Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Happy Birthday Ray Bradbury!

Yup- today, Sunday 22nd August 2010, is the great Ray Bradbury's 90th birthday.

Thank you, sir, for all the wonderful books and stories you've given the world, and that brightened (or possibly darkened?) my childhood.

That's all, really.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, folks.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Back From The 'Pool...

Ventured forth to the city of Liverpool today, which was great fun. As a native Manc, of course, I'm supposed to disparage our coastal neighbour (although we're guaranteed to close ranks against sneery southerners making disparaging comments- like the dicks who wrote for Private Eye when I bothered looking at it back in the early '90s) but in fact it's a lovely city (the bits I saw were, anyway.) And of course my family have a connection with it- my great-grandfather, Richard Lynam, lived there when he came over from Dublin, and my grandmother was born in the army barracks off Tramway Road (I think) in 1910. She's still alive, as well, which means there'll be a very special birthday party next month.

Anyway, despite my choosing to wear a black shirt (in that weather, decking myself out in the most heat-absorbent colour going might not have been the best idea- knew I should have worn a Man U t-shirt instead) it was a very nice afternoon. Two reasons for the visit:

One, Mr Conrad Williams was signing copies of his new crime novel, Blonde On A Stick, at Waterstone's Liverpool One. Nice to chat to Conrad, as always. The book, incidentally, is a belter and is highly recommended. Watch this space for a more detailed commentary in the near future.

Reason Two- cooler still!- was that I got to go for a cup of tea and a strawberry frappe with the ever-reigning Cate Gardner (yes, I know I've called her that before; I thinking of making it her official title.) Sadly, despite my taking my digital camera with me, no photographs exist of this historic meeting, as I was informed that the sheer glamour and awesomeness that is Cate was of such intensity that mortal sight could not bear it (indeed, I had to wear sunglasses throughout the encounter.)

But seriously, it was very nice to meet at last- given that I've known her, on and off, for about thirteen years, via correspondence, the wonders of the internet and a couple of phone calls! God bless modern technology, eh?

So, anyway, a very nice day. Just wanted to share. ;-)

We now return you to your irregularly scheduled weekend.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Even Ruder Than The One About The Pope

...but a lot more respectful towards its subject.

Now, one of my favourite authors is the great, the one and only, Ray Bradbury. There is no-one like him. I've been reading his stories since I was a little boy, and they're still great. 'The Scythe' is probably still my all-time favourite, but there are so many others to choose from. 'The Next In Line', 'The Fog Horn', 'The Veldt', 'A Sound Of Thunder', 'The Fox And The Forest'... and so many, many more. Never mind the novels, like 'Something Wicked This Way Comes' or the classic 'Fahrenheit 451'.

I love Ray Bradbury. Well, not so much the man himself- I've never met him, though I'm sure he's a nice bloke- but his work, which I revere.

I doubt even I'm quite as passionate about him as Rachel Bloom is, though. This video is brilliant. And extremely funny. But also extremely rude. In addition, gentlemen with dicky tickers may want to seek medical advice before playing it.

I just hope when I'm pushing 90 (and Bradbury hits the big 9-0 on Sunday, folks, the 22nd August) a woman as gorgeous as Rachel Bloom dedicates a song to the idea of jumping my bones....

Now I think I need to go and have a lie down.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The bloke with the dragon tattoo....

There's a nice little feature on the forthcoming Gray Friar Press anthology Never Again, over on the very nice Mr Simon Marshall-Jones' blog. Includes a wee bit of waffle from yours truly. Why not pop on over and have a peep?

(Oh, and on the subject of tattoos- if you've not seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, go check it out. It's a belter. Superb performances all round, especially from Noomi Rapace. The books by Stieg Larsson are very good too.)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

In Memory Of Sophie Lancaster

Today- Wednesday, 11th August, about to pass off into history and be gone- is the third anniversary of the murder of Sophie Lancaster.

I never knew Sophie in life; the accounts I've read describe a bright, intelligent and compassionate young woman. What is also sticks in my memory is that she died trying to protect the man she loved.

For those who missed the story (some non-UK readers may have) Sophie Lancaster and her partner, Robert Maltby, were Goths. That was their crime, if you can call being different a crime. Unfortunately, there are no shortage of people who seem to.

The couple entered a park in Bacup, Lancashire, where they were followed by a group of teenagers, who subsequently attacked Robert. He was knocked to the ground. They turned their attention to Sophie when she tried to protect him by cradling him in her arms. The attackers kicked her in the head, jumped and and down on her head. When the police arrived, they were initially unable to tell which of the victims was male and which female due to the extent of the beating.

