Engines of Anxiety
Sunday, 11 October 2020
It's too late for anything to be added in post, Comeback is now at the printer!
Unfortunately I never did get around to writing an acknowledgements section. I suspect that I was going through a busy and stressful time when it was due, and of course for someone like me the writing of acknowledgements is a process fraught with stress and anxiety in itself.
What if people who dislike each other…
Saturday, 15 August 2020
It may perhaps come as a surprise to you that it is now exactly a year since Comeback reached full funding.
No it doesn't seem like that long ago to me either, but on the other hand it was in the Before Times, before the pandemic, which now seems like an aeon ago. Without the last six months having being swallowed up by the covid temporal black hole we might now be on the very cusp of the book…
I'm still here...
Sunday, 3 May 2020
Hello, it’s been a very long time since my last update for which I can only apologise. The only excuse I can offer is that it has been a very busy time in my life for the past nine months what with one thing and another. It's only now that the world itself has come to a standstill that I have been able to take a step back and catch up with all those things I should have been doing in the meantime…
Sunday, 18 August 2019
I did say that the next update I posted would be reporting success of the crowdfunding campaign as Comeback reached 100%. This meant that I've been quiet for a little longer than normal but at least I am able to write this post now.
Success! We reached the goal, the crowd has spoken and Comeback is happening.
Huge thanks go to everyone who supported me - from the generous pledgers to those who…
The Home Straight
Sunday, 9 June 2019
I often find that spring ends up being the busiest time of year for me as evidenced by the fact that the frequency of my blogging (or – in the last year and a half – my updates on here) tends to drop off during that time. I'm not sure exactly why that is; perhaps the nature of life as a freelancer is that you are subject to the whims of those who hire you and the spring is a time of renewal, a time…
Saturday, 16 March 2019
Usually an epiphany is something that appears in a flash but I had a thought yesterday that made me realise part of me has been changing gradually over the past few years. A tweet from James Oswald (@SirBenfro) about avoiding the use of the word "hate" on twitter and in other online arenas made me think back over my own history online.
There was a time when I often started tweets with the phrase…
Two Little Ducks or The Conspiracy Theorist In Your Head
Saturday, 23 February 2019
This isn't the first update I've written about numbers and won't be the last. For a start I've always had a fascination with them and the logical knots in which they can tie you. Just look up the Interesting Number Paradox for instance; just one of many which show that mathematics can be far more mysterious and illogical that you would imagine.
Advent 24: Terminus
Monday, 24 December 2018
Well I made it, even though when I started this task on 1 December I felt as if I almost certainly wouldn’t. Yet here we are on the last day with (probably) ten thousand words under our belt. OK, so I didn’t count them and it’s no Nanowrimo. But nevertheless I am pleased to have made it despite (or perhaps because?) of how busy I was.
The extra scenes have been interesting to write as well; in…
Advent 23: Penultimate
Sunday, 23 December 2018
One clear memory I have of childhood is standing in the kitchen at the age of three and asking my dad whether it was Christmas Eve yet. He told me no, not yet, but that it was Christmas Eve Eve.
And, as is the way of all very small children, I took that as gospel and for ages thought that the 23rd December's official name was Christmas Eve Eve. I even worked out the logic of it and begun to wonder…
Advent 22: Weird Time
Saturday, 22 December 2018
One of the best novels I read last year was A Man Of Shadows by Jeff Noon. One of the features of the world in which it took place was the fact that the inhabitants of the city of Dayzone / Nocturna all carried around their personal timelines, changing and setting their watches accordingly.
I currently feel as if I am trying to live in several of those timelines at once, as if watches set at different…
Advent 21: The Longest Night
Friday, 21 December 2018
So we have arrived in the 21st December, which in the Northern Hemisphere means it's the shortest day. The actual moment of solstice itself comes at 11:23pm during the night - which brings up the thought that while you often hear the winter solstice being referred to as the shortest day it's less often that it's flagged up as the longest night, even though this is equally true.
Thinking of it…
Advent 20: Two People
Thursday, 20 December 2018
I had one of those dreams again last night. Where there are two of one person - but you don't actually notice. Or rather you think, "There's Person X oh and there's Person X as well." Sometimes you think, "Oh Person X just told me this - I should tell Person X, it sounds like it would be right up their street!"
It's always most peculiar especially the way that—within the logic of the dream—you…
Advent 19: Out Of Time
Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Every year we say it, but time is going by too fast. Here I am in December when it seems as if I can still taste the January toothpaste in my mouth. That said some of the circumstances of my life have changed over the past year with regard to work and thinking back to before that seems like a very long time ago indeed. The speed of time is flexible like that.
