Sometimes I really don’t like the way the Universe pretends to be conscious. Exampley-poo:
I started writing The Boy from GOBLIN three weeks ago. In the very first session, I needed to name the woman who runs the Home my protagonist, Daniel, runs away from. I call her Miss Fitch: it’s a nice, harsh sounding name, a name you can hiss as much as pronounce. Sorted. One passing mention, move on.
Today, a whole bunch of scenes later, she comes up in conversation between Daniel and his new friend, Gygax: a Grotesque, and total wide boy, from the East End of London. I look up the Cockney rhyming slang for ‘bitch’………
I don’t like you, Universe.
The voice at his shoulder was deep, and filled with gravel. Daniel started in shock. His legs tensed, pushed off from the roof. The bag of liquorice fell as his arms rose. He dove away from the intruder…… and made it as far as half a centimetre before something heavy and enormous fell upon his shoulder, pinning him to his place.
“You deaf, or summat?” the voice whispered in his ear. “I said don’t move.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” he managed to croak.
“You ain’t seen me, yet.”
Daniel’s voice gave up. His mind watched it leave, and joined it. Millimetre by millimetre, he risked shifting his gaze towards the hand gripping his shoulder. What he saw turned control of his body over to his bowels. The hand wasn’t a hand. For one thing, it was grey. Dark grey, like stone that had been left out in the elements for too many years without being cleaned. For another it, was stone. Actual stone, heavy and unforgiving. And it was huge, easily twice the size of a normal hand, more a paw than a human appendage. Long, thick fingers ended in curved claws that hung down Daniel’s chest, their tips resting gently across the base of his pectorals.
As Daniel stared at it in terror, a head slowly slid into view. Massive, monstrous, the size of a bear’s skull. A vicious hooked beak came first, like the prow of some predatory ship. Fangs peeked out from under its upper lip. A heavy, leonine head followed, sleek carved feathers coating it in an obscene, terrifying, rippling, head dress. Predator’s eye peeked out from beneath a heavy brow. As Daniel watched, the beast blinked. A stone lid closed with an audible click, then slid back upwards with snake-like grace. The eye rotated towards him. He could see the stone iris widen, then narrow again as the best focussed on him. The beak opened. A grey, marbled tongue protruded, ran along the line of fangs, then slipped back inside. The beast leaned closer.
“What about now?” it said.
Writing again, writing again, jiggety-jig. First project of the year is The Boy from G.O.B.L.I.N., a humorous kids novel about a boy recruited into a secret organisation of monsters. Four days in, and I’ve got 3500 words down. There’s some urgency to this project: 4 weeks from now, I’ll be working part-time at the local high-school, teaching two English classes a day, which will cramp my writing time substantially unless I become a master of time management. Which, as I haven’t managed it in 48 years so far, requires me to get as many words down as I can beforehand.
Continue reading “THE BOY FROM G.O.B.L.I.N”
Or, at least, that’s how it feels.
Let’s recap, shall we?
At the start of the year, I was a month away from being released from a job that had turned sour and toxic. I was vastly overweight, crippled by stress, and deeply unhappy. I hadn’t completed a full piece of writing in well over 2 years, and hadn’t completed a novel in closer to four (and that one had been stillborn: a melange of bad writing and awkward choices that simply refused to come to life and be sellable).
Then, of course, we moved to Karratha. Luscious took up a position teaching at the High School. I tra-la-la’d out of the job with nary a look back (How well was I respected? My going away gift was a book of art from the Kimberleys (I was going to the Pilbara, several hundreds of kilometres away), and my Director, who knew me since my first day, could only comment on the fact that I occasionally swore when asked to make a speech about my achievements over the 8 years of my time there). I started teaching relief at Luscious’ school a day or two a week, sat down to write, and opened up my recipe books and my copy of House Husbanding for Dummies.
How’s that worked out for me? Wouldn’t you like to know?
Continue reading “2018: BUY ONE YEAR, GET THREE FOR FREE”
An experiment: thanks to Sean Williams pointing the way, I’m reprinting a large selection of my short stories over at Curious Fictions— a resource website for authors who have a decent back catalogue. Readers who are looking for a wide range of works can access tonnes of content for a micro-payment or two, and you can subscribe to my feed for additional monthly content– I’ll be posting exclusive stories, WIP snippets and so on on a monthly basis.
So if you’ve missed some of my stories along the way, or have been waiting to catch up with some of my rarer and more out-of-the-way tales, here’s a chance to get hold of them. I’ve posted three and a subscriber-exclusive to begin with, and there will be more to come.
Photo via tributes.com
Harlan Ellison died yesterday, at the age of 84. If you’re a fan of SF, or film criticism, or have a passing knowledge of American TV, then you know what that means: we’re down one giant, and about to enter an intense period of arguing over the legacy of one of the most complex and problematic human beings ever to work in the SF field. Certainly, my Facebook feed is awash with memorials, reminiscences, and as is the way with Facebook, denunciations, already. But then, that’s the crowd I run with. At the heart of it, no matter our differences, just about everyone on my feed loves speculative fiction. We’re all true believers, and if anything, Ellison was a true believer.
Continue reading “HARLAN ELLISON: A STORY ABOUT BEING FREE”
The song follows Charles O’Connor along the beach, as it has followed him for nearly ten years. His horse is nervous underneath him, tugging against his lead as if ready to bolt at the slightest provocation. He tightens his grip, nudges it ahead. He knows his destination.
The mothers are waiting for him at the water’s edge. Spray shines on their black skin, beautiful, so beautiful in the morning sunlight. They do not talk to him, nor he to them. Instead they sing, as they have always sung: their bodies still, their mouths closed. The song led him out to this stretch of beach, through Fremantle, along Cantonment Street, here to where the old jetty once stood. Now the music hangs in the air between them, swaying in time to the rise and fall of waves upon the sand.
The horse whinnies and skips sideways. Charles lays a hand on its neck, leans down in the saddle to cluck calming noises. The horse rolls its eye back towards him, and calms. Charles rubs its neck. He has always been good with horses. He has always been good with things. His wife Susan would call it a gift from God. Charles is not so sure. Inanimate objects he is good with, but people have always eluded him. It is a strange gift for a God to give, to be so good with things that cannot rear up and attack you, and to struggle so much with those who pay you, comment upon you, and use their newspapers to smear your name into oblivion.
The first draft of Song of the Water, a 3900-word story about the suicide of C.Y. O’Connor that will go out to market and be included in the Claws of Native Ghosts collection of supernatural stories set throughout Western Australia’s history, is finally complete.
It’s been a couple of weeks: full-time employment called, and while I may not have been engaged in the writah-dahlink life I crave, my son’s Scout Jamboree for next year has been paid for, so that’s a thing that happened.
While I desperately try to re-insert writing back into my daily routine, I’ll need a bit of help and guidance. Here, then, are five books that form the cornerstone of my industry reading, and the pillars upon which my library of books about writing stand.
Continue reading “5 FOR FRIDAY: BOOKS EVERY WRITER SHOULD HAVE”