Both victims were in coma from the attack. Robert Maltby recovered over the fortnight following the attack; Sophie Lancaster never did. On 24th August 2007, her life support was switched off.

She was 20 years old.


Two attackers- Brendan Harris and Ryan Herbert- were convicted of the murder, and three others- Joseph and Danny Hulme, and Daniel Mallett- of grievous bodily harm. What brave boys they were, kicking and stamping a defenceless girl to death.

Harris and Herbert were sentenced to life imprisonment. Herbert won a reduction in his sentence; why, exactly, no-one is sure.

Understand me; I do not believe in capital punishment. Or at least I do my best not to. Intellectually I know it solves nothing and does not belong in an enlightened or humane society.

But I have a deep hatred of bullies; I have no nuanced or understanding reaction to it. It won't come as a surprise to any readers if I tell you I suffered years of bullying when younger. I don't say that for sympathy but by way of explanation. Malice, the deliberate intention to cause suffering, pain, humiliation- to me, it's unforgivable and whether the setting is a playground or international politics the reaction is the same- I want the people responsible dead. Slowly and painfully if possible.

And no, I'm not proud of that. But that's the way it is. I wish I could reach beyond that and feel something better than hatred. But I can't. What I can do is try to act in a better way than that. Our better emotions, our compassion, temper our rationality, but it's our reason, sometimes, that has to overrule our cruellest and ugliest impulses. Because if you know the world you want to live in, if there are standards and values you want to uphold- then you have to live by them, even when it's difficult. That's what I hope separates me from people- and dear god, how I hate to use that term to describe them- like Ryan Herbert and Brendan Harris.

Sophie's mum, Sylvia Lancaster, set up the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Also known just as S.O.P.H.I.E.- Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere. If you would like to make a donation, or to help in any other way, please click the above link.

Rest in peace, Sophie. You aren't forgotten.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Angels Of The Silences

I'm delighted to announce that my novella, Angels Of The Silences, will be published by Chris Teague's brilliant Pendragon Press this September. I.e. next month. Crikey! Full details and cover will follow in the fullness of time, but I believe the cover price will be a mere three of your English pounds.

It should be out just in time for Fantasycon, then. In fact that's probably where it'll be launched. So if you want a signed copy you know where you need to be on the weekend of 17th to 19th of September. There's still time to register and enter the wonderful world of FCon for the first time. That's not addressed to anyone in particular, honest. And certainly not Cate. Noo, not at all. ;-)

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Very, Very Rude Indeed, So Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

The following categories of people should not click the link below.

-Those of a sensitive and easily offended disposition

-People who don't like bad language

-Catholics, unless you lack the moral dishonesty required to exculpate your church and its doctrine of all wrongdoing by accusing critics of religious intolerance every time they quote an inconvenient fact.

For the rest of you- enjoy this:

Just to clarify (although it's not likely to impact on Benedict XVI's apologists) I have no problem with people believing in God (or gods or goddesses, for that matter) as long as they don't hurt other people.

Nor am I blind to the fact that children have suffered abuse outside the Catholic Church, in schools and care homes and other secular organisations; and I'm also fully aware that many such organisations were more concerned with their reputations at the time than with the interests of the children. But they haven't:

-Kept on covering for the bastards responsible up into the present day;
-Ordered their bishops not to report abuse cases to the police on pain of excommunication (and that's the current Pope, as in the Pontiff Formerly Known As Joseph Ratzinger, personally)
-Only agreed to co-operate with the Ryan Report into child abuse in Ireland if no priests were named and no-one was prosecuted.

(If this doesn't amount to covering for paedophiles, then please tell me how.)

And I haven't even mentioned the Pope's (and the Church's) loathsome attitudes towards homosexuals ('an intrinsic moral evil', according to Joseph Fritzl- sorry, Ratzinger), AIDS in Africa (apparently condoms don't stop its spread but make it worse, which goes beyond 'beliefs I might not agree with but are basically harmless' and into the territory of 'outright lies that could/will/may already have cost the lives of thousands, if not millions of people') and women- Twatzinger has compared ordaining women as priests with sexual abuse of children, and demands the criminalisation of abortion even for the victims of rape, or women whose health will not survive pregnancy. In Brazil last year, the government allowed a rare legal abortion in the case of a 9 year old girl who was pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather. The Church's response was to excommunicate the doctors who'd carried out the procedure, and the girl's mother. Not the stepfather, you note. He's a naughty boy, but he can still go to church and might not go to hell if he dies, as long as he's confessed. Now if you can defend that... actually, don't bother. I don't want to know you.

And when this malignant little bigot, this loathsome little reptile, comes to Britain this year, the cost of protecting him will, I'm told, be of the order of £12 million. Can you think of better things to spend that money on? I know I can.