But it's the specifics of time that…
Advent 18: The Early Hours
Tuesday, 18 December 2018
I haven't done it for a while but there is something exhilarating about getting up exceptionally early in order to travel somewhere. Everything is new.
For a start you're definitely not still in the previous evening. You have slept. And yet this is not the normal world you encounter on waking. It bears a superficial resemblance to the world seen at the end of a long night out but there's definitely…
Advent 17: The Reality Of Nature
Monday, 17 December 2018
Everything that we see, hear and understand about the world around us isn't necessarily the truth of the matter. Each of us lives in a model of the universe inside our own skulls, a model shaped by our memories, our experiences and most of all by the pattern recognition algorithms our brains use to make sense of the sea of sensory data pouring in through our nerve endings.
So in reality no two…
Advent 16: Fear Of The Unknown
Sunday, 16 December 2018
Can I just mention the numbers again? We're now two thirds of the way through this process, which to be frank I was afraid I'd fail to complete. Though there's still time for that, so I shouldn't dismiss the fear just yet. Fear keeps you vigilant.
What I find odd is fear of the unknown and supernatural. I write about fantasy and the eldritch realms beyond our ken, and yet we all know these things…
Advent 15: Significant Dates
Saturday, 15 December 2018
We all remember certain dates, the birthdays of our immediate families and loved ones, anniversaries of one sort or another (both positive and negative), official days of celebration. But sometimes other dates become engraved in our memories, often because an exciting event is coming up, something we've been looking forward to for ages.
The odd thing about this second category is that sometimes…
Advent 14: Rude Awakenings
Friday, 14 December 2018
It seems that these days I am condemned to forever wake in the night and then fear that I won't get back to sleep again. And yet come alarm time I could quite easily get back to sleep. So much so that I press the snooze alarm - something I always swear I won't do - and end up able to have quite complex dreams in the short time intervening.
It doesn't help that it's so dark in the mornings at the…
Advent 13: Point Of View
Thursday, 13 December 2018
Who's telling the story? Obviously in a book told in the first person it's the central character. They may be unreliable - which is where it can get interesting - but we know it's them. It's their voice and quite obviously the narrative can't contain scenes or information unknown to the protagonist.
My favourite way of writing is in fact third person limited, which is what I used in Comeback. It…
Advent 12: Half The Battle
Wednesday, 12 December 2018
I haven't banged on about the numbers since Day Five of this project, but I think that today is worth marking as we are reaching the halfway mark. I must admit that when I first started this I considered it may well be too big a mountain to climb, but surprisingly here I am setting up camp on the slopes with just as much below me as there is above me now.
Perhaps one of the things that has helped…
Advent 11: Sound Check
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
Sometimes I think I should go to the doctor and ask to have my ears syringed. Of course you may think that I am just going deaf in my old age, but interestingly (or not) when using headphones if I pull on my earlobes to open up the ear canals a little more the headphones suddenly get a lot louder. Sounds like canal blockage to me...
Of course it wouldn't surprise me if I did start having ear problems…
Advent 10: Seeing Smoke
Monday, 10 December 2018
If I write this first thing in the morning (like now - and do bear in mind that when I write this and when I hit publish do not always match) then I still have my dream eyes on. You know about the dream eyes. They're always the most obvious in the winter. You open your eyes to the darkness of the morning and it's boiling, a subliminal static overlaid over everything, the same mechanism that enables…
Advent 9: Finding Time
Sunday, 9 December 2018
One of the problems with this daily advent writing is finding the bloody time for it. There just doesn't seem to be enough of it at the moment in general and what there is gets taken up by work work, housework, shopping, general life admin and sleep. A social life doesn't even get a look in nowadays.
However, I suspect some of this is an illusion, caused by the mind. For instance, a few years ago…
Advent 8: She's Lost Control
Saturday, 8 December 2018
I recall blogging about this once before - nearly ten years ago now! - but obviously not on here so I suppose it's fair game to repeat myself on this occasion.
The two main methods used for writing seem to be architecture and archaeology. Both starting with "arch" confusingly - from the ancient Greek archi (first) combined with tekton (builder) or logos (explanation).
The Architects (First…
Advent 7: Christmas Do
Friday, 7 December 2018
Advent is supposed to be all about Christmas.
However, I've realised that there's actually no Christmas in the novel whatsoever, despite the fact it covers a period of several years what with one thing and another.
