrying, and again made me fear for gas explosions. Everything to do with the gas heating boiler makes me think of gas explosions. (In a previous flat, the pilot light used to go off. Pressing the button to light it again, I was always nervous, and expected the worst.)

After the gas was off I called an emergency plumber. I was quite surprised at myself for being organised enough to do this. And, afterwards, rather perturbed at the huge expense. These people don't come cheap. Still, he did arrive, around midnight, and managed to turn the tap off.

All in all, this was an unhappy experience. Have abandoned all thoughts of writing, and will lie on the couch reading comics.

I have new Buffy comics. But I'm not quite satisfied with these. I also have a big bundle of manga, and much of this manga is full of great art, wit, invention, humour and so on. But the Buffy comics… well, they're just comics really. They don't really match up to how great the TV series was, and they're not nearly as entertaining as some of my manga.

Dollhouse, Joss Whedon's latest TV show, is starting in Britain next Tuesday. It stars Eliza Dushku, who was Faith in Buffy. I was a big fan of Faith, so I'm looking forward to watching this.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oh Bondage Up Yours

I'd better write something here, if only as a farewell before I'm carried off by swine flu. I can feel it heading towards me right now. These germs are lurking out there, just waiting for Millar to make an appearance before leaping on board. I'm doomed, and there's nothing to be done about it.

Am plunged into nostalgia again, first by a programme on BBC4 about 70's music. It was great. I mean the music. Well, the programme was good as well. The video of the Sex Pistols playing Pretty Vacant is a high point in Western Culture and I will listen to no arguments against. And yes I remember watching it on Top of the Pops the first time round.

After that I was hunting in a box of stuff when this badge popped out. I'd long forgotten I had it. I don't think I've even seen it for about 30 years. I bought it at a stall in the King's Road, in the far-off days when there was a cheap market there.

It says 'Bondage Up Yours, a reference to X-Ray Spex's song Oh Bondage Up Yours. I saw X-Ray Spex in small pub in Wandsworth, right back in their original incarnation when Laura Logic was still in the band. That was such a great gig. The tiny stage was no more than a foot high, and standing right next to Poly Styrene as she sang was quite an experience. But I'm fairly sure I wrote about this gig in my blog before, so will not drone on about it again.

Hmm. I seem to be in danger of disappearing into the past, and indeed might already have done so were it not for the collection of glamorous young fetish models who visit regularly and, in-between unspeakable perversions and regular cups of tea, do keep me somewhat up to date with the modern world.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Les Petites Fées de New York

I've been too dull and uninspired to write anything interesting in my blog for a while.

Here are two books, due out soon. There's a French edition of The Good Fairies of New York - Les Petites Fées de New York - coming out on the 18th April, from Editions Intervalles. It's taken a long time for this book to be published in France and I'm glad it's made it eventually. And Soft Skull in the USA will publish a new edition of Lux the Poet in May. I'm pleased to have Lux back in print.


Other than that, not much happening. A mysterious insect bite on my foot left me limping around for a few days. Stupid wildlife. However, it did give me an excuse to do nothing except lie on the couch reading manga, and Buffy comics. I always like an excuse to lie on the couch, doing nothing. OK, I don't really need an excuse.

Apart from working on the sequel to Lonely Werewolf Girl, I've been writing with my friend Doon MacKichan. We wrote a play together some years ago, a version of Jane Austin's Emma. That was quite successful. Now she's planning a one-woman show, hopefully for later this year.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Scottish Pronunciation

The main clan-name of the werewolves in Lonely Werewolf Girl is MacRinnalch. I recently tried to explain, via email, how to pronounce MacRinnalch. That was difficult.

The main stress would be on Rinn, like mac-RINN-alch, but the ch at the end is difficult to describe. This isn't pronounced like ch at the end of much, or hatch. It's meant to be the same sound as the ch in loch. That's a Scottish sound, not really used in England. Many people would pronounce loch as lok - Lok Lomond, Lok Ness. (I'm not complaining. My own Scottish accent mangles plenty of words. I'm completely indecipherable at times.)

I can't even think of any other common word to give as an example. I look on the internet for pronunciation help. For loch, Wikitionary says: International Phonetic alphabet - lɒx

That doesn't seem to be much help. Who could understand that?

I search further, and find a message board, giving language help to non-English speakers. On the topic of loch, it says, among a lot of other things -

'Ch in loch is an unvoiced uvular fricative, pronounced near the back of the throat.'

and later -

'It's a voiceless velar fricative. If the student knows the English lock, start with that as a basis; the closure between tongue and hard palate (velum) is right. But don't release the air in a single burst; rather, release the air in a continuous stream - through a 'leaky' closure.'

Things are getting worse. At this point I give up, and resolve never to think about it again. Stupid Scottish pronunciation. I'm starting to hate the entire country. Just ending the word with a k would be fine, as in MacRinnalk.

Hmm. It now strikes me that the ch sounds quite like the sound at the end of the composer Bach. Not exactly the same, but close. (Unless Bach is pronounced differently elsewhere from the way I'd say it.)