So Genie and her friends definitely experienced Christmases of unknown quality during Comeback. And whatever you think about it, love it or hate it, it is an experience. A positive…
Advent 6: End Of the Scene
Thursday, 6 December 2018
I have been thinking; it's really time for me to end this sequence we're currently reading so we can get to another one tomorrow; somewhere from a completely different point in the book. That seems nice and neat; I am a quarter of the way through today after all which means that if I continue using the same format I'll end up with four bonus scenes (plus day one which was more of a microscene and…
Advent 5: Not A Clean Fraction
Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Today, day five, is the first day when I can't easily say that I'm a certain amount of time through this.
Yesterday, day four, was a sixth of the way through and tomorrow, day six, will be a quarter of the way through which displays the kind of pleasing symmetry that appeals to me. I'll leave the other days as an exercise for the reader. But you no matter how you try you can't get a clean fraction…
Advent 4: I'm Not Boring You Am I?
Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Whether this is a real concern or simply my laziness's underhand way of trying to get me to stop I don't know. But I was struck with the question - does anyone really want to read an update every single day? Am I flooding the channels of communication and ending up bring counterproductive? I can't really tell - but still I suppose no-one is being forced to read.
And one upside is that I woke in…
Advent 3: Worrying About It
Monday, 3 December 2018
It still bothers me that I set this challenge so publically, and feels like a huge mountain to climb. But as I said yesterday, I've done it before and can do it again. By the end of today I will already be one eighth of the way through so there really is nothing to panic about. The problem is perceived time - at the moment I am going through one of those periods in life where there never seems enough…
Advent 2: Rinse And Repeat
Sunday, 2 December 2018
Having set myself this task yesterday (and it was only yesterday that I had the idea) I was immediately gripped with anxiety about whether I would be able to maintain it. So much so that my dreams last night were full of anxiety about having forgotten to write, or running out of time (as well as the epic science fiction plot about an alien invasion - shame I woke up as I wanted to find out what happened…
Advent 1: Getting Into The Habit
Saturday, 1 December 2018
It's not that I am particularly into the festive season or anything (if anything it's always slightly annoyed me as it overshadows my birthday - which is on 1st January by the way, a date for your diaries there) but I do enjoy the relentless march of Advent. I'm not talking about the cheap chocolate and cardboard Christmas decoration, more about doing something every day for 24 days. In recent years…
Watch the Numbers
Sunday, 4 November 2018
I don't know about you, but in my imagination for as long as I can remember numbers seem to have been possessed of qualities that exceed their mere quantity - including personality.
I noticed this phenomenon again recently when the Comeback campaign reached 70% - suddenly it felt more respectable, as if it was doing well at last. This sensation goes all the way back to school - getting seventy…
I Think I'm in Hove
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
I realised the other day that it's now twenty years since I moved down to live by the sea in Brighton and Hove (even though I had spent a little time here as a student before that). The bulk of that time has been spent in Hove.
However, the first place I lived - a purpose built 1930s Art Deco block of studio flats that always reminded me of the places Laurel and Hardy lived in their short films…
Once Upon A.I.
Sunday, 16 September 2018
Today I hope to entertain you with a very short story.
Despite some success with having my short fiction published in the past, in the last couple of years I've had less acceptances, despite continuing to submit. Has the quality of my output dropped or is it just coincidence? Who can tell?
However, in the case of this story I suspect the problem was the subject matter.
Sunday, 5 August 2018
There is a section of Comeback set somewhere called The Halfway House. I won't say any more (spoilers of course), but it has now been a year since I launched this crowdfunding campaign, and although it has taken longer than I initially hoped it would, I am very happy to say that we are now more than halfway there.
This is in part thanks to a recent sustained bout of offline fundraising, networking…
Turning Up For Work
Sunday, 8 July 2018
It has been quite a while since I last wrote an update here, not so much due to a lack of inspiration, but more because I've suddenly and unexpectedly (are those synonyms?) become far busier than I have been in a long time due to various events in my life. All good, but it has meant that I have neglected the updates and the plugging of the book.
That has to be addressed now.
Photo used under…
Alice In Wonderland Syndrome
Saturday, 5 May 2018
I've written about Alice In Wonderland on here before—it is one of Comeback's more obvious influences. Not only was the working title "Genie in Underland" but also there are many parallels within the story. Both protagonists undertake a journey that is notionally underground. Furthermore, Genie's long escalator journey at the beginning of the novel parallels Alice's slow fall down the rabbit hole…
Not Parallel, Not Universes
Saturday, 14 April 2018
"The first thing to realize about parallel universes is that they are not parallel. It is also important to realize that they are not, strictly speaking, universes either."
—Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless
I have been reading about The Mandela Effect. This is a name for collective false memory whereby a significant amount of people will swear blind that something in the past was one way whereas…
Don't Skip Ad
Sunday, 8 April 2018
I have discovered over the past six months that one of the hardest parts of the crowdfunding process is raising the courage to advertise myself. I don't know if it was the atmosphere at school when I was growing up or some other factor in the psychological environment, but marketing myself and plugging my projects always strikes me—incorrectly—as a form of self-aggrandisement. As if someone is whispering…
Remembering the Daleks
Sunday, 4 March 2018
It's tricky trying to pinpoint when one's memory begins.
Sometimes an early memory can include within it the fact that you remembered something from earlier in time, even though the earlier memory no longer seems to exist.
For example, when I was a young child I was—perhaps in common with a lot of young children—obsessed with Daleks. And yet, even though I was too young to have remembered…
Monday, 29 January 2018
As a child I was obsessed with many things. Continental Drift was one of them.
I suppose it stemmed from my love of maps, especially maps of imaginary worlds such as those found in the front of fantasy novels like A Wizard of Earthsea, Lord of the Rings or some of the Narnia books. I always thought it was a shame that no map of the Great Eastern Ocean was included in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader…
Saturday, 20 January 2018
There is an increasing tendency these days to confuse subjectivity with objectivity. This confusion feeds on itself and can spawn two different kinds of behaviour, neither of which are helpful and both of which can potentially cause harm.
The first of these is mistaking fact for opinion. Sometimes in the macro universe some things are simply true while their opposites are not. This is just…
Saturday, 6 January 2018
One of the more interesting types of character in fiction—most often written but occasionally visual—is the Unreliable Narrator.
Stories featuring Unreliable Narrators are very often written in the first person because the distance supplied by third person storytelling (even when it's limited) can't help but supply some objectivity about what is actually happening in the fictional world. In Comeback…
A Christmas B-Side
Sunday, 24 December 2017
This is a slightly tweaked version of a story that I originally wrote and published on my blog at Christmas 2012. It features Wendi, one of the secondary characters in Comeback and takes place nearly fourteen years before the "present day" of the novel (which as I've mentioned before is late October 2007).
In this story it's still 1993 and Wendi's indie band Beam have already had their first flush…
The Urge to Fail
Saturday, 16 December 2017
Sometimes the person that most wants me to fail is me.
It's at its most obvious at times like right now, when I'm writing. That could be writing anything, not just fiction; blog entries, long emails or even Unbound updates. I've not even got one hundred words into the process when I start to feel a familiar tug at my brain.
Wouldn't you rather be doing something else?
Most of the…
All A Dream?
Saturday, 9 December 2017
Despite some people finding them dull, I find dreams endlessly fascinating.
I have written here before about how "and it was all a dream" is unacceptable as a denouement in all books aside from the two Alice novels. However, that set me thinking. What if it was all a dream? I'm reminded of something I thought when I was a very young child.
In the early seventies there was a BBC exhibition at…
Saturday, 2 December 2017
Some people may have been confused by the last words of the previous update. (That is the last official words, not the admin in italics after the fold.) I am talking about Unfinished Biscuit.
It was a reference to something I've thought about before and—quite apart from the fact that it sounds a little like it—is actually related to Unfinished Business.
We’ve all been there. You're halfway…
Objects On The Horizon May Appear Larger Than They Are
Sunday, 26 November 2017
I've particularly noticed this when reaching the top of the hill in central Brighton (Powis Road for anyone interested). The ground drops away alarmingly at this point, Montpelier Street plunging down towards Western Road, the buildings on the sea front beyond silhouetted against the sparkling wall of the sea. And on a clear day (like today) you can clearly see the massed ranks of the turbines of…
Flawed and Interesting
Saturday, 18 November 2017
I have been thinking recently about the kind of characters who engage my attention in fiction, who interest me. Not those who I like per se—not necessarily the kind of people I'd want to spend any time with—but the ones whose fate I care about.
The odd thing about this is that most of the time they are neither good characters nor bad characters. They're interesting characters. Flawed you might…
Just a Story
Saturday, 11 November 2017
Odd as it may seem to those who enjoy it, some people just aren't really into reading fiction. There are probably many reasons for this—one being the desire to educate themselves about the world by reading non-fiction. Lessons learned therein can often have practical applications in their own lives. However, one of the most interesting reasons for me is that possibly they don't read fiction because…
What's in a Genre?
Saturday, 4 November 2017
Oddly, considering the subject of Comeback, I never thought I would end up writing Fantasy novels, Urban or otherwise. When I was younger and first expressed ambition in the direction of writing professionally, I was convinced I'd write Science Fiction. This was partly because that was what I'd mainly been reading in adulthood up until that point.