I'm planning to spend the day watching football and later, eating apple crumble. In a great socio-economic-nutritional shift, I have moved over to this, after slightly tiring of rhubarb. It's a big lifestyle change. Who knows what unforeseen consequences it may bring?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Queen Vex

Piatkus, which is an imprint of Little Brown, will publish the sequel to Lonely Werewolf Girl, provisionally entitled Queen Vex, in Britain in March 2010. Prior to that, they'll be putting out a new edition of Lonely Werewolf Girl in October this year. The contract isn't quite finalised yet, but I'm expecting this to happen, and indeed Piatkus have announced it at booktrade.info

So I am now contractually obliged to deliver the sequel. Actually, I'm contractually obliged to deliver it already, as Fischer, the German publisher, also included it in the contract when they bought the first book. So I should probably spend more time writing it, and less time playing SpongeBob video games. Though I'm very fond of SpongeBob video games.

I don't have a contract for Queen Vex in either America or Italy yet, but Lonely Werewolf Girl has done well in both countries so I'm confident it should be published there too, around the same time.

Here is Ragazze Lupo, in Italy, alongside Anne Rice and Edgar Allen Poe. Picture taken by my friend Gail, who I went to school with, and now lives in Bologna.

Why am I interested in pictures of my books on foreign bookshelves you may wonder? Probably because I'm still troubled by agoraphobia, and don't travel. Not much progress with that, really.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Modern World Continues to Disappoint

I generally try to resist urges to re-live my childhood. Or early teenage years, I mean. There isn't anything from my childhood I'd actually want to re-live.

However. No longer having a record deck, I have records I haven't heard for many years. One of these being Hawkwind's Space Ritual, their live magnum opus from the 70s. As a young teenager, I spent a lot of time in my bedroom listening to this, nodding my head to the endless repetitive riffs, and marvelling at the mighty record sleeve. This folded out into six sheets, full of entertaining words and images. Well, they were entertaining if you were a teenage boy and sort of imagined it would be fun to fly around the universe in a space ship with Hawkwind. (I didn't have a lot of girlfriends in those days. OK I had no girlfriends.)

After considering buying this for some years I was finally overwhelmed with nostalgia, so I bought the CD. I knew it wouldn't be the same but I wanted it anyway.

It wasn't till this CD arrived that I realised what a tremendous disappointment the packaging would be. Gone is the mighty album sleeve which folded out into such a huge item, replaced by a puny little booklet, which isn't the same at all. The whole thing is a great disappointment.

Here's a picture of me holding the original sleeve, and the modern equivalent. You can see why I'm not happy.

The World Fantasy Award, which I received for Thraxas, has been on loan for some time, but has now returned to my house.

Here's a good review of the re-issue of Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, in the New York Times. It's taken 20 years to get there.

Friday, February 13, 2009

More Tomb Raider, and Snow

London has recovered from last week's snowfall. It wasn't that much snow, really, but it did seem to cause a lot of travel chaos. Hah. In Scotland, I used to walk a long way to school, in worse snow than that. My school never closed for the snow. Children would struggle in, drenched and frozen, and lay their coats over the radiators to dry them out, before struggling home through the snow again. That was common in winter.

Am deeply involved in new Tomb Raider game, Tomb Raider Underworld. I'm enjoying this, though it's a little buggy, but that might be my aging PS2. But I have a nagging feeling my PS2 version isn't as good as the PS3 version. It's probably simplified. Oh well, I'm enjoying it anyway. Lara rides a motorbike into Valhalla, and you can't ask for more than that.

I was sad about the death of Lux Interior, lead singer of the Cramps. I really loved the Cramps. I saw them several times in London, last time at the Brixton Academy. They were great live, and Lux was a terrific frontman.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I just bought some new sheets, a duvet, and a duvet cover (and there is nothing more fascinating than a blog about bedding) For no good reason I persuaded myself that these new items should all be anti-allergic. Because think how harmful normal bedding might be. Even though I've used it all my life with no ill effects whatsoever.

Anyway, the new sheets and duvet arrived, all hypo-allergenic. They're all fine, except I didn't realise they were going to be so dazzlingly white. My new hypo-allergenic bedding is very white indeed. It's like being in some sort of science project. I feel like I'm going to bed in a sleep-clinic. Or maybe some sort of space-capsule. It's a little disconcerting. But at least there is no chance of a serious night time allergic attack.

More good news arrives with the reports of the health benefits of masturbation. Protects you against prostate cancer. It's a scientific fact. Hmm. Excuse me a moment.






Ok, where was I? I know. My publisher sent me a picture of my books on sale in a bookstore in Hawaii. Is Hawaii where you get these flower things you hang round your neck? I can't remember what they're called. I'd like one anyway.

Here's the picture. You can tell it's Hawaii from the beaches, palm trees, exotic flowers and so on.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I suffered a minor spell of ill-health recently. While lying around, being tended by my coterie of glamorous literary secretaries, it struck me that I hadn't been very productive recently. I should be writing more. I also noticed how far behind I was with my email, and thought I should do something about that too. Then it struck me that I'd never played Tetris, which seemed strange, as it was one of the most popular video games ever. So there was only one thing to do. Find an online version and play relentlessly. Immediately become hopelessly addicted and give up all other pursuits. Decide never to do anything again except play Tetris. Hmm. This may go on for some time.

* Some time later *

Still struggling with Tetris addiction. Fingers now sore from continual aggressive keyboard action. Help arrives in the form of a new Buffy comic, which does give me a break. The story is a flashback to Buffy's days at school, when Giles was still the school librarian, and I like that. Perhaps Buffy can help to break the Tetris addiction.

Books I wish had survived from the ancient world - Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder) wrote an instruction manual on how to throw a javelin from horseback. He had first-hand experience of this, from various Roman wars in Germany. Sadly, the book no longer survives. But think how interesting it would be. Who can really talk authoritively about throwing a javelin from horseback these days? Probably no one.