And yet the majority of the genre writing I enjoyed…
Saturday, 21 October 2017
Editing a work of fiction can be a laborious process. I'm not just talking about correcting the spelling and grammar. There are many other bad habits that sneak in. These aren't technically incorrect but they dilute the overall quality of the work.
For a start there might be words and phrases you habitually overuse. I've noticed that far too often my characters glance at something, or get from…
Monday, 16 October 2017
The world around us largely consists of what we expect to see in it.
When presented with something brand new, our brains first have to decode the signal that they get from the eyes. The picture passes through the first level filters where edges, shapes and colours are detected and assigned. After that the filters applied rely on our knowledge, memories and experience. It's only after that processing…
Oh dear, what nonsense I'm talking!
Sunday, 8 October 2017
I've always had trouble coming up with the titles for stories, especially novels. I never thought of a satisfactory title for the first novel I wrote in around 1990 (near future science fiction, the dates of some of the events in which we've now passed) and for a long time Comeback was known only by the working title of Genie in Underland.
This is an obvious reference to Alice in Wonderland, a…
Friday, 29 September 2017
Worldbuilding can be tricky if you're writing science fiction or fantasy. There's so much to do—the readers are unfamiliar with the background, social mores and customs of the novel's environment and as such are at a disadvantage when it comes to working out what's going on.
The characters themselves are no help. They know all this stuff anyway, so there's no way they are going to be able to remind…
Saturday, 23 September 2017
In my very limited experience, one of the inevitable parts of writing a novel is that you will end up throwing some of it away. Sometimes whole sequences or chapters disappear and the end product is always the better for it. There's a reason your editor or beta reader told you to ditch that bit.
You will always feel resistant to these suggestions at first. Writing is difficult enough as it is.…
Saturday, 16 September 2017
As I mentioned before in another blogging arena, as a child I was obsessed with the London Underground. I don't remember this obsession starting but it must have been very shortly after we moved to London when I was three. Some combination of the bright colours and simple lines of the famous map and the experience of travelling on the (then) futuristic Victoria Line must have chimed with me and laid…
Deals with the Devil
Saturday, 9 September 2017
"The lie as an adaptive mechanism," said Bach, "deserves more attention than it has received. Probably the original liars are those plants and animals that use protective mimicry—harmless snakes imitating poisonous ones, stingless flies that look like bees. Those are living lies."
— Stanley Weinbaum, The Adaptive Ultimate
One of the first things we're taught as children is not to lie. We…
Progress Report: Time, Insomnia and Mathematics
Saturday, 2 September 2017
I can't believe that it's already a month since the campaign for Comeback started.
Well I can believe it. The rate time passes is capricious and contradictory - it simultaneously seems like only yesterday that the campaign was launched and quite a while ago now. Looking at the big picture of time and what I have done with my life the month itself passed quite swiftly, but the individual days lasted…
Loophole (part 2)
Saturday, 26 August 2017
Previously: Daryl attempts to summon the devil and appears to succeed. And now the conclusion:
Daryl opened his mouth but nothing emerged.
The figure closed her eyes. “I'm a demon. A devil if you like. No definite article required; there are millions of us. My name is Jezebeth. And don't just lie there, I haven't got all day…”
She held out her immaculately manicured red hand. Without…
Loophole (part 1)
Saturday, 19 August 2017
The fictional world in which Comeback takes place is clearly one very close to our own. It's a world so similar in fact that there's no appreciable difference as far as most of the inhabitants and their everyday lives are concerned. It's a world in which the more fantastical elements are only revealed to our protagonists, even if these elements affect everyone (eventually).
But that's not to…
We Might As Well Have Installed a Revolving Door...
Thursday, 10 August 2017
Many of you will be familiar with the story of Orpheus in the Underworld, a tale that has a lot of significance to Comeback.
However, in case the details have slipped your mind, here's a quick precis.
Orpheus was an Ancient Greek musician who, long before his descent into the underworld, had been making a name for himself as some kind of mythological superhero. His famous lyre was bequeathed…
The Memory Lies
Saturday, 5 August 2017
There's an expression infamous in Doctor Who fandom: "The Memory Cheats".
I'd go a little further and say that in fact the memory downright lies to each and every one of us. Not necessarily about the details of specific events (although I wouldn't be surprised) but about the details of life in general in the recent past.
This is something I have to be careful about as I go over the manuscript…
Wednesday, 2 August 2017
Thanks very much to everyone who's visited the page and pledged already at this early stage. It gives me hope that we'll make it to the finish line in time!
This is just a short piece to say hello and set out the stall. However I'm intending to post longer updates here on a weekly basis - which I'm hoping will be more like blog-entries - to keep you all informed and entertained. There may also…